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Learn to Play HeroClix with Group Hug Part 2 – Powers

Hello, superheroes! Last week we took a look at the basics of the game of HeroClix which we play every week live on Twitch in a little show called Group Hug. If you recall, the game features pre-painted miniatures that “fight” using a clicking dial base that displays their stats and powers.

Most HeroClix pieces come from the DC and Marvel Comics universes, though you can expand your play experience with characters from other comic companies, video games (Halo, Street Fighter, Gears of War, BioShock Infinite, Assassin’s Creed, DOTA 2), movies (Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Pacific Rim, Kick-Ass 2, Lone Ranger), Star Trek (featuring ships from all eras and characters from the reboot movies), Iron Maiden, Mage Knight, and Yu-Gi-Oh! The game is fast and furious and best of all easy to learn. If you missed it, check out Part 1 of our introduction for a look at the building blocks and basic rules of HeroClix. Today we’re going to take a step beyond and look at some of what makes the game really fun: powers!

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As you might expect, a game populated by superheroes features lots and lots of superpowers. In HeroClix the standard actions available to all figures are: 1) move and 2) attack. To do more than that you need powers, and that’s what the colored boxes on figures’ dials represent. There are 12 colors used to represent different powers and each one means something different when it appears on a figure’s Speed, Attack, Defense, or Damage stat. That makes 48 distinct “standard” powers in HeroClix! For example, an orange box around a Speed stat on your dial means that your character has the power of Leap/Climb, but if it’s on the figure’s Attack stat it has Energy Explosion.

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How do you keep track of all of these crazy powers? In addition to a straightforward rule book WizKids offers the Powers and Abilities Card (known to players as the “PAC”), a foldout pamphlet that lists every power along with Combat Abilities and other handy info. The bulk of the PAC is divided into the four stats with color-coded entries for all the powers and descriptions of what they do. Naturally the powers all sound cool and comic book-y. In order they are:

  • Speed: Flurry, Leap/Climb, Phasing/Teleport, Earthbound/Neutralized, Charge, Mind Control, Plasticity, Force Blast, Sidestep, Hypersonic Speed, Stealth, Running Shot
  • Attack: Blades/Claws/Fangs, Energy Explosion, Pulse Wave, Quake, Super Strength, Incapacitate, Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Smoke Cloud, Precision Strike, Poison, Steal Energy, Telekinesis
  • Defense: Super Senses, Toughness, Defend, Combat Reflexes, Energy Shield/Deflection, Barrier, Mastermind, Willpower, Invincible, Impervious, Regeneration, Invulnerability
  • Damage: Ranged Combat Expert, Battle Fury, Support, Exploit Weakness, Enhancement, Probability Control, Shape Change, Close Combat Expert, Empower, Perplex, Outwit, Leadership

The powers in HeroClix give your figures cool things to do that are thematic and true to their comic book origins. Some standard powers let you break the basic rules of HeroClix like Running Shot and Charge allowing a figure to move AND attack in the same action or Stealth preventing lines of fire from being drawn to it. Defensive powers are often passive, protecting a figure by reducing damage done to it (Toughness, Invulnerability, Impervious) or giving you a die roll to attempt a last-second evasion (Super Senses). Then there are powers that do really cool things like take over an opposing figure for one action (Mind Control), send a huge blast in every direction (Pulse Wave), create temporary blocking terrain to reshape the battlefield (Barrier), or affect the stats of figures either positively or negatively (Perplex)! How about some examples?

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The Hulk is a traditional “brick” type character in HeroClix, needing to get up close to punch enemies and able to do a lot of damage and withstand big hits himself. One of the most recent and beloved Hulk figures comes from the Avengers: Age of Ultron set and starts the game with the powerful combo of Charge (letting him move half his speed and then make a close combat action/attack), Super Strength (the ability to pick up objects on the battlefield that increase damage when he hits someone), and Impervious (the best damage reducer offering a chance to negate all damage done in an attack or at the very least reducing it by 2). Bruce Banner wants to close the distance to his puny foes as quickly as possible and grab heavy objects on the way to make devastating close combat attacks. Meanwhile, he hopes that his superb damage reducers will let him shrug off any hits before then.

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Then there are figures a bit more sneaky and subtle like Catwoman from the recent Justice League: Trinity War set. Armed with a short range, Selina begins the game with Stealth (preventing enemies from attacking her at range), Incapacitate (a ranged or close combat attack that doesn’t do damage on its own but applies an action token, potentially dealing pushing damage and locking up an enemy), Combat Reflexes (making her harder to hit in a close combat attack), and Perplex (giving her a +1 or -1 she can apply to one of any figure’s stats in range and view, including herself). Catwoman loves to hide in plain sight, close enough to opponents that she can Incapacitate them and hinder them with Perplex while they can’t shoot at her. They’ll need to come right up to her and make close combat attacks, which she’s particularly good at avoiding thanks to her Combat Reflexes.

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Looking for something more shooty? The latest Hawkeye figure from the Avengers Assemble set has a good range of 7 squares with two targets so he can shoot at two figures at once with most ranged attacks and divide the damage between them as he likes if he hits both. His starting power set features Running Shot (moving up to half his speed value and making a ranged attack), Energy Explosion (successful ranged attacks deal additional “splash” damage to figures adjacent to the target or targets), and Energy Shield/Deflection (making him harder to hit when targeted by a ranged attack). As you’d expect, Hawkeye is most comfortable moving into position and firing at enemies from long range, hopefully from further away than they can shoot back at him.

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Note that figures made since Summer 2007 (the game has been around since 2002) come with cards that outline what powers they have along with flavor text like “The Scarlet Speedster” describing the Flash’s Hypersonic Speed. The card era brought along with it something else too, the Special Power. When you see a black-outlined empty square around a number on a figure’s dial it means that character has a Special Power and you need to look at its card to see what it does. Special Powers do anything and everything from offering a combination of multiple standard powers to letting a figure do crazy things in the game like the Age of Ultron set’s Captain America’s power called “Cap’s Motorcycle” that lets him zoom around and carry others on his first click.

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The PAC can seem daunting to new players, but the best way to learn all the powers is by playing or watching others play the game. Want to see all kinds of standard (and special) HeroClix powers in action? Tune in every Friday night at 4pm Pacific to Group Hug on Geek and Sundry’s Twitch channel to see a fun game of HeroClix featuring cool figures and great special guests! Get your own HeroClix figures at your local comic book or game store, and check out HeroClix.com for rules and PAC downloads and much more.

What are your favorite or go-to powers in HeroClix? Tell us in the comments below and in the chat during Group Hug!

Photo Credit: Scott Rubin

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