Campaign Trail - Team Rosters

Thursday, 12 March 2015 16:55:18 Europe/London



There's no denying that part of the appeal of comic books is their serial nature.  The need to see what happens next is certainly why my pull list is heaving every month.  Marvel and DC do that with their books, TV shows and even their movies: characters and teams grow and change all the time.  And yet there are no mechanics for this built in to the game of Heroclix, which is kind of a shame.

At the venue I play at, we use the idea of a "campaign" to try to capture that feel.  We play a series of scenario games over the course of several sessions (usually once a month for a year), so each player can marshal their own team of heroes and watch them grow, change, succeed and fail.  Just like in the comics.  We find campaigns a nice change of pace to competitive meta play, and if you enjoy the mayhem of unnecessarily complicated and unbalanced scenarios from time to time, a campaign may suit you and your venue too.

Over the course of these articles, I'm going to show you what we're doing with this year's campaign.  We'll begin with a look at creating your starting line-up of heroes, and over the course of the series, I want to show you how we handle:

Recurring villains
Gaining and spending experience to improve your team
Managing access to feats, relics, resources, and vehicles
Including sub-plots into the campaign story

In later articles, I'm going to show you the scenarios we use.  If you want to try them out, either as one-offs or as part of a campaign, I'd love to hear about how they go for you.  If you play your own style of campaigns, it would be great to hear how they work too.

Basic Structure of a Campaign Night

Each campaign session consists of at least two rounds.  In the first round half of the players will play their hero teams, while the other half play villains specifically chosen to face each group of heroes.  In the second round, players swap sides (and usually opponents) so all players get to play their hero teams at least once.  

The two rounds both follow a scenario, so the aims are story driven.  Achieving scenario goals can earn the player experience points (we call them "Campaign Victory Points", or CVP, because, really, can you ever have enough acronyms?), which can be spent to add further characters to your roster or gain access to relics and resources in future campaign games.

We generally only get time for two rounds at our venue, if you have time for a third round, I'd suggest playing a straightforward head-to-head game with all players playing their heroes, and no scenario in play.  These don't earn CVP, but are a fun way of testing your team's progress.

Over the years we've taken several different approaches to the players' core teams.  Sometimes we will try and recreate teams from particular books, sometimes we try villain teams.  This year's campaign is about forming a brand new superhero team, bringing together unlikely allies to unravel nefarious plots  and combat injustice!  

For these articles I'm going to lay things out as we're playing them, feel free to use or adapt this to suit your players.

 Your "Roster "and your "Team"

Two words I will be using a lot are "roster" and "team".  For the purpose of the campaign:

  • Your roster is the set of characters that you have recruited
  • Your team is the selection of figures, based on your roster, that you are playing on a given campaign night 

 In the first campaign session, your roster and team are the same set of characters, but as the campaign continues, your roster will grow to the point where you won't be able to field your entire roll call, and you must choose which characters are going on the mission.  This choice gives you your team.

 Behind the Scenes: What's in a (Real) Name?

One of the best things to happen to campaign nights was the arrival some years ago of character cards.  In particular the 'Real Name' on the back of the card.  This lets us have two general rules to help with the variety of teams in the campaign:

  • You build your team using Heroclix figures; you build your roster using real name 
  • Your team can include any version of a hero as long as the real name on the card matches your roster

This allows some build variety early on in the campaign when their aren't many characters on your roster yet.  A couple of examples:

  • I decide I want Batman on my team, and for the first campaign session, I choose the nice 63 point Batman from the DC10th set.   Now Bruce Wayne is on my roster, so in future campaign sessions I’ll be able to use him again, but next time I use him I might field the 200 point Batman from the Batman set.   
  • I also add Robin to my team, adding Dick Grayson to my roster.  In later campaign sessions my team can include Nightwing (or even the Dick Grayson version of Batman), but I can't use Red Hood (that’s the Jason Todd Robin), or a Tim Drake version of Robin.  

Here's how I presented the start of our campaign this year:

Chapter 1: Unlikely Alliances

A disparate band of heroes separately stumble across villainous goings on, and have an unlikely team-up.

 You need to build a 300 point team with the following rules:

  • Team must have no fewer than two characters on it, but no more than four
  • No duo figures
  • All characters must be named (i.e. no generics), and no duplicates
  • Team must not share a keyword… these are ‘unlikely’ alliances that will build over the course of the campaign to become a new super team, but they should not start with a keyword in common
  • One character is nominated as the ‘Team Leader’ for your team.   Ideally, but not necessarily, that character should be able to use Leadership

This is your team for the first campaign session, and all characters on the team are automatically added to your roster.  These characters will form the core group of your roster during the campaign, so pick characters you like and want to play a fair bit.   

 Behind the Scenes: Choosing your Roster

One thing to give careful consideration to when assembling your team and roster is that the campaign uses scenarios.  These scenarios have all sorts of goals to meet, so you want a broad spread of abilities, not just the most deadly.  In scenarios where you have to reach particular points on a map, high speed, flight and Hypersonic Speed will be a huge help.  If a scenario requires you to protect figures, some Barrier will be very useful, likewise Plasticity and Force Blast are both useful if the scenario requires you to prevent characters reaching a point on the map.  In some scenarios there are no points for KOing opposing figures, so the key is flexibility, not necessarily finding the heaviest beat-sticks!

 May need to work on that name...

Here’s my campaign team for 2015.  I decided I wanted to start my hero team with a Teen Titans/Birds of Prey crossover.  Oracle has sent Black Canary out on a mission, only to discover that Kid Flash and Changeling are already on the case!   Although several characters have keywords in common, there is no single shared keyword across the entire team, as per the rules above.  My starting team is:

  • Oracle (ffsog001) - 50 points
  • Black Canary (ffsog004) - 100 points
  • Changeling (tt038) - 60 points
  • Kid Flash (tt002) - 90 points

My starting roster is:

  • Barbara Gordon
  • Dinah Lance (my leader)
  • Garfield Logan
  • Wally West 

The team is bang on 300 which is nice, and features some of my favourite comic book characters, with some really fun options.  Changeling has a host of beast forms to change into, Kid Flash means I can use the Wally West versions of Flash later in the campaign, and if I need to, I can follow the New52 path later and have Oracle back as Batgirl.  

Which brings us nicely full circle.  Join me next time when I talk about how we manage the villains for the campaign!

My name is Rob Edwards, I've been playing clix since the very first set, but was much happier when Hypertime arrived, due to an unapologetic DC bias. I organise the campaign, and most other events, at the Bush Bash, in Shepherds Bush, London.  My greatest geek claim to fame is having an entry on Wookiepedia, and every year or two I remember I'm supposed to be publishing a podcast of short stories on www.storycastrob.co.uk
Posted in Campaign Trail By

Rob Edwards

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Ian King

posted on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 20:13:30 Europe/London
THIS IS UTTERLY BRILLIANT!

I'm really looking forward to your future articles. In the games group I run we do 2 Heroclix events per year. A league between October and December (300 constructed) and then a Campaign January to March.

We have run two different campaign formats so far. The first proved too fiddly with Feats, Bystanders and Battlefield Conditions being added to teams as they progressed. The winning players soon had unbeatable feated-up-to-the-point-of-broken characters and new players struggled to join in.

The format we used this year worked better and I'll explain later what we did but for now suffice to say:
1) I love the simplicity and 'customisability' of that real name mechanic you have going on there.
2) Great to see some articles on Blue Rat again!

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