Legacy Lore 009: Feats
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Feats were a dividing concept in the game. They were the precursors to special powers and traits, appearing for the first time in Mutant Mayhem. A necessary step in the growth of the game to prevent the combat dial system from growing stale and allow greater customization of teams and figures. However, they also introduced more complexity into the rules to try and reign in their impact on the game.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves and take a look at the basic rules concerning Feats:
Feats are cards that can grant your characters additional game effects if they meet the prerequisites for use and you pay any associated costs for including them in your force. Feat cards indicate the feat’s point value, any prerequisites required for a character to use the feat, modifiers the feat makes to a character’s combat values, and a description of how to use the feat.
Simple enough, right? You get these little cards (which were cardboard) and could assign them to characters by paying the points. And they had prerequisites that attempted to keep them somewhat balanced. What could go wrong?
If a feat requires you to choose one or more characters on your force when assigning the feat, you must make the choice when building your force; only the chosen characters will be able to use the feat during the game. When you assign a feat to a character, you must also include the feat’s point value in your force’s point total. Feats that do not require you to choose characters to be assigned to your force have their point value added to your force’s point total.
Feats included as part of your force can’t be used by an opposing player, even if a character assigned a feat card becomes friendly to an opposing player’s force during the game. A character can be assigned more than one feat but a character can’t be assigned multiple copies of the same feat.
Again, fairly straightforward. If you have to choose a character, it happens during force construction, a common limitation to prevent you from min/maxing once you see your opponent's team. You have to pay for the Feats and your opponent doesn't get to use a game element you paid for. So far, so good.
THE 10% RULE
The combined point value of feats included in your force can be no more than 10% of the game’s build total. For example, in a standard 300-point game, you are allowed a maximum of 30 points of feats in your force.
Here we go. Now, again, the 10% Rule was a fairly straight forward limitation on Feats. You can't just stack hundreds of points of Feats on a One Man Army to create point denial. You're limited to 10% of the build going towards Feats. The issue, as it so often is, is how people learn the game.
For years after Feats were retired from Modern, I would hear people trying to misapply the 10% rule. To special objects, to Resources, to Equipment, to ID cards, to anything that costs points besides characters. When all it ever applied to was Feats. And only Feats.
The 10% Rule was a good rule and necessary rule for Feats. The problem is that people tried to apply it to everything else because they learn casually from their friends, not by reading the actual rules.
To use a feat, the character must possess or be able to use the game effects, powers, and abilities specified by the prerequisites of the feat. Combat values can’t be modified to meet the prerequisites to use a feat. A character that already meets the prerequisites to use a feat can have its combat values modified as long as the modified combat values still meet the prerequisites to use the feat.
If a prerequisite power, ability, or symbol has been countered or altered on a character by any game effect (such as the Earthbound or Outwit powers), the character can’t use any feats that have them as a prerequisite. If a prerequisite power, ability, or symbol can only be used by a character through specific circumstances, then using the feat is limited only to those same circumstances. For example, if a character can use Ranged Combat Expert only when they occupy hindering terrain, then a feat with Ranged Combat Expert as a prerequisite can only be used by that character if it occupies hindering terrain.
Feats activate in the same ways as powers and abilities. Feats that modify a character’s combat values modify those values only when the character is using the feat.
And this is where things get complicated. The principles are simple but in practice, it's a lot to remember. And this was at a time when the game terminology and timing were not as defined as they are now. While Feats were Print and Play legal, many people still didn't see them so they could be a point of confusion in a game. And that's before we get to scoring...
FEATS AND VICTORY POINTS
When the Feats Tactic is being used in a game, the game’s victory points are calculated normally but with the following additions:
- Feats assigned to chosen characters. If a feat requires you to choose a character, remove the feat from the game when the chosen character is defeated and award victory points to the defeating player for the feat in the same way that victory points are awarded for the defeated character. If a feat requires you to choose two or more characters, remove the feat from the game when the last chosen character is defeated and award victory points to the defeating player for the feat in the same way that victory points were awarded for the last chosen defeated character.
- Feats with variable point values. If the total cost for a feat increases incrementally with each character to which it is assigned, each time an assigned character is defeated, assign victory points equal to that increment of the point value in the same way that victory points were awarded for that character.
- Feats not assigned to a character. If a feat does not require you to choose a character or characters, remove the feat from the game when all the characters on your force are defeated and award victory points to the defeating player for the feat in the same way that victory points were awarded for the last character defeated.
- Feats removed from surviving characters. If a feat is removed from the game and all the assigned characters are on the map, award victory points to the opposing player whose character most recently damaged the character to which the feat was assigned.
Note: Feats being labeled as a Tactic was a late addition. However, this is the last legal wording regarding Feats (from the 2014 Rule Book).
Taking each bullet point on its own, it's not too bad. You assign the Feat to a character, the Feat is scored when the character is. Okay. Simple enough. It's when you're juggling all of them in a game, plus Relics, plus Special Objects, that it can get out of control.
As I said at the beginning, Feats were a necessary step in the evolution of the game. However, they've long out lived their usefulness. They're also a perfect example of a constant pendulum swing in game design. Game design, over the history of the game, tends to push a lot of “off the map elements” to enhance the game. The reason being that a twelve click dial can only do so much on its own, even with cards.
But it always reaches a point where the juice just isn't worth the squeeze and people push back. Because at the end of the day, the enduring appeal of the game is that you don't need to keep track of all these things off the map.
You put minis on a map with all their stats and roll two d6. That's Heroclix at its core and it's what has allowed the game to survive over twenty years.
Some people know that I don't like Feats being brought up in modern rules discussions and the reasons for that are fairly simple:
1. most people don't know what they are
2. they over complicate any current discussion far more than they should.
Which is why I haven't even given an example of a feat in this article. It'd be akin to trying to apply a Magic The Gathering Card to the current Heroclix game.
Optional traits, Team Up Cards and Equipment are all “better” versions of Feats. And unfortunately, Feats have aged like fine milk. Their wording is largely incompatible with the modern game and trying to make them work is just trying to play with nostalgia.
Of all the things that I look back at in Legacy Lore, Feats may be the one game element that I'm happy are gone and never want to see them return.
Thanks for reading. If you have an older effect that you're curious about feel free to write into email@example.com and maybe we'll cover it in a future Legacy Lore.