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Board Game Review # 4 – heroScape

2010 July 15
by Michael Schroeder

HeroScape has quickly become one of my favorite table top games and game franchises of all time. And surprisingly enough, this game is a mass market game, by Milton Bradley/Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast! And for those of you that know me by now, I generally float towards niche, euro, odd or alternative board games. That being said, I still consider this an alternative game, or I probably wouldn’t be reviewing it.



What’s the Game About: Here’s a description from hasbro’s web site.

Heroscape is a fully customizable game system that lets you build your own battlefields, create your own armies, and battle the enemy using your own strategies. Choose from two Heroscape Master Sets and dozens of Heroscape expansion sets to wage a different battle every time! Beginners can play the Heroscape game in just minutes by the using the Basic Game Rules. Heroscape Master Rules provide provides special rules and powers that boost your battles to super-strategic levels!

Basic Idea in My Own Words: HeroScape is a miniatures battle game or loosely phrased, a miniatures war game, which still falls under the umbrella of board games. What does that mean? Instead of most euro games, like Ticket to Ride or Alhambra, where everyone is playing somewhat solitaire but all vying for the same limited resources, you are moving around and attacking with gorgeously detailed, pre-painted miniatures or “toys” in layman’s terms, to achieve campaign objectives. What sets heroScape apart from other miniature wargaming is the story and the hexagonal terrain pieces that you must assemble prior to play. So basically what’s happening here, your picking your army of characters (where there are tons), building your terrain (pre designed or designed yourself) and waging war against your opponents!

What you Need to Play the Game: You will need a master set. A master set is the starting point for owning and playing this game.  Currently there are 3 master sets on the market, but only the latest one is still easy to get. You can still pretty easily get the 2nd master set but they are dwindling. And the first master set I got lucky to pick one up, where I am not saying 🙂 . The first master set was released in about 2004, called Rise of the Valkryie. This master set is self-contained to include everything you need to play multitudes of games of heroScape (the same goes for other master sets).

heroScape: Rise of the Valkryie

heroScape: Rise of the Valkryie Master Set

Rise of the Valkryie contains the most characters in a master set so far, and the most terrain from what I can tell. This is the “core” set, if you will, that kicks off the story of heroScape.

heroScape: Swarm of the Morro

Swarm of the Morro Master Set

Swarm of the Marro Master Set was the next released MS (2007). This MS continues to story of the antagonist general, Utgar’s army of Marro race. This MS wasn’t as elaborate as RofV (Rise of the Valkryie), as it includes less characters and less terrain, and well, it’s an ugly swamp, but it does manage to throw in another type of terrain, the swamp, as well as the Marro Hive, which helps regenerate Marro units, as well act as a line of sight (LoS) blocker. This MS can be combined in any way you wish with the RofV MS.

heroScape: D&D Rise for the Underdark

Dungeons and Dragons Rise for the Underdark Master Set

Rise for the Underdark Dungeons and Dragons currently is the latest MS available. This was released last year I believe, or this year. Wizards of the Coast has taken over heroScape and made it in a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) world. To me, this just sounds like a ploy to get people hooked on Dungeons and Dragons, come on, Wizards, go back to classic heroScape (HS).

Here is a part 1 of 5 of a DiceTowerReview and overview of heroScape on YouTube. If you want to watch the rest of the videos, just look on that youtube page.

heroScape Expansions

Aside from the MSets, heroScape has a multitude of small and large expansions. Small expansions come in waves or collections of character packs or unit packs. And contain a set of 4 packages. Retail for these is $12.99 for a pack, so if you want to complete a pack, that’s $12.99 X 4. But if your smart, you can find these cheaper. But currently many of these packs are out of print and people are price gauging these.

Larger heroscape expansions contain all large characters, which take up two hex pieces, instead of the standard 1. As well as different terrain such as volcano, a castle, bridge and trees, ice, etc.

How the Game Works

How the game plays out is..

  1. Consult the game manual to make a specific campaign. This entails building the terrain, this can take about 20 minutes roughly. Then placing your characters and glyphs. Glyphs sit on hex spaces and when a character stands on it, it will generally grant the units you control special abilities.
  2. You can either pick a pre made army up, or better yet. Set a cap on the point limits for each player. Say for instance, we’re playing with a 500 point army. Every card has skills and abilities on it, that represents your character, on on these cards on the bottom is a point value, which is representative of that units abilities and skill.

Raelin the Kyrie Warrior Unit and Card

Raelin the Kyrie Warrior Unit and Card

Once you have selected your army, you place them somewhere of your choosing on the game board. And your ready to play!

Turn sequence is

  1. Place order markers – every player has 4 order markers, 1-3,X. X is a bluff or dummy order marker. Printed numbers are one 1 side of the markers so only you can see. With the order markers you place them on each of your cards that you wish to move. So when its your turn, you reveal order marker 1, then
  2. Roll for Initiative – Everyone rolls a 20 sided dice and the highest number goes first and turns proceed clockwise
  3. Move – movement in this game is detailed and we won’t get into it. But basically every character has a set range of movement so you count the number of spaces you move with every movement as long as you don’t go over the number of spaces your character can move.
  4. Attack – This is where the bulk of the game lies. When you moved, you may attack with any character you control, you declare who’s attacking, special abilities you may be using, then declare who’s attacking. Noe in that specific order. To attack your rolling a number of dice equal to any special abilities and your units attack value. If you get a skull, that’s a hit. So if you roll 3 skulls, and your opponent rolls 2 shields for defense, that’s 1 hit. So your declare opponent’s unit must have one wound marker placed on their unit card. Once wound markers reach the life value of a unit, that character/unit is killed.

So that’s basically how the game works. But it’s much longer than that and more detailed because there are many intricate rules I am just not mentioning here as I don’t have that kind of time right now.

Component Quality: 4/5

The component quality for this game, being a mass market game, is just awesome. Check out the miniatures when you break this game open, they are extremely detailed. The terrain pieces are of high quality as well. I think sometimes that I’m going to break them when unlocking them, nope. Also, Tom Vasel – on his web site, The Dice Tower, video’d his kids throwing the terrain against a wall and nothing broke! I can’t say the same for the box, as when you open it, it’s just cardboard that you’ll shortly discover, you can’t keep storing the pieces in the original boxes. You will be advised to invest in containers to store characters and terrain pieces. Never, ever, throw out the original boxes though.

Theme: 4/5

The theme is something else that I feel sets this game apart from other games. The story is about a Valkyrie warrior from another planet that is waging war against Utgar’s forces and he must call on different characters from different times and walks of life. For instance, some of the characters are, cowboys, samurai, men in black type characters, dragons, robots, the list goes on and on, and that’s one thing I really love about this game.

While it may sound a little childish and immature, if your playing this game already, who cares. Shut up and play! You’ll love it!

I forgot to mention, there is even a Marvel set. Which is a master set that is a city block with characters from the Marvel universe, like Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk.

Instruction Manual: 3/5

The manual is pretty well written. Has that new paper smell to it as well 🙂 .  I do really appreciate all the colored examples, that helps very much. The beginning of the manuals do contain instructions for the basic game – I wouldn’t recommend playing like that – it does not use any special abilities and it’s extremely stripped down.

Luck Factor: 4/5

I have to give this a 4 because most of the game is dice rolling. So there’s inherently, a lot of luck involved. But if you pick the right characters to blend a goof balance to your army and strengthen them and move right, you should be OK.

Strategy: 3/5

Even though there’s a lot of luck in this game, there’s also a lot of strategy. After a few plays, you will begin to want to take more time picking out your characters and any hero’s that can go with your common units to boost their skills. there is strategy on where you initially place your armies and where you move. This, along with knowing when and where to use your characters’ special attacks, will help.

Overall Feelings: 5/5

I absolutely love this game! I cannot get enough. I’m even thrilled to say that my wife seems to enjoy playing it! That’s a definite plus. I want to get all the expansions, but that probably won’t happen as many are out of print, but I’m really excited on getting more in depth plays with heroScape!

6 Responses leave one →
  1. July 15, 2010

    Very detailed post. Thank you! Great site.

  2. July 15, 2010

    Thanks for the props! Be on the look out for more and spread the word.

    thanks again.

  3. August 30, 2010

    Came across your blog via msn the other day and absolutely enjoy it. Carry on the good work.

  4. December 27, 2011

    I love this game, but I’d have to agree with Strategy being a 3/5. I can’t count how many times I’ve been setup with massive dice advantages only to roll a total miss while my opponent destroys me.

  5. July 11, 2013

    Hi, There’s no doubt that your website may be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues.

    I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, great blog!

    • July 11, 2013

      Thanks. What version of IE are you using? I just took a look, is it IE8 or 9? Are you in a situation where you have to use IE? IE should be banned, seriously. lol

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