Flashback Friday - Heroscape - Love it or Hate it? Do You Still Play It?

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Heroscape

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There Will Be Games

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Heroscape, the game that made tabletop miniature gaming accessible and brought it to the masses. Along with prompting the sale of a butt ton of giant plastic tubs to store it in.

So do you have a plastic tub of Heroscape at your house? More than one? Do you play it, or is it gathering dust? Which were your favorite sets and waves? Did you just play at home, or did you haul that tub to competitions? Did you play with your kids, or were you a kid, or are you saving that tub for your kids?

Love it or hate it? Do you still play it?

There Will Be Games Heroscape

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Matt Thrower's Avatar
Matt Thrower replied the topic: #292334 15 Feb 2019 04:14
I've never played Heroscape and to be honest it's never really appealed. I'm not fond of multi-genre time-travel stuff in any kind of media, and building the scenery looks a pain.

That said, about the only real gaming regret I have is not buying a starter set for something like £5 when they were being flogged off in the toy store after one Christmas. I just didn't have space to store it at the time. Would be worth a small fortune now.
Whoshim's Avatar
Whoshim replied the topic: #292336 15 Feb 2019 04:32
It has been one of my favorite games since I picked it up back in 2004. I haven't played it as much (starting a family made things like that difficult), but with the boys getting into the place where they can play it without assistance, I look forward to breaking it out.

I used to have a lot more than now, but I sold down to just the starter plus the first (and maybe second) expansion. The amount of cards and figures put off new players and made setup a bit of a chore. The base stuff has a great mix.

Also, I have some 40k stuff that we have made some test cards for. I love the flexibility of the Heroscape system and how easy it is to create new things for it.

I love it because it is always a fun time with a story to tell after. I enjoy brain burning games and high level competition, but I also just love having fun with this game.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #292338 15 Feb 2019 05:44
I only played Heroscape once. Even with six of us working quickly, it took way too long to assemble before we could start playing. That part was more like playing with Legos than setting up a boardgame. The actual gameplay was too simple, with minimal consideration for tactics, and one of the units in our game seemed overpowered for its cost, making for a relatively short and uneven fight. Then there was the takedown, which only took half as long as the long setup. We were playing a game shop, so we couldn't just push the game off to the side and let the owner put it away later.

I didn't like Heroscape, but I don't think it's a bad game. I would have loved it if I was still a kid. But as an adult gamer with more limited free time, Heroscape was too much setup for too little game.
bendgar's Avatar
bendgar replied the topic: #292339 15 Feb 2019 07:12
I love building the landscape but I find the game rather blah.

I am at the point where I just want to get rid of my tub but I don't want to separate it out for ebay. I may just craigslist it. Does anyone passing through have a dollar amount that I should aim for? Base set with double terrain + Swamp Land? + 55 unit expansions.

Thanks.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #292340 15 Feb 2019 08:06
I love every part of this one. Damn near perfect game.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #292341 15 Feb 2019 08:24
I've already essentially written enough to get a masters' degree in Heroscape studies. (Just look up Jexik on the biggest fan site). It's a far deeper game than you guys realize, but in order to get there you need to play 1v1 tournament-style games. An individual multiplayer game might be a light diversion, but 5 hour tournament days at GenCon or in Iowa or Texas used to be another matter entirely. They still have a cult tournament following and are making customs. The fan website, heroscapers.com, likely has traffic that dwarfs this site. At least back a few years ago when I was still doing the PHG podcast, Colby openly admitted that his old HS fansite was getting way more traffic than his company website.

I enjoy the eye candy, but I'm actually with Matt in thinking that the entire plot and story were ridiculous and pretty stupid. I read the rulebook and thought it was not gonna be for me. But the gameplay hooked me, and we immediately bought expansions that night, right around my 22nd birthday. It got me back into board games, and Ameritrash in particular. If it weren't for Heroscape, I wouldn't be here, and neither would Plaid Hat Games. John Clowdus of Small Box Games was also a huge fan and got some of his start making customs for it.

The sad coda to the Heroscape love song is that I hardly get to play now after I moved out of my bro castle and into a smaller apartment, even though I have a kid who's just the right age to play it now. Even further, much of the plastic terrain has become hard and brittle; you have to be careful not to break it when you take it apart. I downsized significantly a couple years ago, but I've still got a lot. Hardly get a chance to play it, but I do try to make it out to a big heroscape tournament once every year or so.

Would some kind of longer Heroscape retrospective piece be of interest to people here? Although really Sag put it best.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #292344 15 Feb 2019 08:44
I really like Heroscape but I've never owned it and only played on small collections. I think if I had a huge collection of it, it would be the type of game I'd absolutely love and list among my favorites.

Craig Van Ness recently mentioned in an email that he was big into 40k at the time and what he was trying to do with Heroscape was to bring that type of game into a more accessible line. Boardgame it up a bit if you will. Thought that was interesting.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #292345 15 Feb 2019 08:45

Jexik wrote: Would some kind of longer Heroscape retrospective piece be of interest to people here?


Yes.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #292346 15 Feb 2019 08:53
I was in school when Heroscape was a thing and at the perfect age demographic for it, but never even played. My go-to mass market game of that era was Battleball which I loved and still own.

I'd like to give it a try someday but it's looking increasingly unlikely. Definitely not looking to own though. Don't want a game that requires a tub.
repoman's Avatar
repoman replied the topic: #292349 15 Feb 2019 09:04
One of the best times I've ever had was playing in a Herpscape tournament a friend had at his house with a small group he invited. It was a round robin affair and we each played 5 matches or so. It was years ago now but, man, that was a good day.

I owned a lot of it at one time but sold it away when I needed money. It was a bitch to store.

I did pull some customs off that heroscape fan site. It was a bunch of Star Wars characters which I bought minis for off the Internet. They were super cool.

So, I've not played in long time but I'd jump at the chance to play it at any time.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #292353 15 Feb 2019 09:39
I'm on a real keyboard now so I'll go into a little more detail.

First -- Heroscape may be cheaper now than it has ever been, save for a few of the expansions. If you're willing to purchase used you can get starter sets for $70 and a LOT of the expansions for about forty cents on the dollar of their original purchase price. There's a lot of Heroscape out there if you're interested. I've had several parents contact me in the last year asking how to get it, and I've been able to find eBay and one local deal that were kick-ass for about $100.

For those of you whining about setup time -- quit being so damn picky. One guy can set up a basic board in about five minutes. Throw something together and play. The myth of "it takes forever to set up" is BS. Four guys can put together a decent map in about a minute.

Army building is simple too, either give people a point total or just wing it and come up with something you like. Play all-reptiles or all-Romans or something. Just go. And it doesn't really matter all the much if the armies are unbalanced, because you just work that in. If someone's getting slaughtered you give them reinforcements from their side of the board or give them a few extra hit points.

One guy overpowered . . . it's kind of like Magic. Sometimes you just need to figure out how to crack a particular egg. I'll tell you what, at tournaments I love to play big Sgt Drake Alexander, and my opponents love it because they get to score so many points when they hit him. I have a blast going in head-first, they have a blast beating him up.

Don't like the theme . . . well, the game has 31 themes so I'll grant you that you'll almost assuredly not like one of them. Goddamned samurais. They always show up and ruin things!

Not very deep . . . Ho boy! There can be some serious shit going on on the board. It all depends on how you want to play.

But I'll tell you what, the reason I absolutely still endorse Heroscape over all other games is this -- it's just fun to uncork with. You can play it with kids (who enjoy it on three or four different levels) or with your buds, who can drink beer and throw pretzels at each other when things don't go their way. It's just an over-the-top kind of play where can you put on stupid accents and scream and yell and cut deals and backstab and just have a grand old time. A dynamite team game as well, where you can have three on each side of the field rushing into the center to attack each other.

I'll link my ancient article on a session -- therewillbe.games/blogs-by-members/803-h...d-steel-and-cleavage but there's been five or six on the site. It's well worth your time to find and read them. I bumped into a couple when I googled mine. Part of the reason I love the game is embodied in the approach of that article, which is about as sober as a leprechaun on March 18th. Just let loose and let whatever your army is carry you away.

I'm of the opinion that this game will get reprinted in some form or another. I think it would be up for it already were it not for Hasbro camping on the existing IP such as it is. If Heroscape 2.0 went up for Kickstarter I'd wager it could set a record for funding. There's still a lot you could do with the game.


One of the best times I've ever had was playing in a Herpescape tournament a friend had at his house with a small group he invited. It was a round robin affair and we each played 5 matches or so. It was years ago now but, man, that was a good day.

One of my best gaming experiences ever was an evening when my wife and daughter were gone, and my buddy Kyle showed up with his son to play. Me and my three boys, him and his one. We played (this is with young kids mind you) until 1am, which was about four hours past bedtime. The boys still remind me of that night and how damn good a time it was.
NeonPeon's Avatar
NeonPeon replied the topic: #292357 15 Feb 2019 10:33
I played it once. I had fun. The end.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #292359 15 Feb 2019 10:46

Jackwraith wrote:

Jexik wrote: Would some kind of longer Heroscape retrospective piece be of interest to people here?


Yes.


therewillbe.games/blogs-by-members/6462-...-battle-for-all-time

Maybe not super polished, and a bit more personal than I had expected, but it's hard to separate myself from discussion of a game that likely altered my life trajectory, at least a little.
jeb's Avatar
jeb replied the topic: #292369 15 Feb 2019 11:55
Played it for the first time in a few years (barring the MtG Arena one) about a month ago and it was fucking great. Building the scenario is fun and playing is fun. It looks so goddamned good. And I only have MARVEL and the VALKYRIE base games!

As mini games go, it is magnificently approachable.

Silver Surfer OP OP
drewcula's Avatar
drewcula replied the topic: #292370 15 Feb 2019 11:55
HEROSCAPE IS DEAD.
LONG LIVE HEROSCAPE.

While I don't get to play very often anymore, I horde my collection and hope to create a hex casket to lie in before my wife sets it ablaze.

I was never far removed from gaming in my entire life, though I certainly took a pause during graduate school. The only gaming I had during those lean years was, wait for it... Star Wars Epic Duels.

Once Heroscape hit the market, and I had found steady employment, I was quick to purchase a copy. With the first wave? I was quick to catch the completionist bug. Much of my attraction to the system was; a) it was already painted to decent/fair table top gaming standards and b) had no blind purchases.

Once I entered the tournament scene and faced stiff competition, I realized the "need" to expand my collection even more. I bought multiples. Of everything. No regrets.

Informal play, tournament play, 1 vs 1, multi-player. Against friends, enemies, frenemies, gamers, non-gamers, children, grognards, lovers... God Damn. I love it all.

I've had less praise for the game's final efforts, it's distribution headache, or it's failed efforts with Marvel (I really wanted to see that 2nd wave hit the market), but warts and all - Heroscape is great. A great gateway game for war-gaming, but also a great game in general.

And I still don't know what to make of the MtG re-implentation.
drewcula's Avatar
drewcula replied the topic: #292371 15 Feb 2019 11:57
And while I'm at it, I'm here on the new F:AT because of Heroscape. I met Pete through his adoration of Heroscape, and that brought me to this site.
Colorcrayons's Avatar
Colorcrayons replied the topic: #292381 15 Feb 2019 13:09
I've bought and sold my huge collection thrice. Have been considering selling it again, since I have not touched a single tile in a year.

I like the game a lot. I find the hero aspect of it more compelling than unit gathering. So, superheroscape is a fine ideal that was never realized enough in an official capacity.

I really really liked arena of the Planeswalkers. That was the pinnacle of the design for me, since it fixed a few things I had niggling uncertainty about regarding the game, and the added card play was smart and well implemented. As a former very heavy magic player, the magic theme helped a lot. Throwing that onto a game I already enjoyed was Christmas in July.

Speaking of theme, I too, didn't enjoy the disparate Hodge podge of stuff thrown around. I'd rather deal with a more concentrated theme. Yet, once it reached it's end, you could build your own fairly solid theme if you didn't want cowboys versus bone aliens. But samurai versus dinosaurs was still fun too once I pulled the stick out of my butt.

I don't know why I don't play any of the three iterations more. I enjoy them a lot, and glean bone fide fun from the experience from setting up the board to tearing it all down again.

But for some reason, I just can't seem to get it played. *Heavy sigh*

I definitely always bite off more than I can chew with terrain. I found the ideal sweet spot for a collector that plays a lot, but not for so fine who only wants to play casually.
Frohike's Avatar
Frohike replied the topic: #292384 15 Feb 2019 13:33
I have the obligatory plastic tub of Heroscape.

Much like the rest of my approach to this hobby, my interest & exploration has been backwards, starting with Summoner Wars and becoming intrigued by its ancestor, curious as to what "angel's share" might have been lost in Colby's distillation of the system into a card game on a grid.

I acquired most of my set during a math-trade-fueled purge a few years ago, a final hurrah where I unsubscribed from all Youtube tastemakers and unloaded shelves of light/middle weight Euro toads into the secondary market. To me, cashing in a bunch of bland, toothless Kickstarter designs for this giant container of plastic and conflict felt like a coup.

Unfortunately, I picked this up when my teenager was on the cusp of... teenager-ing & developing inscrutable personality quirks that, ironically, steered him more toward spreadsheet games and MOBAs. Fortunately, I'm also honorary "cool Uncle" to an honorary family member who loves games with minis, loves Legos, and started his board game fascination with Summoner Wars, a gift from yours truly when he was probably around 8 years old. We've had a lot of fun with Heroscape and I'm fairly certain this kid will inherit the game soon, sometime before the magic of terrain construction & toy battles melts away under the weight & ubiquity of video gaming.
quozl's Avatar
quozl replied the topic: #292390 15 Feb 2019 14:40
Heroscape is my favorite game. All the depth of a wargame with none of the rules-creep masquerading as depth but is actually just complexity. I always have a map setup and while my daughter and I don't play it as much as we used to, we still play quite a bit. I am also involved in the C3V and C3G, two customs groups currently active still making custom figures for Heroscape. (C3V does customs that fit in with the official figures. C3G does superhero customs.)
Dark Piranha's Avatar
Dark Piranha replied the topic: #294073 19 Mar 2019 18:09
Love this game and agree that should a Kickstarter ever be launched, it will be record-setting. But, like almost everyone else here, my giant collection of terrain and figures (I pretty much have everything except some of the later D&D branded expansions. Got the first Planeswalkers game, but never played it. Life, kids growing up, moving houses, yadda yadda. But of all the games I own, this one still has some of the most epic, hilarious, FUN gaming sessions I've ever had. The gameplay is simple enough that there can be occasions where a sole remaining grut can topple Deathwalker-9000 and become legendary and still spoken of in hushed tones.

Heroscape is a game that probably needs to be left at a game cafe or game store with a good game library. It just needs to be available for people to see it and hold it and build stuff with it, even if they don't know how to play. It's so easy to learn that you could start playing a game five minutes after starting.

Along these lines, one idea I have had is to just set up a table with a medium-sized board, and just let it be a perpetual battle, almost kind of like how Small World has constant decline and emergence of new races. Do the same with Heroscape and just let anyone grab a squad or two and start playing in the middle of any ongoing game. When your squad goes out, grab another and emerge from the sidelines. Let someone also dynamically alter or add to the terrain as well as the game progresses. Turn that grass into snow. The lake freezes over. The mountain turns to a volcano.

And yes to anyone who wants to write some fun retrospective articles on the game, but I'd actually be more interested in speculative suggestions about rebooting or re-invigorating the game into today's modern board game environment. Not so much rules updating, but just what it would take to get this game back into conversation and people wanting to play it. Probably not, but would Heroscape be a good Twitch boardgame? Is there a way to make it so? Etc.

I see today that they are rebooting Star Wars Epic Duels (it's how I discovered this website) so I wonder if UnMatched will steal all the Heroscape oxygen that might have been created. But maybe it'll be the fuel that re-ignites interest in Heroscape.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #294086 19 Mar 2019 22:09

Dark Piranha wrote: Love this game and agree that should a Kickstarter ever be launched, it will be record-setting. But, like almost everyone else here, my giant collection of terrain and figures (I pretty much have everything except some of the later D&D branded expansions. Got the first Planeswalkers game, but never played it. Life, kids growing up, moving houses, yadda yadda. But of all the games I own, this one still has some of the most epic, hilarious, FUN gaming sessions I've ever had. The gameplay is simple enough that there can be occasions where a sole remaining grut can topple Deathwalker-9000 and become legendary and still spoken of in hushed tones.

Heroscape is a game that probably needs to be left at a game cafe or game store with a good game library. It just needs to be available for people to see it and hold it and build stuff with it, even if they don't know how to play. It's so easy to learn that you could start playing a game five minutes after starting.

Along these lines, one idea I have had is to just set up a table with a medium-sized board, and just let it be a perpetual battle, almost kind of like how Small World has constant decline and emergence of new races. Do the same with Heroscape and just let anyone grab a squad or two and start playing in the middle of any ongoing game. When your squad goes out, grab another and emerge from the sidelines. Let someone also dynamically alter or add to the terrain as well as the game progresses. Turn that grass into snow. The lake freezes over. The mountain turns to a volcano.

And yes to anyone who wants to write some fun retrospective articles on the game, but I'd actually be more interested in speculative suggestions about rebooting or re-invigorating the game into today's modern board game environment. Not so much rules updating, but just what it would take to get this game back into conversation and people wanting to play it. Probably not, but would Heroscape be a good Twitch boardgame? Is there a way to make it so? Etc.

I see today that they are rebooting Star Wars Epic Duels (it's how I discovered this website) so I wonder if UnMatched will steal all the Heroscape oxygen that might have been created. But maybe it'll be the fuel that re-ignites interest in Heroscape.


Welcome aboard sir!

I think Heroscape is still as relevant as just about any other game its age. The cognoscenti aren't playing it often, but it has a loyal following, an organized play scene and new content coming out of homebrew channels. It may have the best legs in the business in the long run, still getting attention in 2035 just because of its accessibility and the huge amount of copies in the wild.

That said I'd love to see a reboot too, and I think a more careful attention to the line could make it more successful. Hasbro doesn't license much, but they might choose to give it another run in-house. Time will tell.

Nice opening post. Looking forward to hearing more from you.
Dark Piranha's Avatar
Dark Piranha replied the topic: #294810 31 Mar 2019 23:49
Just randomly chanced upon this Kickstarter project tonight. It's not Heroscape-related, but it looks like they are definitely basing their interlocking template on the Heroscape pattern. And even though these are flat, non-hard plastic pieces they are still ridiculously expensive, so I don't even want to imagine what an actual attempt at making HS tiles would cost. But minis wargame Kickstarter backers apparently are undaunted by ridiculous price tags, so maybe it would fly...

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1890786242/...in-tiles/description