Heroclix: Shifting Focus

Some characters do one thing and they do it really well. The Flash moves really fast. Hawkeye shoots arrows at people. Power sets like this are pretty easy to make in Heroclix. But what about characters that are more complex? What about the ones who can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time?

There’ve been a few ways to make characters like that. The most common one has been to jam all of their powers and abilities on a single dial, which usually comes with a hefty price tag. Anybody remember that 200-point Batman?

Last year World’s Finest gave us a new way – Shifting Focus. World’s Finest had four different  Batman and Superman pieces that were connected with each other. Each dial reflected a specific power or ability (e.g. super speed, stealth) and all shared a trait that allowed these pieces to be swapped out. Last month’s Deadpool and the X-Force brought this mechanic back and this summer’s Avengers/Defenders War promises even more. Since it looks like Shifting Focus is here to stay for a while, let’s take a closer look at it.

How Does It Work?

Shifting Focus characters have some version of this trait:

SHIFTING FOCUS – X: Give X a free action if he began your turn on the map. Replace him with another character with this trait on the same click number.

So, you can start the game with DXF037a Deadpool to teleport somewhere as a free-action. Then use his Shifting Focus trait to replace him with DXF001a Deadpool to attack someone close up with Blades/Claws/Fangs. Once per turn, you can replace on Shifting Focus character for another.

The Upsides

  1. Shifting Focus lowers the cost of figures. The WF Superman combo comes in at 90 points. Can you imagine getting Superman on your team at 90 points? Batman comes in at 60 and Deadpool at 75. Since no dial can do everything on its own, it makes them cheaper and more team friendly.
  1. Shifting Focus gives you lots of options. These pieces have great flexibility. Who doesn’t appreciate having options when you field your team?
  1. Shifting Focus figures end up with nice protection. Because they are replacement figures, Outwit and Perplex don’t follow. So let’s say someone reduces the damage on WF017a Superman. Switch him out for WF002 Superman and your damage is back to normal. (Note: action tokens do follow. If someone uses Incapacitate, that action token transfers to the replaced character)

The Downsides

  1. Shifting Focus characters mean
    you need more figures. You really need the whole group to get the most out of them. In the case of WF Batman and Superman, that’s four figures apiece. In the case of Deadpool, that’s eight pieces (though it’s debatable if you really need all the Deadpool figures to make him work). Chasing down more figures can make collectability a bit of a pain, especially if some of them are more rare.
  1. Shifting Focus characters take up more space in a set. It meant we got more Batman and Superman pieces in World’s Finest. It meant we got a lot of Deadpool in Deadpool and the X-Force. Shifting Focus pieces taking up so much space means other characters that fit the theme get cut.

Overall, I’ve had a fun time playing the Shifting Focus pieces and I’m looking forward to their future. How about you? Have you tried any of them yet? Is this a good direction for complex characters or not?

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