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Heroscape

A Dungeons & Dragons-type game

"Heroscape" (sometimes "HeroScape") is an expandable turn-based miniature wargaming system manufactured by Milton Bradley Company, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. The game is played using pre-painted miniature figure warriors on a board made from interlocking hexagonal tiles that allow for construction of a large variety of 3D playing boards. The game is often noted (and lauded) by fans for the relatively high production quality of the game materials, in particular the pre-painted miniature figures.

About the game
"Heroscape" was released in 2004. The game designers were Craig Van Ness, Stephen Baker, and Rob Daviau. This is the same company and designers who released "HeroQuest" and "Battle Masters". The game is designed for 2 to 4 players ages 8 and older, though it can easily be adapted to more players, particularly if more than one master set is used.

There are two sets of rules. The basic rules allow for simpler games accessible to younger players. The advanced rules are designed for more experienced gamers but are still very simple compared to most wargames. Each figure or group of figures has a card, called an "army card", with basic game statistics printed on one side and advanced game information on the other.

Gameplay
At its essence, Heroscape is an epic battle between and among characters from multiple cultures, periods, and genres, taking place on a three-dimensional gaming surface of various elevations and terrain types. Although the game manual contains ideas for scenarios, many players combine multiple sets of terrain tiles to create large playing surfaces, and manufacture their own house rules and custom scenarios. The heroes are inspired heavily by popular science fiction and fantasy, as well as the Old West, the Roman Empire, ancient Greece, feudal Japan, the Scottish highlands, the Nordic sagas, American history, medieval Europe, classic mythology, and even demonology, among others. A single team may consist of heroes from many genres, with dragons, elves, demons, and wizards fighting alongside (and against) samurai, cowboys, musketmen, and more.

Building the scenario
Beyond the game itself, Heroscape offers the opportunity for players to construct a three-dimensional playing surface. Depending on which expansion packs are available for use, the playing surface may contain mountains, trees, roads, bridges, tunnels, cliffs, glaciers, lava, ice fields, lakes, valleys, castles, towers, and any other formation that can be built with the available tiles. The master set that is required for basic play contains enough tiles to build a nearly limitless number of scenarios, but experienced players often combine sets to create larger and more elaborate playing surfaces, especially if more than four players will be involved. Instructions for sample board setups are included in the game's manual.

Selecting armies
Each player selects one or more "units," where a unit may be a unique and distinct hero, or an entire squad of generic figures. "Army cards" that explain the various attributes and special abilities are packaged with each unit. There are four types of units in the game: Unique Hero, Common Hero, Unique Squad and Common Squad. "Hero" cards are associated with a single figure and "squad" cards are associated with a set of two to four figures. Squad units are typically much weaker than hero units, but are more numerous. A given player may only have one "copy" of a unique unit, be it hero or squad, in his army, but there is no limit on how many copies of a common unit may be selected.

The method by which units are chosen varies from scenario to scenario. In some cases, players may not be able to pick at all. However, it is more common in custom scenarios to allow maximum freedom to the players in selecting units, as combining units with complementary skills is considered by players to be both strategically important to success in the game, and part of the fun of playing. Each army card has a point value associated with it, and custom scenarios often place a simple upper limit on how many total points an army may contain.

Depending on the scenario, players may be required to place their team in a specific location, or they may randomly select where each player begins. Players often select starting positions before choosing armies, as one's starting location and the terrain nearby are strategic considerations when selecting armies.

The structure of a round
The flow of play in Heroscape is broken up into "rounds" and "turns." The terms are often used interchangeably in board games, but there is a key distinction in Heroscape. At the beginning of the round, each player rolls a twenty-sided "initiative" die, and play proceeds from the order of the highest roll to the lowest. Each player must then "program" his armies. Each "round" of play contains three "turns" for each player. Players must decide at the beginning of the round which armies they wish to use during that round, and in what order, by placing three "order markers" on the army cards of whichever units he wishes to use. These markers indicate the turn in which each unit will be activated, but the numbers are hidden from the table. A fourth "dummy" marker may also be placed to add some ambiguity as to which units one will be activating. The same unit may be activated multiple times in a single turn by placing multiple order markers on it.

Once "programming" has been completed, the player with the highest initiative roll begins his first turn by revealing which unit contains his first "order marker". A "turn" usually consists of moving and then attacking. For squads, each figure in the squad is moved before any may attack. The number of hexes that each figure may move is listed on its card. Typical movement amounts range from 5 to 7, with a handful of units having more (or fewer). Normally moving one hex costs one point movement, but certain types of terrain may cost more (such as ice and snow) or give bonuses (such as roads). Moving up in elevation also costs additional movement points equal to the number of levels that the unit is climbing. This causes higher ground to be difficult to attain and valuable to control, as climbing hills can be a slow march. Some terrian forces units to stop (such as water), and some can kill units outright (such as molten lava). The rules for movement in the advanced game are simple but can become complicated when multiple terrain types, unit bonuses, and engagement rules are brought into consideration. Further, a number of units receive movement bonuses in certain terrain, or don't pay the normal terrain penalties. Flying figures ignore elevation, for example, and some units may travel through water and lava without penalty or delay.

After movement has been completed, each surviving figure in the unit may attack any figure within its range and line of sight.. "Melee" units are those with a range of one, and "ranged" units typically have a range of four or more. The original edition came with two sets of standard six-sided dice: a set of red "attack" dice and blue "defense" dice. Newer editions combine these into a set of unified dice that are rolled for both attack and defense. The number of dice rolled for offense is listed on the army card, but may be improved by various bonuses, including terrain bonues, elevation bonuses, or special abilities. The attacking player calculates how many "attack" dice he receives, and rolls them. The attack dice contain skulls on three surfaces and blanks (or shields, in the case of the second edition) on the rest, yielding a 50% chance at scoring a hit for each die. The defender likewise calculates how many defense dice he may roll, based on his unit's natural defense value and any other bonuses (terrain, elevation, special abilities, etc), and likewise rolls. The defense dice contain only two shields, giving a statistical advantage to the attacker. If the defender rolls equal to or higher than the number of skulls rolled by the attacker, nothing happens. If the amount is lower, the defender receives a "wound marker" equal to the difference (that is, 5 skulls vs 3 shields yields 2 wound markers). Once a unit receives a number of wound markers equal to its total life points, it is destroyed and removed from the playing surface immediately. Heroes usually have multiple life points; squads always have one life point per unit in the squad. In the "basic rules" version of the game the "wound marker" system is not used, and each unit simply has one life point, but hero units usually have exaggerated defense to compensate.

Various abilities by specific units may modify these rules to some degree (e.g., the samurai may counterattack and actually do damage while on defense), but this move/attack/defense flow is typical of a turn. Once the player has finished all of his attacks, play passes to whomever rolled the next-highest iniative, and that player then reveals his first "order marker" and takes his turn. Play continues in this manner until the final player has completed his first turn, and then play resumes with the first player, who reveals his second "order marker" and takes a turn with that unit. This process is repeated for the third order marker, and then the round is completed. Sometimes a player will lose a turn if the unit he had placed an order marker on was destroyed on a previous player's turn.

Victory
The conditions for victory vary drastically from scenario to scenario, with some scenarios involving quest-like goals, and others simply being a matter of being the only player with any surviving units. Time limits, round limits, and scoring techniques are also all common, as are "house rules" scenarios such as "king of the hill" battles (in which points are scored for having the unit who is at a higher elevation than all other units on the board at the end of a round) and "capture the flag" games, among others. Large games using multiple sets of terrain can involve complicated situations and rules combinations with units numbering in the dozens. Rounds can take over an hour in such situations. Players using the basic rules, or the advanced rules with smaller armies or simple victory conditions can finish a full game in an hour.

Master Sets
A "Master Set" is required to play the game. The first and currently only master set is titled "Rise of the Valkyrie". This set contains 30 pre-painted miniature figure warriors (all unique but a mixture of hero and squad), cards with the stats of the different warrior figures, a large amount of interlocking hex-based tile terrain, and the rule booklets, which include battlefield plans and scenarios for both basic and advanced games.

There are three versions of the "Rise of the Valkyrie" set available. The first edition is sought by some collectors mainly because it has sparkly translucent blue water tiles rather than solid blue ones in the second edition. The second edition is more common and has slightly different packaging, dice and revised rulebook but is otherwise identical to the first. An exclusive Walmart edition is identical to second edition but has three additional figures.

Multiple set purchases are common among keen players as the "Master Set" is the only way to obtain larger amounts of terrain tiles, which are generally used to build bigger battlefields.

A second Master set has been announced based on the Marvel Comics liscence Hasbro has aquired from 2007. "Marvel Legends Heroscape" (Due January 2007) will include 10 unique figures (Captain America, Red Skull, Silver Surfer, Thanos, Hulk, Abomination, Spiderman, Venom, Iron Man, & Dr. Doom) and urban style terrain.

Expansion sets
Expansion sets have been released regularly since the game debuted. The most common expansion set releases consist of four different booster packs, each containing 4 - 7 figures. At least one pack in each series contains unique heroes and/or squads, while the other two or three contain two common army squads or one common army squad and one common hero. Most sets contain extra terrain hexes, and some contain special power glyphs that grant bonuses in-game. These booster pack expansions are sometimes referred to as the "wave expansions", as opposed to the expansions which come in larger boxes.

Due to the way these expansions extend the game experience, some have referred to "Heroscape" as a collectible miniatures game (CMG) and compared it to games like Mage Knight and Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game. However, the designers of "Heroscape" have stressed repeatedly that the game is not "collectible" per se, because purchasers can see exactly what they are getting with every pack they buy. Also, "Heroscape" expansions are not intended to go permanently out of print, although frequent stock shortages and lapses in the availability of certain sets have made them difficult enough to obtain that sellers can often demand a premium price. This differs from the marketing tactic of CMG's, which rely on "blind purchase" (not knowing what you have until you've already purchased and opened the package) and limited availability to drive their sales.


Source: Wikipedia


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