Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Monster squads

When Horrorclix was released in 2006, the collectible miniature/click dial treatment had been given to several games: the original Mage Knight, Marvel and DC Comics HeroclixCrimson Skies, which was two games in one (air combat and brawling pilots), and Mechwarrior with its giant robots. Strangely, the games' designers made no effort to make any of these games compatible with each other, and in most cases seemed to go out of their way to make them as different as possible.

Freddy Krueger takes on the Aliens
As the name suggests, Horrorclix features all the old standbys of the horror genre, including vampires, werewolves, zombies, Lovecraftian shoggoths and deep ones, and even ghost hunters and vampire slayers. Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series and Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th both make an appearance via a special boxed set, as do the Aliens and Predators from the recent Alien vs. Predator film. They even did a large Alien Queen figure, and an even larger Cthulhu, which stood about 18 inches tall.

The game itself was sold as a more story-driven game than Heroclix, which tended to get right down to the fighting with little preamble. Horrorclix uses the same basic movement and combat system, but the character abilities have been greatly simplified, and the game adds plot twist cards and victim tokens in its attempt to add more narrative to the action.

Hellboy vs the Alien Queen
The plot twists and victims do add an interesting wrinkle to the game, especially the first few turns as each player's monsters scramble to consume (or rescue) the victim tokens in order to enhance their abilities. But in the end it still comes down to a fight between each player's squad of figures.

Rasputin, the Mad Monk
That said, the figures are pretty great. Aliens and Predators aside, the game wasn't beholden to a specific license, so the designers were able to be more imaginative with the characters populating the game. In addition to the standard werewolves, zombies and vampires, the game features some unusual figures such as a ghost-addled Rasputin and a whole set of sinister carnival freaks.

Fun as it is on its own, it's unfortunate that the game wasn't made to be more compatible with Heroclix, but the games are just different enough to make crossovers a bit awkward, and they are best played separately. They did release a Hellboy boxed set that was supposed to work in both games, but in practice the figures are a bit overpowered in Horrorclix and underpowered in Heroclix.

Wizkids Games has been releasing all of their new figures to be fully Heroclix-compatible, so hopefully they'll get around to re-releasing a few figures from Horrorclix. After all, who wouldn't want to pit a hunting party of Predators against the Justice League, or see if Doctor Strange can stop the zombie apocalypse?

Rating: 4 (out of 5) A great game that offers a similar experience to Heroclix, but is a bit easier to play.

Dates played: February 8 and 16, 2014

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