Why I Quit… Heroclix

Of all my old hobbies, Heroclix is probably the one that I miss the most and looking back, it was perfect for me. It involved little plastic figurines with enough detail that they look good, and you play them in a strategic table top game which was great for me – I didn’t have much use for toys or action figures, but collectible figurines that can be played in a game is a justifiable purchase. I was also a big comic book fan during the time that I was playing Heroclix so it was a match made in heaven. But I ended up quitting eventually, despite me loving the game so much. Today, I’d like to talk about the reasons why I quit Heroclix as a way of reminiscing about the other geeky activities that I used to enjoy.

Before I get into that though, let me describe Heroclix further. Heroclix is a game designed by WizKids that revolves around plastic miniatures on large paper maps. What’s unique about Heroclix is it’s dial – not only did it have most of the stats that you needed to know to understand how each figurine would function in the game (such as how strong it was in battle, how far it could move on the map, etc.) but the dial also represented each figure’s health. As a figure takes damage, some of it’s stats would change (represented by numbers) as well as it’s powers/abilities (represented by colors). Some figures would get more powerful as they took damage, most figures became weaker, some would gain access to different sets of abilities, and so on. This system was also used in other games made by WizKids (e.g. Mage Knight) but what drew me to Heroclix is it’s theme – the game started by using Marvel and DC characters.

Top view of an old version of the Heroclix dial. Turning the dial will show different numbers for each of Spider-Man’s combat values.

Heroclix was a fun game, and of all the superhero-themed games that I’ve ever played, it captured the feel of comic book battles the best. But I eventually had to give it up, and here are the reasons why:

It Started to Cost Too Much

When I got into Heroclix, it was very wallet-friendly – I could buy Heroclix boosters whenever I had spare funds. However, and this is likely an experience unique to both my country and during the time that I quit, our local retailer stopped selling Heroclix boosters. Instead, you needed to buy them by the case (twenty boosters) or by the brick (half a case).

Near the end of my Heroclix affair, our local retailer would only sell Heroclix by brick or case.

I know that buying boosters every now and then would eventually be the same as buying an entire Heroclix brick, but it was still too expensive for me for a one time purchase. And if I wasn’t satisfied with the contents of the brick that I bought, the only choices that I had left were to buy individual figurines from those willing to sell them or buy another brick. Not to mention that I couldn’t spread out the suspense and satisfaction of opening a new booster over time.

Our Local Retailer Started to Have Stock Issues

Around 2012, our friendly neighborhood retailer started to have issues with obtaining stocks. He had limited numbers of the Chaos War Fast Forces pack to sell (a hot commodity due to a very useful piece in the set), never had any stocks of the special Street Fighter II Heroclix set nor the first Lord of the Rings set. There were other sets after these were released that were so limited, if you didn’t have the funds to buy them on release day, you’d be out of luck.

I don’t necessarily blame our local retailer for this – I knew he was trying his best to get enough stock for the growing Heroclix fanbase. But that didn’t help remove the sour taste in my moutth that this issue caused. It’s hard to enjoy a game that involves collectible figures when you can’t get a hold of the figures that you want.

The Escalating Power Creep

I understand that in games like Heroclix and the undying Magic: The Gathering, designers need to give it’s players good reasons to buy new sets. The contents of a new set must be useful to players in order for us to become interested in buying more, and the quick way to achieve this is to introduce more powerful cards/figures.

Near the time that I quit the game, WizKids introduced the Infinity Gauntlet and game-wise, it was a powerful weapon to have. This changed the meta drastically – either you used the Infinity Gauntlet or you had to build your units with the Infinity Gauntlet in mind. In a three round competitive event, facing three players with Infinity Gauntlets made for a stale experience. And after I had quit the game, I was told about these new Team Bases that were the new hotness at that time – it was hard to beat someone who was using one of the earlier Team Bases that were released.

While it did not make me quit Heroclix, the increasing power creep made me dislike the Heroclix competitive gaming scene somewhat.

A photo of my Heroclix collection around 2011. I still have all of these figures.

The Local Retailer Closed Shop

The straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back for me is when our local retailer closed shop and relocated to a place that was much farther from where I worked. I’ve been working the graveyard shift for more than a decade now and before the relocation, it was convenient for me to wait a few hours after work on Saturdays then drop by our local retailer, which was then just a block away from work. Even if I had no intentions of playing in that week’s competitive event, I was able to mingle with other Heroclix players and do some trading. I sometimes even played a few casual games.

But when they closed up shop, they chose a place that was quite farther. I then needed to put in more effort and spend more time just to be able to keep myself within the Heroclix scene. This, along with the other factors mentioned earlier, was simply too much for me. I “retired” from Heroclix, and while I can’t really say that it’s a permanent retirement, I’ve never gone back to the game since.

Two of the awesome looking Heroclix figures that I missed out on due to my retirement.

I still have several Heroclix-playing friends in my social media accounts and every now and then, I see them talk about Heroclix or post pictures of their new Heroclix figures and I have to admit, I do miss my Heroclix playing days. But this exercise of going through the reasons that made me quit the game then has convinced me that currently, Heroclix isn’t a good fit for me. I enjoyed it for what it was and I’m happy to see friends continuing to enjoy it now, but I don’t see myself going back to playing and collecting Heroclix again any time soon.

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