The Learning Curve – Creativity – Jason Collins

jasonby Jason Collins

When do I try something new?

I’ve got an idea!

Are you sure about that?!

It’s gotta work!

The competitive environment in any game comes in ebbs and flows. Sometimes one thing dominates, other times we’re free to be creative.  I’m always asked my opinions of creative teams from other players and I’m always willing to share my opinion of those ideas. Sometimes though, even the most well meaning of ideas may not fit into the current competitive environment.  For this article, we’ll be talking about when it’s time to be inventive and when it’s time to let your creativity take a break.

When to be creative

This will definitely do well!

Impossible it loses to everything!

Creativity is never anything to shun in competitive HeroClix play. In fact some of the best teams at various high level tournaments came from creative thought. New ideas and new combinations are being thought up everyday and that creativity needs to be tested. You see, sometimes a creative idea may seem good on paper and may have a number of tools you think will have the answer to any number of teams being played in the competitive environment. But so very frequently I see this thought process crushed on the battlefield due to lack of information. Creative teams are the types of teams that require the most testing. It’s one thing to look at a figure and say this is the answer to x, but if you don’t put it through the wringer and make sure that answer works the way you think it does you may find yourself surprised and dressed down in the field.

The first step in exercising creativity for competitive play is first having an in-depth knowledge of the competitive environment you’re going to be playing in. You need to know the top teams, you need to know the second best teams, you need to know the Top 8 teams (if there are that many). This knowledge goes a long way towards helping you spark that creativity in as far as making the correct choices.  Creativity in competitive play is there but is more stifled then you would find it in tabletop play at home, and the stifling comes from the interaction between figures that are being played versus their interactions with your figures that you want to play. Again I can’t stress enough that I’m not saying don’t be creative, but if you’re going to be creative you need to be realistic as well. Creativity isn’t just having a dream and playing it out, you need to also make informed decisions about what you’re bringing to the table. So if you’re coming up with a great idea you need to take your great idea to your practice games and give it the gears.

If your team gets through the gauntlet, as we call it, of the best of the best teams then that spark of creativity was correct and you’re ready to take it to the field. But sometimes…

If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em

Guess I have to play what everyone else is….

Told ya so!

Sometimes this happens too and a stagnant competitive environment is what you’re walking into. Sometimes we are stuck all playing the same thing and sometimes in competitive play we just have to accept that.

You see, I’m often accused of being a fairly creative team builder. That’s false. I have my sparks of creativity but I’m often influenced by those around me or by great ideas. I’m going to cover that sort of thing in the next part of this article. But I wanted to bring this up because at World’s 2017 I was stuck in a bit of a pickle. I so desperately wanted to come up with brand new ideas and all sorts of interesting little sneaky teams but I found myself unable to practice and lacking in straight up answers to the environment – the environment at the time being dominated by the Goblin King and Jakeem Thunder. Now it’s not necessarily a bad thing to come with whatever everyone else is playing with. But a lot of people don’t like this type of competitive environment and want to play something different. At this point I can’t say don’t try something creative but I do have to say meter your expectations if you are going to be creative in this type of environment. Now in order to avoid dating this particular article too far I’m not going to state what the current environment is but when you get an idea of how competitive play is looking you’re forced to make a decision. Do I want to compete and possibly win OR do I want to try to win on my terms?

Never think that you’re losing by playing what’s popular and what’s strong. You’re making a good decision but you can’t make this decision without getting practice games in because your decision needs to be informed. The same as any creative team. You can’t expect to take what’s winning and without using it walk all over the battlefield of other players who are also using these teams. In rare occasions that can happen but most of the time the ones that stay on top are the ones that are playing the game frequently, often, and gaining as much information as they can. All is not lost though, sometimes there’s a spark of creativity in stagnation.

When creativity is limited

Okay check this out!

It’s the same as the winning team!

Not the same, similar!

Sometimes creativity comes in small spurts.To continue on with the thought I started on the last part of the article, we go back to World’s 2017. Yes, I was playing with a Jakeem Thunder a Goblin King and Supreme Intelligence and a Pym tank AND ID cards,  but where I differed was attempting to use my last 30 points differently than anyone else was. In fact a lot of players looked at my Ameridroid across the board and didn’t know what to make of what they were looking at. You see even in the stagnant competitive environment there are little Sparks of creativity you’re allowed to have. Sometimes it’s just a small pile of things but other times you may get more to work with. You see when things stagnate in a single direction often, especially in the game of HeroClix, you find there’s a point value or an area in which you can do what a lot of high-level players referred to as “Tech out my build”. When the big decision is made for you it’s the small decisions that can put you at the advantage. Now I’m not saying all different little decisions are always the right decisions to be making, I’m also not going to say that I’m the definitive guide to ask what small decision wins every time – otherwise I’d be talking with a larger pedigree. But what I am pointing out, is that the smallest stick can be enough to add to a big tree to make it the biggest tree in the forest.

I hope this was enough to spark some creative ideas in those playing. I also hope that you can take a little time to view the environment you’re going to play in, and remember sometimes you can be big in creativity, and other times you may have to think small.