$30.00
Brian McCullar
United States
Texas
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First off, I want to say that I plan on reviewing this game in two different ways, first as a standalone game, and second as an expansion the the popular classic from which it was designed, Heroscape. For those who don't know, Arena of the Planeswalkers, or AotP for short, was designed by the same team as Heroscape, and plays very much like it's ancestor, with a few minor differences:

1: The addition of a new figure type, Planeswalkers. Planeswalkers are basically very powerful unique heroes can can summon creatures from your reserve into battle, a Planeswalker may summon up to two units of heros or squad creatures during each of their turn. They also serve as a very important part of your strategy, as your figures will likely synergize with your chosen Planewalker. In addition, if your Planeswalker is killed, you may no longer summon figures from your reserve or cast spells.

2: Certain rule changes. Figures no longer start out instantly in play, but rather in a reserve from which they can be summoned, in addition, there are no order markers in AotP, instead you simply choose what squad, hero or Planeswalker you control that you wish to activate for that turn.

3: The addition of spell cards. AotP adds 60 spell cards, 12 for each color, spell cards can only be used by Planeswalkers who share at least one color with the chosen spell, each color being mirrored by the colors in the Magic the Gathering card game. A player receives 200 points to spend on spells, as well as 500 points to spend on army units, similar to Heroscape.

4: Color alignment. Figures are now assigned one of five colors, White, Blue, Black, Red or Green, different colors tend to specialize in different things, much like in the Magic the Gathering card game. While Heroscape is no stranger to alignment, color alignment is slightly different than Heroscape's generals, in that Heroscape figures may have had synergy with other figures of the same general, however nothing stopped you from mixing various generals together in one army, in AotP, your figures must match your Planeswalker's color.

So, enough of comparing it to Heroscape, what do you get from AotP Master Set? Well, a fair bit when you consider the low price tag, around $30.00 or so depending on where you buy it. Included with the game are:

6 Modular Terrain Pieces (cardboard)
4 Plastic Terrain Pieces
3 Plastic Glyphs
2 Temple Ruins (cardboard)
5 Painted Planeswalker Figures
30 Squad Figures
1 20-sided Die
8 Combat Dice
30 Damage Counters
60 Spell Cards
10 Squad Cards
5 Planeswalker Cards


One thing that impressed me was how many figures we got for so cheap, yes it's true that only the 5 Planeswalkers are painted, getting 35 figures for $30.00 is a steal! I have never seen another game offer this many miniatures, for this cheap.

Other than that, well it gives you exactly what you need to get started. The cardboard terrain is decent, though I must say, it highly limits what you're able to build with it, which can cause the game to get very stale, very quickly.

That being said, it does offer some other decent content, the glyphs can provide buffs to your army when a figure is standing on one, and the game still incorporates, in a small way, the importance of terrain types. The primary example being the water, the rules for water in AotP are identical to Heroscape, in that a figure must stop immediately upon entering or leaving water, unless it has an ability stating otherwise.
The second way in which terrain matters, it height advantage. A figure standing on a higher elevation, which is achievable when a figure stands on one of the six plastic sand tiles included in the game, receives +1 attack dice when attacking opponent's figures on a lower elevation, and also provides +1 defense dice when defending against attacks on lower elevation.

While this is all well and good, the cardboard "temple ruins" included are, well absolute garbage, they don't really sit comfortably on the cardboard terrain and, are oversized when compared to old walls and ruins.

The damages counters are also horrible, they're tiny D6 type cubes that are easily lost and impossible to keep on the stands during movement, I highly advise replacing them with small D6 dice, or original Heroscape damage markers, which have a larger base, stack neatly, and sit more comfortably.

The 8 included combat dice are also nice, basically the same as the original Heroscape dice, and roll just as well.
The 20-sided dice however is crap, not that it's quality is bad, but it's not a rollable D20, but rather a Magic the Gathering life counter spindown, the difference is, a spindown is not randomized, and therefor is inappropriate for rolling, replace with a true D20 ASAP.
The quality of the figures is decent, though I do have some complaints, the stands on the figures tend to warp and no longer sit flat, while it doesn't stop them from standing, it is annoying and can make keeping damage counters on figures a huge pain. Also, the paint job on the Planeswalkers is kind of lacking, aside from Nissa looking like the demonic spawn of a Necron and a Drow, the faces of the figures just tend to look warped, however considering the price tag, I don't consider this a huge deal.

Overall, my final thoughts on this as a standalone are, that it is a decent game but, it gets old rather quickly, in that map construction is repetitive and unrewarding, and your character selection is highly limited, however this does get much better upon adding the Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad expansion, and/or old Heroscape expansions, but as a standalone, the game gets a 5.5 out of 10.

Now, as an expansion to Heroscape, AotP is freaking awesome! Whether you decide to reassign figures to existing Heroscape generals, or assign colors to old Heroscape units, mixing the two games helps provide infinitely better gameplay, not just in use of the units, but in the terrain, while I still believe the cardboard map is dull, it makes for a PERFECT base upon which to build an impressive Heroscape map, and by adding Heroscape terrain, you introduce several new aspects to the game, such as terrain effects provided by lava, swamp water, darkness, snow, ice and more.
While this option may cost more, it's undeniable how much it helps the gameplay, which is why when reviewed as an expansion to Heroscape, AotP Master Set gets a solid 8 out of 10 for creativity, new mechanics and new units.

For those interested in turning the AotP Planeswalkers into unique heroes to use with Heroscape, I will post pictures of customs that do just that.
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Team Ski
United States
Dover
Delaware
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CHOMP!!!!
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Neat cards but your characters are way overpowered for their cost.

-Ski
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J.D. Schipper
United States
Prescott Valley
Arizona
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Chandra shouldn't be Utgar. I think she aligns most closely with Aquilla due to her free-spirit, but she certainly isn't evil.

I'd make Gideon Jandar and Lilliana Utgar, but the assignments you made are okay too. I personally view Valkrill was an unnecessary general.
 
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Brian McCullar
United States
Texas
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Updated the costs a bit, these were more well received by members of Heroscapers forums
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Brian McCullar
United States
Texas
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Changed!
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nathan folsom
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SnowWalker wrote:

The 20-sided dice however is crap, not that it's quality is bad, but it's not a rollable D20, but rather a Magic the Gathering life counter spindown, the difference is, a spindown is not randomized, and therefor is inappropriate for rolling, replace with a true D20 ASAP.


I thought everything stated except the above to be spot-on. The goofy, cardboard ruins were wisely replace in with good LOS-blockers in the Innistrad release, and both of these master sets have a good number of figures.

But the spin-down die thing - that's just silly. When rolled without the intent of influencing the outcome of the roll, your odds of rolling any given result are the same as with either die - 1/20. If you're worried that the guy across the table is trying to cheat you with their die, then why are you playing with them?
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Michael Taylor
United States
Venice
CA
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SnowWalker wrote:
For those interested in turning the AotP Planeswalkers into unique heroes to use with Heroscape, I will post pictures of customs that do just that.


Very cool! Thanks!

But shouldn't they have Gift of Magic or some way to cast spells?
 
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Michael Taylor
United States
Venice
CA
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I think there is a word missing in Jace's Mind Stealer description....
 
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