What’s So Special About Special Powers? PLUS SATURN GIRL AND PHANTOM GIRL STATS
What’s So Special About Special Powers?
by Seth Johnson, HeroClix Lead Designer
One of the greatest strengths of HeroClix has always been the Powers and Abilities Card, or “PAC”, a central set of powers that can be used to simulate the powers of the vast number of characters we’ve released over the last five years. When sitting down to dissect and analyze the game as the fifth anniversary approached, though, we realized that there were limitations to the standard powers of the PAC. While the standard powers provided a strong and wide base to create most characters, there were some characters who were still a little bit off of what we wanted, whether too powerful or too weak, or just missing some aspect of their abilities—and others that couldn’t be done at all, even with all the powers of the PAC.
The Legion of Super Heroes Starter Game this summer will still come with a new PAC, providing that same, familiar base for players and our designers alike. But starting with that set, characters will also come with a character-specific character card that not only provides a quick reference to that character but also opens the door for one of the most exciting new things coming to HeroClix: Special powers.
Special powers are only one of three kinds of powers that you’ll see on character cards:
* Standard powers are the powers we all know and love, taken directly from the Powers and Abilities Card, such as “Super Senses”.
* Named powers are exactly the same as standard powers, but have been given a character-specific label in capital letters to help give the character flavor or explain why they have the power, followed by the name of a standard power in parenthesis, such as “I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING (Outwit)”.
* Special powers are powers unique to a particular character, explained on the character’s character card.
Special powers are indicated on a character’s dial by a white box. Much as there is only one power indicated on a speed value by a red box, only one power can be indicated by a white box on a speed value—but a character can have one special power (and one white box) per combat value on their dial, for a potential maximum of four special powers on a character.
Some special powers are straight-forward and generally easy to understand. A special attack power might read
This character can use Incapacitate and Energy Explosion
This would allow the character to use two powers from a slot where they could previously possess only one or the other. Note, however, that they could not use both powers simultaneously—much like when a character has multiple powers but in different slots, multiple powers that happen to be in the same slot still each require their own action to use. In addition, similar to wild cards, who can use a team ability but do not possess it, a character that can use a standard power via a special power does not possess that power and cannot use it as the prerequisite for a feat.
Many other special powers are based on existing powers and will be familiar to HeroClix players. The special power possessed by Saturn Girl, for example, is based on the rules text for Perplex, though slight tweaks have made it a quite different power:
Some characters have special powers that are created out of whole cloth to represent abilities that can’t be simulated using the standard powers of the PAC. In the Legion set, Phantom Girl has a special power representing her ability to disrupt objects and technology that she moves through:
All special powers are optional. Phantom Girl has enough control over abilities that she can choose not to make computers and hot dog carts disrupt if she so chooses, of course.
The Legion set is intended to be a starter set, so the special powers you’ll see in the set are just a simple taste of what’s to come. For example, no character in the set has more than one special power—and while that’s true for many characters with special powers coming during the Fifth Anniversary summer, you can also expect to see a few characters with two special powers…and even one or two with as many as four.
The tweaking that special powers provide the HeroClix design team has allowed us to give characters powers that are appropriate (and costed appropriately) to the character. While we certainly don’t expect to put an end to fan debates, special powers help us make sure that if characters need a little more power—or a little less—that’s what they get.
But don’t worry about being overwhelmed by special powers. The standard powers of the PAC will always form the bedrock foundation of every HeroClix character. Special powers just allow for the addition of precise or exciting flavor to characters, to help make your games even more better than ever before—and while there may be a lot more powers floating around after the introduction of special powers, any special powers that are in play in the current game will always be right in front of you (or your opponent) on the character’s character card as a quick and easy reference.
Tweaks to old powers, completely new powers, characters that feel more like the character, characters appearing in HeroClix that were heretofore impossible or improbable…
What’s so special about special powers?
(Check out the Legion figure gallery for full preview of Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl's dials!)
I am already in love with these two girls and the player cards. Anything that makes this game even more thematic is such a bonus in my book. Plus, these cards (although creating more of a storage problem) explicity explain what their powers are emulating. Strong move WizKids. Solid.
The figures look really nice, which is good news. The cards feel less "optional" than I'd originally hoped, and I'm curious to see the point cost impact of the special powers. And while they do seem to add another shot of comic book feel to the game, they also add another layer of complexity, especially when characters will possess multiple special powers or multiple powers existing at the same time in the same track. Like it or not, this does make it seem that the all figures already released have just become non-competitive. Who'd play an "old" Batman if you could field one that had Willpower and Toughness at the same time? Or EE and Incap at the same time. Or Leap/Climb and Charge? Or Outwit and PC? And you can just pick which power you want to use based on the situation? While some of that does sound interesting, it makes me nervous about the thousands of figures already in my collection.