HeroClix: The Avengers board game review
Comic-book heroes break out on to your table-top
We know that the MyGaming community is all about games, but that can also extend beyond the PC desktops and console couches onto the table-tops. Physical boardgames are a great way to gather around your friends and socialise, all while having a bit of fun running your own gaming experience.
This ain’t yo grandpappy’s Monopoly – things have come a long way since the good old days. This week we have a HeroClix collectible miniature game by WizKids to review – The Avengers version.
HeroClix is a tabletop gaming system built on a core set of turn-based rules. The game can be enjoyed with a basic set of gameplay rules while players learn the ropes, but things really get exciting as players delve into the more intricate details.
Gameplay is based around the Heroes miniatures, each with a set of abilities that change as the game progresses. The game board (terrain map) is also important, as it provides environmental rules and context to the action, such as line of sight, terrain elevation, and hindering or blocking terrain.
The Avengers HeroClix system fits neatly over this core system, allowing for the modified superheros to exhibit their abilities in a realistic comic-book superhero kind of way.
The miniatures come mounted on a circular base known as the “Combat Dial”, which can be rotated through 12 “clix”. Through a window on the dial, players can see the attributes, powers, and available abilities of their hero. As the hero takes damage and the base is rotated, so the attributes and abilities change. Eventually a hero reaches “KO” on their dial and is removed from play.
The core attributes, powers, and abilities are Speed, Attack, Defense, Damage, and Combat Abilities. The first four categories are linked to stats on the dial, while Combat Abilities are unique to characters, regardless of the combat dial.
Symbols printed on the dial next to the stats play a role, and there are a variety of sub-categories to the aforementioned powers and abilities. For example, some characters can fly or swim, or transport other Heroes, make dual-attacks, or have extra toughness due to their very superhero nature.
Depending on the character being used, the core attributes, powers, and abilities are named differently, and may be modified by special abilities – either those possessed by the character, or a buff or debuff placed on the character by friendly spell casting units. Despite their Hero-tailored names, all of these attributes, powers, and abilities relate back to the core rules for the HeroClix game. It is how these are applied to the Heroes throughout the game that brings things to life (with a little injection of imagination).
For example, The Hulk is a powerful melee character, with extra toughness built right in. True to his comic-book character, as the hulk takes damage he actually becomes more deadly in his attacks. Tactically, it can make sense to get Hulk into the fight and take damage early on to make use of his skills. However, he can be worn down and eventually weakens severely.
The Heroes typically reach a last-ditch-effort phase when they are near KO, giving an opportunity for a powerful come-back in the late stages of a game. For example, Thor will be call on his godly powers to become invulnerable to all but the most powerful attacks, keeping him on the front lines of a battle for longer.
Heroes such as Red Skull and Iron Man have ranged attacks, and buffs to cast on allies. This brings another tactical level to gameplay; for example, players would want to keep Red Skull occupied because he can protect the melee heroes – however, that is easier said than done as he can teleport around the board, taking advantage of terrain rules.
It must be mentioned that Heroes from a team, such as The Avengers, gain a further special ability when they are all together, such as an additional move each turn. As a collectible miniature game, this will encourage players to build their own teams to bring into battle against friends.
While the game is easily accessible right out the box, with a “Getting Started” version of the rules provided to help players familiarise with the game, it will take a bit of time investment to get full enjoyment from the system. I’ve only scratched the surface in my description above.
There are a number of rules and conditions to keep in mind during gameplay, and layers of complexity can be added to the game by going to the HeroClix website and downloading additional rulesets, as well as printable gameplay tokens to use, such as throwable objects, and bystanders.
As long as one person involved in the game has a clear understanding of the many rules and gameplay considitions, things should flow smoothly. It should be up to each player to understand their chosen team to maximise their performance.
The game can be expanded by purchasing additional sets, and you aren’t restricted to The Avengers, as there are many Marvel heroes to collect. These sets will come with terrain maps to keep battles exciting, and ever-expansive. There is also a thriving community of HeroClix fans out there on the internet, and some players take it upon themselves to design printable terrain maps and custom scenarios to keep things fresh.
The HeroClix range also handles the DC Comic realm.
As a collectible miniature based game, it is worth noting the the Heros are around 2-3 inches tall, and made of machine-moulded plastic. There is enough detail on the miniatures, they are adequately painted, and construction feels sturdy enough, making them appealing to handle, and worthy of being on a display shelf somewhere on their days off.
In terms of pricing, interested gamers can expect to pay R150 for the 4-figure mini-game kit which I reviewed. It contains Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America, 1 terrain map, and all the required cards, dice and rules to get started.
Expansion products come in the form of 1-figure boosters for around R35 (random); 3-figure team-packs for around R95 (random); and 6-figure packs optimized to play together; or in one of several team combinations, with two maps, the complete HeroClix rulebook, the Powers and Abilities card, tokens, and access to online content for around R300. There are over 40 characters to collect.
In my time learning to play the HeroClix game I had some good fun with friends, and some exciting battles with twists and surprises thanks to the detailed rule system. As an alternative to a weekend stuck behind a computer or television screen, this is a good reason to get your mates over for some social fun. Getting started with HeroClix doesn’t break the bank either, which is always good news.
Our review product was provided courtesy of DigitalSushi.co.za, an electronics, geek, and hobby specialist. You can interact directly with Digital Sushi on the MyGaming forum in the official Digital Sushi forum thread.