2013 PAC revisited

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 08:00:00 Europe/London

Greetings folks, today I want to take a look back at the massive shake up to the PAC that happened last year and review how those changes have affected gameplay 12 months later.

The 2013 PAC bought about massive changes to existing powers as well as introducing four new powers for the first time in quite some time. Lets start by going through the changes made to powers appearing in the movement slot on the dial.

Movement Powers

Leap/Climb: The big change to Leap/Climb is that it no longer allows you to automatically breakaway from a close combat situation, instead you now get to add +2 to your d6 roll. This means you're succeeding on anything other than a 1 but it still leaves a small margin for error and that's a good thing. Anything that introduces a decision into your options is a good thing, just by giving a small change of failing can make you think twice now and choose to remain based with an opposing character.

Mind Control: Mind Control is one of my favourite powers in the game, there is nothing more satisfying than turning your opponents characters against each other and watching as his Hulk rips holes in his supporting cast. Mind Control became a Close or Ranged Combat Action which means it is now compatible with both Running Shot and Charge which allows for a lot more manoeuvrability when positioning your mind controller. There was also a change to how the feedback damage is calculated which made it less punishing to target higher point characters with a maximum of 1 unavoidable as feedback damage.

Plasticity: Plasticity is now capable of preventing characters from automatically breaking away and also adds a +2 or -2 modifier to breakaway rolls against friendly and opposing characters respectively. Plasticity is now also capable of immediately ending the movement of any opposing characters who become adjacent to the possessor of the power, a very handy anti-Hypersonic power as it prevents their attack entirely.

Force Blast: As well as it's previous effects Force Blast also now contains a passive usage which allows all attacks to generate knock back at the choice of the attacking player. This is fantastic for preventing a counter strike and forcing somebody out of range of you. Force Blast benefits massively as it's now a genuinely useful power!

Sidestep: The first of our new pink powers is Sidestep. Sidestep is a free action that allows you to move with a locked speed value of 2. That doesn't sound particularly exciting but the more you use the power the more you begin to realise just how brilliant it is. Starting your turn in hindering? Side Step out two squares before then moving your full speed value away. Able to combine Running Shot and Sidestep? That's perfect for attacking and then stepping behind a wall for cover. Want to carry a friendly character out of a dangerous situation? The locked speed value means you can carry 2 squares and get that friendly 4 squares away from where he started.

Hypersonic Speed: Like Leap/Climb Hypersonic Speed no longer allows you to automatically break away and now adds +2 to your d6 roll. So again the likelihood of getting away is high but it does create that margin for error that makes it a gamble. Once you're in motion you still ignore characters as normal.

So we see breaking away from characters become more of a gamble, Mind Control gets some boosts and move and attack, Plasticity and Force Blast become valid options and the introduction of our first new power which can provide massive options to a team for positioning. Let's move on to the attack slot.

Attack Powers

Energy Explosion: This change is a blessing in that it has now become infinitely easier to explain Energy Explosion to new players. Gone are the complicated sessions of working out who got hit how many times in stead we now just apply printed damage to the target and then adjacent characters are dealt damage equal to the number of lightning bolts on the attackers dial. This has now become one of my favourite powers in the game, DC10 Blue Beetle loves combining this with Force Blast to ruin a teams positioning.

Super Strength: We gained the ability to place objects back down that were being held. Although you can't pick up and place down in the same action it opened up a world of options to create mobile hindering terrain or provide support for characters like Gizmo who require objects for their abilities. This isn't an option I see used often but it's a nice addition and I've used it a few times to up the defence on a vulnerable piece about to be shot from range.

Incapacitate: The ultimate Heroclix lock down power gained the ability to deal damage to Indomitable characters. If a character is hit with Incapacitate and already has two action tokens he now takes 1 unavoidable damage instead of a token. This opens up the ability for cheap support pieces with low defence values to still apply some damage on to those Impervious monsters.

Smoke Cloud: The big change with Smoke Cloud was that now characters within a smoke cloud received -1 to their attack value unless they could use Smoke Cloud or ignore hindering terrain for line of fire. This changed it from a power that was only really useful for providing Stealth or slowing people down to a handy defensive power that is akin to perplexing the defence on your entire team.

Precision Strike: The second pink power is one that I find to be grossly overpowered. There are so many characters in clix who rely purely on Super Senses for defence and with Precision Strike now being handed out to pretty much anybody Super Senses now feels like a largely redundant and unreliable power. I like it as a counter to Mastermind and the way it allows low damage pieces to chip away at an Impervious character but the Super Senses part just seems a little powerful. I'd like to see this revisited at some point and perhaps changed to add a -1 modifier to super sense rolls.

Energy Explosion changes are far less complicated, it makes some EE pieces weaker but is a good move going forward. Super Strength, Incapacitate and Smoke Cloud all gain secondary functions which increase their usability. Precision Strike is a nice addition to the game although it seems very common on dials and bypasses a valuable defensive ability.

Defence Powers

Combat Reflexes: Gone is the option to ignore knock back damage and now you must ignore it. This sounds like a small change but having that option in the past was often very useful to get out of range for a second attack from another piece or even prevent a flurry. It's not game changing but I wish this hadn't been changed.

Invincible: Possibly the most interesting of the pink powers. Sometimes it's better than Impervious, other times it's worse than Invulnerability. Invincible allows you to IGNORE half the damage dealt (how many times have I, as a judge, had to explain the difference between ignoring damage and taking damage?) which means when somebody hits you for 8 damage it's a life saver but when you get popped for a low 2 clicks of damage the dial is still turning. Invincible is best when grouped together for three clicks or more, a single click of Invincible is easily dealt with. I like what it brings to the game, it makes Superman feel capable of taking massive damage whilst still being a valid target for anybody on the map. The best thing about Invincible is that it is immune to penetrating damage, a fantastic bonus against all those Psychic Blasters.

Damage Powers

Ranged Combat Expert/Close Combat Expert: It used to be that these powers granted +2 damage but often they appeared down dial at a time when lower attack values meant the chance of hitting was lessened. Now we get a +2 modifier to split as the player sees fit between attack and damage. All off a sudden a character with CCE and an 8 attack becomes a viable threat when based. My favourite thing about this is that it often tells you a lot about the player using it; the strategists out there will favour +2 attack to make the the attack hits, the gambler will go +2 damage in hopes of that big game changing hit. It really does depend on the situation but if you ask me go +2 attack every time, a hit for 2 damage is better than a miss for 4.

Perplex/Outwit/Probability Control: The reduction of the range on these powers to a minimum of 6 rather than 10 reduces the size of the battlefield by some margin. No longer can your prob controller stand 10 squares away at the back of the map, now they have to be up in range of a charge or ranged attack. This had a MASSIVE effect on our local meta. I think at the time a lot of us thought this was going to reduce the way that the game favoured ranged teams but they still tend to win over close combat focussed teams but this did at least bring everything together in a tighter space.

Empower: The final pink power is a close combat version of Enhancement. A nice addition to the game but I'm not actually sure that I've ever used it still! Perhaps that says more about my play style or about how it's not as widely used as the other new powers but it just never jumps out at me as something all that exciting.

All in all the 2013 updates bought some massive changes to the game and mostly for the better. A lot of under-utilised or practically useless powers suddenly became usable and that's a great thing. Now those Plasticity clicks don't feel like a waste of points. The pink powers have been very successful and as much as I don't want to see an overhaul of this size every year, seeing something similar every two-three years could be a nice way to keep the game fresh and address any issues that develop overtime with the games standard powers.

Let me know in the comments section what your favourite changes are or some of your favourite uses or the new or updated powers.

Sam hails from the Isle Of Wight and has been playing Heroclix since early 2012. His most prized piece is the Dr. Fate convention exclusive he finally got his hands on after two lustful years. He is the current UK ROC Champion. Sam judges weekly at Cheap Thrills (http://www.facebook.com/groups/iowheroclix/)"

Posted in Team Talk By

Sam Grieve

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Ian King

posted on Thursday, 14 August 2014 19:36:33 Europe/London
Overall I really like the newer PAC. It makes previously obsolete powers better and breathes a lot of new life into older figures (especially the two 'expert' powers). I'm fine with the rules for precision strike but, like you, wish it was given out more rarely and only to figures who deal small amounts of damage (1-2 max) to prevent Super Sense figures from hurting too much. I see it more as a 'plinking' power than a powerhouse ability and would like to see it only on that type of figure.

My one confusion with the new PAC is Energy Explosion. I've yet to work out completely how it works and theres some debate in our little gaming group. Can you choose two initial targets if you have twin bolts? How then does AOE damage work? I really would love to see a decent diagram as the wording doesn't work for me. Maybe Vincente could be persuaded?

Mark has a good point about Super Strength. I'd like to see it grant improved movement for hindering and blocking BUT you'd have to roll a 3+ for EACH square you want to move through in that way. The chance to have Hulk bust through the wall would be cool.

Mark Richards

posted on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 20:45:09 Europe/London
I agree with most of the changes, making more of the lesser used powers.
Precision Strike is over-powered and if that wasn't bad enough, every Clix and its' dog has it.
Although Super Strength got a change, I still find it lacking and needs a passive ability. We used to have punching walls/blocking.
I don't want to over power it but could use something else. Perhaps the ability to carry and object AND a character, throw a character, a no tokens 'Rip It Up Lite' ability, optional Knockback, roll a die to also Incapacitate after a close combat action.
Sidestep is my new favourite power, so simple but so much utility.

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