Oh god, kill me.
My lovely girlfriend, may she rot forever in Hell, has introduced a horrifying new obsession into my already-embarrassing life: HeroClix. Now my roommates and I, along with some other friends with equally empty lives, spend most of our evenings slowly inching tiny action figures across an enormous paper map.
By now you’re probably asking yourself, “What is HeroClix?” and if you’re not asking yourself that, I’m so, so sorry about your life. HeroClix is a “collectible miniatures game” and it plays sort of like a tabletop version of Advance Wars or other turn-based strategy video games, except with superheroes from the Marvel and DC universes. In a nutshell, you collect little figurines with various strengths and powers, use them to form a team, and turn-by-turn work your way across a giant gridded battlefield to battle your opponents’ figurines. Your figures “battle” based on their specific power sets in conjunction with the results of dice rolls. The base of each figurine has a set of stats displayed on a little wheel…
…and when you take damage in battle, you “click” the wheel to change the characters’ stats. Eventually you will click the wheel into KO status, and then your dude is dead. The player who killed him takes that figurine along with its point value, and at the end of the game, whoever has the most points worth of killed characters wins.
That’s the super simple synopsis of how the game works, but as you can imagine, it’s actually way, way, way more complicated. My friends and I are still trying to figure out all the intricacies, and it seems like every time we glance at the rule book, we notice a new thing we’re doing horribly wrong. It certainly takes patience to go through the learning process necessary to play HeroClix, as well as a willingness to let go of the self-consciousness that goes along with participating in something this nerdy, but luckily I have literally nothing better to do with my time, and I have no shame.
The existence of this game is really dangerous for a guy like me, because it pretty much combines every single one of my shameful, guilty pleasures:
IT’S A CONFUSING AND COMPLEX BOARD GAME
A few friends and I have gotten really into weird German board/card games lately, starting with more innocent fare like Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne, and graduating to even nerdier stuff like Dominion and my personal favorite, motherfucking Thunderstone. HeroClix is a lot like those games, except it’s American, it offers more variety by its very nature, and most importantly, you can be Batman in it.
YOU CAN BE BATMAN IN IT (OR IRON MAN, OR HELLBOY. ETC.)
In case you haven’t noticed, I really like superheroes. HeroClix lets you play as superheroes. ‘Nuff said. But still, I don’t think this game would be half as appealing to me if it was just a Marvel licensed product or just a DC licensed product. What makes this game truly special is the fact that this company got both Marvel and DC to participate (as well as several independent comic book publishers, and many other licenses such as Lord of the Rings, Street Fighter, and even fucking Iron Maiden). Because of this, every round of HeroClix becomes a massive crossover event, and goddamn if that isn’t cool as hell.
To play this game properly, you need to be able to assemble a team from a large assortment of figurines. The way you get these figurines is by purchasing “booster packs,” which have a handful of random figures in them, and you never know which ones you’re going to get. This can be good or bad. An example of the “bad” side of the spectrum: I bought two Batman-themed booster packs recently, and due to shitty luck, I immediately ended up with four sets of doubles. If you’re a normal person with a normal brain, this element of the game is probably turning you off to the whole damn thing, but holy shit do I love this. Like a freshly-wrapped Christmas present or a pack of Garbage Pail Kids, there is nothing as exhilarating for a sucker like me than ripping open packaging to see what wonders lie within!
Perhaps the most embarrassing itch that this game scratches is my secret, shameful love for miniatures. From Micro Machines to Mighty Max, if something is much teeny-tinier than it should be, I want it want it want it. One of the highest items on my bucket list of dreams is to one day dedicate an entire room of my home to an elaborate, sprawling miniature Christmas village. Oh my god, I can’t believe I just typed that on the internet.
So yeah, it seems like HeroClix was pretty much invented just for me! My little clan of nerds and I are only just getting started and so far we’ve only played on one map, which came with one of our starter sets and for some reason depicts a highway truck stop:
What’s really crazy is that this seems to be the very first map created for the game. So somebody invented a game about epic superhero battles and then when it came time to decide where these battles should take place, the first thing that came to mind wasn’t the rooftops of a crime-ridden metropolis or a top secret base inside a mountain, or something like that. It was a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike. Weird.
That’s the only map we’ve really fucked with so far, but our collections of characters are growing at an alarming rate. Here are some of my favorites from our house collection:
Molecule Man is a really doofy minor villain in the Marvel universe, but he’s at the top of the shitheap in the world of HeroClix. He is super strong, he can fly, and he has the ability to range attack two characters at once from really far away. In our earlier games, before we had a ton of other powerful characters, this made Molecule Man nigh unbeatable.
BEST FRIEND BATMAN
He isn’t very strong, but the character I’ve dubbed “Best Friend Batman” is awesome in spite of that, due to his Leadership ability. This increases the attack power of any teammate who is near him on the map, so I love making him follow my other dudes around for support!
We all know The Flash is super fast. What this means in HeroClix is that he can move 14 goddamn spaces at once, and that in the middle of those spaces he can stop, attack someone, and then run away like a bitch. This makes him perfect for quickly and safely taking out weaker dudes!
The Awesome Android, Andy for short, is kinda strong but nothing special compared to some other figures we have. Still, he remains a favorite due to his, well, awesomeness. He’s much bigger physically than most other figures, his hand is designed to clutch smaller characters in its grasp, and he has a Foreman Grill for a head. What’s not to love?
Those are a handful (literally!) of some of my favorite characters in our collections, but there are thousands of fucking figures available for this game, and some of them delve into pretty obscure corners of the Marvel and DC universes. Still, there are a bunch of awesome heroes and villains that as of yet are not available for the game. If I could choose any characters from Marvel or DC to make the transition into HeroClix figures, here is the dream team I would assemble:
I defy anybody to show me a team that can beat those guys! I’d be unstoppable!!
In summation, HeroClix is a stupid, embarrassing, expensive waste of time and money. And I love it more than anything else in the world.
I want to die.