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Heroscape Master Set: Swarm of the Marro» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Battle of All Time rss

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casey stump
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For my first game review, I am going to review the game Heroscape. Heroscape was originally produced by Hasbro but is now produced by Wizards of the Coast. I guess that technically means that it is still produced by Hasbro because they own Wizards of the Coast. Anyway, the designer of Heroscape is Craig Van Ness.

Heroscape is a non-collectable miniatures game. So far there are 2 master sets (The Rise of the Valkyrie and The Swarm of the Marro) and 8 waves of expansions. There are also terrain expansions and a few large expansions. The game in itself is fairly simple. You start by building a map with the large amount of customizable terrain that comes with the master sets and terrain expansions. The terrain ranges from standard grass, sand, and rock to snow, lava, and swamp terrain. You can add trees and glaciers and castles to spice up your map even more so that when you’re done, you have a gorgeous looking, three dimensional map to do battle on. The terrain is in the shape of hexes that you can interlock and stack on top of each other with ease which makes building the map almost as fun as playing the game.

The game itself is split up into rounds. Each round is composed of 3 turns. This is the base of the activation system that Heroscape uses called order markers. Each player is given four order markers each round. They are marked with a 1, 2, 3, and X. At the beginning of the round, players place each of there order markers on their figure’s cards. This will determine what and when a player activates a particular unit during the course of a round. The markers are made as such so only the player that placed them can see the number on them. So basically you can see what your opponent will activate but you don’t know when. The X is used to deceive your opponents so they don’t know for sure if you will activate something or not. After each player rolls for initiative, play precedes by each player activating their 1. Then each player will activate their 2 etc. I really like this system because you have to really plan ahead and not get caught off guard by what your opponent is doing. If they do something completely unexpected then you can’t react to it. The game has been criticized for that but I think it makes the game a bit more difficult and adds a bit more skill to it.

When you activate a card you move and attack with it. Combat is resolved with dice. One player rolls a certain number of dice and each skull that comes up counts as a hit. The the defender rolls dice and each shield that comes up counts as a block. If there are more skulls than shields, that much damage is inflicted upon the character. The system is very easy and keeps the game moving quickly where other miniature games can have these big long combat systems that take 5 minutes to decide whether or not I hit you. The system is luck based and if you don’t get good rolls you won’t win the game but in my experience it evens out pretty well. Although there can be games where you can win/lose completely on the die rolls. This is where I think a good amount of the skill comes into Heroscape. A good player knows how to minimize the amount luck factors into the game. You can go about this in many different ways and I won’t explain them but when you learn to minimize risk then you will generally perform well.

Army building is also a key aspect to being successful. Basically your army made up of two types of units: either heroes or squads. Heroes are basically one figure that will have stronger powers and will be able to take multiple hits before being destroyed. A squad is anywhere from 2-4 figures that all go with the same card. Each figure in a squad will only have 1 life and normally less powerful abilities than a hero. This is balanced out with the fact that you can move and attack with each figure in your squad. So with a hero, most of the time you will be moving and attacking once where in a squad, you will be moving and attacking with a couple figures. A good army should have a good balance of both.

All of this in mind, what makes Heroscape great in my eyes is the wealth of different characters and synergies. You can have WWII soldiers shooting down a dragon or a big robot battling it out with an honorable knight. It is just fun to watch. I think the core part of the game is the interaction between characters. When your army goes up against someone else’s, it normally comes down to: how do my characters match up against yours, how will my characters work together to bring the other army down, and how do I play my army to best exploit my opponents weaknesses. Whoever does these things the best will normally come out on top.

Final thoughts: Heroscape is a fairly light and extremely fun game that can be played by just about anyone. The fact that the game comes with its own terrain is also a major plus, however, this makes the game very difficult to transport. You’ll find yourself lugging many boxes around if you want to take your stuff over to a friend’s house to play. The game’s theme of bringing together the greatest warriors from all time and space is great too because you end up with match ups you don’t see in normal games. Guns against bows and dragons against alien Marro creatures make the game very enjoyable and makes it appeal to everyone.

My rating: 8/10

Casey Stump

You can find this and all of my reviews here: http://stumpsboardgamereviews.blogspot.com/
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Richard Dewsbery
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I rate the Rise of the Valkyrie master Set as 9/10, rising to 10/10 once you start adding in boosters. But the Swarm of the Marro Master Set deserves just 7/10 in my view. There's less of everything in the box - less terrain, fewer figures, and crucially less variety. With RotV, you could have any combination of dinosaurs, dragons, paratroopers, robots, men in black, samurai, vikings et cetera; with SotM, it's 5 heroes against a Marro horde. Sure, you can make the case that it's better themed and adds the important common squad dynamic to the game, but there's a lot less in the box to fire the heart and inspire the new player.

I know you from somewhere, don't I?
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Giles Pritchard
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Shepparton
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I'd be interested in how this is different from Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie. Not to discourage you because I like what you have written, but this review and your review of Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie are exactly the same. I think some comparisons from someone who obviously knows the system and has experience with each master set would also be valuable.

Cheers,

Giles.
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casey stump
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Yes Richard I agree with everything that you have said there. I planned on this as more of a review of the system as a whole than on just Swarm of the Marro itself. I will try to eventually get around to doing a review on just Swarm of the Marro and maybe some of the other expansions.
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Todd Pytel
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RDewsbery wrote:
I rate the Rise of the Valkyrie master Set as 9/10, rising to 10/10 once you start adding in boosters. But the Swarm of the Marro Master Set deserves just 7/10 in my view. There's less of everything in the box - less terrain, fewer figures, and crucially less variety.

I agree 100%. SotM shows off the mechanics of the game better - you get common squads with useful synergies on the Marro side and a very different, high-value-per-figure experience on the heroes' side. But once you've played a few games, it gets pretty dull. The maps you can make with just SotM are all rather similar and picking any sides other than "Marro vs. The Heroes" feels really lame. RotV offers way more variety and replayability, even though it doesn't provide you a completely coordinated army on its own. As a starter set, RotV is far superior - I'd consider SotM to be more like a really big expansion kit.
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suPUR DUEper
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RotV is the perfect way to get hooked on the system. Much of the appeal is due to the vast number of different types of units (e.g. Vikings, Agents, Samurai, Dragons, Dinosaurs, Army Men). Seriously, how could anyone under the age of 90 not like that? Plus, many of the expansions connected directly with the base set (i.e. pick up the MacDirks to bond with Alistair; Gruts with Chompy, etc.).

SotM as an expansion set rocks (especially if you got it on sale). Compared to the Lava, Tundra, et al, SotM is a steal. However, as a base set, not so much. As others have pointed out, SotM lacks that hook to get new users addicted.....
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Carl Forhan
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TedW wrote:
Plus, many of the expansions connected directly with the base set (i.e. pick up the MacDirks to bond with Alistair; Gruts with Chompy, etc.).


I agree with pretty much your entire post, but thought it was worth pointing out that neither Alistair nor the MacDirks are in RotV. But your point is still valid; there are bonding options and bonuses for RotV figures in subsequent expansions, which makes the game really strong. I still enjoy using the original RotV figures on a regular basis, and they're just as viable today as they were back then.
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suPUR DUEper
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songbird wrote:
TedW wrote:
Plus, many of the expansions connected directly with the base set (i.e. pick up the MacDirks to bond with Alistair; Gruts with Chompy, etc.).


I agree with pretty much your entire post, but thought it was worth pointing out that neither Alistair nor the MacDirks are in RotV. But your point is still valid; there are bonding options and bonuses for RotV figures in subsequent expansions, which makes the game really strong. I still enjoy using the original RotV figures on a regular basis, and they're just as viable today as they were back then.


I stand corrected! You are exactly right.... I would have bet money on that. Are you sure there wasn't a special Kmart exclusive with the Elite Onyx MacDirk Warriors included....????
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