Category Archives: MechWarrior and Clix
Some times, I think it’s best I cut my gaming-based impulse buy addictions back down to one set of plasticrack. (Which would be whatever kind of fantasy miniatures I can use for D&D/Pathfinder that I come across.) Of course, it helps that I don’t have any fellow addicts around; if I was still living on the west side of the state, I have to imagine Matt would be itching to break out the new Star Trek Clix every chance he gets. (Provided he saves his pennies and buys some.)
I’ve looked long and hard—at least five minutes, totally—but these Star Trek Clix haven’t made very much of an impact (as-yet) in previews and reviews. Maybe because they released today, who knows. This site has a solid preview, including a ton of images, which was very helpful.
Pros: They look really damn good, which surprised me at first; lots of nice color and little details pop on those ship hulls, and unlike human figures, we don’t have to worry about the never-ending problem of googly-eyes. They use the HeroClix system, so if you’ve been a WizKids fan over the years, most like you can get into the action ten minutes after opening some packs. And since they’re prepainted plastic, they cost a helluva lot less than those old Starfleet Battles figs rusting in the back of the store.
Cons: They’re randomized, single-figure boosters, with the traditional rarity scheme, which are the same size as standard HeroClix—not to scale—that cover the full series’ spread for Federation and Klingon warships only. And they cost $5 per, at that; from what I’ve heard, it’s because getting the license from Paramount cost an arm and a leg. Reusing the HeroClix rules makes a certain kind of sense—the people most likely to buy these are familiar with the rules, and a unified system makes for a gateway drug into the other HeroClix games—but it’s an awkward-sounding fit. And despite its large and vocal fanbase, Trek has been off the air for years, and the next movie isn’t due until 2013—hence Paramount’s paranoia over licensed Trek products.
I’m kind of curious whether they’ll take off—they look well-done enough to please Trekkie gamers, and HeroClix is a venerable system, so that match sounds cool as hell. But I see a number of turn-offs from the acquisition angle that won’t send every gamer jumping up to pull out their wallet. Probably related to the expensive license, which is understandable. Then again, most serious WizKids gamers always buy it by the brick/case/pallet anyways.
I hope they sell well enough for WizKids to release more sets (e.g., more factions), and possibly even branch out into some pre-packaged battle fleets. (Maybe go properly stupid and have a full figure set for the original cast, so you can have Kirk take on Superman or Frodo.) While I don’t see them going the way of Star Wars Starship Battles—entry-set oblivion—I’m not sure they’re going to match HeroClix numbers. Trekkies, prove me wrong.
The word is just out—Paizo and WizKids aren’t just doing non-randomized sets of the iconics; they’re moving on towards a full line of prepainted miniatures: monsters, characters, iconics, the whole works. The new line will be called Pathfinder Battles.
While Pathfinder Battles doesn’t look to be dual-purpose for both roleplaying and a Clix game (curses!), it’ll be marketed as Clix games have been in the past: by randomized boosters. Those of us who remember the plasticrack days of Dungeons & Dragons Minis will be familiar with this method, only the pack contents will be a lot closer to the old Clix offerings.
Actually, less: each “pack” will contain a single medium fig, or two small figs, unless you’re buying a pack which will have a large figure. The print runs will be on the smaller and balanced size; each “brick” of 16 small/medium boosters and 3 large boosters will contain only a minimum of repeats. Buy four bricks (a case) and you’ve got pretty much the entire run. If this sounds familiar to you… you’ve probably bought HeroClix or ActionClix. I’m hoping they keep the same rarity fix as HeroClix, too, where you got a 199-point Emperor Joker in the same common slot as a 50-point Bouncing Boy.
The first set, the 40-piece Heroes & Monsters, is coming December 2011; from the previews its looking like a lot of the iconic monsters and basic hero combinations. The second set will be Rise of the Runelords in June 2012. From that, I’m assuming each set will be tied to a specific adventure path or part of the setting. (I’m finished with Legacy of Fire, but sign me up right now. Same for Carrion Crown if it includes the Lovecraftian Bestiary monsters.) Runelords will also have 60 figures, which will sell in “encounter packs” of six figures—finally bringing Pathfinder Battles to the say format as HeroClix boosters.
While some people might complain about the six-month delay in sets, I’m going to refute that; my biggest problem with DDM was that some sets were released on top of each other, making them a pain in the ass to collect. (Archfiends/Giants of Legend was the worst combo, since they both had a bunch of rad figures.) Three sets a year was the big part of DDM that I didn’t like… that and the price increases, from $10 to $12 to $15. Stupid cost of oil-based plastics.
I do have to question the price, which isn’t listed on the press release. The HeroClix and ActionClix “boosters” usually had four or five minis, and the “packs” with less sold for $5 or less. Even if the paint quality is as high as the Beginner Box Heroes pack, I can’t see many players eager to drop full price on a pack netting them one or two figures. If they are kept cheap—in the $3-5 range—it means that buying by the brick, or even by the case, won’t be prohibitively expensive. I expect the “encounter pack” 6-figure boosters will be closer to the traditional Clix cost of $15 a pack, which is comparable to DDM and the Clix, but is still a fair chunk of money.
And like with all sets, I’m wondering about variety. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if the Runelords set had a half-dozen different goblins, provided they were in different poses with different weapons: goblin with horsechopper, goblin with dogslicer, goblin shaman, goblin firebug, goblin bomb-chucker, goblin on goblin dog, etc. And most people who want prepainted minis want non-random sets of similar figs, so getting a pair of goblins every few Runelords pack won’t bother them. Other players might not be as welcoming of this variety, especially for foes that aren’t used as often (either low-level like goblins, or high-level like outsiders). No matter what happens, everyone will never be pleased by the layout of a prepainted, randomized miniatures set. (Unless it’s Wolf Strike. Or Hammer of Thor, which apparently I should have bought before it vanished.)
Three things I don’t want to see. One: horses and mounts. DDM did these, and they were flipping useless, both in the miniatures game and for roleplaying. Two: random size discrepancies between figures. (Why is the dwarven badonkadonk six times larger than other figures in the same set?) Three: a whole lot of figures I’ll never end up using. DDM had a poor variety of non-fighter PCs, and tended to do really weird stuff instead of sticking to heroes, summonable creatures, and basic adversaries. Yeah, some variety would be nice, and I’d like a good assortment of monsters I can use for higher-level adventures, but try to weed out are the really fringe stuff. Putting similiar things in the same set would help; I’d rather buy some The Great Beyond knowing I’d get a lot of outsiders than pick up a bajillion boxes of Second Darkness hoping to get the one succubi or barbed devil. Of course, that goes against the “good marketing” part of randomized minis: having the customers buy a ton of them to get the figures they think they need.
Depending on the quality of figures, price, and availability, I could see heading out to my FLGS or local Borders to pick up some of these as an impulse buy. At the very least, I can die happy knowing the growing void in my life (err, pocketbook)—prepainted d20 miniatures—is returning. “If only I could afford it” is becoming my worst complaint about Paizo products.
I’ve been pretty out of the loop regarding all the various clix games since Wizkids was folded back into Topps. The last I’d thought about clix was at GenCon when we picked up some of the 500-point LE Thor’s Chariot figures; the both was making a killing selling those, but since it was a cash-only exchange (the both was so barren, it didn’t even have a credit card POS machine), I assumed the worst and discarded word of an upcoming set out of hand.
Well, Topps figured that Wizkids wasn’t profitable, but its licenses, namely Heroclix, were. An intederminate time ago, the Wizkids site morphed a press release detailing its sale to NECA, known primarily for its various figurines licensed from games, movies, and music. A slice of the standard boiler-plate gives hope for two of my favorite miniatures games, HeroClix and HorrorClix:
The National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc. (NECA) has purchased the majority of the assets of WizKids, Inc. from The Topps Company, Inc., including the award-winning Clix family of games, which includes HeroClix, ActionClix, HorrorClix and SportsClix. NECA will also acquire the WizKids brand, the Pocketmodel Game family of games, including the Pirates of the Crimson Coast, Pirates of the Spanish Main and Pirates of the Cursed Seas games, and the Mage Knight line of games.
The assets of WizKids that were purchased by NECA have been transferred to a wholly owned NECA subsidiary operating out of its offices in Hillside, New Jersey, which will operate under the WizKids name.
“WizKids has created the best games within the collectible miniature and constructible genres and NECA is proud to help continue this great legacy,” said Joel Weinshanker, President and CEO of NECA. “The HeroClix engine is the envy of the industry and many companies have attempted to emulate it without success. We’re thrilled to deliver HeroClix to the gamers.”
NECA has hired Lax Chandra, who ran the WizKids subsidiary for The Topps Company, to be the President of NECA’s newly formed subsidiary, which will operate under the WizKids name. Former WizKids employees Chas Delong, Wade Sugiyama and Mike Elliott have also been brought on to help with the transition.
In the coming days and weeks, the new WizKids company will make further announcements about upcoming release plans.
Note that the list doesn’t include the MechWarrior game proprietary license, something that saddens me as a MechWarrior fan; thanks to the never-ending balkanization of the FASA licenses I have to assume the game is finally dead and buried unless Catalyst somehow managed to acquire it. MechWarrior clix would be a great asset to Catalyst’s metal minis line, having an established history and a large selection of established figures, but with all things Wizkids related, the best thing to do is plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised when a company like NECA picks up the licenses.
So, while ActionClix makes a startling comeback, and HorrorClix has its name bandied about, MechWarrior is left behind in the MageKnight bin. Still, even the mentioned licenses have little to no info. It’ll probably be a while before we see another HorrorClix set to wash away the stain of the last one, but there is a flyer in .pdf form advertising the new Thor-centric HeroClix set which saw some promotion at GenCon.
I’m also curious to how a company based around figurines will make the switch to mass-produced hunks of clicky-bottomed plastic. (What’s next, is McFarlane going to buy the D&D Minis license?) Granted, the company’s already existed for quite a while, with all the production and design already set up, so it should be idiot proof. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, though it does give more hope for future clix products.
The Topps Company announced today [11.10.08] that WizKids will immediately cease operations and discontinue its product lines.
Scott Silverstein, CEO of Topps, said “This was an extremely difficult decision. While the company will still actively pursue gaming initiatives, we feel it is necessary to align our efforts more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are being developed within our New York office.”
Upon notifying our partners, Topps will immediately pursue strategic alternatives so that viable brands and properties, including HeroClix, can continue without noticeable disruption. To that end, WizKids will continue supporting Buy it By the Brick redemptions for Arkham Asylum, and the December Organized Play events for HeroClix.
For consumer announcements, please refer to www.wizkidsgames.com over the coming days for further information.
This is quite a heavy blow from a popular company, though to be frank I’ve been expecting it for some time. WizKids has the bad habit of making amazing product lines which don’t see enough play (Crimson Skies, Shadowrun), or trying to revitalize older product lines and failing (MageKnight). After the “action pack” treatment of MechWarrior and HorrorClix, the company announced earlier this month that all Wizkids products would grind to a halt. Earlier, I’d heard a rumor from my FLGS that all the clicky lines would be cancelled, leaving just the Star Wars and Pirates constructible games, but according to this announcement that is not the case–even the venerable Pirates and HeroClix lines have bit the dust.
I have the feeling that Topps will eventually get back to making some more product for these lines, but, after all, they make their money first and foremost from sports and collectible sales–so, all in all, nothing’s really changed for the Mech and HorrorClix fans. It’s pretty shocking to see the highly valuable Pirates and HeroClix lines bite it. I’d also be interested in seeing how Shadowrun 4th and the new Battletech lines fare, given that they’re also WizKids products. According to the blog on Catalyst Game Labs’ main page, the publisher has submitted an offer for the WizKids licenses. Time will tell. I hope they make it.
Also, WizKids attempted several times to increase the popularity of their brands, for example tying in promotions with major comic-book movies (Iron Man, Hulk for example), along with licensing Mage Knight and Pirates to Pinnacle for thier Savage Worlds. As far as I knew, the various supers tie-ins worked very well (the Iron Man free-comic-book-day figure flew was damn hard to find), though Savage Worlds probably isn’t popular enough to get Mage Knight back up and running if they ever released a book for it. I’ll have to look into how Pinnacle is affected.
For those who haven’t heard, all three of you, WizKids is killing off two more of its Clix product lines—the Halo ActionClix and HorrorClix lines. Technically, HorrorClix is being relegated to the “Action Pack” funfest that MechWarrior players have suffered for two years, though at least the Mech players went out with a bang (the Wolf Strike expansion)—HorrorClix fans are handed the pint-sized Nightmares expansion, continuing Freakshow’s downward trend from the glory that were the Base and Lab expansions. Nightmares has only 60 figs, a disproportionate number of commons to rares, and a list of uniques which are dull, dry, and uninteresting. The die-hard HorrorClix players are only interested in picking up Nightmare cases just to have a complete run of all HorrorClix figs—and even this is in some debate. HaloClix, on the other hand, apparently didn’t fly so well with the average X360 player base (e.g., frat boys, average gamers, girlfriends of average gamers), and are to be taken out behind the chemical sheds and shot.
Now, WizKids isn’t exactly well-known for having lengthy, developed product lines. MageKnight blossomed into an amazingly popular franchise, which summarily shat itself and was replaced by the HeroClix line about the time when WizKids decided to invalidate about 85% of all previous figs with MageKnight 2.0. They’re now sitting on the IP hoping that Pinnacle will develop a Savage Worlds ruleset for MageKnight, since this will obviously rekindle the game, as unrealistic as this sounds. The HeroClix line is still going strong, especially with all the product tie-ins from every single movie, game, and toy related to super heroes, but I have to think that at some point fans will get tired of trying to collect every single Hulk possible. Still, there’s enough of a growing fanbase to get WizKids out of this hot water—any lost fans will easily get replaced by the new fans flocking to the game after the latest supers movie. Most of WizKids’ previous back stock includes such quality and diverse lines as Rocketman, High Stakes Drifter, SportsClix (which is why Topps bought them in the first place), the highly underrated Shadowrun Duels, and a swath of other crap product which sat on shelves and died before becoming the interesting games they should have developed into. (With the exception of SportsClix, which is the stupidest idea I’ve heard, and probably what contributed to the NASCAR CSG.) Oh, and there’s Pirates, and if you need introduction for the styrene cash-cow that is the Pirates CSG, you need to hit up a game store sometime after school’s out.
Then there’s the famous “WizKids Marketing System,” which is to offer boosters for $8-10 which contain four figures, with the total resale value lost between fifty cents and five dollars. Unless you pull a unique or chase rare, which could net you anywhere from a dollar to seventy bucks. With Mechs, this is further compounded by the fact that you’ll get lots of figs for factions you don’t play, meaning you need to invest in some situational alliance cards to blend those boundaries. Clix are definitely meant to be purchased by the brick: getting 10-12 boosters guarantees around four uniques or super rares, allowing you to overlook the fact that most of what you ended up with is useless filler (SHIELD Medic, anyone? What about Hoverbike Squads? Zombies in general?).
Which brings us to MechWarrior. Another quality IP, with plenty of back story and a dense history, MechWarrior has been the prototype that HorrorClix now gets to fill. After a lengthy run of twelve sets (two core and ten expansions), MW was taken off the market for some R&R (re-design and re-creation), much like HorrorClix is now. In the meantime, we’re offered a variety of “Action Packs” to prove to players the game line is, in fact, Not Dead. However, unlike HorrorClix, its action packs generally suck, probably because they’re not based on high-end move licenses. The Aliens vs. Predator and Freddy vs. Jason packs are amazing, with some quality power-pieces. In turn, Mech fans get random assortments of mechs they don’t want or need, for factions they don’t play, that have sub-par stats. WizKids is finally fixing the concept with the Gamma Regiment action pack, which contains two mechs, three vehicles, and six infantry, instead of throwing a motley assortment of mechs together and expecting people to buy. Gamma Regiment isn’t perfect—the mechs are crap and bland, respectfully, and while the vehicles and infantry are kind of nifty, I can’t see spending $35 on a Goshawk (ugh) and Scourge (meh). But it’s a step away from the current breed of action packs, all of which tend to rot on game store shelves.
MechWarrior and HorrorClix rot in limbo, waiting (along with MageKnight) for some spontaneous event to propel them from second-rate sellers back to the fore. While a Mech movie and MageKnight RPG would certainly be interesting, HorrorClix being stuck on action pack duty doesn’t make as much sense—it has some strong licenses, and some amazing possibility. I’ve seen more cases of it go by than I have mech and HeroClix combined (though, granted, only four people bought any, and 95% goes to two players in general—hrrm, about the same as Mechs, actually). Like MechWarrior with its Wolf Strike expansion, HorrorClix is going out with a bang—the Freddy and Jason pack—though this is a bitter reward for all the players infuriated over the death of the game and Nightmares’ lackluster offerings. Obviously, some of this is based on the current energy crisis—we can’t expect large gobs of plastic to go for the same price as always when gas is slowly creeping its way towards five dollars a gallon.
Granted, this is irritating me more than others because I’d gotten used to Clix as the standard casual, collectible game on the market, partly because the other Magic players are retarded, and partly because the Type II Magic sets just didn’t do it for anyone (or pissed off the fringe players because they were so powerful, or tribal, or something). Maybe once Magic moves on to some sets we can care about (Ravnica II?), then it’ll get played around here more often than never.
One of my favorite games, bar none, is the MechWarrior clix/miniatures game. Honestly, there ain’t none better than fielding a sixty-ton BattleMech and watching it smash the crap out of another sixty-ton BattleMech. Plus, it’s a got this great tactical/wargame aspect to it. Unlike, say, DDM or HeroClix, your tactical strategies don’t revolve around counting squares. With MechWarrior, there’s a lot more potential for using terrain, movement, overwatch, recon, etc., than in a game of HorrorClix which revolves around using the map to your advantage. I rather prefer this level of strategy, especially the military/armchair general aspect of it, while still retaining the science fiction and mecha addictions.
Though, I have to point out, I never get to play the damn game. I got into it around the same time as some of my friends, which I thought would be a good move—one of my mottos is to never join a game that has only two other players. So, with three (technically four) other players, and a huge drive to recruit more, I felt pretty secure. Wrong.
First off, only Reuben and Mat McPeak had played the game before, and McPeak of them had loaned his mechs off to a tournament player and couldn’t get them back easily. (It didn’t help that he failed out of school twice.) Matt quickly decided that, while he liked mechs, and while he liked playing, the rules were “too complicated” (especially the use of a tape measure and three dice), and so went back to HeroClix and HorrorClix. My roommate bought eighty dollars worth of MechWarrior boosters, pulled some of the most powerful chase rares out of Wolf Strike (three of the Atlases), and decided he was done collecting; when Reuben gifted him another two chase rares (an Atlas and a Marauder IIC from the demo kit) as incentive to get back into the game, he took this as a sign that he should stick with the Atlas army strategy. He was later gifted with three more boosters at various times, and still has no incentive to get back into either buying or playing. (When he pulled a really gnarly Dark Ages mech from one of the gift boosters, he complained that, while it was cool, it just couldn’t hold a candle to his Atlases.) So, this leaves myself and Reuben to play the game (which never actually happens).
However, I continue to buy boosters in hopes of playing it again some day. I feel kind of like a loser for buying so damn much but never actually playing it. On the bright side, I do end up getting some great pulls, including a variety of cool VTOLs and tanks, some awesome mechs (my first pack included a hardcore Zeus that could dish out 6 clicks of armor-piercing damage), a nice army of Mad Cats and Marauders to combat the Atlas army, and a host of unique figs (about a half dozen). Sadly, while I got some Glory Fire Support vehicles and Mars Assault Tanks from the Dark Ages expansions, I never got any of the cool vehicles from Dark Ages itself—if anyone else played MechWarrior back in the day, you remember the amazingly powerful and versatile tanks it had (DI Schmitt, M1 Marksman, Behemoth II, Po II, et al.). A Galleon light tank and some Demon mediums just don’t compare.
Following the idea of playing MechWarrior as a clix game, we tossed around the idea of running it as a linked scenario game—a kind of RPG-esque tactical game. The idea is to start everyone out as commanding infantry platoons, then move up to commanding industrial mechs, vehicle platoons, combined arms forces, more and more powerful mechs, and keep going up in power and prestige. We’d use the miniatures/clix rules and everything, but would have a “GM” to control the hostiles, and each player would control some mechs; after finishing a battle, the GM would decide on how the enemy reacts, while the Players would eventually move up to controlling their own engagements (choosing to avoid combat for stealth missions, or even choosing where to attack—a fortified ammo dump, cities, create ambushes, etc.). Running a kind of tactical RPG/scenario-based clix game would bypass the need for miniatures-game players by drawing everyone in with the scenarios. There’s plenty of opportunity to vary up the scenarios, as well: assaulting bridges, destroying ammo dumps, urban assault, ambushes, infiltrations and escapes, even hijacking prototype mechs (namely the Ares Poseidon colossal-size mech).
The only trouble is that we don’t really have the required pieces for it. By starting low, in the fringes of the galaxy during the Dark Ages conflicts, the players would need a lot of industrial mechs and early vehicles to reflect the kinds of battles they’d be fighting: for example, infantry forces consisting of mortars, machine gun nests, and standard foot instead of battle armor, or having industrial mech uprisings instead of full-scale warfare. This is just after the Word of Blake Jihad, and most of the Dark Age tech consisted of vehicles, un-armored infantry, and modified industrial mechs. Which we just don’t have in any numbers: Reuben has a lot of (broken) early mechs, and could supply the vehicles, but is missing large numbers of infantry. Most of what my roommate has is newer, power pieces—hardly a starting off point. So, until I can find some relatively inexpensive Dark Ages figs and vehicles, it’ll remain in the planning stages.
Of course, I do have a lot of stuff I’m watching on eBay, and have been picking mechs up regularly, so I’ll keep planning and hoping that I’ll be able to start something over the summer.