Campaign Trail - Recurring Villains

Friday, 10 April 2015 16:55:00 Europe/London



Welcome to the second issue of Campaign Trail, where I'm taking you through the way we run Heroclix campaigns at our venue in Shepherds Bush.  In the first issue (Still available on this website! -Editor) we talked about the idea of what a campaign is, and the model we are using this year for hero teams.  In this issue, I'm going to talk about the villains, offering up three different ways we have handled the villain teams in past campaigns and talking about the pros and cons of each.

Behind the Scenes: Point totals

Before we do though, let's set some expectations on this... abandon all hope of building villain teams to a specific build total!  I mentioned last time that the scenarios we use for the campaign can throw a spanner into the works of the best balanced hero team, and that's true for the villains too.  Get comfortable with the idea that campaign scenarios are going to wreck game balance anyway, so... let go of point totals.  Which is not to say that you should pull out a comic accurate veteran Legion of Doom team to face off against someone's rookie Power Pack campaign team... but 10% leeway on the scenario's build total is probably safe enough.

So with that said, let's have a look at how to handle villains in the campaign.

In the early days, when our venue was small and Heroclix as a hobby was slightly less awash with options, I used to build individual villains teams for each scenario for each hero team. This was absolutely fantastic, particularly if the hero teams were recreating particular comic book teams. Over the months the X-Men team got to face off against the Brotherhood, Sentinels and the Hellfire Club, it honestly couldn't be more comic book-y! 

But... this can be a massive undertaking, even for a group of four players. These days when our campaign nights gather ten or more players, creating all those individual teams just isn't practical. It also works better for some teams than others: finding X-Men villains is easy, finding villains to face off against the Defenders can be more tricky.  Still, if your venue is small, or you are up to the challenge, this method is highly recommended!

A variation we tried on this was to assign each player a villain team for the night (varying it from month to month so the same players didn't fight each other all the time). This is a lot less effort for whoever is running the Campaign, but can be logistically fraught.  If one player has to drop out-last minute the whole thing falls somewhat apart, though you can have a generic villain team on standby to offset that.  

It is also somewhat dependent on players having a collection to cover someone else's villains, though friendly venues can probably work around that.

This year we are trying something new for the villain teams.  Each player designs their own group of recurring villains, and is responsible for bringing it to each Campaign session. On the night, the person running the campaign has the option of selecting some (or none) of these recurring villains to form the basis of the scenario, perhaps supplementing them from additional figures (to make sure the hero never gets too comfortable about what they are facing).

Players choose roughly 600-800 points of villains; these are specific figures that will reappear during the campaign at various times. Remember, players need to bring all of their villains to every campaign night, but may or may not be facing them on the night.

Behind the Scenes: what makes good recurring villains

We built our Recurring Villains for the campaign in a fairly free-form manner, but having played a few sessions of this year's campaign now, I think I'd add:

               No more than one character of more than 175 points

               No more than two characters in the range of 125 to 175 points

               At least two generic henchman villains

Encourage players to pick a list of villains big enough and with enough point spread to form the core of a number of different teams. Also, try not to pick too many easy enemies, but not too many tough ones either!

Here are my recurring villains to go up against my Teens of Prey:

               Brainiac DC10-12 175

               Deathstroke TT-37 148

               Magenta FL-57 115

               Lady Shiva SoG-39 67

               Poison Ivy B-34 85

               Hired Henchman B-6a 40

               Hired Henchman B-6b 40

It's a mix of villains at various different point levels with various different power sets, but all associated with Birds of Prey or Teen Titans, so all fitting nicely as recurring villains to my campaign.

Now let's see them in action in the first campaign scenario...

Two groups of heroes have followed independent leads but have brought them to the same place at the same time, to find villains ransacking a location. While the villains are grabbing everything then can, it does seem like as though they are looking for something in particular.

Preparation: Campaign organiser will need to bring a selection of generic villains to help build up the villain teams.  For this scenario the villains should outnumber the heroes (at the start!)

Hero team: Starting team roster, 300 point build

Villain Team: Select two low-to-mid point Recurring Villains, and add four generic villains (either from Recurring Villains or generics pool), building to approximately 300-350 points

Map: Something indoors, preferably looking like a museum or warehouse, or laboratory

Setup:

Place two special tokens in clear terrain as close to the centre of the map as possible, but not adjacent to each other.  These represent crates of loot. Place the villain team around the crates, no two villain characters may begin adjacent to each other, but may begin adjacent to crates. 

Split the hero team into two factions, as evenly as possible, each faction begins in opposite starting areas. Keep a collection of dice on hand to represent loot. At the beginning of the game, the Villain player chooses a "Prize" number, between 1 and 6, and writes it down.  This is the value of the particular item the villains are searching for.  Do not reveal the Prize number to the hero player until the end of the game.

Special Rules:

Villains Search: The Villains are here searching for a particular item from the crates.  Once per round the villain team can give a Power Action to a character adjacent to one of the Special tokens to search it. Roll a loot die d6, and note down the result for that character, this is the value of the loot found.  Place the die next to the Villain who has the loot.

Bags of Swag: A villain may loot multiple times, and carry multiple items of loot, but keep track of which villain has which value item.

Villains Hand-off: Once per round, one villain character may be given a free action to hand an item of loot to a friendly adjacent character.

Stolen! If a villain carrying loot occupies a square in either starting area at the beginning of its turn, remove the loot from the game, it has been Stolen.  Place the stolen loot die next to the map on the villains' side. 

Saved! If a villain is KOed, or suffers knockback while carrying loot, that loot die has been Saved.  Place the Saved Loot die next to the map on the heroes' side.

Victory Conditions:

Villains Successful: If one or more loot dice were Stolen with a value equal to the Prize number or The villains have stolen loot with a total value of 10 or more

 Heroes Successful: No loot dice were stolen showing the Prize number or The heroes Saved loot with a total value of 5 or more

Rewards:

Different objectives score different Campaign Victory Points (CVP).  These CVP can be spent to improve your hero team, as we will discuss next time.

Primary objective: If the Hero player was successful, award that player +3 CVP

Secondary objectives: For each non-generic Recurring Villain KOed, the hero player scores +2 CVP. If the villains have not Stolen any loot dice showing the Prize number, score +2 CVP

Villain objective: If the villains were Successful, that player's hero team earns +2 CVP

The hero player can earn a total of 9 CVP from this scenario, the villain player can earn 2 CVP for their hero team.

 

That brings us to the end of part 2.  We have now seen some ideas for how to handle heroes and villains in a Heroclix Campaign, and I've shared one of our scenarios with you.  Next time we will look at how we can spend CVP to boost your team for future scenarios!

Mm?  You want to know how the Teens of Prey got on... I'm afraid at the end of Unlikely Alliances, having played once as heroes and once as villains, I had scored a grand total of 2CVP.  I write the scenarios, it's not my job to win them...


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
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Rob Edwards

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Ian King

posted on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 20:24:28 Europe/London
Really nice idea having a villain and hero team each. Only keeping track of experience for the hero team (with bonus XP if you win with your villains) is pure genius!

In the campaign I run players choose to play a comic accurate hero or villain team but in a 'Civil War' rip-off plot they fight against each other freely. Thus both heroes and villains get tougher over the campaign.

I'm looking forward to seeing how you track experience, sorry, CVP and how that boosts teams. Getting the balance on that is really tricky, I know my campaign hasn't perfected it yet!

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