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Subject: Rant: Wizkids HeroClix site is gone rss

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Seth Owen
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Crossposted from http://pawnderings.blogspot.com

While the good news is that there seems to be some movement on the licensing for Heroclix, the bad new is that WizKids has tired of maintaining its supporting Web presence for the game and it is down.

This is unfortunate because most of the fans sites associated with the game are also gone. For example, I had tracked my figure inventory with MyHeroClix.com's database. It was quite useful.

I think at this point that I'm just about done with collectible games of any sort.

I'll be maintaining my Axis & Allies Miniatures and A&A War at Sea so long as Hasbro continues them, but there's no way I can be persuaded to get into any new collectibles - ever. Aside from the aggravation of the collectible format, which I had more or less come to terms with, the fact of the matter is that a collectible game is too dependent on continuing company support.

I have literally dozens of boardgames from long-defunct manufacturers that I get plenty of playing enjoyment with. I can find opponents. I can haul them out anytime. Some games become more or less obsolete because of shortfalls in the game itself, but almost never solely because the game is out of print. I can easily get in a game of Up Front, for example. I can play old SPI games online at Hexwar.com.

But with collectible games it appears to be a truism that being discontinued is a death sentence, even if the game is pretty good. Perfect examples of this are Navia Dratp and Dreamblade, which were both pretty good games that still have fans but seem to be in terminal decline. I mostly got into HeroClix in the first place because there was a local group that gathered every Sunday for competitive play. I wasn't all that competitive, but I enjoyed playing. But since company support ended that group simply disappeared. No company support, no play.

Company support, on the other hand, is basically a bonus for regular boardgames. Sure, tournament support is nice, but it's hardly a requirement. There are games still being played competitively at the World Boardgame Championships that are no longer in print. And many that are in print don't get significant company support. Except for brand-new games that are getting support for marketing purposes, company support is not a mandatory element for continued play. Indeed, there are some notable games that have been published by a whole series of publishers over the years -- Acquire, Cosmic Encounter, Diplomacy for example -- without any detrimental effects on their popularity.

I'm done.
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Brad Miller
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I've never even had the slightest thought to get into any collectible minis games, as they all have seemed to be destined to fail. Up until the Call of Cthulhu LCG, I've never even gotten a CCG that isn't already dead. Seems to me the "tournament scene" provided by these types of games, (excepting Magic), are all basically a Ponzi scheme to drive purchases, above and beyond the cost of running the tournaments, and that's it. When they invariably fail to create huge profits, they close up shop.
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And the collectible format is keeping you from play with your already owned miniatures how? Playing "dead" collectible games is no different than playing out of print board games. They both work just fine with no further support.
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M C
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The mechwarrior site is down as well, and it seems that the individual sites for each of their games is gone as well. What I don't understand is if they are close to selling some of these properties, it looks like heroclix is about to be sold due to the news releases, why shut down the web pages now after you've kept them up for more than half a year after the shut down announcement? I would imagine that they want to keep as much player goodwill as possible to retain the value of the asset, but I have been wrong before.


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Seth Owen
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Zaphod wrote:
And the collectible format is keeping you from play with your already owned miniatures how? Playing "dead" collectible games is no different than playing out of print board games. They both work just fine with no further support.


In theory it should work that way, and there's some evidence that Navia Dratp and, maybe, Dreamblade, will survive for a while as boardgames. But generally people just seem to stop playing once a collectible is discontinued. I have a bunch of The Lord of the Rings: Combat Hex Tradeable Miniatures Game still, but I can't get anyone to play.
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Scott Everts
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Sad to see the Mage Knight figure gallery gone. It was a nice reference. Glad I put up all my Mage Knight terrain files here on BGG since they are no longer available on their website.

Though I've ditched pretty much all my blind purchase games, I still have a nice collection of Mage Knight Dungeons. Though we haven't played it in ages. But I've always loved that game, my favorite of the Mage Knight line.

The one advantage of dead blind purchase games is they are generally cheap to collect and you know that no more will be made. You are right though about finding players. Those types of games seem to cater to people that switch to whatever one is hot. Though if you try your local gaming clubs I bet you'll find people still with a collection that would like to play. Or build a couple armies and bring them to the next gaming session. I've got all the heroes for Mage Knight Dungeons and can built a bunch of heroic teams for any game session.
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wargamer55 wrote:
Zaphod wrote:
And the collectible format is keeping you from play with your already owned miniatures how? Playing "dead" collectible games is no different than playing out of print board games. They both work just fine with no further support.


In theory it should work that way, and there's some evidence that Navia Dratp and, maybe, Dreamblade, will survive for a while as boardgames. But generally people just seem to stop playing once a collectible is discontinued. I have a bunch of The Lord of the Rings: Combat Hex Tradeable Miniatures Game still, but I can't get anyone to play.


I dunno, we play tons of collectible games long after they are no longer supported. Its not any different than any other board/card game at that point. I think its sort of odd if people view them as unplayable after the support is gone.
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Bwian, just
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Zaphod wrote:
I think its sort of odd if people view them as unplayable after the support is gone.

In my experience, it's more of a critical mass issue. Not everyone views a game as unplayable after the support is gone: only about half. The problem is, without that half playing every week, the other half get tired of always seeing the same faces.

I do think there's a bit of an unfair comparison being made here. Yes, collectible games tend to die off quickly. But they also tend to burn pretty brightly before that happens. It is considered fairly standard to play for 2-4 hours a week, every week, for months. You don't see people doing that with Agricola: people might get together for a weekly boardgaming session, but the games played will vary. So I think another factor is fatigue. It's not that the game is actually unplayable, it's just that people get burnt out on it, and going out of print is a good excuse to lay it down for a while. Unfortunately, burn-out-recovery-time being a variable thing, the odds against getting the group back together later are high.

There exist miniatures gaming groups that play different games every week, rather than concentrating on a single game like 40K or HeroClix. I'd be curious as to how well such a group could "revive" a CMG; unfortunately, I haven't been part of such a group for 20 years or so...
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Chris Intres
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An idea to revive Heroclix is to run games based on things like "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars" by allowing only the characters that were involved in the series to be used.

Use them almost like a D&D set. Write out scenarios for certain figures with alternative victory conditions than "Destroy the other side". If you have a group that plays, have each person write out five scenarios containing 15-20 figures each and alternate which ones you play.

Or use the comics for inspiration. Make the games based on events in the comics like with the Secret Wars campaign I mentioned. Use Knightfall or whatever. There's plenty of possibilities and besides, you can aloways change the rules up to make your own games.
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Chris Heinzmann
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I just 'sold' my left over heroclix for $8 of store credit and forced the guy to take my commons and two maps. I bought the new Batman and Robin comic. Now to dump my mechwarrior stuff. I have a couple of mail aways for that game that might be worth something.
 
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Darren Dew
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Mm. Hard to call HeroClix a "failure" in any sense of the word. I understand, its a collectible, and you're supposed to hate things collectible.

HeroClix had a fantastic design, great production for its cost/effectiveness/quality and satisfied zillions of people worldwide.
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Stephen Avery
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Zaphod wrote:
And the collectible format is keeping you from play with your already owned miniatures how? Playing "dead" collectible games is no different than playing out of print board games. They both work just fine with no further support.


My opinion exactly.
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Bwian, just
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wargamer55 wrote:
Zaphod wrote:
And the collectible format is keeping you from play with your already owned miniatures how? Playing "dead" collectible games is no different than playing out of print board games. They both work just fine with no further support.


In theory it should work that way, and there's some evidence that Navia Dratp and, maybe, Dreamblade, will survive for a while as boardgames. But generally people just seem to stop playing once a collectible is discontinued. I have a bunch of The Lord of the Rings: Combat Hex Tradeable Miniatures Game still, but I can't get anyone to play.


I guess I'm having trouble reconciling "I can't get anyone to play" with this:
wargamer55 wrote:
I have literally dozens of boardgames from long-defunct manufacturers that I get plenty of playing enjoyment with. I can find opponents. I can haul them out anytime.


I mean, some times in your life you can't find opponents: I get that, and have been there myself. But you currently have opponents, who would presumably be willing to try out a Lord of the Rings themed wargame. So why not haul out two armies and get a game in next time? It's not any different than providing both books in a game of Ace of Aces, really.
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I bought into the WoW: Minis game because I genuinely like the gameplay, the figures, and can put up with the non-functioning bases on some of the figures. It's just really a great little game since you only get three dudes on your team, but you can very much customize your team with all the cards. It's elegant in that you have some choices within an ultimately limited framework. I would buy it even if it were not collectible.

Unfortunately, I can no longer justify buying booster boxes for $15 a pop, and shopping online just doesn't have the same appeal as buying a box and ripping it open right there in the store. I'd like to get some of the new Spoils of war, but honestly, I'm not sure the new set is that exciting although I could be wrong. I just didn't see anything that grabbed me so bad I have to get it. Plenty of replay value with what I have of the base set means I really don't feel pushed to buy any more, and it feels enough like a boardgame especially with the deluxe boosters that I'm okay with what I have.

The mounted board really makes it feel "finished" enough to slow the impulse to grab a lot of it. The game balance also makes it to where having a certain figure is not a game breaker; I really think there's a low cost counter to just about any team someone could field. I may be wrong, but anyway in the Southeast US it really does not seem to be taking off. Same way with the WoW Card game, which is huge in the Midwest and other areas. Down here, most people are just playing actual WoW on the computer.
 
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Chris Funk
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StephenAvery wrote:
Zaphod wrote:
And the collectible format is keeping you from play with your already owned miniatures how? Playing "dead" collectible games is no different than playing out of print board games. They both work just fine with no further support.


My opinion exactly.


Same here. I have a bunch of REV sets sitting in copier paper boxes that are worth about $20.00. but that's fine because I have a 1-year old that will be interested in playing with them in about 4 years, so it's all good.
 
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stephen
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Damn it, if only someone had told me I had to stop playing a CMG once it was nolonger supported. Time to bin all my mechwarrior stuff, and what am I goin to do with all these heroclix I just got into, buying all the cheap boxes from clearance stores.

Business as usual as far as I am concerned, the only thing to stop me playing is finding the time and I suppose eventually , death.
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If anyone wants my HeroClix collection, geekmail me. I've got a bunch of harder to find ones, as well as maps, feat cards, etc.
 
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Michael Erb
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At Origins I was picking up bricks of HorrorClix for $20 each, Mage Knight boosters for $2-$3 a piece and HeroClix Arkham Asylum for $5 each.

With Mage Knight WizKids actually produced two collectors guides which covered a bunch of the sets, giving you play tips, stats and fiction and scenarios. Got both of those for $2 a piece.

 
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wargamer55 wrote:


I'll be maintaining my Axis & Allies Miniatures and A&A War at Sea so long as Hasbro continues them, but there's no way I can be persuaded to get into any new collectibles - ever.


And if trends at all the FLGS continue they won't be around much longer. All of them have stopped stocking and selling separates which is too bad. 1 store even still has a big selection of the original 2 sets plus D-Day that I have been buying up. They said the switch in scale killed the game for most players, that and everyone is playing Star Wars minis now.

It only seems natural that they eventually will stop production though, I mean how many Panzerfausts and Tiger tanks do you need in an army? What they need to do is copy Star Wars with the theme packs where they load key minis from each side and a map/scenario to simulate a famous battle including most or all of what both sides need. Mini games need to steal the LCG approach and apply it to minis. Of course the problem with that is finding shelf space for a game already in rapid decline might be tough.

Either way, sure it would be nice to go to my FLGS and find active players with their own minis, however I enjoy playing them with my friends who don;t have to or want to buy any of it. I provide both sides and we are off to the races. A&A minis is one of my favorite games and I don't regret getting into it at all, even if they stopped production tomorrow.
 
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merb101 wrote:
At Origins I was picking up bricks of HorrorClix for $20 each, Mage Knight boosters for $2-$3 a piece and HeroClix Arkham Asylum for $5 each.

With Mage Knight WizKids actually produced two collectors guides which covered a bunch of the sets, giving you play tips, stats and fiction and scenarios. Got both of those for $2 a piece.



I've also been picking up Clix's on Clearance, there is some much of it available still I wonder how many warehouses they still have full of this stuff.

The same goes for the Star Wars pocket models and Pirates lines, I still see these being sold at a big discount and being restocked at Target and Fred Meyer.

They only thing I've noticed drying up are the Haloclix.

 
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I think the OP is saying that it's hard to find players for dead collectible games, not that people should get rid of their dead games. And I agree with the OP for two main reasons:

1. Dead games seem to "disappear" from people's physical space. I can't say how many times I've heard some variation of "Yeah, I used to play that game, I've got some [cards,miniatures] somewhere, maybe bottom of the closet, maybe I gave them away, etc." It's as if this stuff, which mere months ago was integral to their lives, has disappeared down some physical memory hole. Strong social connections can delay the inevitable, as people save their stuff b/c they know a friend will want to play, but for most people it seems that cards and minis evaporate into some gaming aether once they are unsupported.

2. Most dead games suffer from a lack of variety, which is inherent to collectible games. I started collecting Horrorclix because I liked the starter box figures. After maybe 10 boosters, it was obvious that there were a handful of good pieces that I'd want to use, and a lot of chaff. Admittedly, some of that chaff is good for theme teams and such, but many are almost unplayable without imposing restrictions on the other guy to play bad pieces as well. So, your opponent arrives to play and you bring out your box of stuff. Then the two of you fight over the 10 or so good pieces while ignoring the filler. Since the pool never changes, and relative value is known, eventually victory comes down to who picks first. I think this is common to all collectible games once the players reach a certain collection size because these games substitute booster draws for in-game randomness.

There are some ways to maintain playability of dead games on your own. 1. If your colelction is large enough, competition for good cards or pieces is diluted by the depth ofthe pool. It may take a few years to exhaust most interesting combinations and determine the value hierarchy, and maybe you'll have new players by then.
2. Another possibility is to remove all good pieces and play with the chaff. I used to do common drafts in Magic with people who weren't interested in collecting. By removing all of the powerful or valuable cards, we just had a stack of "junk" and people were forced to do the best they could with it. It brought out a lot of creativity and could be a lot of fun, with no investment except on my part (similar to getting others to play a dead game that only you still have).
3. Create set teams or decks that have strong themes for an opponent to play. These should be well matched in power and have a corresponding scenario or goal. With Horrorclix I have made teams of Aliens and Marines, which allows the game to be played more like an RPG with miniatures. The theme is interesting to a lot of people who wouldn't necessarily play a "Horrorclix" game.

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Alexander's spot-on with his analysis of collectible games. All of these games have an evolutionary cycle directly tied into the continued release of new product.

Half of the appeal of collectibles is creating a new strategy, or adding a new wrinkle to an existing strategy, with the release of a new set. As the pool of pieces increase, those strategies become increasingly varied. Sure, the occasional overpowered piece comes in to throw things askew (Boba Fett, Bounty Hunter, anyone?), but that anomaly is typically corrected within a couple more sets.

When a game no longer is being supported, the pool of available pieces becomes locked. No new variations will emerge. After a while, construction of various builds distills what's playable into only a few options. Creativity dies. And with it, a desire to play, because there's nothing new to be discovered.

I know of only one OOP collectible game that continues to see regular play in the L.A. area, and that's Deadlands: Doomtown. It's hard to keep people interested in a game when there are others that remain vibrant and alive, allowing players to continue expressing their creativity.
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What is interesting is that you rarely see people complain about boardgames not having new elements around which to build new strategies. There may be complaints that a particular game doesnt stand up to repeated play, but people dont seem to dismiss those game out of hand in the same sneer as you see directed towards collectible games. There are the occasional expansions, but thats hardly the same. Is it that boardgames offer a deeper playing experience that facilitates new strategy without recourse to new bits, or something else.

You see people notch up hundreds of plays of Age of Steam or Puerto Rico, yet collectible games require an almost constant stream of new product to keep players playing.

Is it something inherent in the type of people who choose collectible games that makes us perhaps more interested in novelty? Is it the way the games themselves are marketed that is designed to create a cult of the new?
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J.L.Robert wrote:
Half of the appeal of collectibles is creating a new strategy, or adding a new wrinkle to an existing strategy, with the release of a new set.

Well, OK. But that's another way of saying that collectible games are twice as appealing as board games. Because once the releases stop, you have a board game, right?

J.L.Robert wrote:
When a game no longer is being supported, the pool of available pieces becomes locked. No new variations will emerge. After a while, construction of various builds distills what's playable into only a few options. Creativity dies. And with it, a desire to play, because there's nothing new to be discovered.

I suppose that might be possible. I've never seen it happen, though. I've never felt that I had explored the entire game space of a collectible game, and that includes a few where I spent years in weekly (or even daily) games. In every case the game died (or I stopped playing) with many strategies still untried, and some units/cards still unused.

But let's grant that it will happen for now. It is possible that sufficient analysis would turn up "perfect" armies. In that case, the game reduces to chess. Perhaps chess with dice, or chess with 2-3 choices of setup, but basically a game between fixed armies. And while some might claim that chess is decided by a coin toss (to determine who moves first), I hope you'll agree that there is still some creativity in the game.

J.L.Robert wrote:
It's hard to keep people interested in a game when there are others that remain vibrant and alive, allowing players to continue expressing their creativity.

As others have said, how does that explain the continuing popularity of Puerto Rico, of Space Hulk, of Chess? Is it just that collectible players need the extra creativity that comes from army design? I don't often hear such players accused of being "extra creative", but it's an interesting thought.

I'm not trying to pick a fight here, honest. Collectible games are interesting to me, for a variety of reasons, and I like trying to understand the market. So when arguments come up that don't match my experience, I try to wrap my head around them, and see where the idea comes from.
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wargamer55 wrote:
I think at this point that I'm just about done with collectible games of any sort.

I'm going to quote this back at you sometime down the line.
laugh
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