Monday, November 30, 2009

Heroscape For Beginners (and Robo)

I received a very kind comment from Robo (another gamer dad) about Attacktix and A&A Minis (haven't tried those - with all of the systems I currently collect, a collectible minis game would be like putting a black hole directly into my wallet)... and about his plans to get into Heroscape this next year.

Well, as someone who has been into Heroscape from the beginning, I figured I would suggest a potential order of acquisition and a pair of hints about being sucked into this obsession. We'll start with the hints...
  • First, all the signs are good for continued support of the game & system by Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro... with a new Master Set coming out early next year and two more waves of figures definite, you should be able to feed your addiction for a long time to come.
  • Second, you need to know two web addresses: (a fan-run site... they have the most extensive collection of commentary, rulings, variants & maps for Heroscape out there) and (the official site of the game).
OK, with those out of the way, let's get to the buying! Heroscape has been packaged in (primarily) three different formats:
  • Master Sets (which contain a decent amount of terrain as well as a variety of figures)
  • Large Expansion Sets (which focus on larger figures or specialized terrain)
  • Waves (which are sets of 4 figure packs, sometimes tied together thematically)

There are 3 Master Sets:

  • Rise of the Valkryie - this was the first set & probably the most important one for you to own. It contains a CHUNK of terrain as well as an interesting mix of characters.
  • Swarm of the Marro - this was the second set... it's not as vital as Rise (#1) but still has some good stuff in it - not the least of which is the amazing Marro Hive. This would be my second purchase if I was jumping into the game.
  • Marvel Heroscape - unless you want to play Heroscape with Marvel characters, I don't recommend this set. There is very little terrain & the villians vs heroes battles don't have much oomph to them - their range & movement is such that there's nowhere to hide and you just end up dicing it out. (Note: my son & I had a great time fighting a monster battle of Marvels vs Heroscapes... but that's not quite the same thing.) It doesn't look like they will be doing a 2nd Marvel set, either - sigh.

There is a fourth Master set on the way - Battle for the Underdark - which is tied to the current D&D universe but will be fully compatible with Heroscape. (Word on the street is that the next two Waves will also be D&D connected.) I don't mind as long as support for the game continues - bring on the Dora the Explorer & Diego Heroscape figs if that will keep it going!

There are 8 Large Expansion Sets... we'll start with the three that contain large characters: Orm's Return, Raknar's Vision & Acquilla Alliance. The reason I don't break them out is that they all contain 5 large figures (some of them 2 space figures) and are roughly equal in value. If you feel a need to give every faction (Heroscape divides the different characters into six different factions) a dragon (or dragon-ish) mini, then you'll want all three of these. I wouldn't start by buying these... but part of the joy of Heroscape is playing with the big figures against squads of smaller figs.

The 5 Large Expansion Sets that are terrain-based are:

  • Road to the Forgotten Forest - this one has trees, roads & a bridge. You need at least one if not two of these.
  • Volcarren Wasteland - this one adds lava & volcanic rock... and while it's nice to look at, we haven't found much use for it in game terms. Don't worry about getting this one.
  • Thaelenk Tundra - this one adds snow & ice & some cool-looking "glacier" pieces... I have one of these & wish I had two.
  • Fortress of the Archkyrie - this one gives you a bunch of pieces to build a castle with... one of these is nice (two would be better) but I'd put this farther down my list after getting more characters/squads.
  • Ticalla Jungle - this one adds palm trees & jungle bushes... I bought two and have used them a good bit, as they add some interesting cover issues to the game.

To sum up, you need at least one of Forgotten Forest, Tundra & Jungle... with plans to get Fortress & more terrain down the line.

Now we move onto the Waves... since each wave has 4 packs, I'll try to specify which ones I like & don't like in each set, then give you a buy/don't bother list at the end. Also, each Wave has at least one pack of "heroes" (individual figures) which is pretty much a guaranteed buy each time.

  • Wave One (Malliddon's Prophecy) - All three of the squad packs (Snipers/Vipers, Orc Gruts & Romans) work better if you have two of each pack. (Hey - no one said that this was going to be a cheap obsession, right?!)
  • Wave Two (Utgar's Rage) - the Minions of Utgar aren't all that great... and the Marro Drones that they're packaged w/really need 3 sets (seriously!) to be worth using, so you can wait on that pack. The other two packs are good to go out of the box (Swog Rider/Knights and Wolves/Massachusets Line).
  • Wave Three (Jandar's Oath) - the biggest problem here is that the Gorillanators (how cool are heavily armed gorillas!?) don't really shine until the addition of the Nakita Agents in Wave 6. Otherwise, a fine set of squad packs.
  • Wave Four (Zanafor's Discovery) - there were two packs of heroes this time... and another group (the Gladiatrons) who need a pack from another Wave (the Blastatrons from Wave 5) to work well. The Arnoc Vipers are cool but are paired with the Sacred Band - sigh. I'd buy the hero packs & wait on the squads here.
  • Wave Five (Thora's Vengeance) - a solid set of squads & heroes... we don't use the gladiators much, but they look really good.
  • Wave Six (Dawn of Darkness) - Zombies are here... and you may want two of them. (Can't skimp on the zombies, right?!) You don't need two of anything else... but this could well be one of my favorite waves.
  • Wave Seven (Fields of Valor) - The Ashigaru Spearman & Yari need Kato Katsuro (a hero from Wave 8) to work well... but are very effective with him. The Vampire clan (found in one squad pack + the hero pack) is fun to play with. I love the Templar Cavalry, but their use has to be confined to certain boards with large open spaces.
  • Wave Eight (Defenders of Kinsland) - Finally the Elves become a group worth putting together, thanks to the addition of a number of elf heroes... but overall you need to purchase Waves 7 & 8 together.
  • Wave Nine (Blackmoon Siege) - a great wave - I wouldn't miss out on any of these packs.
  • Wave Ten (Valkrill's Gambit) - the Heroes of Renown pack has two heroes & one squad that were only available through cons and/or special purchase previously - and the Warriors of Feldspar are repaints of the Yeti & Lava guys to make them (respectively) Sasquatch & Granite guys. The other two packs are reprints of earlier packs that are hard to find.

Finally, there are two figures that were released only at the summer conventions (Master Win Choo & Agent Skahen) that are difficult/impossible to find. There were also five "flagbearers" sold in individual boxes (along with a bag of faction dice) through Toys-R-Expensive that are now out of print. None of these are essential, though I will admit that the faction dice are pretty cool.

So, to sum up your buying list (with pricing & links from Wargamers HQ, who have done a great job in the past for me):

  1. Buy Rise of the Valkryie ($30)
  2. Buy Swarm of the Marro ($30)
  3. Buy at least one Road to the Forgotten Forest ($18)

You've now spent roughly $70 and you've got enough to play a number of very enjoyable games of Heroscape. From there, do your reading (see the links above) and buy more terrain & figures. Anticipate tossing down $40 every 8 months or so for the newest wave or expansion.

And have fun!

1 comment:

Robo said...

Much thanks, sir.