Cards : HeroClix

So, you and your Spidey fan friends want to do some super hero stuff... but you're too old for running around in capes, and computers are far too anti-social.

How about a table-top game with a huge range of pre-painted super-hero figures. Heaps of super-powers, but not too many dice. Easy-to-learn rules, and none of that painful scribbling down stats and looking up tables you often find with combat games.

Welcome to HeroClix, from WizKids.

Here is the Spidey figure. A nice, gritty-looking figure. Note the rotating base. Whenever you take a hit, you twist the base, and your new statistics pop into view.

But take too many twists, and you'll see KO!

The Basics

HeroClix is by WizKids, who are more famous for their "MageKnight" game, which is the same thing but with Dungeons & Dragons type figures. You can buy them at many comic shops, and at Electronic Boutique, and at heaps of games stores.

The entire Marvel range covers 150 characters (DC has 120). A Marvel starter pack is US$20, and a booster pack is US$7. The starter pack contains 8 figures, the quick-start rules, the full rules, a quick-reference chart, and a few cardboard tokens for use in the game. The booster pack has 4 figures.

What's in The Box...?

So, when you open the starter pack, what do you see? The figures vary a great deal. The more rare figures (e.g. Spider-Man, Hulk) seem to be much better quality than the common figures (e.g. Thug). In general the poses are good, and the colours are striking. Some of the detail is a bit iffy, but clearly the figures are designed to look good when half a dozen of them are scattered on a table-top. They're not intended to be inspected with a microscope, or put on display.

The quick reference chart and the rules are very attractive, and well laid out. I did find the advanced rules left a number of questions unanswered - e.g. "does a ranged attack do the same damage as a close-combat attack?". Still, in general the rules are clear and very workable.

The map is plasticised, but it did not lay flat once it was unfolded. When finally persuaded to lie flat, the base map is boring as heck. Even with the rubble and object counters placed on it, it really was very featureless. The map is two-sided, with the indoor map being slightly better than the street map.

Playing The Game

With everything prepared, my opponent and I read the rules and sat down to play.

We each chose teams up to 200 points (three or four figures each) and placed them on our side of the map. Then, we advanced up the map (occasionally firing ranged weapons) until we got into close combat. Then we rolled dice at each other until one of the teams (mine, sadly) was completely unconscious.

Strangely disappointing. The actual gameplay was smooth and simple, the rules were clear and logical. So what went wrong?

Firstly, my opponent wasn't a comics fan. I think that a lot of the fun of the game is in the imagination. Play with somebody who is into super-heroes.

Secondly, the random jumble of figures in the starter pack was a real turn-off. In order to make 200 pts, I ended up with Spidey, Hercules, and SHIELD Medic. Not exactly my dream team! Each team has their own abilities, and making a coherent team will add a lot to the feel of the game, I'm sure. Since the booster packs are random, that means buying some packs and trading with your friends.

Thirdly, the starter maps are really dull. I recommend you buy a couple of A3 pieces of paper, mark them out in squares, and draw your own map... of a nuclear power station, busy shopping mall, car park, or whatever! Also, get some card and make lots more objects for throwing and bashing people with, and more rubble and other terrain. That will add a lot more to the game.

Fourthly, forget the basic game. Get right into the advanced game, with all the super-powers and extra rules. That will add a lot more spice to the game.

And lastly... make up your own rules! The rules provided in the kit are nice and simple, but once you've played for a bit, I think you can start making the game into what you want it to be. If you want a rule for radio-activity, then just add it! You think Spidey should have a web-shield, then change the rules and give him one!

Out of the box, the game is a bit flat, but I'm quite certain that it has everything you need for a ton of fun... if you get right into it. If you add ideas and attitude, then it is certainly a heck of a way to spend a rainy afternoon. So why don't ya give that Nintendo a rest, and spend some time with your friends for a change?

More Stuff

Marvel HeroClix went off like a rocket when it was released in the U.S. I've heard of individual figures swapping hands for US$45. That makes a $7 booster pack of 4 figures sound like a pretty good deal!

WizKids also organises local tournaments and teaching sessions - probably in the U.S. only at this stage. And as for when you can expect to see all of this stuff in store, here's a brief extract from their 2002 catalog:

  • May 2002: Marvel Starter Set
  • May 2002: Marvel Booster Pack
  • Oct 2002: Marvel Expansion Set 1

And remember... right makes might!

This page is Un-Official. It is not associated with Marvel. It uses content copyright by Marvel, Without Permission. This material is used for the purposes of informed discussion, and is not intended to interfere with Marvel's right to use said material for their own commercial goals.