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First I'd like to clarify my background - I'm a long-time (nearly 40-year old) gamer who grew up on the more mundane classic family board games like Risk, Stratego, Uno, or Monopoly. I eventually migrated to playing a little bit of everything from Role-playing games and Collectible Card Games, to the more trendy European games and even the occasional wargame or two. One genre that I'd also been fascinated by but that I had never really gotten "into" yet was miniature games. My primary issue was simply that of time - having to paint everything was just a huge turn-off for me. I'm neither terribly artistically inclined nor am I very patient, either. So interesting miniature games like Warhammer 40k or WW2 combat simulations eluded me. Until HeroScape.

Yeah, die-hard gaming grognards will probably roll their eyes at any positive spin attached to "that game you can find in the Wal-mart toy aisles", but they'd be missing the boat, in a big way over HeroScape.

When people review a board game it's all too easy to get caught up describing how it works and then breaking down the game into simplistic categories (i.e. good game art, the rules are easy to understand, it was inexpensive, etc...) but that kind of review wouldn't really quite do HeroScape justice, in my opinion.

It's not just that all the little categories are well accounted for in this game such as great miniatures, excellent paint jobs (most of the time - in general, I consider HS to have the best pre-painted figures bar none), easy to understand rules, dramatic gameplay, good variety of armies and figures, and a wonderfully clever terrain hex system so that no two games are the same twice - it's more about how it all adds up into something greater than the parts. Everything in HeroScape adds up to a fun game that can be whatever you want it to be. The addition of height modifiers as well as engagement rules and a very common sense line of sight rule, mean that even someone who wants a bit more strategy involved can enjoy HeroScape. Further boosting the gameplay's tactical elements are the usage of Order Markers. You place these Markers to show which units of your army will be activating during this round (in each of the 3 turns). This requires a larger amount of strategic acumen and deduction that you'd expect but again, it's handled so elegantly that you rarely even realize the vast importance of Order Markers in the grand scheme of things. In another clever touch, the developers have even provided a 'bluffing' marker to provide for the fog of war (to some extent).

All these features are combined with an elegant terrain system that does away with tape measures and just allows you to count hexes when moving. It works very well and the hexes in the game are at just the right scale to be used with other games as well. All the pieces are very nicely crafted and hold up well to abuse. In a 'give you more for your money' mindset, the developers have an easier version of the game using the backs of the main unit cards for younger players. It's a nice touch and it makes the game accessible for all ages while still providing the depth that many older gamers crave.

Perhaps the only real drawback to HeroScape is that luck does play a reasonably large part in the results. If someone is having an awesome night with the dice, much of your strategic acumen is going to go unappreciated as you'll still probably lose most of your matches. (The proverbial "dice Jesus", if you'll pardon the expression.) That being said, there are many things you can do to at least make a concerted effort to keep luck's fickle impact at bay so it's not a total gamble either.

It's a bit disappointing that this game has been so strongly marketed through big box retailers because it has the potential to really hit strong in the niche hardcore gaming stores but distribution costs keep it out of most of your FLGS (friendly local gaming stores).

I'd recommend trying this game out with someone who understands the game pretty well and who has a decent chunk of the units so you can enjoy the wide variety of combinations involved in designing a fun army.

Overall I'd rate this game a solid 9 out of 10 for all of the reasons I've written about above. This is simply a fantastic game and probably deserves to be much higher in Board Game Geek's list of games.

Thanks for listening and may you roll all skulls!
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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Motherwell
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Great review. thumbsup

Quote:
Thanks for listening and may you roll all skulls!


Not if you're defending yuk

With regards from an even older Heroscaper,

Jim O'Neill
Est. 1949

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Alex Martinez
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wytefang wrote:


It's a bit disappointing that this game has been so strongly marketed through big box retailers because it has the potential to really hit strong in the niche hardcore gaming stores but distribution costs keep it out of most of your FLGS (friendly local gaming stores).


I agree with everything in your review but this. How can it be disappointing that a game like Heroscape has proven to have such wide mainstream appeal? I suppose as gamers we're used to living in the shadowy underrealm. And, yes, some of us aren't going to like a game that manages to reach the masses purely on elitism principle.

Heroscape is like The Lord of the Rings Movies. It's hard for a lot of LOTR fans to accept that their precious little passion is now available to everyone and that it's not nearly as "special" to be a LOTR fan. But, as a fantasy novelist myself, I'm grateful that LOTR films have made the entire genre less of a sub-genre and more mainstream. It can only benefit me to have a wider appeal. That's what Heroscape represents to me, a game that appeals to many hardcore and casual gamers and has taken our special passion and put it in the light for all the world to see and share.

The pity isn't that Heroscape is mainstream enough to be sold in Wal-Mart and Target. The real disappointment from any gamer should be that so many other great games haven't made the leap from specialty outlets to mainstream stores. I love games, and I don't want them to hide in the shadows. I want them out in the light, and if Heroscape manages to do this, I can only think of it as a positive thing.

The real danger isn't Heroscape reaching a mainstream audience. It's the curious rejection that comes from disliking something for having mainstream acceptance. I know people who don't like Heroscape, and they have some good reasons for that. But to not like it just because it is sold at Wal-Mart is just plain silly.

By the way, my writer name is A. Lee Martinez, and you can find my novels, GIL'S ALL FRIGHT DINER, IN THE COMPANY OF OGRES, A NAMELESS WITCH, and THE AUTOMATIC DETECTIVE (coming soon) at your local bookstores. You can also read a few game reviews at my website WWW.ALEEMARTINEZ.COM. So there you go. After being a member of BGG for quite a while now, I finally squeezed in a plug. Wasn't very subtle, but if there's one thing I've learned from Heroscape is that subtlety is for wimps.

Now excuse me while I assemble my oricsh hordes.
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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Re: Just a quick review of HeroScape (The original Master Se
Nice review!

I really don't understand why grognards would be upset or turn aside from a good game _because_ it's sold in consumer retail outlets.

Heroscape is a remarkably quick, simple, and fun skirmish-level miniatures game. I wish more skirmish-level historical miniatures games approached this level of simplicity.
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Tobias DeSoto
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I agree... I have played many types of games over the years (RPG's, Old Board, Wargames, Euros, CCG's, etc, etc.) and have a blast with HeroScape... no painting and less time to invest before playing, lots of fun and the kids like to play too...

Derek...
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Re: Just a quick review of HeroScape (The original Master Se
Here is why I regret the marketing/sales of HS being limited to the big box stores...

WalMart, Target and Toys 'R Us all have similar problems stocking the game.
Anyone who plays HS will know the pleasure of going to one of these stores to find some new units, only to be met with either bare shelves, or 15 packs of the Agents and Gladiators set.
To the big box stores, the supplements are all the same, and they won't stock any new ones until the ones on the shelf sell. And the ones on the shelf aren't going to sell, as anyone who needed the Agents and Gladiators pack by now has all they need.

Several of the local stores overstocked on the Castle set when it came out. They all ended up selling them on clearance, and now you can't find one around here at all.

The other reason is you cannot play the game at WalMart. Or Target. Or even Toys 'R Us.

I have played once at my FLGS, and the owner played with us and had a great time. Then he commented about how he would love to carry the game but his distributor has the game priced at retail. Which means he would have to sell above retail, and thus very likely not sell any.

The FLGS would be a great place to recruit new players, and to play the game for that matter, he has lots of gaming space. But I'm going to feel a bit odd taking a game in there to play that he cannot carry, especially one that is likely to become rather popular amongst his clientèle.
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Re: Just a quick review of HeroScape (The original Master Se
Wow! Thank you for the quick and interesting responses to this review - especially considering that there have been tons of reviews about this game already.

I'm not THAT disappointed that the game has been marketed to the mainstream, just to clarify, but I rue the fact that the big box retailers fail to keep the entire collection of the game in stock. It's like playing the lottery to find the sets you want to use.

It's great to hear from so many HeroScape fans, though!



May you roll skulls or shields as needed in battle!! (There I tweaked it!)
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Excellent Review!! I never got into social gaming until I ran across Heroscape. Finally, a game that isn't collectible, very inexpensive (when compared to collectible games or miniatures in general) and very easily taught. I showed up at my local comic shop and the owner was more than happy to let me put on a game. I played there for over a year, getting about 6 players a game without a problem. My maps were pretty big and that drew an audience.

That said, I was constantly shunned by the Warhammer and collectible gamers. That "I am better than thou" mentality really came out as they quickly dismissed the game as what we all know is mainstream simplistic rabble. What ticks me off is when you compare Heroscape to Collectible games is that it isn't much simpler than those are, especially when compared to Star Wars Miniatures. I was watching them play that and had to laugh.

I'm proud that I have stood by the game since I first laid eyes on it in Oct 2004. It's a game that continues to grow and you know what? It has the right fans for it. If you check out the Heroscapers.com site, you will not find any elitist garbage that you find in other games. Thanks again for the great review.

-Ski
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"GAME OVER, MAN. GAME OVER!"
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Thanks for the review!
I am almost 40 as well, and find that one of the single elements that mostly appeals to me is the cartoonish/comic booky feel, that is probably meant to appeal mostly to the kids, and when I say kids, I really mean boys...
I love how Heroscape is simple enough to grasp in a game or two, and after this you rarely, if ever, have to look anything up in the rules. I love how it in one swell foop eliminates 99,764 % of the arguments that might arise in a tabletop game, and I love that I can play this on equal terms with the kids (aged 11-14) at the club were I work! But most of all I love how the gimicky archtype charaters let me live out (almost) any type of childhood hero/villain mix-up ever imagined!
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Jeff
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I have to admit - one of the reasons I initially dismissed the game was I first saw it at our local Wal-Mart... I remember thinking 'wow, this looks like a really cool game - what's it doing here??' Then I saw the age range and decided it must be more of a kid's game, and probably wasn't the exciting miniatures wargame I thought it was. After all, how could it be if Wal Mart has it? And right next to the barbie display, too - that certainly didn't help my desire to pick up a copy...

So, yeah, I guess I fell into the whole mainstream trap in thinking that it can't be any good just because of where I found it. Glad I found the reviews here - I'll definitely have to give this one another look!
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