The game features heroes and villains from The DCU, the Marvel Universe, and various other Indy Comic Books. The reason it's called HeroClix is because these it uses miniatures on a dial, every time a character is damaged you rotate it and it "clix".
It includes pretty much all of the Stock Superpowers and a few less easily mapped ones. It uses a point system to price heroes, giving them a raw Power Level used to gauge the strength of a team by adding up the members' values. A 100 point team of five Elite Mook Hand Ninjas would still be an easy match for an experienced Daredevil and Elektra, but get creamed with the 200 point Superman. The game has pieces move as if on a chessboard (each being able to move in any direction) and ranged attacks have to draw lines of fire avoiding such things as smoke and obstacles.
It has gone through at least one major evolution, and possibly a couple of Armed with Canon incidents. One of the major flaws... well, limitations of the system was that heroes who exhibited several superpowers at the same time (like say Super Strength and Incapacitate, or Invulnerability and Regeneration) could not use both at once, because only one attack, movement, defense, and damage power could be activated at once. Also, the powers and point values didn't always line up with canon. The Armed with Canon incidents involved DC combining Invulnerability with Deadly Dodging, and the new system with Marvel annexing cards that give each character multiple powers as their backstory demands.
It also had a near death experience due to Wizkids, its parent company, going out of business, but was purchased by another company, NECA, and lived to play another day. Since then, the game has added a number of other franchises to their lineup as well. To date, the universes beyond Marvel and DC that can be found available to play in HeroClix include:
- Street Fighter
- The Lord of the Rings
- Gears of War
- Assassin's Creed
- Pacific Rim
- Star Trek
- Iron Maiden
- The Lone Ranger
- Dota 2
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
And coming, soon, Undead featuring classic literary figures like Dr. Frankenstein, Jekyll & Hyde, Jacob Marley, & Werewolves. Only time can tell what other universes may eventually join in the fun.
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
- Area of Effect: How Energy Explosion, thrown Grenades and Pulse Wave typically works
- Back-to-Back Badasses: how Duo figures are often depicted; also how they work, since they are a representation of two characters acting as a single unit.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Mostly Averted. Powerful characters can run up to 70$, but tournament-winning teams don't cost nearly as much as they would in Magic: The Gathering or Yu Gi Oh.
- Car Fu: Brought to the game with the inclusion of Vehicles that both have a 'Ramming' mechanic and turn into super heavy object when they're defeated.
- CCG Importance Dissonance: Point values (and powersets) don't always line up with canon.
- Everything Breaks: Unless it's Elevated Terrain. Certain powers will change it to grounded terrain however.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Dark Lord Sauron can be harmed by holding the One Ring special object.
- Healing Factor: Regeneration, along with some special powers and Traits.
- Hollywood Healing: No matter how much damage a character receives, as long as they haven't been KO'ed they can theoretically be returned to full health in-game by use of Support.
- Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Probability Control.
- Meta Game: There are some figures that specifically target the Metagame such as Kid Zoom who cancels Hypersonic Speed or Dirk Anger who will make your opponent's figures not able to use their team abilities.
- Mook Chivalry: Enforced. There is only one action per turn for every 100 points on your team, and soldier-level characters come in at 30-50 points a piece. Larger forces of weak members therefore have to go in a few at a time while smaller groups or individuals are free to attack with full strength.
- However this is a tactic in-and-of itself: When a character acts, it gets an action token placed on it. If the same character acts next turn and gets a second, it takes a click of damage from 'pushing'. While certain pieces have effects that negate the damage, you can't push to a third token in most cases: the character is sitting out next turn. Thus, a large gaggle of weaker characters can keep up a constant offense without pushing by rotating who acts and rests in a given turn, while a single big guy can only act twice every three turns, maximum.
- No-Sell: The DCU set's Quintessence ability nullifies negative status from being inflicted on the possessor, such as having a power nullified or receiving damage from pushing (exertion). The same for the Power Cosmic from the Marvel sets.
- Traits have this effect as well for specific powers and abilities.
- Power Creep: A minor case, but still present. Figures introduced before Avengers and the creation of special powers and traits lack the potential and flexibility of the later pieces. Also, over time, dial design philosophy has moved from "amazing top click, but drops like a rock if you manage to land a hit" to "not as immediately ridiculous, but solid". Combine the two and old figures just can't keep up with newer ones, which have more tricks and can take a hit or two.
- Power Nullifier: Outwit, in general. Some characters (Leech, for example) are walking Power Nullifiers, while others can just ignore specific powers (Professor X laughs at your attempt to Mind Control him).
- Turns Red: While many characters get weaker as they get more damage, certain characters get meaner. Most clix of the Hulk fall into this category.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: With the current sets, a fight between Master Chief vs Captain America vs Batman vs Gimli vs Ryu isn't far fetched. Indeed, it's one of the game's main appeals to a lot of players.