Every now and again I think it will be worth all of our time to take something from the PAC and talk about it. Nearly every mechanic in Heroclix has subtleties that are important to understand to be sure that you are playing like a pro. This week, in response in part to some of the questions and suggestions I’ve gotten at HeroclixRules@gmail.com, we’re going to spotlight OUTWIT. Let’s start with a quote from the PAC:
Once during your turn (but not during another action), as a free action this character counters a power or an ability (other than a team ability) possessed by a single target opposing character. Treat the target as if it does not have the countered power or ability, which remains countered until the beginning of your next turn. A character using this power must be within 10 squares of the target and have a clear line of fire to the target. If this character loses Outwit or is defeated, the countered power or ability returns immediately.
At a basic level, this power is so easy to understand. You use it as a free action and you can “turn off” one of the powers of the opposing force. Truly the devil is in the details. Let’s take the power step by step:
ONCE DURING YOUR TURN – Though the rules do not have official “phases” to a player’s turn, there are 3 concepts that are similar in nature. There is the “beginning of the turn,” “the turn,” and “the end of the turn.” Normally, if you are giving your character an action (and it doesn’t matter if it’s a free action or a tokenable action) then you are in “the turn.” Once you’ve started “the turn,” you cannot do anything that requires it be during the beginning of your turn. Similarly, once you’ve started anything that happens during the end of your turn, you can no longer go back and do anything that needs to take place during “the turn.” Outwit specifies that it is something you can do “during your turn.” Your turn includes all 3 parts of your turn – the beginning, the turn itself, and the end. Therefore, you can use Outwit during the beginning of your turn – a very useful trick for a team that has an Outwitter and a Poisoner. Poison is a power that only can be activated during the “beginning of your turn” (and maybe we’ll discuss Poison another time) – by using Outwit during the beginning of your turn, you can outwit someone’s damage reducer (like Toughness) and then use Poison, getting that click of damage that might have been unexpected!
(BUT NOT DURING ANOTHER ACTION) – This phrase makes it clear that although you can use Outwit during your turn, it needs to get its own action and it can’t be bundled in the middle of another. This comes up most often when talking about a Hypersonic character – a player wants to move the figure, use Outwit, then make an attack, and then finish the figure’s move. This clause makes it clear that is not legal. Outwit is actually not alone in this regard. The truth is, unless the power or ability specifically says so, you can never give a character an action in the middle of another action. That said, there are a number of exceptions – Mind Control is a good exception but so is the S.H.I.E.L.D. team ability – both of these are situations where the mechanic spells out that an action is given in the middle of another action.
AS A FREE ACTION – okay, this part is easy, right? It’s a free action. No token and it doesn’t count against your allotment of actions for the turn. To be sure, it is still an action. There are some mechanics in Heroclix that depend on whether or not the character has been given an action this turn (being able to use Probability Control from a Themed Team comes to mind). Outwit is still an action in this regard.
THIS CHARACTER COUNTERS A POWER… POSSESSED – what is a possessed power? It’s a power that the target character has on their dial. Many special powers (which are powers) out there grant the character the ability to use a whole laundry list of standard powers. For example, the Loki super rare from Hammer of Thor has a special power God of Mischief: Loki can use Outwit and Perplex. The power he possesses is “God of Mischief”. The powers he can use are Outwit and Perplex. If someone were to outwit Loki, they would not be able to choose between the two standard powers, rather, they would counter God of Mischief, which would then remove his ability to use either one of those powers.
OR AN ABILITY (OTHER THAN A TEAM ABILITY) – A little out of sequence, but Outwit can also be used to counter an ability. Combat abilities are a huge part of the Heroclix game and it will very often take your opponent by surprise when you counter their character’s Indomitable or Carry ability. Each combat icon can result in a figure possessing a number of abilities, most of which can be countered (only Giant-Size and Colossal-Size cannot be).
BY A SINGLE TARGET OPPOSING CHARCTER. – Another common question that comes up in regards to Outwit is whether having additional [target] icons helps? The answer is “no”, it does not. Outwit is not a ranged attack, so having the ability to multi-target doesn’t change the fact that only one target can be affected with the use of Outwit.
TREAT THE TARGET AS IF IT DOES NOT HAVE THE COUNTERED POWER OR ABILITY, – another easily understood part of Outwit, and in truth it is redundant. The rulebook’s glossary already defines the word counter to mean:
Through the use of a power or ability, causing another power, ability, or effect to be ignored. The effect of a countered power, ability, or effect ends immediately.
WHICH REMAINS COUNTERED UNTIL THE BEGINNING OF YOUR NEXT TURN – this phrase can make things a little confusing, so let’s take a look at a particular dial for clarity. Here’s Bug’s dial (figure #001 from Hammer of Thor):
As is typical, the focus of my photo is facing overwhelming odds. Say Bug is on his first click. Fandral starts the turn by outwitting Bug’s Super Senses. He then attacks and hits him for 3 damage. Bug moves to click #4. Is his Super Senses still countered? It sure is because we have not yet gotten to “the beginning of your next turn” yet.
Next, Jimmy Woo attacks Bug and hits, dealing another 2 damage. Bug now clicks to click #6. Since this is all on the same turn, Super Senses is still countered. So when Pip takes his final shot, Bug is not going to be able to try to evade the attack.
A CHARACTER USING THIS POWER MUST BE WITHIN 10 SQUARES OF THE TARGET – okay, this half of the sentence is easy, so I pulled it out. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a question asking me if 10 meant something other than, well, 10.
AND HAVE A CLEAR LINE OF FIRE TO THE TARGET. – here’s the part that gets folks. Let me start by saying I know how much this irks certain people and I sympathize, I really do. A line of fire has a game definition – it is the path between the target and the attacker. It can be 10 squares apart. It can be 1 square apart. With other powers (like Perplex) it can even be 0 squares apart. The distance does not matter. What this means is that a character using a power like Stealth that would prevent a line of fire from targeting them would be able to use that power as a means to block the line of fire from Outwit. It can be 10 squares away or it can be adjacent to the Outwitter. The distance does not matter. So yes, Joker can try to punch Batman because they are adjacent but he still cannot draw a line of fire to him if Batman is using Stealth. And without a line of fire, Outwit cannot be used to counter a power.
Also worth mentioning here is that there are clear lines of fire and there are blocked lines of fire. Even though a line of fire crosses hindering terrain, it is still considered “clear.” So while Stealth will prevent the line of fire from allowing Outwit to work, it is because it changes the line of fire to a blocked line of fire.
IF THIS CHARACTER LOSES OUTWIT OR IS DEFEATED, THE COUNTERED POWER OR ABILITY RETURNS IMMEDIATELY. – Another sentence from this power that is generally understood. What’s worth pointing out here is how crucial the word “immediately” is. Because “immediately” means, well, instantly. In certain situations, this can be a big thing.
During her turn, Hela outwitted M-11’s Willpower, thinking that would discourage her opponent from pushing the robot. Figuring that he would probably not get a better chance to deal 5 damage to her, M-11 decides to push anyway. He rolls to attack and hits! Here’s what happens:
I hope you enjoyed this walk through of all things “Outwit”. If you liked this particular style of article, have things you’d like explained in more detail, or just want to say “hi”, feel free to shoot me a line at HeroclixRules@gmail.com.
CHALLENGE #4 SOLUTION
Understanding how probability works is a huge part of playing Heroclix at the expert level. It’s true that there are many times that it’s worth it to risk a harder roll in order to get a better benefit (like KO’ing the target). But if you don’t understand the probabilities, then you aren’t making an informed decision. There’s nothing wrong with playing from your gut, but the more seasoned players are understanding the odds and playing the game where they get more hits.
If figuring out that the character with a 9 attack needs to roll an 8 in order to hit the character with a 17 defense is tough for you, skipping to the bottom may make the most sense for you. This is going to get a little technical.
I’ll also caveat this section with the information that throughout this challenge we are exclusively talking about the opponent using Probability Control. That makes rolling a hit more difficult. If you have Probability Control on your team, it balances things out (or makes it better if you have more PC than your opponent). In future articles, we will dig into some of the math for taking your own PC into account. To get started, we’re just focusing on opposing PC.
Let’s start with a coin flip. What are the odds that you are going to flip it once and get heads? Easy, right? 50%. Flip it a second time and what are the odds you get heads again? Still 50%. But what is the probability that you are going to flip a coin twice in a row and get heads both times? That will only happen 25% of the time. This is a pretty easy computation to visualize since flipping a coin twice is either going to result in Heads twice, Heads and then Tails, Tails and then Heads, or Tails twice. Since there are 4 possible outcomes and the desired outcome is only one of them, then 25% is pretty easily understood.
Another way to figure this calculation is through multiplication. 50% of the time we will get tails on the first flip. The other 50% of the time we will get heads on the first flip. Of the latter half, our opponent will make us reflip the coin through Probability Control, and again, half the time we’ll fail and half the time we will hit. How do we figure out half of 50%? Multiplication! 50% times 50% is equal to 25%.
Since Heroclix is not played with (very much) flipping of coins, let’s start talking dice. Here is a table worth learning:
|3 or better||97%|
|4 or better||92%|
|5 or better||83%|
|6 or better||72%|
|7 or better||58%|
|8 or better||42%|
|9 or better||28%|
|10 or better||17%|
|11 or better||8%|
|12 or better||3%|
We can talk offline about why these odds are right, but take it on faith the above numbers reflect what the odds are of rolling any particular number (or better). Using the same logic as the coin tossing, if a character needed a 7 to hit and their opponent was using Probability Control, what is the probability that they will roll a 7 or better twice in a row? 58% times 58% (which comes to 34%).
Super Senses adds another wrinkle to the equation, but it doesn’t make it too complex. Since Super Senses succeeds only 1/3 of the time, what that means for probability is that once you’ve determined that a hit has occurred, there is another “coin flip” to be factored in. We already know that when there are two factors we multiply them together to get the overall probability, and that carries through for a third factor as well. But what do we multiply by for Super Senses? We already know that 34% of the time our roll of 7 will hit. We also know that 1/3 of the time, the opponent will evade, turning the hit into a miss. That means that 2/3 of the time, the hit will stay a hit. That is the other factor – two-thirds. So now our equation is 58% * 58% * 2/3. An overall probability of 22%.
Finally, Shape Change. If you have no other targets, then Shape Change’s affect on the overall probability is similar to Super Senses. 1/3 of the time, you will (essentially) miss, so you can use the same 2/3 as another factor in the equation and get the overall probability. However, if there is another target available, then it does something a little different. The probability to hit your Shape Changing target is the same, but your overall probability to hit something increases because 1/3 of the time, you will be making an attack roll on that other character.
Now, we can finally get around to answering last week’s challenge. To make things a little easier to write, I’m going to use the following shortcuts:
We are faced with three choices of what we can outwit before we attack, and each choice has an impact on the odds.
Baseline – Outwit Nothing
Probability of hitting Harbinger = H * H [The odds to hit Harbinger twice, since she’ll use Probability Control]
Probability of hitting King/Queen = (2/3 * K * K * 2/3) + (1/3 * H * H) [Two thirds of the time, King/Queen will miss their Shape Change roll and we’ll have to roll to hit them twice because of Harbinger’s Probability Control and then, if we hit, two thirds of the time they will fail to evade the attack through Super Senses COMBINED with the one third of the time that Shape Change succeeds and we have to roll twice to hit Harbinger]
Scenario 1 – Outwit Shape Change
Probability of hitting Harbinger = H * H [This hasn’t changed from the baseline]
Probability of hitting King/Queen = K * K * 2/3 [This changes from the baseline in removing the possibility that we may end up targeting Harbinger due to the Shape Change roll]
Scenario 2 – Outwit Super Senses
Probability of hitting Harbinger = H * H [This hasn’t changed from the baseline]
Probability of hitting King/Queen = (2/3 * K * K) + (1/3 * H * H) [The only difference between this and the baseline is removing the Super Senses 2/3 factor from the roll against King/Queen]
Scenario 3 – Outwit Probability Control
Probability of hitting Harbinger = H [Only have to hit her once now]
Probability of hitting King/Queen = (2/3 * K * 2/3) + (1/3 * H) [Again, this is similar to the baseline but we no longer need to try to hit anyone twice]
Now we can take these equations, figure out the appropriate “to hit” percentages and determine the solution to the challenge.
King/Queen to hit = 6 or better (72%); Harbinger to hit = 7 or better (58%)
|Target||Scenario 1||Scenario 2||Scenario 3|
Solution: Outwit Probability Control and target Harbinger!
BONUS ANSWER (Harbinger has had her defense increased by 1)
King/Queen to hit = 6 or better (72%); Harbinger to hit = 8 or better (42%)
|Target||Scenario 1||Scenario 2||Scenario 3|
Solution: Outwit Probability Control and target King & Queen!
The Runaways are facing their biggest challenge yet – Superman Prime. The battle so far has been tough. On their previous turn, Nico used her Staff of One to use Outwit and took away Superman Prime’s Hypersonic Speed. He pushed, trying to KO Nico, but he only moved her to her last click. Now it’s the Runaways turn. Assuming that when they attack, they will roll just high enough to hit (no critical hits), what should the Runaways do to wrap up this insane villain? [Be sure to see what clicks each character is on and note that Molly is currently holding a heavy object]