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Heroscape Expansion Set: Crest of the Valkyrie (Flagbearer series)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Buyer Beware rss

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Alex Martinez
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Well, for the first time ever as a Heroscape fan, I feel a bit . . . well . . . cheated.

I've been a Heroscape fan from the start. My first Master Set is the one with the blue and red dice and the shiny water tiles. Since then, I've eagerly snapped up every Heroscape expansion and never once felt let down. Sure, the Lava expansion doesn't see much play in my house, and there are still units who haven't even seen battle, but they're still cool and worth owning for those rare occasions they enter the field of battle.

Now we've got the Flagbearers. These guys are disappointing to say the least. To begin with, let's talk about the price. There are five flagbearers and each is individually packaged with a card and some gimmicky dice and they're around thirteen dollars apiece. What? Darn, for two Flagbearers, I could buy another castle expansion. For three, I could get a whole new Master Set. These guys really should've been packaged together in one set for twenty bucks at most. For the first time, I feel like I've been duped.

Okay, so it was me that duped me. I should've really looked at what I was getting. But I've always loved everything Heroscape and didn't even think twice. Only after I opened the boxes and realized what I had did I suddenly feel like a stooge.

So what do the Flagbearers do and how valuable are they on the battlefield? Not very, I'll say. Each Flagbearer has two powers which enhance their armies. However, none of these powers are especially impressive and most are rather limited in their use. Worse, many use the gimmicky Valkyrie dice which doesn't add anything. The Valkyrie dice are regular Heroscape dice except in different colors and with a faction symbol on the normally blank side. Yes, that's it. Wow! Innovative!

Okay, so let's take a look at these guys up close and personal:

ORNAK (Utgar FB): Ornak is an orc, which gives him a few bonus points in my book. And he has two fairly interesting powers. First is RED FLAG OF FURY. If you put your First Order Marker on Ornak, you can take a turn with any two unique heroes you control instead of Ornak. That's actually a fairly impressive ability. The other abilitly is ORC BATTLE CRY AURA, which allows you to roll two extra Valkyrie dice whenever a nearby orc unit attacks. If you get the faction symbol, it counts as a skull so you get two extra dice with four skulls on them. Not too shabby. Ornak is a good addition to an Orc army, considering he's only 100 points. But if you don't like orcs, he probably isn't for you.

SIR GILBERT (Jandar): A knight unit with the powers of JANDAR'S DISPATCH. This lets him roll 12 Valkyrie dice and for every Faction symbol he gets you can move up to 4 squad figures who follow Jandar that many extra spaces. Big whoop. He's also got ATTACK AURA, which enhances all melee units beside him. Again, Gilbert is nothing spectacular, but he could be a nice low cost enhancing unit.

ACOLARH (Ullar): Elf whose LEAF OF THE HOME TREE AURA lets her roll Valkyrie dice to prevent any nearby elves from being destroyed. And ULLAR'S AMULET gives a +2 Move bonus to any figure who follows Ullar that starts the turn next to her. Eh, not being a big fan of elves, I'm not impressed, but she could be a boost to an elf army, I suppose.

HATAMOTO TARO (Einar): Samurai. HEROIC DEFENSE AURA lets you roll Valkyrie dice for defense, counting faction symbols as shields too. Nice bonus except it only works for Samurai and Ashigura units. ADJACENT TOUGH 1 gives Hatamoto an automatic Shield if adjacent to an Einar unit. Good compliment to a samurai themed army.

LAGLOR (Vydar): Big cyber monkey. VYDAR RANGE ENHANCEMENT AURA gives a +2 Range boost to all nearby units who follow Vydar and have a range of 4. Could see that being useful. AUTOLOAD SPECIAL ATTACK seems like a waste of time. When attacking, Laglor rolls Valkyrie dice and if he gets a faction symbol he can attack again. But the faction symbol doesn't seem to count as a skull and the attack rating is a measly three. So if he rolls a faction symbol, that's one less potential wound inflicted. Still, he's okay too, I suppose.

Anyway, none of these units are terrible, and I can see them even being useful with the right armies. The Valkyrie dice gimmick works better for some units than others, but still, an interesting addition to the Heroscape universe.

But I keep coming back to the price. Was it really worth seventy bucks total to add these five to my armies? No, it wasn't.

I realized only later that the Flagbearers are mostly a promotional thing. Many Toys R Us Stores are giving away a free flagbearer with the purchase of a Master Set or Expansion Pack. Terrific. That's a nice bonus actually. Knowing what I know now, I would've probably just bought another castle set and picked up the orc flagbearer and been very happy.

And I guess that's the crux of this review. Know what you're getting. The Flagbearers are definitely NOT worth seventy bucks. Not even thirteen dollars a piece. These guys are just a marketing gimmick. Nothing wrong with that. Except that these wasn't clear enough to me, which is probably my fault.

Nevertheless, I think it's important to remember that when we purchse something, we are voting for it. One of the great things about Heroscape is you get so much for relatively so little. If we start purchasing single figures for this exhorbitant price, can we be surprised if six months from now we're paying twenty bucks for a single squad or fifty for a terrain expansion?

I just wish they'd packaged the flagbearers both individually and as a set. That way, they could've given away single flagbearers as bonuses and still given full sets to collectors at a reasonable price.

I still love Heroscape and hope this is just a misstep. If the next expansion is back to the good ol' days, then all will be forgiven Heroscape.
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Tony D.
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Thanks for posting this review. I'd be willing to buy one if everyone else in my group did the same, but no way am I buying them all.
 
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Ryan W
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Must... buy... all... expansions... no... matter... how... lame... soblue
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Thanks for the heads up! Great review and disclaimer.

A couple things to note:

1. These, like the Volcano set, the Elite Onyx Master Set, and a couple GenCon promos, are exclusive items. To have a great time with the game, they aren't necessary. At all.

2. I think it's kinda _good_ that the gotta-catch-'em-all crowd (and I'm there, too) are encouraged to think twice about a purchase. Folks that have a hard time finding expansion figs and sets should be able to get one or two of their favorite factions standard bearers, no problem. (But I agree that the expense of even one is a bit of a turnoff.)

Update:

Forgot the point that these are freebies IF you buy some other Heroscape item. It's a nice bonus for folks that may have waited to buy (because they couldn't find or didn't want) a partiuclar expansion set.

Update Update:

Stopped by my local TRU's on the way home. One was down to their last two, so I left them for others. Another had them in abundance, so I gathered up a complete set.
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Josiah Fiscus
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Got to agree. This may very well be the first heroscape set that I do not buy.
 
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T.J. Boisvert
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I love them.
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John W
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Yes, unfortunately, the price point on this set is ludicrous when compared to the rest of the Heroscape line.

The figures and their abilities are OK enough - it's just hard for ANY unit design, even if it was amazing, to justify the extreme cost of this set.

If you are not a victim of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (and any HSer has my sympathy if so) then you may want to skip this wave, or maybe just buy the most playable one (Gilbert, the knight) for the dice. Then maybe proxy the others (easy to do).
 
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Alex Martinez
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MrSkeletor wrote:
What's the 20 sided die and bag for? Anything?


The 20-sider and bag are just to fill the box up. They look nice, but don't really have any special use.
 
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Peter Mc
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Right, and they add to the cost.

Nice review above, thanks. I mentioned the price point problem in my numerical review text, and pretty much agree with what has been said here.

While it is true that you don't have to buy them to enjoy the game, and that they are intended as promotional items (I guess), they are still over-priced by alot...and I can't figure out why. You certainly don't need all those extra dice, which, at TRU prices, end up being about $1 each.

The promotional part isn't much of a defense...I mean, I bought 3 starters and 3 tower sets already...are my receipts good enough to get 6 figures?

I hope Hasbro never does this again, but if they do something like this, at least put the "promo" item out with a new item, so we can all benefit from the, er, promotion.
 
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Alex Martinez
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petermc wrote:

The promotional part isn't much of a defense...I mean, I bought 3 starters and 3 tower sets already...are my receipts good enough to get 6 figures?


It's true that it's kind of a shame that loyal Heroscape fans are getting a bit of the shaft. I can understand trying to entice new fans, even think it's a good idea, but that shouldn't mean that the older fans should have to be short-changed.

It reminds me of this commercial in which a young girl joins a kindergarten class. When it's time to color, she gets a better set of crayons and markers thant he rest of the class, who look on in envy. Then the teacher says: "She's new, and new is better."

Yes, it's great to bring new fans into the fold, but it should never be at the expense of the established loyal base.
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Peter Mc
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And new fans, after buying 1 starter and getting 1 promo figure free, might wonder why the remaining 4 promos cost more than the starter, which has dozens of figures.

Anyway, as I said in my review, I think this whole flagbearer thing was a bad idea, but I'm willing to let it slide. I just hope they don't do it again, or, if they do, there will be just 1 promo item paired with 1 actual new product...or the prices generally will be lower.
 
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Ryan W
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Maybe the HSers can boycott this wave. If enough of us don't buy the Flag Bearers, maybe TRU will sell them all off as a clearance item. I'd pay 5 bucks for each one, no problem.
 
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MrSkeletor wrote:
What's the 20 sided die and bag for? Anything?


"It's where you hide yer WEED." (Lame SNL joke.)

Seriously, the dice bags slay me. They have the faction symbols embroidered on them and they look great, but, they're kinda... Glitzy.

The D20 is generally for initiative and Special Power rolls. The sixers themselves have recessed faces, so that that the symbols don't rub off (or shouldn't). Very nice.
 
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KingCroc wrote:
petermc wrote:

The promotional part isn't much of a defense...I mean, I bought 3 starters and 3 tower sets already...are my receipts good enough to get 6 figures?
It's true that it's kind of a shame that loyal Heroscape fans are getting a bit of the shaft. I can understand trying to entice new fans, even think it's a good idea, but that shouldn't mean that the older fans should have to be short-changed.


PeterMc and King Croc: If you bought your starters and towers after the exclusive figures appeared at Toys R Us, and your receipt shows that you made a purchase but didn't get any of the new exclusives, they'd be hard pressed to refuse you, I think.

But, c'mon. I don't think any established player is getting "shafted." These figures are TRU exclusives, just like the Volcano sets. And just like the Elite Onyx Viper Master Sets were for Wal-Mart. You want the exclusives, you go to where they are and get 'em. If they give you a free one if you buy a Master Set or a Tower set, good for you.

For the folks who crowed when they got Master Sets and Boosters at TRU's old Hasbro 2-for-1 deals-- or when they got the EOV sets on clearance at Wal-Mart-- I'd say the already got a sweet deal that new players didn't get in on.

I know plenty of BGG'ers who never got a shot at the Tower sets because the first run of them were scooped up en-masse by the hard-core 'scapers. Now new 'scapers finally get a chance to buy the Tower and get a free fig for their patient wait-- if they go to TRU. Why would anyone want to begrudge them that???
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mark camp
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I feel a little cheated by the price. On one hand, I like that I can buy them separate of the promotion as I already have 5 master sets and 4 towers and really don't want or need more. On the other $13 each!!! That's the same price TRU charges for a booster with 7 or so figure in it. Sadly though, I dropped the $70 yesterday to get them. What can I say? I have very poor impulse control.
 
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Peter Mc
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Quote:
These figures are TRU exclusives, just like the Volcano sets. And just like the Elite Onyx Viper Master Sets were for Wal-Mart. You want the exclusives, you go to where they are and get 'em. If they give you a free one if you buy a Master Set or a Tower set, good for you.


I guess my post wasn't clear. I'm not saying I should have gotten these for free, based upon my past purchases. I just don't believe that (a) these really are "promotional" items and (b) even if they are, that doesn't justify a price of $12.99.

What they are: overpriced individual figures with too many useless dice and pouches.

Your examples only prove my point. The Volcano set was $14.99 originally but now it is $18.99. But it comes with rules, alot of terrain, and 3 figures. The Onyx Viper starter was the same price as a regular starter (and for some odd reason they appeared cheaply on ebay for awhile). In fact alot of people bought the Onyx starter like I did, on sale for $20. Compare that to the $12.99 for 1 Flagbearer.

That's the basic problem, which is only added to when people try to say "don't worry, they're only expensive because they are promotional." I just don't get that at all...they are what they are, basically a $13 individual figure....which is OK once every blue moon but not as a new marketing plan.

Fortunately there is as of yet no indication that this is part of a pattern, and in fact HS designers seem finely attuned to the voices of players. In conclusion, I am perfectly content with the existing booster system.
 
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Michael Jordal
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I have all of mine now, and I am very happy with them. I really like Sir Gilbert. He is a super stud!
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Brad Weage
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I picked up the Grut flagbearer and also spent some time talking with one of the guys at a local TRU. Although we have several stores in Atlanta, one of them actually has a staff that is informed about what they have to sell and seems to care about the customer. (For HeroScape they knew that there were different waves of expansions and they even tried to keep an assortment in stock.)

This guy was extremely concerned about the flagbearers. They have had their display up for less than a week and he already had seven boxes from which the character and card were removed. I did notice on opening my orc box that all the other pieces (bag, d6s, and d20) are pretty well contained, but the character and card were easy to remove without having to undo tape, etc. It is almost like they planned them to be lifted.

He attributed this partially to the fact that they should be priced at 5 or 6 bucks not 13. He also pointed out that they are now into their "extended return" holiday season (with the gift receipts). He expects that a lot of the castle sets he is selling are going out with a free flagbearer, and that the castle will be returned unopened after Christmas but without returning the bonus item. At their prices, one could return two castle sets and get enough store credit to buy 4 wave 6 packs. Overall he wasn't very happy about this product.

As for me, I have the one set I plan to get (but only because I needed a Castle as a present for some friends) and I'm not that fond of it. I think the dice have an oddly cheap feel, the bag is made out of a thin soft glittery material that doesn't look like it will last, I certainly don't need another d20, and the mechanism for the hero power (that uses the special dice) seems clumsy or fiddly. If I look at all the powers listed above, it really looks like they were crafted as a set meant to use one set of special dice with all 5. Sometimes the extra side counts for movement, sometimes as a skull, sometimes as a shield. It would have been much better to package them that way.
 
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Brad Weage
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The description above of Ornak's faction dice ability appears to be incorrect. He does not allow two extra dice but instead allows one to use the faction dice instead of basic ones and to count the faction symbol as a skull. This makes the power a parallel to the defensive samurai one.

Oddly, when I checked with my friends who have also bought some of this set, among the six of us, no person had purchased more than one - and we had one of each. (Two of Hatamoto - who appears to be the most usable power and is the highest point cost.) So I've tried to upload images of all the cards. (The server was displaying a few odd behaviors.)

Some comments after having seen all the powers:

The samurai seems to be the most usable figure. There are a lot of other figures that can benefit from the defensive aura and they are figures which already seem to get a lot of play. Many of these also have counterstrike, so the extra shield can serve more than just a defensive function - and the "within 8 spaces" provides a good sized coverage area.

The orc seems to be the next most usable figure. The application to only Orc Warriors and the within 2 spaces coverage are rather limiting but would fit with the usual play style I've seen with orc armies. Orcs were very popular when only wave 1 was out, but seem less popular now. In this case, it looks like the non-dice power is why you might get this figure. I like the turn with 2 other heros idea, and I think the limitation to 1st order marker is clever - it forces this to be used more as part of an initial plan of attack rather than as a reaction to a lot of other player moves. An overall drawback is that the faction dice power needs Orc Warriors - perhaps even two squads - while the other power only works on hereos. This grut will only reach his potential in large army point value games.

I'm less thrilled with Sir Gilbert. Rather than just counting faction symbols as skulls or shields, he gets an extra roll of all 12 dice and each faction symbol allows for movement of squad figures. Figures must start within 8 spaces of Sir Gilbert - so this allows for a lot of figures to be within range, though only 4 can be selected - and they get to move the number of faction symbols rolled - which could be anywhere from 0 to 12. So this is a power you don't really plan into a strategy. You roll it and then see how you can best use it. (I'm not sure HS really needs more luck-based reactive concepts.) There are some limited game positions where Gilbert's two powers can reinforce each other. The extra movement might be able to bring a figure close enough that it can move adjacent to both Gilbert and an enemy figure on its own turn and then attack with the aura bonus.

The singer in our group opted for the Primadon(na). The range enhancement aura seems useful - given the large number of long-ranged Vydar followers. The "within 4 spaces" seems like an appropriate limitation - encouraging a small clump of ranged characters that get the bonus when they are activated. The faction dice power here may be more interesting for the math of how it applies than for the actual effect during play. It is a special attack so it isn't subject to modifiers - so you roll three dice and hope you get 2 skulls and a faction symbol so you can attack again. The odds of rolling a symbol on three dice could have been calculated and rounded to a d20 roll - and this power could have been attack, then roll d20 to see if you attack again. But then the interesting interaction of the symbols is lost. As described, if you ever roll 3 skulls you are stopped, while the less skulls rolled the better chance you have of getting a chance to continue. I want to see this one in play - this guy has a good chance of long attack strings, killing the enemies ahead of him, wading through the remains, without giving up his turn and giving them a chance to do anything in return. (Another nod to luck over strategy, though.)

The elf seems to me to be the poorest choice here. Although the 8 space area is large, there aren't enough elves to take full advantage of the faction dice aura. The addition of more elves (and more interesting ones) in future waves may help. Also the faction dice seem a cheat in this case. Because you roll 10 dice and need 3 or more faction symbols to ignore all wounds, this is a completely calculatable chance - and could easily have been converted to a d20 roll. If the number of dice had related to the number of wounds you were attempting to negate, then this could have been interesting. So maybe a useful character, but a lost opportunity for a clever use of the faction dice.
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J B
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Good points all.

My take:

-The figures themselves (if one takes just the figure and card and it's effect on the game into account) are quite useful. Situational, sure, but still quite useful in armies built around them. I enjoy playing with them very much.

-The accessories are just fluff. I could have done without the Valkyrie dice and such, but oh well.

-The price point is insane. Way too high. I think these guys are maybe worth 7 to 8 bucks each.

-Final point....most imporant, actually. Nobody, repeat, nobody, should be paying full price for these. Take this opportunity to get extra Master Sets, Castles, etc if you have been planning on buying those. If you already bought extra castles and masters and saved your receipt, buy them again and return the unopened ones. If you don't want to do any of that, take advantage of every coupon and sale and advert. I was able to get all five for a much more reasonable price by using the free promtion, coupons, and other sales. Do your homework and your wallet won't be hurting.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Don't view them as figures.

View them as faction specific bling. Higher quality personal Dice, d20, bag and figure.
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Richard Dewsbery
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I wish I could get hold of them for just $13. Right now the main source for an overseas buyer is Ebay

If any BGGers want to make a UK-'scaper very happy, grab a set for me!
 
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RDewsbery wrote:
I wish I could get hold of them for just $13. Right now the main source for an overseas buyer is Ebay

If any BGGers want to make a UK-'scaper very happy, grab a set for me!


Go to heroscapers.com and ask around. That's the main web hangout for Heroscape fans. There may be someone who can help you there. At the very least you'll meet some other UK players.
 
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Marc Petrequin
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maxac wrote:
Must... buy... all... expansions... no... matter... how... lame... soblue


I've been in your place before, and believe me: you CAN let a few of the booster packs go. Just think about how lame a certain squad is (Greeks), how much better other figures compare, how little space you have for it, how little you'd field it anyway, and how much cooler an army looks when it has a set theme (Gladiatrons, Elves, Samurai, etc.).

YOU HAVE THE POWER! SAY IT WITH ME! SHRIEK IT!!!
 
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Marc Petrequin
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geosphere wrote:
Don't view them as figures.

View them as faction specific bling. Higher quality personal Dice, d20, bag and figure.


I see your point, but I sincerely doubt I'm the only one who thinks the flagbearers should have been released as a hero set, like Orm's Return. I realize Toys 'R Us is trying to capitalize on individual valkyrie army themes, but Heroscape isn't meant to be a faction-specific game. Heck, I encourage faction-specific armies when playing, but I still like the idea of switching between them at will.

Call me morally insane, but this expansion might be a bigger scam than Wal-Mart's (*wolf howls* *thunder*) special deal with the Onyx Vipers angry.
 
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