Tuesday, February 08, 2005

My Life in Plastic

Of course that it figures that while I was out of action nursing this cold, Hasbro would announce the action figure game I’ve been working on for the past few months. Its called Attacktix, and the initial information can be found here.

This becomes the third miniatures game that I’ve been deeply involved in the past few years. First was a good run on Heroclix from Wizkids, and my work there included Unleashed, Ultimates, and the biggie Galactus figure. That was followed by the successful Star Wars Miniatures Game from Wizards of the Coast. And now Attacktix from Hasbro.

Attacktix is a different type of figures and a different game than the previous two. While both Heroclix and Star Wars Miniatures were primarily miniatures games, aimed at a hobby market, Attacktix comes out of the toy side of the business and comes with a different set of sensibilities. As an example, one of the hobby’s sacred cows is that physical skill should not be a factor. Attacktix, on the other hand is very much about the physical, the tactile, and the kinetic. It is all about playing with the toy

The figures move on bases that have small rollers beneath them, causing them to make a ratcheting "Tix" while they move. No grids, no rulers – movement ability is contained in the figure itself. The figures also have launchers that fire missiles across the table, or swing at the waist to strike an opponent (that explains the over-sized wookiee-paw you’re seeing). So aim and physical ability is much more important in this game than is traditional hobby games.

In addition to the action-oriented nature of the game, the figures have special powers on the bottoms of the bases. Knock an opponent over, and its special power may activate. Some special powers bring in reinforcements, some allow free attacks, and some brings figures back. Mace Windu is the energizer bunny of the first wave – he’s tough to stop.

Attacktix is a more straightforward game than either Heroclix or Star Wars Miniatures, and aimed at a younger audience. The figures are larger (3-4 inches tall), are articulated at the arms and head, and have a strong kinetic vector (Translation: You make things fall down go boom). What I like about this game is that it teaches a lot of basics that older players take for granted in hobby games, but which newcomers always find odd and often off-putting – things like turn order, collectability, customizing your forces, combos, and the like.

This is important because, once these basic concepts are in place, the younger players can move into the hobby end of the game spectrum more easily. When I was a lad, I played and loved the American Heritage games from Milton Bradley – Dogfight, Battle Cry, and Hit the Beach!. That led to wargames and from there to RPGs. I know a lot of gamers whose introduction to the hobby was the original Marvel Super Heroes game. And, I’m betting, Attacktix will be another cool game kids will enjoy and which will ultimately bring more people into the hobby.

More later,