(Editor’s Note: We actually made it through this article without infringing on Stan Lee’s Excelsior copyright. It hasn’t yet had the intended effect of getting sued by the Generalissimo, so maybe we’ll just drop that and try to get famous the old fashioned way. Then again, the well behaved rarely make history, so… Excelsior, fellow Marvelites, and tally ho into the world of Herocilx!)
Imagine, if you will, a future in which the entire Marvel Universe was put into Ant Man’s shrinkerator, or injected with shrinking serum, or however it is that he is making himself so tiny in this iteration of the character. Then, suppose that you could freeze those tiny heroes in a pose that best captures their character. Finally, what if you could then make those mini super powered beings team up, fight, or do whatever you wanted them to do. How cool would that be? Maybe not cool at all for them, but really cool for us. Well, wonder no longer, because we live in that future!
The Gamer Bros and I talked about Heroclix in the latest episode of Noob and Sons. Chris and I talked about it on the main show, too. We’ve both written articles about our experiences in the game. When introduced to it, I never thought that this game would become one of my most played and discussed. But, the gaming gods work in mysterious ways.
When Chris and I played, we were both overwhelmed by the sheer number of rules and interactions. Now that I’ve researched other miniature games, I understand that rules and interactions are par for the course in the genre. Moreover, those who are interested in such games actually prefer having all of those rule. I don’t mind having all the rules. It is a trade off for having such a dynamic game environment.
However, one of the times that Chris and I tried to play was later at night and I just could not focus well enough to finish the game. Also, that rule set can be intimidating and scare off new players. That is the reason that I’m focusing so heavily on the rules in this article. I tried playing the game with Aiden when he was younger because he was the first to buy the figures. He had to play with a greatly reduced rules set just so that he could enjoy himself. Lesson learned, I suppose. these games are not for the weak.
Still, the games with Chris inspired me to play more. It was during Christmas break, so I only had the boys as partners. Even though they are both older, I don’t think that they have the patience for the actual rules. Heck, as we’ve seen, I barely have the patience sometimes.
I looked up ways to play more than two players. The version I found most intriguing was called “King of the Hill”. You mark off a 3 by 3 (or maybe 4 by 4) area in the middle of the map, designate 4 potential starting zones and the teas battle to be king of the hill. We awarded points based on the number of characters on the “hill” during our first game. That turned out to be neither fair nor representative because larger teams with more characters received a potential disproportionate number of points. In an attempt to fix that, we recorded the point values of the characters in the “hill”. The effect of this was actually two fold. First, it gave all teams access to the maximum number of points. Second, it added strategy to the games in that you wanted to target the higher value opponents and keep them off the “hill”.
The other consideration when playing with the boys is the actual rules of the game. I already discussed this aspect a little bit. From movement to special powers, line of sight to push damage, the rules set of any miniature game is overwhelming. Heroclix, because it is geared to a younger audience is less so. Still, there is a ton of information to process each turn. We eliminated all special powers in the first game. Chris and I spent most of our time looking up the powers on our phones and computers, so that one step eliminated most of the idle time and made the game faster.
We played with powers in the second and third games. By then, though, I had played enough that I knew most of the powers and the rest only required a quick reference check to remind myself. The only thing left was to tackle the somewhat convoluted movement rules of the game. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I don’t fully understand how actual movement is supposed to work each turn, so we simplified that, too.
Each character got one move or attack per turn. You could take “push” damage to give the option of a second action on any character. This method improved the flow of the game and kept the action at appropriate comic book levels. As I said, I don’t fully know the actual rules, so I’m not sure how different our version is from the official. I do know that it worked for me and the boys and Chris is open to trying them, too, the next time we play.
Now that we’ve worked out the things about the game that we didn’t like, it is a fun game. We have been busy and not able to play at all since the games at Christmas, but summer is coming and we will have more time. Who knows, as we play more, maybe we’ll go back to the actual rules of the game. Probably not, though, because I like our version.