Yes, it's time again for a new segment. I've found, through my experience, that if you're going to write a blog article every week, you better talk about a lot of different things. So far, I've talked about arcade games, home video game systems, board games, free comic books, pro wrestling, and a heaping helping of nostalgia. Well, let me add one more to that list.
If you recall from my last Forgotten Worlds article, I have been interested in tabletop role-playing games since I was four. I've played many of the major games that have come out: Dungeons & Dragons (in most of its incarnations), Rifts, White Wolf's World of Darkness (the original, not that new crap), Savage Worlds, GURPS (okay, so I only got as far as creating my character, but that's because the group got so sick of making GURPS characters for two straight hours that we gave up on the game), and so on. I've also played my fair share of tabletop miniatures games, including Games Workshop's HeroQuest (classic!) and Mordheim (because it was a hell of a lot cheaper than Warhammer 40K). Since I've been playing these games for most of my life, I figure why not talk about the tabletop games of the past, present and future?
And so, I invite you to strap on your armor, grab your weapons, and get your spells in order. You're about to delve into the deepest caverns of my imagination. But beware, for you never know what dangers may lurk in the Dungeons of Time.
In 2000, one company forever revolutionized the game of tabletop warfare. Before that year, Games Workshop's products, such as the aforementioned Warhammer 40K, were the dominant beast in the industry. The downside to this was that the games required a lot of bookkeeping and were prohibitively expensive, sometimes costing thousands of dollars. This led to tabletop wargames being only for the most hardcore, leaving many potential fans behind.
It was like this until Jordan Weisman, founder of the old gaming company FASA, decided to change how people could purchase and play with miniatures. Under his new company, WizKids, he designed a system that would not only be significantly cheaper than the competition, but would allow gamers to play without needing to keep a detailed record of every unit. First off, he decided to manufacture pre-painted plastic miniatures, instead of the metal miniatures that came unpainted. This led to the emergence of collectable miniatures, which was later implemented by other companies, such as Wizards of the Coast. Similar to collectable card games, miniatures are randomly selected in packs. While you may not get what you want, you sure are paying a lot less for miniatures.
The other thing Weisman created was the combat dial, which is a rotatable base that shows the stats of each figure. Each time they take damage, you rotate the base by a number of clicks, which changes their stats. These innovations brought the hobby of tabletop wargames to a wider audience. Suddenly, kids and people who don't have high paying engineering jobs could enjoy collecting miniatures for gaming.
WizKids first game, Mage Knight, was a huge success and gained the company millions of dollars. But it wasn't until 2002 that WizKids created their best selling game ever. Combining their brand of miniatures gaming with the dynamic battles found in comic books, Heroclix became extremely popular. Players could create teams of superheroes and villains to battle against other teams. Many comic book companies have had their characters turned into miniatures, including Marvel, DC, Image, Top Cow, Crossgen, and Dark Horse.
A selection of Heroclix figures, complete with their
signature combat dials.
Though WizKids has changed hands a few times, even being defunct for an entire year, Heroclix still gives players a selection of figures from different shapes, sizes, and characters. For almost ten years, Heroclix has been putting out new expansions with new heroes and villains and new versions of pre-existing figures. There's even been figures that tower over others...
Behold, the mighty Galactus shall decimate your
Heroclix forces with his cosmic power.
If you're interested in trying out the game, check out their website. If, however, you would rather focus on playing than collecting, or if you don't want to spend as much money (some Heroclix figures can be pricey, especially the special edition colossal figures, like Galactus), there's a new online computer game, Heroclix Online. The game is in the beta phase and it looks like it will be much more cost effective than the physical tabletop game. Keep your eyes out for it soon.
Now, if only I could find someone local who plays this game or a tournament in the area.