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Updated 10/16 - Before Heroscape
So I'm updating again. Since I hope updating will be a regular thing, I am going to make the latest edition of stuff to this article in blue text, so people can browse to the stuff they haven't seen before...
I have little doubt that there are members of this board who know a lot of this information better than I. If that is you then I would love to hear your input regarding the following story. Where I can I will incorporate your knowledge into this first post and perhaps put together a comprehensive history.
For the benefit of the younger/more novice players or simply our curious members who never considered the history behind the game, I thought I would do a brief exploration of the games that set the stage for Heroscape to exist.
Our adventure actually starts around 1983. Prior to that date, a man named Robert Harris thought up a board game wherein the players were children and the goal was to become the prefect of the school. Eventually the theme of the game was changed to fantasy, and the idea was sold to Games Workshop. In this game you took on the role of an adventurer acquiring experience and gold. In the first edition of the game the goal was to defeat the other players, but later the goal became to be the first player to defeat the Dragon King.
Many of you know that I am taking about Talisman, a widely popular game now on its 4th edition and sporting a large array of expansions. The game is important to our history because it marks Games Workshop's foray into the world of adventure-based board games, rather than the typical minis style game they are famous for.
Of particular importance to our history are the mini's themselves. For the most part, they were simply minis taken right out of Warhammer fantasy, so we can actually place part of the history of Heroscape right there in Warhammer itself. Much to my chagrin, I do not own an older copy of Talisman with which to display pictures.
Above are the first 3 editions of Talisman.
Above is a picture of some of the minis from my own 4th edition. The Chaos Knight is from the back of the box of an earlier edition as it was deemed to powerful and eliminated from the latest version.
Now we have to flash forward a bit to 1989. Stephen Baker, then an employee of the UK division of Milton Bradley, created a game well known to many of us called HeroQuest. This was a cooperative game where up to 4 players worked in unison to beat scenarios run by a 'dungeon master' of sorts, who controlled the NPCs. The game was released in North America in 1990 and with a slightly different version in 1992. It also spawned seven distinct expansions.
Above is a picture of one of the player cards. There seems to be some familiar aspects to it, don’t you think?
HeroQuest was, again, developed with the aid of Games Workshop, as they were responsible (no surprise) for the creation of the minis.
Above is a picture of the complete 1st edition set.
Above are some compares with Talisman minis, these are from my own from the 2nd edition.
Here is an interesting one... a skeleton NPC... now look at this...
The skeleton seems to be of particular importance when we compare it to an image of one of the Beta versions of Heroscape (provided by Malechi). Take a look at the picture on the card close-up. Interesting...
And speaking of that old picture (looking at the game box), above is a picture of the minotaur from Talisman and the orc from
HeroQuest. Yeah, maybe it's a stretch.
Besides the minis the dice are of great importance to our history. They were six sided and made of wood that was etched and painted. 3 sides featured a skull, 2 sides had white shields on them, and 1 side had a black (or NPC) shield on them. Heroes and NPCs rolled the dice for attack and defense. Skulls were hits. White shields were blocks for heroes. Black shields were blocks for NPCs. Sounding familiar?
Also, above is the Character Sheet for HeroQuest.
HeroQuest went on to spawn another game called Advanced HeroQuest which was basically the same thing but with a new dungeon and new adventures. Interestingly, the common bad guys in Advanced Heroscape were Skaven, a popular army in Warhammer Fantasy and one of the adventurer choices in Talisman.
Above is a picture of the resplendent beauty of the dice in question.
Another game in the same vein was Battlemasters (released in 1992), also designed by Stephen Baker and played on a large vinyl map. This game was also developed with Games Workshop and simulated the kind of play involved in Warhammer Fantasy, though in a simplistic card-based system.
Above: Advanced HeroQuest (boardgamegeek)
Above is a picture of the Battlemasters set (boargamegeek).
The dice in Battlemasters took a cue from HeroQuest. They were red 6 sided with 2 skulls and 1 shield on each (boardgamegeek).
The following information comes to us courtesy of Elstree. See the original post on page 3 for more pictures and Elstree’s take on it all. Thank you for your contribution, without it I would have never had a clue about this important historical link.
While still in the UK, Stephen Baker worked with Roger Ford to create Die Schlacht der Dinosaurier (Battle of the Dinosaurs) only released in Europe in 1993.
The Battle of the Dinosaurs box (this pic and those below from boardgamegeek).
“In this game armies of mounted dinosaurs duked it out for supremacy. The game used a Battlemasters-like card mechanic for unit activations and included oddly numbered dice for combat resolution. Lava balls thrown into a central volcano allowed for rerolls. The miniatures featured dinosaur-mounted warriors, reminiscent of HeroScape's own dinosaur-mounted orcs:” –Elstree
All the dinosaurs in the set.
“I think it's safe to assume that figures like Grimnak and Tornak were included in HeroScape as an homage to this earlier Stephen Baker creation. (Compare especially the red T-rex in the photos to Grimnak and the smaller green velociraptor to Tornak.)” –Elstree
Gimnak and the T-rex.
Tornak and the raptor.
My guess is the next mounted orc we see is going to be on that Stegosaurus and have a defense roll of 9.And while we are exploring all the background we can of Stephen Baker, there is one more (rather) tenuous link that we have to make. In 2001, under the Avalon Hill brand name Steve and Rob Daviau worked together with Axis & Allies master guru Lawrence Harris to create Axis & Allies Pacific. I will certainly not make the argument that A&A had a direct influence on the creation of Heroscape, I am simply pointing out that Steve and Rob have some WWII gaming experience in their background. If that was one of their inspirations for deciding that Heroscape would be a “Battle of All Time” I would not be surprised.
Milton Bradley, of course, was taken over by Hasbro back in 1984, back near the beginning of our story. Stephen Baker brought with him his experience and strong influence from these previous games after he started working with the main division of the company and worked with Craig Van Ness and Rob Daviau to develop and release the original Master Set in 2004, almost a decade after HeroQuest.
Infantry from Axis and Allies (boardgamegeek) and Airborne Elite
Those interesting facts about Stephen Baker aside, let’s turn our attention to some of the equally interesting history of Craig Van Ness and Rob Daviau. In 2001 they cooperated to release Risk 2210 under the Avalon Hill license, which was purchased by Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast. This game was (not surprisingly) like regular Risk in many ways, but it took place on a future Earth (as well as the moon). Besides the land territories, there were underwater cities to take over as well. One of these cities was called Microcorp. Underwater… water suits… see where I’m going with this?
The 2nd edition set of Risk 2210, owned by Kahlenar, who pointed out the Microcorp link to me months ago.
Those might be Microcorp agents on the cover, even. Look at these guys…
The game board of Risk 2210, showing where Microcorp is.
Gorthan131 points out: "Interestingly enough, the Microcorp have water bonuses, and, in Risk 2210 AD, you need a Naval Commander (an extreme Microcorp look-alike) to access the water territories in Risk 2210..."
And here is a close-up even.
So that is definitely some sort of link. From the Heroscape Compendium:
The Naval Commander has a lot in common with a Microcorp Agent
"Agent Carr is the strong, silent type who asks few questions, and answers even fewer. Carr was summoned from New York in the year 2210 just as he was about to eat a candy bar. Many people have asked how Carr would have been destroyed while eating a Candy Bar. No, the Candy Bar was not poisoned. In reality, Carr’s arch rivals, the Twilight Clan were hidden throughout his apartment, ready to pounce under orders from their shadowy leader Isamu. (ROTV, HV, OCT)"
My conclusion, therefore, is that Carr, Isamu, the Krav Maga, and the Microcorp agents are all actually from the world of Risk 2210, Craig and Rob’s tribute to one of their earlier games.
But we’re not done yet!
In 2003, Craig Van Ness and Stephen Baker worked together with the Milton Bradley brand to release a game called Battle Ball. This board game was basically football from the future, where cybernetic players would destroy one another in order to score touchdowns. You may be wondering… “how the heck is Aeston going to link this back to Heroscape?” Well, I’ll let the pictures do the talking for me.
The Battle Ball game.
“Man, your claw is bigger than mine…”
“That’s right, buddy, reach for the stars with that thing…”
“Hey, come back here and let me check out those shoulder pads!”
“Man, don’t you just love being a double space… I mean hex figure?”
Despite a lot of similarity in model design, the game doesn’t have any real similarity in play to Heroscape. It is a lot of fun though, and it was only $10 last Christmas. Regardless, even though the game itself isn’t really like Heroscape, some of you may already be saying… “hey I know of another game like that…”
"I also believe that most people associate the quaterback in the bottom image with the Dumutef Guard." - soberman
You’re thinking of Blood Bowl, of course, the Football board game released by Games Workshop in 1986, then in several other expansions and versions up through 2004. Again, the goal of this game was to score touchdowns while mercilessly beating your opponents. The game played a lot like a Warhammer game, but when I played Battle Ball for the first time, it really felt a lot like I had dusted off an old Blood Bowl set and was playing that with simplified and more logical rules.
First Edition box from boardgamegeek.
The board from Blood Bowl (from boardgamegeek)...
And here is the one from Battle Ball to compare...
So who can really say if Craig and Stephen got their inspiration from this tried and true football gorefest, but it’s not a bad educated guess as far as I’m concerned. And with that link, I bring the story back to Games Workshop where I decided to start it off. All history is cyclical, right? Someone back me up here.
Figures from the 1988 second edition (boardgamegeek).
The following information comes to us from Hex Induction Hour who, himself, got pointed to the info by Necroblade, so full credit to them.
Our good friend Craig Van Ness worked on many games, of course, and as I mentioned, pulled influence from many of them into Heroscape. But before we can go foreward here, we have to go backwards.
Most people here are, no doubt, familiar with Stratego. But we have to turn the time table back even further here to talk about the inspiration for that game. So we'll start by talking about Jungle, otherwise known as Animal Chess, a game that originated in China over a century ago.
In Jungle the pieces were different types of jungle animals and higher ranked animals were able to 'capture' lower ranked ones. Between that and the board design the link to modern Stratego is obvious.
The import of Jungle to the Western World happened first in 1908 by Mdm. Hermance Edan on France where she created a game called "L Attaque". This game was further adapted when it was brought to America in 1961 By a man named Mogendorff. Milton Bradley published the original game, made with wooden titles. From that humble beginning, Stratego has stood the test of time, graphically redesigned every few years and with many thematic offshoots that use the same basic game mechanic.
A typical Jungle board set up (wikimedia).
A more recent version of L'attaque (boardgamegeek).
So now that we've set the stage of history, we can go back to our link to Heroscape. In 1999, Craig Van Ness designed a fantasy-based version of Stratego called Stratego Legends through Avalon Hill. In this game we see many ideas form that would eventually find their way into Heroscape.
A less recent version of Stratego (wikimedia).
The Stratego Legends box. Something feels oddly familiar about those logos, huh?(boardgamegeek).
Chief amongst the similarities to Heroscape is the fact that there are six thematic armies that players can choose from. Each army had a heraldic crest, and a color associated with it. Those colors: red, blue, green, grey, purple, and yellow. The sides were also split into good and evil alliances. Red, grey and purple make up the evil side while blue, green, and yellow is the good one.
Set up of Stratego Legends (boardgamegeek).
There is also a very strong link to Heroscape if we look at some of the individual characters in those armies. Following are some of the best examples.
The six Stratego Legends armies. Color theory anyone? (boardgamegeek).
I think Sir Gilbert made a good choice getting rid of that mustache.
Lord Esenwien here looks a bit less green and is using more product in his hair.
Its a bit hard to see, but this elf is named Aubry. Are our current squads just her fanboys?
Kiova got a nice upgrade, as she is no longer an ugly insect of any variety.
And how does this good-aligned winged horned thing named Tael relate to good 'ol Taelord? We'll have to wait for the Real Hollywood Story.
A rather significant part of the story, all things considered. Thanks again to HEH and Necroblade!
The following information comes to us courtesy of Finrod. For his original post see the bottom of page 3. Thank you for this important link in the chain!
“Long, long ago, I brought up the similarity between various Samurai units with the old Milton Bradley Gamemaster Series game Shogun, later renamed Samurai Swords” - Finrod
Indeed, as Finrod stated, in 1986 (followed by a few updated versions all the way up through 2006), the Milton Bradley brand produced a game in their Gamemaster Series called Shogun, renamed (somewhat inelegantly) to Samurai Swords later on due to a name conflict. This game is of particular interest to us when we look at the blog entry belonging to designer Wayne Yee at the heroscape.com. He cited this game specifically as one of his past projects which he brought with him into Heroscape.
From his post: “While I’m no real expert on samurai armies, I am familiar with the samurai warrior and their way of life, having researched this topic waaaay back when I was designing the figures (actual look) for the original Shogun Gamemaster game by Milton Bradley Co. that was designed by Michael Gray. I read several well-written books on the subject that covered the samurai in-depth and visited the Springfield MA Museum, which actually has an excellent collection of samurai weapons and armor.” – Wayne Yee
A photo of the first version of the game before it was renamed. This photo and those pasted below from boardgamegeek.
The set up of the game.
In this game you take on the roll of one of several factions during a civil war in Japan, attempting to defeat the other players by creating strongholds. The game specifically features samurai swordsmen and archers, ashigaru spearman and gunners, standard bearers, ninja, ronin, and daimyos. The play mechanic is through twelve-sided dice.
Again, I will let the pictures do the talking.
"So you're saying I should crouch so I'm a smaller target?"
"You have to put a little more elbow into it, like this!"
"Dramatic pose... go!"
"you call THAT a banner?"
"Man, I'm glad you're not released yet... you would kick my ass!" (card picture from Gungebob)
“The only unit from Samurai Swords not represented in Heroscape thus far are the Ronin."
"Hmmm.... Wayne Yee also mentioned that the last unit he would like to add is the Ronin...” – Finrod
It’s hard to deny that we are currently in the age of miniatures. While they have existed for 30 or more years as a staple of certain role playing/board games, they have only recently become a part of mass market gaming overall. Pick up any board game from Fantasy Flight, Mayflower, Avalon Hill… you’re much more likely to see finely sculpted miniatures than cardboard chits in stands.
Somewhere along the line, companies decided that it was worth casting minis in their games to create a superior product. Good news all around. But some games go beyond simply having minis, they have them painted as well. Heroscape is, in part, popular because of the high production values that go into the components.
So if we are exploring all the background influences of Heroscape in depth, we have to give a nod to a company called Wizkids, who were the first to prove that pre-painted miniatures on a mass scale was not only economically feasible, but really a profitable way to run a game.
Wizkids was founded in 2000, when it released its first game, Mage Knight. Mage Knight works like a lot of miniature games, you draft an army worth a certain number of points. Movement and combat is similar to traditional miniatures games, using rulers to measure distance and six sided dice to determine success in attacking. The trademark base dial keeps track of a myriad of statistics for the unit, many of which can change throughout the game… the clicking noise made as the base is turned gave these miniatures their common name, “clix”.
The Mage Knight Unlimited starter set (toymania)
Some early figures (toymania)
Mage Knight was the first of several “clix” games that followed the Mage Knight model, blind booster packs of pre-painted minis. Heroclix, MechWarrior, Horroclix, Haloclix… the list is impressively long. WizKids definitely hit on a business model that works. It’s worth mentioning, of course, that WizKids provides Heroscape customs creators with a myriad of nicely painted possibilities.
Heroclix, Mechwarrior, and Haloclix figures
The painted minis trend had only just begun after Mage Knight, however. In 2003 Wizards of the Coast, already owned by Hasbro and having already acquire Dungeons and Dragons from TSR, launched their own miniatures game set in the normal D&D universe (Greyhawk). Playing the D&D miniatures game feels very much like playing D&D itself (after edition 3.0, I mean). This comes as little surprise, as the WotC released version of D&D had well defined miniature rules in it in the first place.
WotC did blind booster packs for the D&D miniatures. Hard to blame them, since they more or less reinvented (if not invented) the concept of collectable games with Magic: The Gathering back in 1993 (so as a side note we can retrace some of Heroscape’s history to Magic as well).
Dungeons and Dragons miniatures (wikipedia)
The Dungeon’s and Dragon’s miniatures game was immensely profitable and is currently WotC’s second most popular product (second only to Magic, itself). I am going to make an assumption, therefore, that the success of this product was proof to Hasbro that painted miniatures games were a viable product. If they weren’t already sold on producing Heroscape at this point, I have little doubt that the success of this game was a contributing factor to Heroscape’s release a year later.Heroscape, no doubt, has a great wealth of stories regarding its specific development and the great minds that came together to make it all possible. Many of our members know those stories much better than I, so I would not presume to tell them. Therefore I will end my history lesson here, for what it is worth. I hope you enjoyed the brief walk down memory lane.
For LOLs Only
In my research I come across some things that in no way can be actual links back to Heroscape but are still pretty funny. I decided I would make a little section at the bottom and show them off down here just for laughs.
In 1995, Craig Van Ness produced a game under the Goosebumps license called Terror in the Graveyard. The game featured a spooky ghost as the main bad guy. Inspiration for the Shades in Heroscape? I think not.
The ghost from Goosebumps (boardgamegeek) and a Shade. Spooooooky!
I'm adding another LOLs after several months of inactivity... at least I hope I am. Somewhere in the deep and unexplored reaches of my psyche, part of me thinks there might be some merit to this latest link of Heroscape history. I await the judgment of the community for bringing what are perhaps the darkest of shadows to light...
If you will allow me for a moment to re-display one of my images from the beginning of the thread...
An early prototype of Heroscape. See above for details.(provided by Malechi)
Here is the thing. Something about that box art always bothered me. There was an eerie familiarity to the scene. Something about the fact that a human, orc, and minotaur are standing side by side. Something about the art style.
Only recently did I dare to investigate my grim inclinations of what I might actually be seeing.
Zooming in on that orc. Something... so familiar... did we meet in a
previous life? Is it deja vu? So many confused feelings...
I decided to google up some orc concept art and look what I found...
An old desktop background put out in the early days of
World of Warcraft (copyright reads 2004).
Lets zoom in here, just for emphasis.
Okay now scroll back and forth a little bit, there. Heroscape box. WoW screen. Heroscape box. WoW screen.
Now I know what you're thinking. "Aeston, you're crazy. Its completely stereotypical for an orc to carry an axe. And wear a top-knot. And have red pauldrons with spikes. Everyone makes orcs like that!"
Well perhaps so. And I thought I was crazy too. Then I dug a little deeper. I had to turn the clock back earlier than wow. I searched for desktop backgrounds from the era of Warcraft III! Here is what I found.
A desktop background put out during the days of Warcraft III. The
copyright in the corner reads 2001, Blizzard Entertainment.
So there it is. The image from the box. And with the recovery of this source image there is only one conclusion a reasonable, level-headed Heroscaper can make.
Blizzard owns us all.
But hey, at least they hit "select-all" "flip-horizontal" before they put it on the box. That threw me off their trail for years!
Last edited by Aeston : October 16th, 2009 at 12:37 AM. Reason: A New LOLs
6 RoTV, 3 SotM, 3 RttFF, 3 FotA, 3 VW, 3 TT, 3 TJ.
At least 3 of every common, 1 of every unique.
Before Heroscape: The History that Lead to our Game
Re: Before Heroscape
Nicely done Aeston.
117th Boston Marathon: Monday, April 15th, 2013.
Goal: 3:30:00 Actual: 3:39:41
Next Race: Boston's Run to Remember 5/26 - Half Marathon
Re: Before Heroscape
Nice. I sure would like to see a documentary on this info sometime. Has that ever been done?
Re: Before Heroscape
Very neat. Good job.
Record Count Since First Tourney
Wins 39 Losses 44 Last Match: Rozencraft, loss for me
Re: Before Heroscape
Wow! This was incredibly informative for its length, and provided some well put together background information on the game we all love to play. The pictures really helped you to make specific points, as well as create a flare to your post.
All in all, thumbs up, *and rep up*, on this post!
Re: Before Heroscape
That was very intersting post, I am looking foward to more of this background coming to see the light of day.
Re: Before Heroscape
I just threw away 2 original Heroquest sets along with 4 expansion packs last month.
I knew there was some semblance to Heroscape but never made the full connection until now.
Battlemasters was a great game too, especially with the canon. Speaking of which, Heroscape needs a cannon and some other large weapon figures.
"So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" -James 2:17,19
Against Lust: An online resource for men seeking to overcome lust and pornography
Re: Before Heroscape
This is interesting. I've played that game before. It was a good read.
All Heroscape unit cards total: 19,345 points
Average/Card (208 ): 93 points
Average/Figure (361): 53.58 points
Re: Before Heroscape