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Normal Distribution – The Elephant in the Room

SIF. Structural Integrity Field. The bogeyman in the room. With careful force construction and a win on the map roll, you can defeat an opponent’s team without them even getting a chance to attack you. After winning the last HeroClix World Championship (though not used by Ben in the final match), and posting first or second place finishes at all the other large tournaments that year, it’s been dominant in high level play since 2007. Though I know some will be sad to see it go, the vast majority of players prefer more interaction in their games, and to not have to build “SIF-busting” teams just to stand even a small chance at victory in high-level play. Well, its reign may finally be coming to an end. There was vigorous debate within WizKids about whether to ban it, errata it, or just ignore it. We went to our playtest teams and a few high-level players to get their opinions as well. In the end, “errata” won out. Behold:

Structural Integrity Field
0 points
Blocking terrain (but not blocking terrain markers) and walls 6 or fewer squares from this object can’t be destroyed.

The printed text says nothing about terrain markers, though in general anytime we say “Blocking Terrain” we would include them. But in this particular instance, we feel that the damage to the competitive game outweighs the strict interpretation of the wording. When this card was originally designed, the intent was to hamper your opponents ability to dig through walls to get at you, forcing them to come at you through narrow doorways. The original intent was not to create indestructible barriers that allow a team to prevent all attacks against them. The current design team is going with design intent over the printed wording in this one specific instance, one that I think will lead overall to more enjoyable play experiences for all concerned. We hope even the highly competitive types have fun developing new strategies.

We don’t plan to mess with the competitive edge of HeroClix in the future -something is always the best strategy- and we didn’t do this lightly or casually. We went outside of the company to get opinions, and the prevailing opinion was that something should be done. Why did we decide to act in this instance?
SIF was dominating – To win at high-level HeroClix, you either had to build a team that could beat SIF, or a team that used SIF. Five random figures from your collection would stand a 0% chance of defeating a SIF team. While there are some ways to get around it – Kid Flash, Songbird, and Batman/Catwoman – without putting one of those figures or a few others on your team, you just couldn’t win against a full SIF team. We’re fine with a much better player with the right team having a 98% chance of victory against a lesser player – that’s part of any well-developed competitive game – but not 100%.
SIF was unfun – 40 or 50 minutes of moving without attacking with a few hypersonic attacks is not how we like to think of HeroClix. It did not put HeroClix’s best foot forward at our highest level events.
SIF was anti-competitive – It made the game about who could use the clock better instead of who had actually picked a better team, positioned them better, used the map better, and got a little luckier on their dice rolls.

Now, it’s not totally nerfed. It still can slow down an opponent, and buy your team some much needed time, which was its original intent. You can still plug doorways with Barrier – your opponent now has a chance to destroy the ‘Barrier’ to get at you. In fact, there’s a map coming out soon that features lots of walls and blocking terrain to hide behind. SIF could be highly useful on the map, but just not the inviolate turtling mechanism that it’s become.

Note that it is not increasing in points. There are no plans to give points to objects pre-Brave and the Bold, SIF included.

This, along with the ATAs posting later this week, is everything you need to win at GenCon this year, and become the HeroClix world champion. No other rules changes or surprises will be thrown your way between now and then. (A few standard clarifications, I’m sure, as it is a new rulebook.) The Watchmen set is the only set you haven’t seen yet that will be legal at Worlds. You’ve got the tools. You know the format. Now go out there and build to win! We’re all greatly looking forward to seeing what prevails at GenCon this year.

— The HeroClix Design Team

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