(Editor’s Note: Sorry for being AWOL lately. End of the semester is always a busy time. You think that I’d learn from previous semesters and adjust. You’d be wrong.)
In my last article, I went through my, admittedly flawed and possibly crooked, thought process behind the team that I drafted in our first Heroclix game. Chris answered with one of his own, but he one upped me by giving a play by play of the actual game, too. I mentioned at the end of my last article that I might do the same. However, I am notorious for neglecting and ignoring deadlines. It is good, then, that Chris tossed the ball back to me. Otherwise, you might have been denied this highly entertaining and insightful commentary. No, really, I mean it this time.
When we last left our intrepid heroes, I picked Captain Marvel (100 points…really 150, but I either can’t read, can’t do math, or intentionally cheated. It isn’t entirely clear which of the three is true), Swamp Thing (200, 150, 100…that last one is perfect for a 100 point Captain Marvel), Recorder (35 points), Manphibian (60 points), and Dire Wraith (55 points). I knew nothing about Dire Wraith. I still don’t. I pretended that my decision was difficult. It wasn’t. Under the mistaken impression of a 100 point Captain Marvel, my team basically built itself. Spoiler Alert: Who the hell is Dire Wraith and why does he look so weird? Draft drafted, team chosen. Time for the action!
As I said, Chris included his version of what happened in the game. I’m glad for that because I only have a vague recollection of the events on the night in question. I’ve often heard about how unreliable eye witness testimony is, but never experienced it to such a degree. As soon as I got home, I thought about writing this article. I texted Chris the day after to tell him that I wished that I’d written down the important pieces from the draft and the game because I didn’t remember any of it. He saved my butt by giving me his draft order. That, along with his article, might just be enough so that I sound like I know what I’m talking about. No promises, though.
We had two maps as choices. I got one that came with my Avengers starter pack. Chris got two of the same map from one of his orders. I checked both maps to see if either had any water in the starting areas so that Manphibian could get a movement bonus. I know what you’re thinking. It’s not bad enough that I cheated when I put together the team. Now, I need to get even more of an advantage through terrain manipulation. Well Mr. (or Mrs., Miss., Ms, whatever) Judgmental, I will have you know that once I saw that there was no advantage, I graciously deferred to allow Chris to pick the map.
He chose his map after we both agreed that the map that I brought would be awkward for our purposes. My map, as would be expected, centered on the Avengers. One side was Stark Tower and the other side was the Helicarrier similar to the one shown above. Neither of us wanted to consider what might happen if one of our characters got knocked off the side. Therefore, we found ourselves battling it out for superhero supremacy in Dr. Strange’s mansion. I’m glad that it wasn’t just some random mansion. I feel better about our heroes destroying the place.
Heroes drafted? Check. Teams chosen? Check. Map selected? Check. Starting area and characters set up? Check. Now what? Time to figure out how the hell to play this game. Check the powers and abilities cards for each character and the reference sheet. Wow, some of these characters have a ton of abilities. This is how far they can move. That is their hit modifier. This is their range. Okay, got it. Go.
Chris wins the die roll. I think that he jokes that it will be “the last thing I win” or “I’ve got to win something in this game”. If only he knew how accurate that statement would turn out to be. He started by moving his characters to the entrance of the mansion. I saw this as an opportunity to get my tanky character in the middle to muck things up. I also took Chris a bit by surprise by applying actual strategy. While Man Thing kept a couple of his characters busy on the stairs, I sent the others to flank him on either side.
Wait, what did Chris just say? He asked about some color. I check the dial for one of my characters. Each number is a color. Oh, that’s why there are so many powers listed. Each power corresponds to a color and a symbol. Now I got it? Not completely, but enough to get through this game and familiarize myself more later.
His first character died very quickly. After that, it became a war of attrition with our guys trading hits back and forth while my guy (Manphibian) kept missing Spider-Girl. I finally got smart and broke off one prong of my attack by moving Recorder into a support role first in the middle. He did nothing to break that stalemate, so I sent him to help Manphibian, who continued to suffer from my terrible luck and couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel. Dr. Druid actually got stronger as he clicked down, so he broke through and KO’d Captain Marvel.
That actually allowed me to stop messing around. I moved Man Thing into melee range and just started pounding face. He also has some kind of poison aura that caused extra damage. After finishing off Dr. Druid, he joined the fracas with Recorder and Manphibian. Overwhelmed, the rest of his team (it might have just been Spider-GIrl at this point) eventually got KO’d.
I enjoyed the game. I always like the draft strategy in games even though I don’t get to implement it very often against other people. I do a draft a week in Magic Online, but that’s about it. I have been thinking about going to one of the local stores for their FNM draft, too. Sorry about that. This article isn’t about Magic. It’s just that Magic is the only reference that i have right now to compare table top games. Back to the topic. I like that you have to make up the strategy for your deck or team based on the characters or cards available from the packs rather than getting to choose from everything in your collection. It forces you to focus.
As for the game itself, I enjoyed playing it. Even though neither Chris nor I implemented much of a strategy in our game, Heroclix obviously offers a much different set than Magic. The map, movement of characters, powers that may change as the dial is clicked, and the randomness of the dice all lead to an ever evolving strategy during the game. Look, I’m an a noob and all, but I know that each game of Magic offers multiple lines of play and that you have to adjust based on changing conditions. In the end, though, it is still just cards fighting cards. Don’t get me wrong. I still love Magic and will continue to play it, but I’m also enjoying the variety of the new games. (Side note: My sons and I have been playing a ridiculous amount of Dice Masters lately. More on that next week.) We started the web page and podcast to bring fun back to games. We’ve been successful with that. As sometimes happens with these ventures, there are unintended consequences. One of those is the introduction of these new games. The other is that I have gotten to share all of these games with my kids. So far, they’ve liked Marvel vs. Capcom and Dice Masters the best. We tried Heroclix when they were younger, but the game was too fragile and complex for them at that age. Maybe its time to try again.