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Significant improvement over Heroes and MonstersPygon —
A case of Heroes and Monsters had around 83 miniatures.
The detail and paint jobs appear much more worked and polished over the first set.
Only a few slightly negative comments about this set:
Overall, however, I'm very happy with this set.
I made a video showing off some of the miniatures in HD, viewable here.
Pathfinder Module: The Ruby Phoenix Tournament (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $9.99
Admirable piece of work, with some problemsPygon —
Spoilers follow. This review is from the viewpoint of a player, not a GM.
I'll get the good parts out of the way. The battles are varied with a some interesting environments and situations to fight in. I don't recall any fight that felt repetitive or similar to any other from the adventure. I commend the variety of opponents pitted against us.
The problems I encountered as a player came from a number of areas:
- We played this module under the older PFS rules, where you could create an 11th level PC to play with. The PCs we played were heavily built on damage dealing, so many fights, even the supposedly more dangerous ones, were over quickly (within 2 or 3 rounds).
- The performance combat rules, despite adding the interesting combat bonuses (or penalties, depending on your rolls), introduced a nice dynamic, but unfortunately our party mostly plowed through the encounters where the rules could have been appreciated more by allowing the encounters to last longer. Even when I was prepared to take full advantage of the performance combat rules, the rest of the party had different ideas and the fight was over before I could build up a relationship with the crowd. I don't fault the module for this - performance combat could probably stand to receive some more fleshing out with more incentive to use them.
- Many significant boss type encounters only had a single opponent, so there was little to force us to decide how to best use our action economy. This made many of those fights too easy.
Overall, I enjoyed my time playing the module. However, my one-time experience of playing it with an 11th level party lacked the nail biting elements that come from high level play. Balancing a module and enemy builds against a typical 11th level party can be a difficult thing, since the game at that level can many times be much less than typical. In my case, it was a series of enjoyable combats, but the lack of regular difficulty was disappointing.
Not always thrilling, but a quick and easy dungeon rompPygon —
Dungeon Run takes the usual formula of exploring, fighting, looting and leveling up and adds an extra twist - after you defeat the boss and take his treasure, your character becomes the boss that everyone else must kill. The one who gets out with the boss's treasure wins.
Dungeon Run is published by Plaid Hat Games, the same company that brought us Summoner Wars, a fairly successful and popular card game. The owner also runs the Heroscapers fan site and is partially responsible for the longevity of the Heroscape product line, despite it finally being discontinued.
The game comes with a stack of dungeon room tiles with varying positions of exits. Whenever a player moves off an open exit, another tile is placed. Each tile has a random chance for an encounter and treasure to find, so each placed tile represents a new resource for someone to gain from. Characters that step into a new tile more often have more chances to be the first to snag the encounter or treasure there, but also face more exposure to risk. Each game requires that 6 tiles per player be placed before the boss lair and boss be revealed. This gives each player ample opportunity to power up and find treasure to prepare for the boss encounter (and the inevitable fights against each other).
Some tiles have special attributes that force you to roll against taking damage, or possibly causing another encounter to appear even after the tile was cleared.
Each player picks from 8 different heroes, each with their own unique set of abilities and stack of power-up cards. When a character powers up, the player always draws two power cards and discards one from the game. This allows the leveling up option a certain degree of customization. Additional pieces track hit point loss and powering up of your character's various attributes.
Randomization during fights, generation of encounters, and finding treasure is done by rolling one or more 6 sided dice (provided with the game). The randomness of the die rolls can potentially be problematic. One game I was told about lacked a lot of found treasure because of the die rolls. In the same game, the final fight was determined from the character with the boss treasure being down to 1 life facing off against a warrior that automatically deals 1 life to anyone that damages him. So the final battle turned out to be less than epic. Expect a lot of swing in how a game plays out.
There are also many opportunities for decision making that affect how the game plays for you. For instance, the players dictate the layout of the dungeon by laying tiles into empty areas they step into. This can cause the dungeon to be several different long threads, each a trail followed by different heroes, or multiple loops that would result in the boss character having multiple routes back to the entrance. During fights, you can use your successful die rolls to cause damage or block incoming attacks. You have multiple options for how to power up your character as you level. With your two action options per turn, you can move, attack, escape, search, etc. You can also choose to perform assist or sabotage actions on other players as they attempt actions with their characters. Each character has only 4 body slots with which to equip found treasure, and only one item can be in each slot.
The game is more fun with at least 3 players, fully supports 4 players and cautions that 5-6 players might make resources slim for everyone, since only 24 dungeon tiles are provided (not including the required single entrance and boss lair tiles). Single player rules are also provided, although they are presented more as accumulating a survival score rather than experiencing the full game.
While experimenting with a solo game using 3 heroes and 18 dungeon tiles, there were enough encounters to advance each hero once. I was expecting each to raise at least twice. There are enough ability cards to handle advancing a hero 4 times during the game.
The game comes with 16 normal dungeon tiles, 8 special dungeon tiles, an entrance and boss lair tile, 4 boss cards (only one of which is used each game), 4 artifact cards (one of which is the treasure gained from the boss - the others can be acquired by other specific means), a stack of encounter cards and treasure cards, 8 large hero cards, 8 unpainted gray plastic hero figures, a stack of multiple ability cards specific to each hero, ability advancement markers, life markers, a pile of small 6-sided dice, a First Player token that gives one player specific control over some aspects of the game, and 4 rule reference cards. Production value is very high - the tile stock is very thick, the cards have a nice glossy texture, and the art is attractive.
Despite the element of randomness throwing off the excitement factor, this game has potential for riveting face offs and can offer a change of pace from usual RPG dungeon crawling.
Worth getting if you want new figuresPygon —
Yet another DnD expansion for Heroscape, much to the joy of Scapers everywhere.
This set features a werewolf lord that spreads lycanthropy, an elementalist that controls elementals, a rogue that can place her own shadow tiles, some wyrmlings that can bond with each other and whose abilities match their larger more famous versions, some warforged, an iron golem, fire giant with cleave and knockback, dragonborn paladin, an ogre that can't help but attack everything around him, goblins that flank and scatter, and a mind flayer with a spear (not the iconic thin robed variety).
This set introduces new bases for the single space figures. They now fit within the 1" grids of many RPG systems. This change was made to offer figures for games other than Heroscape and increase the buying audience. However, the double-space bases are kept as is, which don't lend themselves all that well to 1" grid gaming.
You also get four new treasure glyphs: avoid leaving engagement strikes (brooch of shielding), gain 2 attack dice (belt of giant strength), teleport 10 spaces (bracers), and remove all hit zones (invisibility).
There aren't any particularly strong standouts in this set. When speculation was high and the Elementalist was known, players were clamouring to try him out with the elementals from D1, since you can use his turn to instead move and attack with 3 elementals. So an elemental army will certainly benefit from having the Elementalist in it.
I'm happy to see more additions to Heroscape, but ultimately this set left me luke warm. There is already another set slated for November 2010. Let Heroscape live on! I'm hoping the next set wows me more than this one did. Some reprints of older sets (including terrain like lava and tundra) would be very welcome.
New mechanics and treasure glyphsPygon —
WotC continues its DnD-themed Heroscape releases with Champions of the Forgotten Realms.
This set offers a fair assortment of new mechanics to bend the existing strategies of your Heroscape game. You also receive a new Treasure Glyph in each pack. Treasure glyphs were introduced the DnD Master Set. They are basically glyphs you can place on an army card, and they last permanently or are single-time use. This set offers treasure glyphs that increase movement, damage, defense, or attacks against undead.
Like the DnD Master Set, this set recycles figure molds from the DnD minis line, finishes them with different paint jobs and attaches them to Heroscape bases. Paint jobs are fair to average, nothing too spectacular - although the clear colored plastics used for the water and fire elementals are kind of neat.
New mechanics include the ability to change an area of water into passable terrain (Greater Ice Elemental), the ability to pull opponent figures from one location to another (Drow Chainfighter and Wyvern), slow the movement of opponent figures (Air Elemental), multiple attacks from one figure (Hydra), granting a form of Counterstrike to friendly figures (Torin), and the potential to damage every adjacent figure every turn (Fire Elemental). These new abilities will alter the way Heroscape is played moreso than previous sets, promoting entirely new ways to build armies.
This set comes with only 2 common squads. The rest of the figures are either common, uncommon or unique heroes. 4 treasure glyph cards and 16 figure cards make this set one of the most card-heavy releases to date. Players will likely want more of these packs to make elemental armies, especially with the promise of an elemental-summoning figure in the next small expansion.
Note: There have been reports of missing or torn cards in this expansion (you can call WotC's customer support and they will replace damaged or missing cards). I was lucky - all of my cards are accounted for in my set. However, I don't like that the cards now come in sealed plastic packs that you have to destroy instead of reusable folded, taped envelopes. I liked using the folded envelopes to store groups of cards in my own collection. Also, you won't receive any marker stickers for the Uncommon heroes in these packs like you did in the DnD Master Set.
I'm glad to see the Heroscape line continuing, but frankly I'd like to see more of the Heroscape universe expanded rather than have WotC find more ways of adapting DnD figures for Heroscape. Still, if that's what it takes for new Heroscape releases to come out, then I'll accept it, for a time.
Interesting new concepts, but not a true master set.Pygon —
I'm glad to see Heroscape is still alive and well. It is a system that has loads of potential and continues to have a strong fan following at Heroscapers.com. It's only natural since Wizards of the Coast was given control over the Heroscape brand that they should attempt to draw more attention to DnD with the release of this new "master" set. The 3 stars I give to the set are mainly only against its value, at least at its street price. It certainly could have used more terrain and a wider assortment of figures.
This set's strongest points are the new dungeon, shadow, and rock outcrop tiles, along with the new figures. The dungeon tiles provide a new look but offer no special rules on their own - some figures may gain a benefit from dungeon tiles depending on the description of their powers. The shadow tiles provide defense and can boost some figures whose powers specifically require shadow tiles. The figures consist of four adventurer style figures (fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric) along with some squad and unique villain figures (drow elves, a drow boss, troll and black dragon). The powers of the figures are very reminiscient of 4e DnD powers, which function well within the Heroscape universe. The figure types mostly feel like their DnD counterparts (the cleric heals, the rogue can flank, the troll regenerates, etc.)
The sample scenarios at the back of the rulebook are of a different style than the scenarios in other Heroscape rulebooks. The DnD scenarios act very much like a room to room dungeon crawl rather than a single long term battlefield. The new methodology behind these scenarios doesn't actually require this DnD master set to make use of it (anyone could have come up with it and applied it to other Heroscape sets), but it offers an interesting spin on how to play Heroscape more like DnD.
You don't get nearly as much terrain or figures with this set as you do the other master sets (Rise of the Valkyrie and Swarm of the Marro), but fortunately the street price of this set is less. I would say, however, that for the price, you get less in this set than the others (half as much terrain - only 2 24-hex pieces along with a multitude of smaller pieces - and less than half of the figures of RotV). Rise of the Valkyrie is still king when it comes to the first Heroscape set you should acquire, especially if you can find it for a discounted price. And where Swarm of the Marro only felt like a few heroes fighting a Marro encounter, the DnD master set is exactly that - four heroes fighting villains. You can of course add the figures to the rest of your Heroscape collection, since they are compatible with the rest of Heroscape.
The only reason to pick up more than one of this set is to get more dungeon, shadow and rock tiles, or to get more of the figures to add to your collection. If you like the new tiles and want more of them, you'll certainly want more than one of this set, given the small amount of terrain you get with it.
If you're only curious about how to play Heroscape more like DnD, then you can probably get your hands on the sample scenarios somehow without purchasing this set. (Also, check out www.playdnd.com for a PDF download of some Heroscape scenarios for this set).
In only a few short months (March 2010), a new Heroscape small expansion with 20 new figures geared towards DnD will be released.
Great intro to PFSPygon —
This scenario has some nice variety to it, and hops into the action fast. It does seem to run a bit long, however. Your mileage may vary.
Ok to try 4e with, but that's itPygon —
Looking through the adventure, there are notable editing mistakes. Some areas are mis-referenced, important squares for traps aren't marked, and the 2nd map for whatever reason is inverted with north facing down.
The combats themselves range from average to downright deadly. I highly recommend an optimized party with all the roles covered, and they should be 2nd level before the final fight (It looked easy from a read-through, but if the players don't quickly adapt, it turns bad real fast).
The layout of the map doesn't make it very easy for players to avoid one particular hazard that will leave them severely under-equipped for the final fight. My own mistakes running the scenario allowed them to avoid this fate, but the final battle still resulted in a TPK (they were only 1st level).
In short, if you want to try out 4e, there is little regret in the price if you're willing to sort out the adventure's errors and other confusions, change the map and situations a bit, and are willing to tolerate some potentially badly balanced encounters (or at least, the scaling suggestions were off) for the sake of getting used to the system.
Not a bad set, but Master Set 1 is better.Pygon —
Master Set 2 will introduce you to HeroScape, but it does so in a very different way than Master Set 1 does.
First of all, all of the "enemy" figures are Marro - skinless aliens of various types (some humanoid, some dog-like and one giant).
The set also comes with 5 additional Hero type figures, almost making this set resemble an encounter between the heroes and the Marro. Players are welcome of course to mix and match their choices for armies, but mixing them for the sake of variety throws off the sense of theme for the set and makes for an odd game. If you already have other HeroScape expansions or Master Set #1, then you are probably already expecting to mix all the figures together for selection.
Next, Master Set 2 is the first master set that has "Common" figures (armies you can draft multiples of in your force), unlike Master Set 1, which only has "Unique" heroes and squads.
Master Set 2 also has a Marro Hive - a large, stationary, living terrain object that serves as part of your army. So far, no other HeroScape product has this type of figure.
Finally, Master Set 2 adds swamp tiles, which is similar to water except that it doesn't slow down movement. Master Set 2 also adds a few more glyphs to the game.
Master Set 2 is a fine addition to the HeroScape game and provides some nice figures to add to your collection, but if you're new to HeroScape, then I HIGHLY recommend acquiring Master Set 1 first. It has slightly more terrain and a vastly greater sampling of figures to introduce yourself to the game's range.
A great Warhammer-light style gamePygon —
If you like minis wargames, rolling dice, using stat cards, and getting creative with terrain, this game may be for you. It actually has a rich history of games which came before it that inspired its final design.
In this starter set, you'll get agents, a dinosaur and dragon, vikings, robots, samurai, WW2 soldiers, and aliens, both in squad and hero form. It's a nice mix of figures that give you a good sampling to demonstrate what the overall game is like. They are prepainted and nicely detailed. You also get a decent amount of terrain to build your own maps and duke it out against other players.
Dice are used both to attack and defend. Height gives you an advantage. Climbing terrain will slow you down, and falling too far can harm you. Water will also slow you down. Each hero or squad has different values for movement, range, attack, defense, and life. Most also have special abilities, such as the Deathwalker's explosive attack that affects figures in a group, an agent hero's strong melee attack against adjacent opponents, the agent squad's ability to dodge a ranged attack with fewer defense successes, and the dragon's flame breath that affects up to 8 figures in a straight line. Glyphs can be placed on the battlefield to provide additional bonuses when they are captured.
This master set is only the starting point, as there are many expansion sets with extra terrain (castle, lava, tundra, forest, jungle) and figures available (Waves 1-8 of small expansions and 3 large figure expansions have been released). Visit HeroScapers.com to get an idea of what you're in for!