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What's in an Order Marker? (D1, D2, and D3 up)
What’s in an Order Marker?
This is a classification of order marker usage in Heroscape- another factor to consider when forming an army beyond basic synergy and unit strength. It is somewhat similar to Agatagary’s classification of units: but instead of focusing on cost, it focuses on turn productivity. It is also inspired by the work of spider_poison, gamjuven, UPC, and many others in their discussion of competitive armies.
Warm colors describe units on which you will place the majority of your order markers.
Cool colors describe units that are good even when they don't take many turns.
Purple and dark red describe units somewhere in between.
Black units should be avoided when making pre-made armies.
Bread and Butter
These are the types of squads on which you never regret putting an order marker. You get a lot out of each turn, and they are usually durable enough to see their next one. In the case of bonding units, it is usually assumed that you’ll use the appropriate supporting players (i.e. Krug and Swogs for Arrow Gruts, appropriate Champions for Knights and Gruts, etc.) It is not uncommon for you to spend all three of your turns on (or build armies around) units like these. Beginning with Master Set 2, Marvel, and Wave 8, we are also starting to see some heroes who function similarly- these heroes will from the core of your army and dispense their orders to swarms of commons or lesser heroes.
Examples: Arrow Gruts, Axegrinders of Burning Forge, Blade Gruts, Valiant 4th. Massachusetts Line, 10th Regiment of Foot, Blastatrons, Capuan Gladiators, Heavy Gruts, Knights of Weston, Roman Legionnaires, Sacred Band, Greenscale Warriors, Goblin Cutters, Fire Elemental
Core heroes: Kurrok the Elementalist, Kato Katsuro, Ulginesh, Marro Hive, Red Skull
Uses: Build an army around these guys: they can do it all. Get more of them (at least 2-3 of the same common squads.) They don't work well in conjunction with Sharks (discussed below.) They work great with Cheerleaders.
These units are better seen and not heard. You might put an order marker or two on them in the early rounds to get them into position, but after that, they really don’t give you all that much out of a turn. They also usually have some sort of powerful aura that makes them actually useful without a single order marker on them! You should do your best to defend them, as your opponent will often try to ambush them. These units won’t kill their points-worth most of the time, but they will enable others to do much more.
Examples: Atlaga, Raelin, Laglor, Taelord, Venoc Warlord, Mogrimm Forgehammer, Kyntela Gwyn, Sonya Esenwein, Nakita Agents, Estivara, Torin, Hatamoto Taro, Omnicron Repulsors (with snipers)
Cheerleaders that bond: Marcus Decimus Gallus, Thorgrim, Finn, Sir Gilbert, Nerak, Ornak, Swog Rider, Spartacus, Khosumet the Darklord
Uses: These fit in well with any army that they can apply their bonuses to. Just make sure to pick up enough units to actually go out and kill stuff for you.
Very simliar in order marker usage to Cheerleaders, but the main difference is that you want them to draw fire. That’s what they do best. If a Squad, they make great glyph-securers, and map controllers. If a Hero, engage the biggest thing you see.
Examples: Deathreavers, Brunak, Tandros Kreel, Concan, Warriors of Ashra, Izumi Samurai, Marro Dividers, Tarn Viking Warriors, Gladiatrons, Sentinels of Jandar, Marrden Hounds, Marcu Esenwein, Earth Elemental, Rhogar Dragonspine, Siege, Frost Giant of Morh
Defenders that also bond: Valguard, Charos, an unwounded Krug, Sir Denrick, Ne-Gok-Sa
Uses: Your goal when using this type of unit isn't to run around killing everything. It's to force your opponent to waste turns attacking them instead of your more vulnerable and/or dangerous figures, like Sharks, Cheerleaders, any ranged units, or Menacers (discussed below).
These units appear at first to be identical in use to Bread and Butter units. They have lots of power and/or range, and they usually aren’t a waste of an order marker. However, the main difference between them and BB units is that you have to keep putting order markers on them: they have to keep moving or they die. They’re usually one or more of the following: unique, low defense, or expensive point-wise. They have an uncanny knack for drawing attention: once you activate them, you’ve gotta keep activating them and see how much havoc they can wreak.
Examples: Airborne Elite, Aubrien Archers, Jotun, Cyprien Esenwein, Zelrig, Zombies of Morindan, Fyorlag Spiders, Armoc Vipers, Wolves of Badru, Othkurik the Black Dragon, Marro Drones, MacDirk Warriors, Omnicron Snipers, The Einar Imperium, Kozuke Samurai, Grok Riders, Templar Cavalry, Venoc Vipers, Iskra Esenwein and her Rechets, Deathchasers of Thesk, Ashigaru Yari/Harquebus, Non-Valiant 4th Mass, Deathwalkers on a bad day
Sharks that also bond: Alastair MacDirk, Mimring, Darrak Ambershard, Retiarius, Wo-Sa-Ga, Wyvern, Ogre Pulverizer, Ice Troll Berserker, Werewolf Lord, Moltenclaw, Nilfheim, Braxas, Su-Bak-Na, Sujoah, Venoc Warlord, a severely wounded Krug
Uses: These work well with Defenders first, and then Menacers and Cheerleaders about equally. Use the Defenders to tie up your enemies and allow the Sharks to choose their prey. Sharks and Menacers can both act as decoys for each other; pay attention to which group your opponent seems to focus on more and exploit that point. Cheerleaders might make them actually stand around for a bit longer than you think. Additionally, it is also important to note that Sharks do not make very good glyph holders. They need to take advantage of their mobility and attack values. Sitting in one place is a waste, and a common mistake when using Airborne Elite.
Your opponent treats these units very much like Order Marker Sharks. They see them, and they do everything they can to kill them. The big difference is that these guys can actually take the punishment. Menacers combine high offense with high defense: this means that an order marker on them is not a waste, but you also don’t need to worry about them getting taken out exceptionally quickly. These guys are an excellent place to drop your X. I suppose the only real difference between these guys and BB units is the amount of fear they seem to bring out in opponents despite the fact that they often have fewer attacks than BB's.
Examples: Major Q9, Marro Stingers, Minions of Utgar, Tagawa Samurai Archers, Phantom Knights, Fen Hydra, Water Elemental, Shurrak, Warforged Soldiers, Death Knights of Valkrill, Mezzodemon Warmongers, Horned Skull Brutes, Mohican River Tribe, Protectors of Ullar, Granite Guardians, Quasatch Hunters, Deepwyrm Drow, Ninjas of the Northern Wind, Krav Maga Agents, Deathwalkers on a good day
Menacers who also bond: Krug- most of the time, Tor-Kul-Na, Ogre Warhulk, Crixus, Migol Ironwill, Grimnak, Sir Hawthorne, Sir Denrick slaying Giants
Uses: Similar to Sharks, only that they aren't as reliant on Defenders to be functional. They can make decent glyph-holders in a pinch.
These are usually single-based, ranged heroes that you just sit in the back and hope your opponent simply doesn’t notice them, or isn’t able to reach them until very late in the game. They don’t have enough attacks to be useful early on because they’d get taken out by enemy squads, but late in the game, they’re able to pick apart the survivors with alarming alacrity. They play very much like Sharks, but the key is just to wait until later on to use them.
Examples: Kaemon Awa, Marro Warriors, Syvarris, Major Q10, Sonlen, Guilty McCreech, Isamu, Sahuagin Raider, Greater Ice Elemental, Heirloom, Mika Connour, Mind Flayer Mastermind, Master of the Hunt, Eltahale, Evar Scarcarver, Tagawa Samurai, Zetacron, Zettian Guards, , Concan in a Valiant 4th army, Charos (in valiant army), Pelloth, Othkurik, Feral Troll, Sgt. Drake Alexander (both), Sir Dupuis, Iskra Esenwein (post or sans-Rechets)
Cleanup units that also bond: Me-Burq-Sa, Tornak, Arkmer, Jorhdawn, Brave Arrow
Uses: Depending on points, they can work well in nearly any army. Just try to keep them alive until it's their time to shine. Defenders and/or a sturdy Bread and Butter force are a plus.
Heroes, heroes, everywhere, and not a squad to bond! These are usually heroes that just don’t do enough on their turn to warrant an order marker (or points). These are the types of units that can be very useful in the right situation, but they are always a risk. If they ever add a unit that bonds with these guys, watch out! The squads mentioned are usually terrain specific or just kind of make you wonder why you spent an order marker on them. However, as an astute Top Chef contestant once put it it: "Sometimes, there's a fine line between being competitive, and just being an [abrasive individual that nobody really likes]." Don't be afraid to use these units with your friends; many of them are quite fun and interesting. Being put in this category isn't necessarily saying a figure is 'bad.' Some, like Theracus or Emiroon, can be extremely useful in the right situation, but their powers aren't directly related to beneficial auras, powerful attacks, or protecting other units, and their powers still require order markers to use.
Examples: Kee-Mo-Shi, Theracus, Major X-17, Sudema, Agent Carr, DŁnd, Deadeye Dan, Dumutef Guard, Obsidian Guards, Dzu Teh, Erevan Sunshadow, Tul-Bak-Ra, Deathstalkers, Shades of Bleakewoode, Gorillinators, Marro Drudge, Moriko, Kumiko, Otonashi, Brandis Skyhunter, Sharwin Wildborn, Air Elemental, Drow Chainfighter, Wyrmlings, Iron Golem
Niche units that pseudo-bond: Morsbane, Emiroon, Runa
Uses: These are best used in casual games, or as a counter-draft to certain picks. DED works great against Minions of Utgar and Deathwalker 7k for example. Morsbane against Krug, Major X-17 v. Cyprien, Gorillinators against some guy who forgot his Swog Riders, etc...
People often forget order marker usage when designing an army. This is the main reason that people suggest using at least two of any common squad: most become an absolute waste if you only field one squad-they just don’t justify the point investment, and become a huge risk for order markers. Bread and Butter units work well when you just get a ton of them and weigh your opponent down with figures, with perhaps some cheerleader support. Additionally, taking an army with a ton of Cleanup figures and Sharks is doomed to failure if you don’t adequately protect it with some Defenders and/or Cheerleaders.
To illustrate these points, I’ll show some rough 500 point armies and how you might improve them. Visually, good armies should have a good mix of warm and cool colors.
Cleanup on Aisle Q9
Major Q9 (Menacer)
Kaemon Awa (Cleanup)
Krav Maga Agents (Menacer, possible Shark)
This army has some great ranged units, but they lack the support they need to really shine.
Improved A: Q9 with Support (mattser’s GenCon 2007 tournament winner)
Major Q9 (Menacer)
Krav Maga Agents (Menacer)
The question when fighting this army isn’t “Can I take out Q9?” It’s, “Can I take out Q9 backed up by all of that crap?!”
Improved B :Cleanup and Sharks + Defenders (Rˇchean’s 2nd place army GC 2007)
Kaemon Awa (Cleanup)
Marro Warriors (Cleanup)
Krav Maga Agents (Menacer)
Airborne Elite (Shark)
3x Deathreavers (Defender)
The Deathreavers in this army really take out a lot of the risk that you take when fielding unique units. (Unless your d20 decides to screw you on The Drop.)
I like ORCS!!111!
1x Arrow Gruts (BB)
1x Heavy Gruts (BB)
1x Blade Gruts (BB)
These are all great units, but getting one of each common just doesn’t do any of them justice. The order marker problem here is just having too many choices, none of which are very good.
Arrow Grut army (Truth):
3x Arrow Gruts (BB)
4x Swog Rider (Cheerleader, bonds)
Mimring (Shark, bonds)
Krug (Menacer, bonds)
4x Heavy Gruts
2 Successful 400 point armies of the past:
The New Republic (thanks to UPC)
Marcus Decimus Gallus (Cheerleader, bonds)
2x Roman Legion (BB,Defender)
2x 4th Massachusetts Line (BB, Shark)
Me-Burq-Sa (Cleanup, bonds)
Although I don’t mention much about synergy in the majority of this piece, this army has a lot of it. Marcus is a very effective cheerleader for this army. There are 2 very useful common squads that work well with each other. The Romans tie up the enemy while the minutemen and MBS pick them apart. The Romans and 4th. Mass also show that some units may bleed across different categories when used in conjunction with each other. Melee BB units play a little more like defenders, and ranged ones like sharks. This army was highly successful before points rose to 500 and Q9 became a staple of the tournament scene.
Raelin and the Twelve Orcs [and a troll] (Thanks to spider poison)
Raelin (quite possibly the best Cheerleader)
3x Arrow Gruts (BB)
3x Swog Rider (Cheerleader, bonds)
Krug (bonds, Menacer)
This army takes the effective arrow grut army and makes it harder to kill. It won GenCon in 2006.
(After looking over the winning GenCon armies from the last two years, I see that they tend to be a little bluer than most. Perhaps defense wins championships in Heroscape too? It also explains to me why until the Marro Stingers and the rest of SotM arrived, an all Marro army was very difficult to make work: they're almost all sharks!)
For fun's sake, I'll add the NHSD 2007 champs' armies in this post with my color classifications:
spider_poison's "Tree Town Tyranny"
4x Marro Stingers 240
2x Deathreavers 320
Raelin (RotV) 400
Kaemon Awa 520
Revdyer's "I messed with Texas"
4x 4th. Massachusetts Line 280
2x Sentinels of Jandar 500
Vydar's Florida Frenzy winner
2x Gladiatrons 160
2x Blastatrons 280
Major Q10 430 (out of 440, but he stayed under to stick to one general)
[I'll start looking for the battle reports for some of the other winners momentarily. If I skip you, feel free to PM me or reply to the thread.]
For additional information, be sure to check out the following articles and resources:
UranusPChicago's discussion of Order Markers
spider_poison's Heroscape Power Rankings
gamjuven's Idiot's Guide to Making a Competitive Army
Revdyer's list of dnutt99, Firemaster, rdhight, scorpiusx, Fallen Templar, and Menchy's carefullly catalogued Books of Heroscape
GaryLASQ's site with lots of cool stuff: http://heroscape.glasq.com/
For tips on how to best use many of the 'Niche' units, head over to the Unit Strategy Review Index
If you liked this, be sure to check out my other one about order markers. I've now added an order marker Q&A portion, which I intend to update when and if I get any Q's.
If you are a new player with a limited collection and would still like to put together some dangerous armies, take a look at my Cheap, but effective armies thread.
For a discussion of what these Order Marker classifications might mean for the future design of Heroscape, or good customs, take a look at OM III.
For some information about how these same classifications might change based on a variety of factors, check out OM IV
If you like my writing, and would like to subscribe to my newsletter... er... blog, check it out.
At Necroblade's request, here's a comprehensive list of all of the classic units released as of Wave 9. A * next to unit indicates common status. A + indicates a hero that bonds with a squad.
Bread and Butter
[Valiant] 4th Mass. Line (70*)
10th Regiment of Foot (75*)
Arrow Gruts (40*)
Axegrinders of Burning Forge (70*)
Blade Gruts (40*)
Capuan Gladiators (70*)
Fire Elemental (35*+)
Goblin Cutters (50*)
Greenscale Warriors (60*)
Heavy Gruts (70*)
Kato Katsuro (200+)
Kurrok the Elementalist (120+)
Knights of Weston(70*)
Marro Hive (160+)
Roman Legionnaires (50*)
Sacred Band (50*)
Concan the Kyrie Warrior (80)
Earth Elemental (35*+)
Frost Giant of Morh (140)
Izumi Samurai (60)
Marcu Esenwein (20)
Marrden Hounds (90*)
Marrden Nagrubs (30*)
Marro Dividers (50*)
Rhogar Dragonspine (110)
Sentinels of Jandar (110*)
Sir Denrick (100+)
Tandros Kreel (120)
Tarn Viking Warriors (50)
Warriors of Ashra (50*)
Death Knights of Valkrill (60*)
Deepwyrm Drow (70)*
Elite Onyx Vipers (100)
Fen Hydra (120)
Granite Guardians (100*)
Horned Skull Brutes (75*)
Krav Maga Agents (100)
Major Q9 (180)
Marro Stingers (60*)
Mezzodemon Warmongers (65*)
Microcorp Agents (100*)
Migol Ironwill (110+)
Minions of Utgar (110*)
Mohican River Tribe (70*)
Ninjas of the Northern Wind (110)
Phantom Knights (70*)
Protectors of Ullar (110*)
Quasatch Hunters (100*)
Shades of Bleakewoode (100*)
Sir Hawthorne (90+)
Tagawa Samurai Archers (65*)
Warforged Soldiers (80*+)
Water Elemental (30+*)
Ana Karithon (100)
Eldgrim the Viking Champion (30+)
Empress Kiova (90)
Finn the Viking Champion (80+)
Hatamoto Taro (130)
Khosumet the Darklord (75+)
Kyntela Gwyn (20)
Marcus Decimus Gallus (100+)
Master Win Chiu Woo (140)
Mogrimm Forgehammer (120+)
Nakita Agents (120)
Nerak the Glacian Swog Rider (50+)
Omnicron Repulsors (40*)
Raelin the Kyrie Warrior-SOTM (120)
Raelin the Kyrie Warrior-ROTV (80)
Sir Gilbert (105+)
Sonya Esenwein (45)
Swog Rider (25*+)
Taelord the Kyrie Warrior (180+)
Thorgrim the Viking Champion (80+)
Venoc Warlord (120+)
Warden 816 (90)
Airborne Elite (110)
Alastair MacDirk (110+)
Anubian Wolves (75*)
Armoc Vipers (65*)
Ashigaru Harquebus (60*)
Ashigaru Yari (40*)
Aubrien Archers (70*)
Cyprien Esenwein (150)
Darrak Ambershard (60+)
Deathchasers of Thesk (55*)
Fyorlag Spiders (40*)
Grok Riders (130*)
Ice Troll Berserker (85+)
Iskra Esenwein (50)
Kozuke Samurai (100)
MacDirk Warriors (80*)
Marro Drones (50*)
Ogre Pulverizer (100+)
Omnicron Snipers (100*)
Othkurik the Black Dragon (140)
Rechets of Bogdan (50)
Roman Archers (55*)
Shaolin Monks (80*)
Templar Cavalry (120*)
The Einar Imperium (140*)
Werewolf Lord (140+)
Wolves of Badru (80*)
Venoc Vipers (40*)
Zombies of Morindan (60*)
Brave Arrow (50+)
Deathwalker 8000 (130)
Deathwalker 9000 (140)
Evar Scarcarver (110)
Feral Troll (90)
Greater Ice Elemental (130)
Guilty McCreech (30)
Major Q10 (150)
Marro Warriors (50)
Master of the Hunt (140)
Mika Connour (110)
Mind Flayer Mastermind (100)
Sahuagin Raider (25*)
Sgt. Drake Alexander-ROTV (110)
Sgt. Drake Alexander-SOTM (170)
Sir Dupuis (150)
Tagawa Samurai (120)
Zettian Guards (70)
Agent Carr (100)
Air Elemental (30*+)
Black Wyrmling (30*+)
Blue Wyrmling (30*+)
Deadeye Dan (60)
Deathwalker 7000 (100)
Drow Chainfighter (25*)
Dumutef Guard (25*)
Erevan Sunshadow (80)
Iron Golem (100)
James Murphy (75)
Johnny "Shotgun" Sullivan (65)
Kelda the Kyrie Warrior (80)
Marro Drudge (50*)
Obsidian Guards (100*)
Red Wyrmling (30)
Saylind the Kyrie Warrior (80)
White Wyrmling (30)
Last edited by Jexik : August 16th, 2011 at 09:10 AM. Reason: D1-3 added to first post
I agree with Scape Scrub. I think order marker management is a lot of what makes Heroscape what it is. I tried the Basic Game one time, and I nearly banged my head against the table. (Although that was probably more due to the fact that there's never a reason to take a turn with anything but Grimnak than the lack of order markers.) I've also never played larger than a 650 point army for any player. Playing a 2000-point game is what makes a game take a long time-it's not the order markers' faults.
I don't really understand the appeal of avoiding using order markers, or changing how many each player has. If you double the number of order markers that both sides have, I don't see how it shortens the length of the turns at all. Each side is still moving the same number of times. 3 and an X seems like a rather astute design choice to me.
If you have both sides move their entire armies at once, or something similar to that, it royally screws up the balance of a lot of units and their point costs. Common units, bonding units, Kato, Deathreavers, and many others would lose a lot of their utility, all in the name of simplifying an already simple game.
But then again, I'm one of those weird people who only has two master sets (1 RotV and 1 SotM now), 1TT, 1 FotA, and 1 RttFF terrain-wise and eagerly awaits new units.
Sorry if I sounded a bit snarky. Should I not have put this in the official units thread? I meant to classify the official units from a slightly different perspective and possibly help people understand a less obvious sort of synergy.
But I guess that's what I love about Heroscape after all. It's that Theats and I can both pick it up and enjoy it in our own way. You can pick and choose, and spend as much or as little as you like. I saw some kids in a Wal-mart the other day excited over the Marvel boxed set. I don't plan to buy it myself, but if it helps keep standard expansions coming out for the next 5 years, I'm all for it.
The order markers are a great system, and very important to the strategical depth of the game. This is a great article and a helpful guide for any player.
Wow, this article is absolutely awesome...my favorite strategy article I've ever read. You gotta do more of these! I liked the "I Like ORCS!!111!!!" army title too . I also liked how you classified each unit as to what role it should perform so that you can really maximize the value of each figure. Great stuff and keep it coming!
More? This took a lot out of me as is
It mostly came from a discussion my friend and I had after the third time we saw his Zombies in action.
We both really want them to run across the table eating brains, but each time, they've failed miserably. Part of the problem with them as I see it is that they don't really work well with many other units at all. They are the Great White of Sharks. They do not play well with others.
Raelin v.2 might have finally found her match.
It also explains my difficulty with my Soldier/Warlord army that I was messing with. I took UPC's army listed above and added the Airborne Elite to it. The first few times I tried it, I got the Airborne Elite to drop early, which is normally a boon, but in an army built around Fire and Forget squads that I would like to move into position, I was struck by horrible order marker conundrums due to the AE's brittle and sharky nature.
Ideally, I'd like to get more 4th. Mass and Romans into the build, but there's no clean way to fit that in the points (or hexes); 4x Romans is overkill.
This is a great post. I've had a few of these thoughts when I'm designing customs. I try to think about what a unit asks of the player in terms of order markers. "Give me two in a row?" "Even if you don't give me any, I'm still a threat?" But this is so much more comprehensive and well-organized.
I would love to see more in-depth material in this direction. (Maybe you have one or two categories too many?) This is something that could really be refined into a great guide.
A good companion piece might be something about analyzing an army from the standpoint of order marker decisions. How likely am I to take a turn with a below-strength squad? How many order markers will it take me to move everyone? How many choices for placement will I have? Who wants the X in this army?
An early draft put all the Defenders in with the Cheerleaders because they are both useful when you don't move them, but I realized key differences in whether or not you want them to be attacked, and which units they work better with. Defenders work well with Sharks; Cheerleaders work best with Fire and Forgets or Menacers.
Cleanup units are essentially Sharks who specialize in late-game antics.
I like keeping Menacers as a distinct category, because I really feel that there is something that sets Ninjas, Minions, KMA, and Q9 apart from most other units. They aren't quite as deadly as FaFs or Sharks usually, and they are often expensive as well as tough. They're almost like every type of unit wrapped into one (except cheerleaders). They're Defenders that your opponent actually wants to attack. (It's probably worth noting that most of the Menacers are A-list units, and at the very least B's by sp's rankings. They are rather robust and easy to use.)
The Bread and Butter category could also either be removed or consolidated in a future version, because it doesn't really add anything to the discussion. I'm contemplating renaming the FaF's Bread and Butter simply because it makes more sense, and I'm not sure if my cute little 'Fire and Forget' joke was very cute or funny.