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Norman "nbperp" Barth Interview
(Part II)
The Le (07/31/2009)
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NBPERP InterviewNorman "nbperp" Barth was selected as the new HeroClix Rules Arbitrator, and remained so until HeroClix went into hiatus in late 2008. This is Part II of our interview with Norman Barth, the HeroClix Rules Arbitrator. Part I can be Found here.

The Le: You've obviously been in the HeroClix world for a while now (no pun intended). Are there any rules in HeroClix you think needs fixing / tweaking?

It depends on what you mean by "fixing/tweaking". It also depends on whether you mean fundamental core rules or if you mean rulings. I think there is a fairly strait-forward intent for how the game should be played. I also think that the process of putting an idea into words exposes the idea to exploitation. This is true for any rule-set whether it is a game or a body of law for governing. People try to use loop holes to do things that the original author(s) had not intended. Changing wording so that the idea is better "protected' from exploitation is something that I think would benefit the Heroclix ruleset in many areas. But I don't know if you call that a "fix" or a "tweak" or something else entirely.

Now, when special powers came around, and the minutiae of questions ratcheted up to a very high degree, I think that the official answer was often to play the card as it was and allow it to serve as a lesson for going forward. Perfect example, Moon Knight's special power that forces him to take a click after he uses Perplex (which would cause the effect of Perplex to vanish). There are other rulings that, given carte blanche, I would probably change. But here's the thing that everyone needs to keep in mind if such changes were to happen (whether by me or anyone else) - no one is ever going to get it perfect. And as good a job that you do on making the best ruleset you can, a subsequent set with new mechanics is likely to throw a wrench in the works. Perfect example - the early feats that refer to "pushing damage that ignores willpower and team abilities". Once "unavoidable damage" was created, the term was no longer necessary. Worse, the door was open that other mechanics that were not powers or team abilities may have come along that would defer/redirect pushing damage - which wasn't the intent when the card was written. But at the TIME it was written, there were no issues with the phrasing.

The Le: Are you reading any comics books these days?

Norman: Mostly I read Trade Paperbacks. It takes something very unusual - like the Oron Scott Card Ender adaptations - to get me willing to put that much money down for a 15 minute read. But I try to read as many TPBs as I can. I'll almost always gravitate towards Ultimate titles, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Titans, Justice League/Society. But I enjoyed the heck out of Y The Last Man, Fables, and Buffy stuff.

Teen TitansThe Le: I've enjoyed the Ultimates stuff quite a bit too, except the Ultimatum -- The writer (and Marvel) clearly have no respect for their established universe. I know some fanboys were excited by the sheer mindless deaths, but that's no way to treat your fans. I was also especially miffed when Bendis blindly killed Gwen Stacey in Ultimate Spider-man for no real reason. Do you have any favorite / least favorite moments in the comics you've read?

Norman: I'll always have fond memories of the New Teen Titans (by Wolfman and Perez). It was the first comic series that I hunted down all the back issues for when I first started collecting comics and soon after that, they got bumped up to the Baxter series (a new format that DC moved to in the mid 80s). I loved the stories, the interactions, the characters, etc.

I don't have any particular stories or comics that I hate. If I read something that I didn't like, I would simply stop reading it and move on. Every comic is loved by somebody, and I try to respect that. That said, storylines that I didn't particularly enjoy include the Electric Superman storyline and the way Marvel has reset the Spider-Man world by undoing the MJ marriage. Both of those are excellent examples of things that could have been a wonderful story. If Superman Blue/Red had been a 1 or 3 month thing, ok. But they stretched that thing out over a year - it was painful. And the MJ reboot thing could also have been good for a 3 month stint, a picture of "what could have been". But the story should have had an ending in mind.

The Le: What HeroClix figures would you like to see in the future (that haven't been made yet)? I would personally would love to see Storm Watch or the Savage Dragon.

Norman: I'll agree to wanting to see a Savage Dragon figure. Given carte-blanche to design a set for my own purposes (and not geared toward marketing broadly at all) I would want to see a set with the Young All Stars in it. The closest we got to any of those figs was Fury back in Cosmic Justice, but honestly, that was NOT Hippolyta Trevor, sorry.

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Your Comments:
I've met Norm on several occasions (conventions)and admired his enthusiasm for the game. It takes alot of patience to be a judge let alone give a ruling on a particular game mechanic and I believe wizkids made a very good choice in naming Norm as ruler arbitrator. I enjoy the game so much, that think of teams even at work, so imagine how sad it felt to see the game go down and come back up the way it did. I personally would like to thank all the convention judges at wizkids, the fans of the game and especially Norm for all the years I've played and the good times I've had.

Posted by: Errol Hanna on 8/7/2009 12:46:45 AM
Great interview, TheLé. I agree with Norm about some future Superman needing a SP to rescue friends.

Posted by: Rurouni KJS on 8/1/2009 11:04:15 PM
I hear what Norman is saying about not being able to get things perfect. But at the same time not catching the obvious mistakes is an organizational failure. One option would be to playtest the figures. If Moon Knight were playtested his mistake would have been caught. The same goes for Lobo.

Posted by: lunar on 8/1/2009 10:00:44 AM
I really like the FEAT card off to the right. Did Norm come up with that? I must say I've met him at Maryland MegaGame II and he's a real nice guy. Excellent trade where I acquired 3 more Robot Supes, very fair guy.

Posted by: Jarosa on 8/1/2009 9:03:59 AM
Good interview (part 1 & 2). Mr Barth write that the game will not be over since we play again, but it's a lot more difficult to play without the use of the official web site. Why topps just don't change Wizkids for topps and keep the web site where we can rapidly refer to built forces or seek combination of power or dial of figs that we don't already have. I hope they will do something to set this by respect for the $$$$ spent by the fans.
About the futur figs, my choices are Dargoth, Doctor Druid, Charlie 27, Nikki, Martinex, Mercurio, Jigsaw, Thundra and all the bad inhumans (Falconia, nebulo, etc.)
Long life to this web site !

Posted by: oglim on 7/31/2009 1:38:05 PM
Special Powers that actually reflect what a character does not only as a function of their ability but also as a reflection of their personality/character is the real genius behind the potential of SPs and character cards.
Great (and even unique but not iconic) characters often have one or more characteristics that when you see it, you just say "Oh yeah, THAT's what he/she does!"
I love that idea for Superman, I hope we eventually see that and more like it!

Posted by: Tom Price on 7/31/2009 11:50:18 AM
I have talked about a power like that for Superman from the day feat cards came out. I would love to see Supes be a more hand to hand fighter with a touch of rush in and protect his allies feel. The shoot you from range and run away has never felt "right" for him.
Thanks for another great article!

Posted by: evereadyhdst on 7/31/2009 8:12:56 AM
Another great bit of insight from Le and Norm.
Superman's Defend power!! Call it "Faster than a speeding bullet!" Great idea!
Thanks Norm.
Thanks Le.

Posted by: incredibile on 7/31/2009 7:23:45 AM
I certainly agree when it comes to special powers. While I would personally -love- to have a better Moon Knight dial, if there's too much errata that is essentially an entirely re-written card then you can't rely on -any- card to be accurate and up-to-date anymore. Better to play them as written.

Posted by: James on 7/31/2009 6:05:00 AM