(Editor’s Note: Hulk Smash puny….wait, what this? Hulk puny!)
Our other major topic of this weekend’s episode of the podcast was Heroclix. Bear in mind that Chris hasn’t played a game and I’ve only (basically solo) played against a very young Aiden. The segment is more about our reasons that the game interests us and this article will follow suit. We will play some Heroclix (both constructed and sealed, if those are the same official designations) and return in a couple of months with our thoughts on the actual game.
I learned about the game thanks to Aiden. Having kids really brought out the kid in me in a big way. Liam’s discovery of (and subsequent obsession with) Pokemon got me back into Magic, gave Chris and I another outlet for our monthly “nerd nights” and ultimately led to the podcast and web site. Aiden is younger than LIam by about two years. As a result, he was unable to play Pokemon until recently when he learned to read. He’s still not as interested in the game as Liam, but he will play. Therefore, a couple of years ago, when we were in a local game store and Liam bought a new Pokemon deck, Aiden wanted something, too. I steered him away from Pokemon and found the Heroclix. I thought they were just miniature action figures and he really liked super heroes. I never suspected the complexity of the game associated with these tiny guys.
Ostensibly marketed as a game for kids, it had a comprehensive rule book. Thankfully, it also came with a quick start guide because I wanted to try the game. Aiden still couldn’t grasp a majority of the rules, but he liked picking his team, moving the pieces, and pretending to battle. I liked being able to take control of my favorite comic book characters, using their powers, and the minor bit of strategy involved.
Heroclix appeals to a wide range. When Chris and I started the podcast, I knew that we would have to be more than just Magic, fighting games, and Gears of War, so I started researching other games to cover. I didn’t know how he’d respond to Heroclix, with its reputation as a kiddie game, so I initially looked into Warhammer and Hordes as options.
I had seen both games played at some prereleases that I attended. I also have a friend who at least collects the figures, so they seemed like a more natural choice as an adult game. I did some research. Most gamers agreed that Hordes was the better game. That might just be my hipster confirmation bias that everything popular is lame. Nevertheless, I found a PDF of the rule book (because I’m cheap and the book is $70) and started reading the rules. The game interested me since it shared fantasy elements with some of my other favorite games, most notably D&D and WoW. I researched more.
Boy, was I wrong about either game as a better choice than Heroclix. Sure the games are intended for a more adult audience. They are to Heroclix as Magic is to Hearthstone. They are more complex in rules and interactions. They are also more expensive. Much more expensive in some cases. I may invest in an army later, but those games are certainly not entry point.
We went back to Heroclix. Both Chris and I experienced a lull in our Magic interest near the end of last year. We planned to play Heroclix to combat that and for the purpose of adding variety to the podcast. Then, as it does, life got in the way. We weren’t able to meet, record, or game for several months. After things calmed down, the podcast came back, and Heroclix grabbed our attention again.
I’ve purchased two booster packs (Incredible Hulk and Guardians of the Galaxy) and the Age of Ultron starter pack. Look for break videos on the Hulk and Avengers sets. I’m saving the Guardians for a draft that we have planned for our next get together. While Heroclix might not contain the same complexity as Warhammer or Hordes, it is by no means an easy game. The rules are quite complex and I understand that deeper strategy awaits than when I played a five year old Aiden. I’m excited by the prospect s of playing a new game that is completely different from card games.
Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy cards and spend an absurd amount of money on the hobby. My discovery of streams, Chris’s idea to branch off into standard, the seeming break neck pace of new sets, and the boys showing renewed interest have all led to me finding new joys in cards. Heck, even taking a break to play the dead and buried World of Warcraft gave me new reasons to continue collecting and playing.
Even so, it is good to try new things. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. I don’t know who they are, but I’m sure somebody says that. Heck, I’m somebody and I just said it. How’s that for circular logic?
The price for Heroclix is right. While Hordes and Warhammer cost 70 to 100 dollars for a starter set, you can get a booster brick (essentially a case) for 40 dollars for at least one set. The Age of Ultron was 37 for 6 model. Per piece, that is more expensive than Hordes starter sets. You have to consider that Heroclix models are already finished and that you have to buy paint and potentially books that go for 30?/50? dollars each. Plus, I don’t know how competitive those starter decks armies are for the other games. There is definitely one competitive piece in the Age of Ultron set and maybe one fringe piece, too. Worth the investment.
The rules are intuitive and easy to learn. Kids can easily pick up and play the game with the basic rules. The full rule book offers more of a challenge. the strategy differs significantly from cards and the variety will lead only to good things. It gives me and Chris another game to play. I can try again to play the game with my boys now that they are older and better able to handle some more strategy and complexity.
Stay tuned to the page for more on Heroclix as we learn the games, play a few rounds of various formats, and attempt to teach the kids. If you’re like us and don’t know much about the game, please join us in our journey and learn. If you’re more familiar with the game, feel free to leave comments, emails, and more advice and suggestions.