Before Heroclix, There Was…
I started getting into tabletop games when I was in fifth grade. We had played a makeshift RPG based on crude rules that were taken from Dungeons and Dragons. It didn’t last long – most of the kids that I played with weren’t as into the game as I was, and the kid playing dungeon master soon got bored with it and we ended up dropping the whole game.
A year later, I got into Magic: The Gathering, a collectible card game (CCG) that is most likely the card game that started it all. I eventually got turned off of the game a year later, primarily because I didn’t like the people that I played with – they cheated, stole cards, and were very unsportsmanlike. In college, I got back into CCGs thanks to classmates of mine. I dabbled in Legend of the Five Rings and some Ani-Mayhem. Eventually, I lost interest in CCGs and for years I found myself without a gaming-related hobby.
That is, until I caught wind of Heroclix. Heroclix and it’s predecessor, Mage Knight, were games that I’ve never seen anything quite like before they were released. Dubbed as collectible miniatures games (CMG), these involved the use of figurines as game pieces. Heroclix caught my attention primarily because of their “clix” mechanic – there have been other CMGs that existed before Mage Knight, but in my opinion, none of them captured the ease and feel that Wizkids’ clix mechanic offered.
Chess with Superheroes
The games of Mage Knight and Heroclix revolved around a combat dial that contained numbers and colors that represented the figures’ capabilities and it’s lifespan. Whenever a figure took damage, you would turn the dial clockwise, and the colors and numbers would change to reflect how a character’s powers and abilities change. Mage Knight featured medieval characters, and while I liked that genre a lot, it couldn’t compare to how much I loved the comic book genre. So I ended up getting into Heroclix instead.
I got myself a Marvel Heroclix Infinity Challenge starter set, my first ever Heroclix purchase, in 2002. It was right after I graduated from college and just before I found work. I can still remember some of the significant pieces that I got in that set – Rookie Ultron and Rookie Hercules. It was quite disappointing – I didn’t plan on playing Heroclix full time and just wanted to get my hands on Spider-Man and a few other characters that I liked, thinking that I would be able to enjoy the game with the characters that I was quite fond of.
I ended up buying a whole lot more as I got hooked. The clix mechanic was a really good method of capturing what each superhero can do, without the need for a lot of books, reference materials, or record keeping. All you needed to know was what each color/power represented, which is on a handy quick reference card. Not needing to keep track of health/hit points made Heroclix quite intuitive.
I played Heroclix a lot for several years, amassing thousands of figures throughout the time that I was enjoying it. I did get tired of it one day, resulting in my (to date) permanent retirement from the game.
I eventually got burned out of the game though because of five reasons. First, setting up a Heroclix game was quite tedious. Because of the size of the maps, you would need a large table just to play. And a game of Heroclix could last anywhere between 30 minutes to even two hours, so we couldn’t just play anywhere. I needed to go to a specific mall wherein a hobby shop would reserve mall space for tabletop gamers.
This leads to the second reason – my job required that I worked during nights. Because I usually played Heroclix at our local mall, I would need to stay up really late after work just to be able to play. By then, I was usually running on fumes already, so I wasn’t playing Heroclix well at all. The third reason for me quitting Heroclix is because my friends weren’t into the game. I didn’t really get along with the local Heroclix crowd that I was playing. So outside of Heroclix, I didn’t enjoy spending time with them at all.
The fourth reason why I quit was because Heroclix was becoming convoluted already. The game’s simplicity was what got me hooked in the first place, but Wizkid’s started adding more and more elements to the game. However, the fifth and biggest reason for me quitting Heroclix involved our local hobby shop. At the time that I quit, you could only get new figures if you had ordered a full “brick”. A brick is a package of ten Heroclix booster packs, so it was quite expensive. Buying a brick was quite a financial commitment, one that I couldn’t sustain.
I enjoyed Heroclix a lot, and I sometimes miss playing it. Heroclix is significant enough for me to still want to talk about it despite having retired from the game already.