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  1. So I landed a pretty good deal not all that long ago. I teach special ed, specializing in behavior theory and behaviorism, and my main area of expertise is in emotionally disturbed and behavior disordered children. I have considerable experience in the field, and this one school snapped me up when I put in. And I've been working ever since to earn it. There is a child. For legal reasons, I'll call him Alpha. Alpha's a bit of an emotional mess, due to the influence of caregivers no longer in the picture who ain't worth what you scrape off your shoes after a hike through the pasture. Alpha's capable of doing grade level work, but has self-confidence issues that I had to figure out how to address. He needed more than just confidence building exercises out of a book. ...so a while back, when weather required an indoor recess... I taught him miniatures. I had a bunch of HeroClix handy. I use them for parts and conversions and such; haven't played in years, but I still had the parts and rules and stuff handy. It SEEMED like a no brainer. What elementary school kid doesn't like superheroes? What kid wouldn't want to BE a superhero? So I showed him the minis that one particular day, and we played a short game. The old rules, before they got all complicated, are easy enough, and he took to it. I learned something: he was willing enough to get stuck in, but whenever he took damage, he'd flee to the furthest corner of the map and do his damndest to stay out of range. Teleport and Stealth were his powers of choice -- that, and ranged attacks. HeroClix actually helped with the kid's diagnosis: he wanted to be a superhero, sure... but he automatically assumed that in a sustained battle, he'd lose. Hit and run was his preferred tactic, regardless of what superhero he chose to play. He was literally playing the game the same way he lived his life: avoidant behavior strategy, because confrontation led to pain and loss. You can't win against the Big People, and at best, you hide and hope to be ignored... ...so one day, I set up a map, and played "booster draft" style: random figures and matching point values. And I cheated, of course. I got 200 points worth of ninjas, which made him frightened. ... until he opened his own box. ONE figure. The Incredible Hulk, the version from the Avengers movie, possibly the most powerful Hulk the game ever produced. This led to a bizarre opening game, in which the Hulk frantically tried to escape from the ninja horde... and was finally cornered. In desperation, he smacked a ninja. Ninjas only have three or four clicks of life, and the ninja promptly died. This did not slow the horde, and they swarmed the poor Hulk... and one drew his sword and slashed the green monster. "Roll vs. Impervious," I said. Alpha rolled a six. "No damage," I said. "What? NO damage?" "Impervious means that if you roll a five or a six, you take NO damage, regardless of how much he dished out," I replied. "On a 1-4, you take damage, but not the first two clicks. 'Cause you so tough." His face lit up. He immediately got serious, and began to study the map. Coincidentally, all the ninjas had a token, and they all chose to pass the following turn, rather than push and take damage. Alpha asked, "How many clicks does the sword ninja have? Can I kill him in one swat?" "No clicking the figures in play," I replied loftily. "You'll have to try it and see." I couldn't have planned it better. He rolled boxcars, which not only did an extra click of damage, but the knockback knocked the ninja into a tree, which did yet another click. "Oh, dear, he's ninja pudding now," I said. Alpha actually laughed. He doesn't do that often. For the rest of the game, Alpha did not run. The next few turns played out like a game of Whack-A-Mole, until he realized he could pick things up and swat ninjas with them, or THROW them at ninjas... and even when they connected with him, they did little damage, if any. The Foot Clan suffered a grave defeat that day. That was a while back. Alpha doesn't melt down as often... his emotional incident charts are WAY down. His academics are up. And he's more willing to try new things. And in the game... he doesn't tend to run away as much. He's willing to stand up for himself... and out of game, his other teachers and therapists have noted that he'll speak up when something isn't right, instead of simply hunkering down or shutting down. I can't take all the credit for this; I'm not his therapist, or his only teacher. But his therapist has asked if I can spare any HeroClix... A game of Taco Football in progress. At center, the Hulk battles the Amazing Mr. M for control of the Taco Truck, which can bring victory if you take it to your starting area. Mr. M is taking a beating, while a Paramedic heals the Hulk. At foreground, a Mandroid rushes to engage the enemy, while in the background, the Black Panther merrily drives the taco truck to victory... a game takes about twenty minutes, and is ostensibly a reward for good behavior or academic achievement. In practice, it's much more than that, and my department has begun to realize that... my initial evaluation for the year is looking VERY shiny. Hee, hee.
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