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.