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Nerak’s Return – a 1 figure review

My continued quest for geek gold has led me to the low hanging fruit of a Nerak’s Return review. This is a review of one figure for the excellent Heroscape gaming system. In case you haven’t seen Nerak in stores, that’s because he’s a one figure Gencon 2005 exclusive that was later offered at a horribly run Toys R Us (TRU) event for participants under the age of 18! Although the TRU event was advertised on the official web site and at TRU stores a number of the stores knew nothing about the event, and had no free figures to distribute. Surprisingly a large number of Neraks turned up on e-bay shortly after the event. Go figure. I will go on record right now saying that I don’t like exclusive figures like this. The true fans, and I consider myself one, cannot always make it to an event like Gencon and our option then is to pay e-bay rapists’ greatly inflated pricesshake. I know, I know, no one forces us fans to have a completist mentality, however, I bought into the Heroscape thing because the expansions were not blind collectible and they were available at local stores. I’ve read numerous arguments on both sides of this issue but I still feel somewhat betrayed.

Other Heroscape exclusives: The Volcarren Wasteland – a TRU exclusive, I don’t mind this because those without a TRU store nearby can at least get the items at the on-line store, Elite Onyx Viper master set – a Wal-Mart exclusive that was the master set with three additional figures (repaints of the vipers from the first expansion set) – a slap in the face to fans who had already purchased one or more master sets, Crest of the Valkyrie – TRU exclusive flagbearers that are individually packaged with special dice for 12.99 each – This TRU exclusive I do mind because at 12.99 each angryTRU is fleecing the fans and the special dice are nice but not necessary. This could have been packaged in one box with a number of white dice making the blank side enact the special powers, Sir Hawthorne – Gencon 2006 exclusive, same feeling as above, this is a repaint of a knight from the knight and swog set so if there’s any positive here it’s that you only have to buy one expansion set to repaint yourself to have both exclusives. Okay, enough whining, onto the review.

Nerak is an Orc from the planet Grut. The planet is on the basic side of the card. If you play the basic game dice fest the stats are as follows: move 8, range 1, attack 3, and defense 6. I don’t know anybody who plays the basic game so that is all I have to say about that.

Nerak The Glacian Swog Rider is a repaint of the swog rider from the knights and swog expansion from the Utgar’s Rage series. Nerak is an Orc Champion so he bonds with the current orc warriors and hopefully the wave 6 heavy orcs. He is unique so you can only field one in your army. Nerak has a wild personality (I don’t recall any benefits for this yet) and he is large so he is immune to special powers that only affect small and medium figures. Nerak costs 50 pts which seems about right for his stats and abilities. He has an excellent move of 8, as a melee unit he has a range of 1, and an average attack of 3 and a slightly low defense of 3. Nerak also has only 3 life.

With 3 defense and 3 life Nerak won’t stay around long, but he’s really there to function as a support piece. Although Nerak only bonds with the orc warriors he provides additional defense to all orcs. All orcs including: arrow gruts, warriors, and even orc champions like regular swogs, grimnak, tornak, and ornak benefit by rolling one extra defense die if they are within 4 clear sight spaces of Nerak. Of course this ability does not help Nerak. Like other orcs Nerak has disengage, although this ability doesn’t see much play in our games. Lastly Nerak has snow strength: rolls one extra attack and defense die if he is on a snow space.

So how does Nerak play? Well, I think he plays well with an Orc horde, but honestly, I have always had trouble fielding this type of army. The problem I have is keeping the multiple champions and multiple squads together as they make their way across the board. It just seems to take soooooooooooo long. I like the idea of throwing orc warrior after orc warrior against a much stronger opponent knowing the opponent will eventually whiff on a defense roll, but getting them all there is too boring. If not used with orc warriors Nerak is probably not worth his cost. One last opinion: I think the designers should have upped his cost by 5 or 10 points and given him a benefit for heavy snow or slippery ice movement. Those two factors can really slow down the movement in a game.

The bottom line is this is another well balanced addition to the Heroscape array of forces and a nice figure to add to a theme army. I would rate this higher but I deducted points for it being an exclusive. Lastly, can’t mention Heroscape without getting a shout out to http://heroscapers.com/, the definitive Heroscape site.
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