Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gathering new players

Maybe you live in an area that doesn't have much support for heroclix. Maybe your local shop doesn't want to pay for prize support, or when they do, they charge you to play (not totally unfair depending on the charge). Maybe your area store doesn't even have tournaments. What do you do?

Well, you may have to do some recruiting on your own. In order to do this, you may have to make some over the top adjustments to appeal to new audiences. You may have to offer your own scale of prize support from your own box of extra pieces.

In my area there has been a loss of players and venues that have lost tournaments. They just fizzled out and never came back. Even back in my home town, it's not often that anyone shows up for tournaments. If they do, it's only two or three people. So how can you get new players to jump in and try out your game? I have a couple ideas.

Seek out public places where people gather that will allow for some game play. Playing heroclix in public will get attention. People get curious and you'd be amazed at how many will step up and ask what you're doing. Be ready to preach the gospel of heroclix and how cool it is. Remember to mention strong points of the game for kids such as math, strategy, and map reading as well as social interaction. And play characters that have been recently seen in movies. That gets attention too. I've had people ask where they can get some. Tell them, but be ready for them to balk at the price a bit. Still, there's more you can do. If you do the following, you can invite them to a gathering.

Host a heroclix gathering or event. Expect new players, maybe people who saw you in public and try to have some prize support or giveaway items. If you have a ton of extras taking up space in your closet, get generous. You may gain a new and permanent player for the act. Put together a few 300 point teams in plastic ziplock bags. Make them giveaways for the first "x" number of people to join in, who don't have any clix. It's like giving out free samples.

Where and how to get the word out? Try your public library and tout the positive aspects of the game to them. They often take up on special interest events that are positive in nature for kids and the public. Anything that brings people to the library past that is cake for them. They may let you host a monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly event. Better yet, they may put it in their calendar that goes out to people in some newspapers and is posted on their websites. That's publicity and it's free for you! Voila! New players.

In all of that, start a fan club. You can collect dues and maybe even get your hands on some pieces that are exclusive to your club. I haven't talked to Wizkids/Neca about this myself, but hey, it's an idea and could create publicity for them and the game. Members of a fan club could split the cost of cases of heroclix for pack parties and gaming events. Pieces for everyone and a good time too. Even if you have to pay for a prize package, you could make that part of fan club dues. And anyone can start up a fan club. It's how much you can market the name that makes a difference. Even a personal and local deal can net new players and keep the game going. It can keep you playing too.

Feel free to post your own ideas in comments!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The mechanics of a set

While anticipating a new set, like DC 75 for this December, I often find myself musing about how sets are planned out. I've read before that there really is no set method of assigning points based on powers, team abilities, or anything else. I've read it's more of a rule of thumb or gut feeling that is applied to each figure. I think that practice has put out a lot of overpriced or under-priced figures.

I understand the need to keep things new and fresh in order to keep people interested. This is a business after all. I do think that a standard mechanic or two would make set planning easier and take some guesswork out of remaking characters in future sets.

You might argue, that with so many characters, such a feat is nearly impossible. I disagree, thanks to the age of the database. If they set up a DC database and apply some standards, they can change some subtle things as they go, but points would easier to apply and might even give people the why or how they are often looking for. Just how much is hypersonic speed worth anyway, right?

To get more in depth, here are some things they could apply for this idea:

Health: The number of clicks a figure has is pretty much it's health. I don't think Superman should ever drop below 9. Superboy could be 8 and some other worlds versions that are way powerful, well, they'd be maxed out likely. But Superman could set the bar on the higher side easily. Past that I think you could agree that a 6 click Superman would be pretty sad. I think Batman should hover around 7 with no higher than 8 for his other versions. That includes vampire batman.

Because of the variations, no format is perfect, but may help to keep that lower than low Superman from happening.

Point values: This is a big one. Establish a minimum and maximum cost for figures and stick to it. Take Cosmic Spiderman for example. I've played him and he's not infallible or unstoppable. He can be beaten by a 300 point force. I've seen it happen. The extra 19 points that basically make him unplayable in anything less than a 400 point game were just unnecessary. As it is, he can't even get good use of his extra team ability unless you go to 400. So he could have been valued at 300 and been just fine. Even out the points to make team building easier. That would be nice also. A database could help organize the average points that any character should cost. Looking at Superman again, I don't think he should ever be higher than 200. I think that's plenty of point cost and makes him rare enough for small games as is.

Numbers of the dial: Once again, using Superman, he should never be lower than an 18 defense to start out. He's a fair combatant so never below a 10 to start. A set of basic stats is another area that could be established to help with planning. Characters that are combat masters, like Wolverine, should never be less than an 11. He's a fighting animal after all. I remember the Superman figures that came out with 15 and 16 defenses and thought, "no way". Some characters should lose their numbers as fast as they do either. Consider Veteran Superman from Icons. His points were way out there and his defense drops to pitiful levels quickly. He starts out as a monster, but drops quickly to a whimpering kitten, then he's gone. No, I liked that Supes too, so don't kill me here. I'm just trying to make a point. It's just that it would and should be easy to give characters a numeric grade on the existing scale. On defense no one goes higher than a 20 (for most base characters) so you now have a scale of even 10 to 20 with most key figures scoring from 16-20.

Another argument against this idea could be that it takes some surprise out of what to expect in character development. That may be, but the power lineups are still pretty loose and with the new arrangements of white powers coming out left and right, I think you'll get plenty of cool surprises where you know that Superman starts with an 18 defense or not. Then there's the Rookie, Experience, and Veteran idea that's pretty much just colors on the cards now. Even those are pretty out of control and not that organized.

Well, just my thoughts. I'm still looking forward to DC 75th and a whole slew of cool figs to collect. I'm sure you are too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Heroclix World, a great site for a great game.

I think it's time I give honorable mention to a great website on heroclix. Yes, they did the same for me, but seriously, this is a great website

Click it!

Heroclix world offers updates on all the going clix news you could want to see. Sneak peeks on upcoming pieces in new sets, articles, opinions, and great game scenarios that you can try out.

I personally like the neat scenario cards they put together to enhance their scenario suggestions. You can print them out and have them for your own games anytime. Also, Battle Field Conditions (like the one above), and bystander tokens. You can spend a lot of time with this website on all kinds of clix goodness. Currently, as I write this, there is a great article up on sneak preview of DC 75 (coming out in December). Incidentally, I have to agree with one poster there who mentioned that dials are getting shorter. But we'll see what happens when the set comes out. But the sculpts look good!

So I hope you will take the time to peruse the pages of Heroclix World where you can get your fix and fill on current information and cool heroclix ideas!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Todays feature: Superman/Silver Surfer

Duo figures are interesting. I think they could be better if not so watered down on some points, but they are interesting. Watered down as in the minus one damage that all of the duo figures suffer even if it really makes so sense in regard to the characters. You simply get better damage and attack capability by fielding two characters instead of one. Still, I made a slew of double figures myself. On one side, I did it to rebel, ha ha, because of all the complaints I saw about double figures. On the other hand, I saw possibilities for some pretty cool figures.

How I made my doubles is very simple. I just took two pieces and glued them to the same base. Well, it sounds simple, until you realize that getting them to fit right can be like doing a small jigsaw puzzle. But I've enjoyed making them, so that's what really matters for me. I also constructed house rules for playing them and you can do that as well. Today I'm going to tell you about a favorite of mine, one you won't see made anytime soon. I'm talking about the Silver Surfer and Superman.

The idea comes from a comic cross over event that I read several years ago. I used a veteran Silver Surfer base and glued on an extra flier post. I had to adjust Surfer's post over slightly to make room. The Superman is from a limited edition that had the Batman Team ability. You might recognize him. His base was missing anyway. One of my kids lost it long long ago. Oh well. I think these two look great together. As for play, I play them at 400 points. You might think that's too high, but let me tell you what other house rules apply here.

First of all, they get the Superman team ability on top of Cosmic. If that's not enough for you, try this. They don't suffer the minus one penalty to damage dealing when they make a duo attack. Still not enough for you? How about the idea that they can do a duo attack with any attack they do? Running shot? Yep. Hypersonic speed? You bet. Any attack they make gets a second attack for free. And if that's still somehow not enough to validate that 400 point price tag, I also play their dial at +2 to all numeric stats except range. That means their move is a 14, attack is 12, defense is 20, and damage is 6! Six damage without the minus one! Are they worth 400 now? I think so. But that's just how I play them. You might have other ideas. I know they can wreak havoc on my table. I've tried them out.

I really do think that the duo attack ability should not carry that minus one penalty for all figures. Some of them just don't make sense with it. But that's a story for another time. Hope you enjoyed Supes and Surfer!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Character review: Captain Boomerang

In my last blog I gave Captain Boomerang honorable mention. In this one, I'm going to give him more than that. The Brightest day box set really gives us some awesome pieces and great powers/abilities. I hit on a few of those, but now here's one with some real strategic advantage. Let's take a look at his special attack power.

Boomerang's Path: Give Captain Boomerang a power action and choose up to 6 different squares within line of fire (ignoring characters for this purpose). Each square must be different, adjacent to the previous square, and the first and last squares chosen must be adjacent to this character. Make an attack roll and compare the result to each character occupying a chosen square. Each character hit this way is dealt 2 damage.

Okay, so at the most, he could hit up to 6 targets and deal 2 damage to each of them. When you think about powers like quake and pulse wave, this isn't so amazing. But when you consider that you choose your targets, it's actually awesome. The limitation is three squares out in order to make it three squares back into base contact. Having sharpshooter enables this power to be fully effective and usable in a crowd. That's plenty leeway to get some damage dealt to everyone near the Captain. If that doesn't do it for you and you're worried about that damage getting through, I have a suggestion: Armor Piercing. At 61 points, Captain Boomerang is a perfect candidate for the damage assuring feat. Yeah, that makes him 71 points, but well worth it!

Past that, having the sharpshooter ability enables him to use his front-loaded ranged combat expert right in an opponents face for 4 clicks of damage. Just one click in, he gets running shot. For him it may as well be charge. So that's like two movement powers in one!

Yeah, his defense isn't very good and dial is a little short, but don't underestimate the Captain, he can do damage and he's very flexible on the battlefield. If not dealt with early he'll be a problem.

He also carries the rogues keyword, allowing him some chances at team building more than just Brightest Day. At home games, I would even allow him to be themed with Suicide Squad (it's even on the back of his card!).

Captain Boomerang is just one more reason to get out there and get your Brightest Day!