There ain't no rules in a knife fight


This one is about HeroClix. Mike Norton, welcome. The rest of you... move along. Nothing to see here.

Last week I set up a battle between an odd line up of JLAers and an odder line up of Crime Syndicate members augmented by the two Fatal Five members we had in clix form at the time. The battle's main point was to feature some newer figs I wanted to try out and some older figs I hadn't used in a long time. So, I had Martian Manhunter, the Vet Elongated Man, the Vet Icons Wonder Woman, the Experienced Legacy Batman, the Vet Red Tornado, and the Experienced Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, going up against Ultraman, Owlman, the Vet Superwoman, the Vet Emerald Empress, and the Vet Persuader. (I didn't have my GIANTS set yet, or I'd probably have thrown in Validus, and pumped up the JLA team with at least one more heavyweight or a couple more minor figures -- maybe the Vet Fire and Ice, a vet Booster Gold, and my Ted Kord LE, I don't know.)

Anyway, at first the JLA seemed to be holding their own and doing pretty well. But as the game wore on, I began to realize that essentially, most of the bad guys were only there to wear down the JLA as much as possible, prior to Ultraman ripping all their arms and legs off and flailing their torsos into gruel against the nearest building.

For his points, and given the kind of character he is (an evil Superman, essentially) one is tempted to piss and moan that Ultraman gets no HyperSonic Speed. At least, that used to be my action. No more of that nonsense from me, nosirree. Who needs HyperSonic Speed when you have a 12 Movement with Running Shot, an 11 Attack, an 8 range, 5 damage, and RCE on your first click? And a 12 Movement, Charge, a 10 Attack, Super Strength, and 5 Damage with CCE on your second click? Add that to Impervious and you've got one helluva demolition man. Stack Fortitude and Repulsor Shield on top of all that and, well... you've got Evil Superman, pure and simple. Run away! Run away!

I grant you, I completely forgot to try out my brand new House Rules JLA Team Ability during the battle, which might have made a difference... I missed several crucial Outwit and Incapacitate rolls that I might well have made, if I'd remembered the new Attack Value modifier the TA can give once per round. Still, once Ultraman started mixing it up, there was nobody on the board who could hurt him.

The first JLAer he took out was Batman, as Batman's Outwit was about the only thing in the game he needed to be wary of... by my House Rules, Fortitude protects completely from Ranged Outwit, but only requires adjacent Outwitters to make an attack roll... which Batman probably could have succeeded in doing, since Ultraman's defense isn't all that high. It didn't matter, though. With Charge adding one to his damage for a successful Close Combat attack, Ultraman was doing 8 clicks of damage on a punch, when he had room to fly up to an opponent. That not only hammered poor Bruce Wayne to oblivion and beyond, it also pretty much smashed Red Tornado into flinders, turned the Elongated Man into goo, reduced Aquaman to fish sticks, and crushed Kyle Rayner into minty green toothpaste.

In fact, with my House Rules increasing the amount of damage that Invulnerability and Impervious reduce to 3 and 4, respectively, there wasn't anyone on the board who could even get a click of damage through to Ultraman once Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter were knocked down a few slots -- while, on the other hand, he himself was perfectly capable of getting 3 clicks of damage past even the toughest possible opponent's resistant defenses. I had a brief flash of hope when Elongated Man pushed himself onto an Outwit click, but, well, he was pushed, and as it turned out, by bad timing, so was Kyle Rayner -- and Kyle using his Barrier ability to put a click of Blocking Terrain right on top of Ultraman was the only thing keeping the remnants of the JLA conscious right then. (Under my House Rules, you can put a Barrier or a Smoke Cloud marker on an occupied square, which I think is much more consistent with superhero combat than restricting them to unoccupied squares. This way, someone like Green Lantern, or Iceman, or Captain Cold, can use their powers to momentarily paralyze up to four opponents with Barrier, which is exactly what they do in the comics. As to Smoke Cloud, well, someone with Stealth and Smoke Cloud can, under my House Rules, drop a smoke bomb at their own feet and disappear inside it... exactly the sort of thing Mysterio does. Or you can lob a Smoke Bomb at an enemy and momentarily blind and/or slow them down, which is the sort of thing Batman should be able to do.)

Had I had a few spare points to give Ultraman the Unstoppable feat card as well as Fortitude and Repulsor Shield, even Barrier wouldn't have stopped him. As it was, though, nobody could hurt him; putting him in a big green energy bubble just slowed him down... for a while.

Ultraman not being stupid, he knew immediately that ol' Ralph was going to try to Outwit him, given a chance, so ol' Ralph never got the chance. After that, it was pretty much a done deal.

But that's not the match I want to talk about here. Right now, I'm in the middle of a battle between an Injustice League roster consisting of Prometheus, Giganta, Thomas Oscar Morrow, the Veteran Dr. Light, the General, and the Vet Hypertime Cheetah, going up against a Legion squadron composed of the Vet Wildfire, Colossal Boy, the Vet Shadow Lass, the Vet Saturn Girl, and the Vet Brainiac 5, all teamed up with Oracle... not just In Contact with her, but with her actually sitting off the board on the feat card. (I went back and forth between Brainy and the Vet Kid Quantum. Brainy isn't particularly useful under my House Rules, where Outwit at range is treated as a range attack for 0 damage. It severely limits his ability to use it. But I figured he'd be more useful as a Brilliant Tactician, than even a Triple Incapacitator... and anyway, I have no use for Kid Quantum, who is a rotten Modern Age addition to the team.)

The reason I put the Legion team together the way I did was that I wanted to try out the combination of Shadow Lass' Smoke Cloud, the Flashbang Feat Card (which under my House Rules allows Smoke Bomb to be used as a free action, if the user doesn't move), and the Legion's ability to wild card the Batman TA from Oracle.

See, under my House Rules, line of sight is required for any kind of attack -- close combat or ranged. This is a significant departure from WizKids rules, where line of sight is only important to a ranged attack. All this is significant, because what the Stealth power (or the Batman Team Ability) does is, if a person using it is on Hindering Terrain (which includes Smoke Cloud squares), there is no line of sight to them... they are, effectively, invisible. They can't be attacked.

I made this change because under WizKids rules, where you can't attack a Stealthed figure with Range powers, but you can launch close combat attacks at them, the first thing that everyone does when confronted with a sneaky figure, or an invisible one, is run right up to it and punch it in the mouth. This always bothered me... I mean, if a character is hiding behind a dumpster, or a bush, or just flat out invisible (as many characters with Stealth actually are), how can you just run up and peg it one in the teeth? If you can't see it, then you can't see it.

The most common way, under my House Rules, to deal with a Stealthed character is to blow up whatever piece of Hindering Terrain they are hiding on. This exposes them to view and lets you attack them. (How this works with characters who are actually invisible I couldn't tell you... I guess if you blast the shrub Sue Storm is lurking against to pieces, she loses her concentration and becomes visible again. Or something.)

However, you can't blow up Smoke Cloud squares (and certainly, I can't see any easy way one could destroy a patch of total darkness, which is effectively what Shadow Lass is generating.)

By sheer random coincidence (I certainly didn't actively plan it) about half that Injustice League team has Super Senses, and with Super Senses, you CAN see Stealthed characters, and attack them. Which is the only reason the IL had any chance at all in this game. But now that Cheetah has been blown off the map and Prometheus has had the Super Senses smacked out of him, only T.O. Morrow has a chance of being able to deal with the entire Legion squad... and as soon as he gets close enough, I suspect the LSH will deal with him handily. It's not like he's a powerhouse, or anything.

Giganta, the General, and Dr. Light are capable of doing a great deal of damage between them... but they can't see their enemies, as long as the LSH wild cards the Batman TA and stays in Shadow Lass' areas of darkness.

All told, I'm wondering if some one of my rules needs some tweaking. The easiest thing to do would be to re-redefine the Flashbang feat, getting rid of the 'free action if you don't move' aspect of it. If Shadow Lass had to take an action token to use her power, it would considerably even things out. The Legion would either be visible every other turn, or she'd quickly push herself into unconsciousness.

I'm also strongly considering a change I've wanted to make since the first clix game I ever played in -- which is, to allow Energy Explosion to target terrain squares or terrain features, as well as opposing figures. I've always thought this made sense -- after all, one of the easiest ways to effect someone who is hiding is to throw a grenade somewhere near him... but I've resisted it because hitting a particular piece of terrain should be fairly easy, and if you let people with the power start doing that, they'll never aim at an actual opponent again, they'll just start blasting the square next to their target, instead. That's realistic... what makes explosives so deadly is that they don't have to be precisely aimed... but it has the potential to be enormously imbalancing. Of course, on the other hand, I already have two powers that essentially hit anything within range unless you roll a 2 on your dice -- Pulse Wave and Quake. Energy Explosion would just be one more -- and it only does 1 point of damage. So I'm thinking about that... because it would be a logical way to respond to enemies who were attacking, and then ducking back into, impenetrable darkness.

I'm still thinking about it. But I suspect my House Rules are going to get updated again, sometime soon.

I'm also wondering if Giganta gets Quake, somewhere on her dial. Because that would fix those rotten kids good, too... but, no... I just checked and she doesn't get it. The General doesn't get anything really cool, either (although I did slap an Automatic Regenerate on him; he gets FIVE SLOTS OF REGENERATION!!!)

Looks like it's all up to T.O. Morrow. If he can get close enough, and lob something explosive at Shadow Lass, it could all turn around...

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