Rules and Regs - Actions vs Attacks

Tuesday, 1 October 2013 12:34:00 Europe/London

Hi my name is Vicente de los Santos and welcome to my latest article on the Heroclix rules. These articles are designed to help you better understand some of the new and complicated mechanics of the game and improve your game. I would also like to encourage a discussion of these mechanics and rules, so please feel free to ask any question you have in the comment section below.

A simple and very common confusion in the first steps in Heroclix appears with the mix-up of Actions and Attacks. Usually, new players see them as a same thing, and this is an error because it would bring us problems when we use some powers or game effects. Today we are going to analyze these actions and attacks in depth, we will establish the differences and also we will do a quick review of the different actions that can be given in a Heroclix game.

Actions vs. Attacks
This mix of attacks and actions has an easy way to fix. An action is what a character does during its turn, and an attack may be the resolution of one of these actions. Powers activate with actions in a direct or indirect way, but always with actions.
There is no much to talk about the attacks (If you don´t understand the attacks, check the rules manual again), we roll the dice hoping that all the Asgardian gods will give us some luck, and a critical hit. So let's focus on the actions.

The pillar of the game, with the actions we move our characters, attack the opposing ones and activates game effects. We have five different actions:
Free Action
Move Action
Close Combat Action
Ranged Combat Action
Power Action (and Double Power Action)
With the exception of Free Actions, a character can only receive one action in a turn (Have in mind that if you have two action tokens cannot be given non-free actions). As always, we can find game effects that say otherwise (Master of Evil TA allows us to continue doing actions despite having two action tokens).

Free Actions
Actions that do not give an action token when they are used. Outwit is an example of a power activated by a free action, Outsider TA does not require action token too. These free actions have a limit. We cannot use the same game effect by free actions more than once in a turn. So if we have a character with Perplex on its dial, and Perplex granted by a resource, we can only use one.

Free Actions

Free actions can be given at any time during our turn, including the beginning and the end of it. Sometimes is useful give the free actions in these segments of the turn. (Outwit and Poison during the beginning of our turn).

Free, but not instant

As we said, free actions can be given during our turn, but we cannot use it while we are using other action. If we are charging against a character, we cannot use Perplex to increase the attack or damage value. The correct order is to use Perplex before the power action that activates the Charge. We cannot start an action until the previous one is resolved.


Free Not Instant

Move Actions
With these actions, our characters can move through the map, up to its movement value. Phasing / Teleport and Leap/Climb are powers that are activated with move actions (and any other special power). Move actions are not much complicated, we only have to keep in mind map features, abilities (Flight, Giant Reach or Great Size), Improved Movement or some powers (Plasticity, Super Strength)

Close Combat Actions
With Close Combat Actions we activate certain game effects against opposing characters. Normally we use these actions to make close combat attacks.
Here it is the first important issue. A close combat action has two functions: generate a close combat attack or activate a power. Remember that an action is not an attack, so attacks does not activate powers (unless the power says otherwise).
Powers that are activated by Close Combat Actions:
Flurry (Give us two attacks)
Mind Control
Blade / Claws / Fangs * (It activates when a close combat action is given)
Exploit Weakness 

Close Combat Actions


Easy, if we have any of these powers on the dial, we can use a close combat action to activate ONE of them. Also, It's a common mistake among players to use a single close combat action for activating a bunch of powers (This is not Magic the Gathering).

Ranged Combat Actions
Same as close combat, but considering other factors such range, targets and the basic rules of the ranged combat. Ranged Combat Actions can be used to generate a ranged attack or activate a power that requires this action.
Mind Control (Minimum range 4)
Energy Explosion* (It activates when a ranged combat action is given)
Pulse Wave
Psychic Blast / Penetrating
A ranged combat action activates ONE of these powers, except Energy Explosion. A character can be given a Ranged combat action to use Psychic Blast, and then we can combine it with Energy Explosion.

Power Actions

The super heroic actions, used to activate powers or special game effects. Unlike other actions, power actions do not generate attacks. We cannot make a power action without getting something. These types of actions create the possibility of activating other actions and therefore we can make some combos with the powers.

Charge (It grants a Close Combat Action)
Force Blast
Hypersonic Speed (It grants a ranged or close combat ATTACK)
Running Shot (It grants a Ranged Combat Action)
Smoke Cloud
Close Combat Expert (It grants a close combat ATTACK)
Ranged Combat Expert (It grants a ranged combat ATTACK)

Same as above. A power action serves to activate ONE of these powers. Some give us the possibility to use another type of action. If we use Hypersonic Speed, we can make an ATTACK (We cannot use Hypersonic Speed and Incapacitate, or Hypersonic and Psychic Blast) but if we use Running Shot, we take a ranged combat action, so Psychic blast is available for us!. Also, we cannot use power actions to activate more than one effect. However much you want, it's impossible to mix Running Shot with Ranged Combat Expert (Deathlok prime is an exception)

Deathlok Prime


Double power action

A recent type of action, used to activate special powers that are normally described on the character card. Normally it represents unique and powerful actions. Possibilities of mix with other types of actions depends on the text of the power. Double power actions give the character two action tokens instead of one.

And here ends the review. As you see it is not so difficult to grasp, once we are clear about what kind of action we need for everything, the possibility of combining powers and the difference between attacks and actions, we only need luck on the rolls and have lots of fun.

Vicente started playing Heroclix in 2008, and his first figure was Magneto, House of M. Nowadays is a Heroclix Judge in Sevilla, Spain, and runs the website A Seises which includes many Heroclix articles in his native Spanish.


Posted in Rules and Regs By

Vicente de los Santos

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Ian King

posted on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 20:49:42 Europe/London
Thanks Vincente. The classic line from the rulebook "We cannot give to a character more than one action token" is what makes it so hard to work out. Good point about the MOE ability. I now need to find a MOE or wildcard with a good double power action to exploit EVERY TURN!!! (insert evil laugh here!)

Vicente De los Santos

posted on Sunday, 6 October 2013 10:06:11 Europe/London
It's a good question. I think that it goes in this way:

When you have one action token on a character, you cannot do a Double Power action because the rule of action tokens, (We cannot give to a character more than one action token).

Master of Evil and Double Power action it´s more complicated, but works. With the previous example, the character cannot use a Double power action if has one action token, Master of Evil TA give us the option to do a non-free action when the character has two tokens, so it does not work.


If our Master of Evil character has two action tokens, He can use his TA to make a Double power action. Master of Evil says that if the character has two action tokens, he can do a non-free action and receive 1 unavoidable damage. We don´t give any action tokens for the character while using Master of Evil, so we can do a double power action (And the character does not suffer the pushing damage)... shit I'll need some example pics he he he

Ian King

posted on Thursday, 3 October 2013 20:35:24 Europe/London
Another good article Vincente, thanks. I wish you had found another of your great ven-diagrams though, the one in your last article was really helpful.

The one rule that always confuses me is with double-power actions. Can you give one to a character with one action token already? They would then be given one token and then the second would not be given as "a character with 2 action tokens cannot be given further tokens". Or does having a token already make it impossible to be given 2 tokens and therefore the double-power action cannot be given in the first place. Do you know how that interacrts with the Masters of Evil team ability or even Colossal stamina?

Thanks again for the article, the time and effort you put into your excellent photographic examples is really appreciated, Reminds me of the old Hypertime rulebook.

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