Heroclix: Online Beta Impressions

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Undeadpool

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Edited By Undeadpool

I love Heroclix. I was introduced to them in '03 and I was immediately hooked. It was like playing a game of chess, only with superhero miniatures and more freedom of movement. Oh and dice. But other than that, EXACTLY like chess, or in other words: an incredible blending of strategic gameplay and comic book characters, with some dice rolling thrown in just to make things unpredictable.

The game is played on a predetermined map and operates like most other miniature-based games: characters have a score for movement, attack, defense, damage and range. The big difference with these is that as they take damage, their stats and powers (indicated by color-coded markers on each stat) change by way of rotating (or clicking) the base. The problem was that I couldn't find a group to keep playing with. A few of my roommates got into it, but after a couple of years, interest waned on all our parts.

The Rainbow Bridge represented on one of the maps
The Rainbow Bridge represented on one of the maps

When WizKids announced that, finally, this year they'd be taking their miniatures game online, I jumped at the chance to take this tabletop game to a whole new crowd of online players. The results, as these things often are, were mixed.

== TEASER ==

The Bad

I like to close on a positive note, so I'll be tackling what's wrong with the game before I move on to what's right. What's wrong is that the game is still in Beta (testing and not being released as a full-retail product, for those non-gamer readers among us), so the game is still very, very incomplete. There are strange glitches that I've seen do everything from pass characters through walls (which should be unpassable), to giving opponents powers that I should have to freezing up after a game is completed. The game is also unintuitive in its user-interface, for instance you can't just select your miniatures when you join a game, you have to use a pre-made team, or Force, that you assemble in an entirely different menu. This feature in particular seems completely unnecessary, especially since it really only forces each player to make a huge number of Forces to account for the units they may want to use from game to game.

Is the price of $12 worth the potential of getting one of these premium characters?
Is the price of $12 worth the potential of getting one of these premium characters?

Another, somewhat minor, gripe is that the units don't animate in any substantial way. You won't see Johnny Storm hurling fireballs, nor Captain America hurl his mighty shield, instead the miniatures stay completely frozen and when they need to move, they do so by floating along the game board.

While this isn't a deal breaker, the fact that there have been animated board games for well over a decade makes this more glaring than it perhaps deserves. Since the beta was/is relatively inexpensive to join, this is still forgivable until you see the price of a booster pack in-game. While the Beta only costs $1.95 to get into (and comes with the Fantastic 4 Starter for free), Booster packs, which contain five random figures and can help make your Forces more diverse, each cost $12. This is only $3 less than physical boosters cost (and most of those you can find on-sale in a comic book store at a discount), and considering the lack of animation and complete randomness of the packs, as well as the more basic fact that you don't get a figure that you can actually see and hold, this is far too much to pay. If Heroclix Online wants to stay competitive and keep making money after people have signed up, they either need to start having sale events or reduce that price down further ($10 would be the absolute maximum I'd think).

The Good

But all's not glitches and overpricing: the game, once you get into it and get past the initial awkwardness, is an incredibly faithful recreation of a game of Heroclix. The game is entirely turn-based, though each player has a five minute limit before the game automatically switches, to the next player, so you can't dawdle over-much. The maps (of which there are four) are also very well rendered and give a great diversity of environments and terrain, each requiring their own individual tactics. The dice rolling is, as always, either joyous or infuriating, depending on what side of the equation you're on. There's nothing quite as infuriating as seeing a perfectly executed plan completely disintegrate because of a few low die-rolls, but on the other side of that coin is the ridiculous come-from-behind victory that accompanies a few good turns of fortune and to be fair, the game seems to have an excellent randomizer for the die rolls.

Variety is king in Heroclix.
Variety is king in Heroclix.

I also have to commend the community. It's a little sad that a community can be lauded for not being populated by aggressively negative types who'd just as soon insult you as assist you, but such is reality. So far, though, all the games that I've gotten into have ranged from the conspicuously silent to those who were nothing but helpful and polite. Maybe it's because the community is still fairly small, though rarely to the point that I've had trouble finding a game to join, but the overall feel is very positive and everyone seems like they definitely want to be there to have fun.

At the End of the Day

I can't fully recommend going into Heroclix: Online cold, at least not when it goes full-retail. I'm not sure how things are going to shake out when the game goes on sale to the public, what's going to cost what, or what mechanics are going to be tweaked, but at this point I can really only recommend it to fans of the analog game. The Beta is still open and you'll get to bring everything you earn into the retail release, which is a neat perk.

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Omega Ray Jay

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#1  Edited By Omega Ray Jay

Never heard of this before, interesting stuff. Just be sure to never play a Wookiee.

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PrinceIMC

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#2  Edited By PrinceIMC

Oh I never had enough people to play heroclix with so playing online is kinda a good idea. I just wish I could transfer the heroclix I have into the game.

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xmicahx

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#3  Edited By xmicahx

i play alot of heroclix, i love the game. 
i have a few issues with heroclix online.
 
the majority of the people who play this are going to be people who play heroclix for real. so your selling digital boosters to people who already have the real figures. 
if these digital boosters are random then that means you can get dupes. so its entirely possible that i could have 3 copies of a digital figure and 4 copies of the real figure. the real figure i can at least trade away or put on ebay or give to newer players to help them get started. 
dupes of digital copies do nothing and i think the price they are asking for boosters is ridiculous. they cant do something like guarantee no dupes, becuse some figures (minions) you will want multiples of. 
 
im just not sure who they are marketing this game to. 
why would a player buy a digital booster when he could buy a real one? 
sure there will be some people who buy both, but especially in this economy, that is a very small minority of the player base. 
 
i think a better model would be maybe a 5$ monthly fee and you get figure packs very week. 
or maybe being able to buy individual pieces at deeply discounted prices.

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xmicahx

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#4  Edited By xmicahx

maybe the real boosters could come with codes on the card that you could insert to "unlock" the piece online

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Golden Cod

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#5  Edited By Golden Cod

Interesting.   Heroclix seems to be the only tabletop turn based game that has preserved the tabletop feel to it (for better or worse).   Most seem to be taking the Games Workshop route of going pseudo-RTS.
 
Does the beta have a trading function?   I think there's untapped potential there, especially if it's possible to get redundant copies of characters in those booster packs.

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Joe Venom

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#6  Edited By Joe Venom

I play Magic online for the reason I love this idea, where I live no one plays games like these and I love Hero Clix. I managed to get ~3 of my friends into playing it we gather together almost every other Sunday to play huge 600 - 800 matches ( we would play for more but some ppl take for ever to choose there team) by now we are all use to one anothers tactics so this will be great chance to play against someone different so I will definitely check this out when I get a chance ^^

Awesome review! Sucks they don't have animation for the figures I hope that changes when/if the real one comes out.

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MrUnknown

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#7  Edited By MrUnknown

This is pretty cool. I never really got into playing Heroclix because only one of my friend used to play it. But where the game has lost most of its appeal and seems a bit outdated with no animation and such $12 for 3 new characters is a really really hardsell. It should be $1 for a new figure or 2 max. Or they should go with a monthly fee route and new characters are gotten through victories or such. The maps especially the Rainbow Bridge looks awesome!

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Trodorne

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#8  Edited By Trodorne

Right now the beta is only focused on the Hammer of Thor set which Wizkids/Neca initially released and by the looks of things this was something they had in the wood works since the reinventing of the game itself in terms that you buy a brick and you take the code online which you have and then you get randomized bricks or if they had bar code scanners of what was in each of those bricks then you would get exactly what you collected in your real life brick.
 
  Frankly they could make more money per person if they allowed you to collect your figures by using the bar codes from the actual purchased product and only charging for official tournaments that they do online say $3-5 per actual tournament, have one of these tourney's like once every month and have different styles of tournaments. thus keeping the game different each time and investing in people to play the game.

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x_lover1

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#9  Edited By x_lover1

I got interested by getting a alpha flight pack. It contained Golden Age figures with the Alpha Flight keyword, but I loved it. Ever since, i've been getting more and more.

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sporterX

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#10  Edited By sporterX

I've tried the free beta and I've liked it.  There is an auction where you can buy and sell clix.  Now that there is a paid beta, I find $12 for a virtual booster to be outrageous.  Most of the real boosters that I've seen are around $12-$15.  I can't bring myself to pay that when I can have the real thing for just about the same price.  I like the idea of some how receiving the virtual clix when you buy the real deal, but that is probably just wishful thinking.  I hope that they reconsider the pricing of boosters and bricks.

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nyo

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#11  Edited By nyo

Oh my! This is so amazing still haven't quite figured out the rules yet. :p

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Manchine

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#12  Edited By Manchine

Yeah I was one of the testers.  I only had couple real glitches during the free beta testing (I played a good share of games).  They did a good job of taking care of the glitches when they popped up.  I would of gotten into this, IF, the price would of been about 1/2 or less then what is. 
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huser

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#13  Edited By huser
@xmicahx said:
maybe the real boosters could come with codes on the card that you could insert to "unlock" the piece online
The high price of the digital versions might make more sense is this was possible. IE encourage purchases of the physical versions. But as is way too much of a money sink.
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Chaos Burn

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#14  Edited By Chaos Burn

polish it up, lower the price, and i'm up for it

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sgtnickrage

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#15  Edited By sgtnickrage

Sounds really expensive. I wold only play if it was just one monthly fee. I would rather buy a real figure for the money.  

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cwpolzel

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#16  Edited By cwpolzel  Moderator

I have been playing the physical game since 2002, when it debuted. I played the beta version and have enjoyed it, a lot of the problems have been resolved (it is still in beta). I like the idea of the online format, because my hectic schedule often prevents me from going to organized events.

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Undeadpool

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#17  Edited By Undeadpool

@Blue_Shield: I'm Undeadpool if you want to add me.

@xmicahx: There's an Auction House that I didn't go into because I haven't used it, but you can sell dupes (or any unwanted figures) there for in-game currency.

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sithfrog

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#18  Edited By sithfrog

Sinking money into the physical game was one of the reasons why I haven't gotten any new figures since the Avengers set.  The online concept intrigues me, but the price for boosters is a deal breaker at the moment.

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xmicahx

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#19  Edited By xmicahx
@sithfrog said:

Sinking money into the physical game was one of the reasons why I haven't gotten any new figures since the Avengers set.  The online concept intrigues me, but the price for boosters is a deal breaker at the moment.

just an fyi, the game is better now than ever. they did away with the feats, battlefield conditions, pogs, and event dials in the modern age format. also, the figures in general are better. better dials, sculpts, and paint.
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labarith

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#20  Edited By labarith

MTG has same prices for their online game... but their packs cost $3, and a draft costs $12... (although you do need much more product to play). 
 
Still, you're absolutely right.  If this is going to succeed, it needs: 
1.  Animated figures.  If Pokemon can have in-game animation, these guys need the same.  Sure, I suspect that CAP will ALWAYS just throw his shield or kick, HT will ALWAYS shoot fireballs, etc... but they need to be animated to do so. 
 
2.  Price needs to come WAY down... or there has to be a significant # of players online. 
 
Does Heroclix have a "draft"/Limited option?  I think THAT could easily make them their money back, and provide a rich 2nd hand market to make buying boosters unnecessary for non-limited players. 

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HaHaManHV

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#21  Edited By HaHaManHV

Regardless of how glitchy this may be, the second I can get my hands on it (Curse my Mac!!!) I'll play it. Heroclix is such an incredible game that I can't help but play for hours and hours every week with my friends. I'm sure by years end it'll be in full swing and devour all my free time

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Mach

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#22  Edited By Mach

Can You import your old Heroclix miniatures and is it only The Marvel -U?
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Marshal Victory

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#23  Edited By Marshal Victory

Back in the day played htis as well as the fantasy version an the dungeon version which was great fun.Shame they dont understand priceing. same thing hapend top Saga . they priced their boosters bit to high an made their pay to play game free to play.Their idea was you buy real packs an get digital units as well. 
 
If wizkids was smart an from what i have seen they have done with Dunegons an Dragons their not... They would At least make the real packs have a code in it for a redeamable free online pack .Just have online packs at least half the real ones to.They would make more moeny in the long run that way.
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RedheadedAtrocitus

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They look interesting enough..but Im still too obsessed with SL to try such things out yet..heh