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'Scaper of the Week # 49 - dok

Posted November 7th, 2010 at 07:23 PM by rym
After a bit of delay (yet again ), the 'Scaper of the Week interview is back. Personally, I couldn't think of a better candidate to interview than dok. Since his main event win at Gencon this past summer, he has had a polarizing affect on people.

You either love him, or you hate him. He talked the talk and he walked the walk, as someone pointed out in a thread some time ago.

There is no denying, though, that the man knows how to play and can theoryscape with the best of them. Read on to learn more about one of most popular members, dok!
-Scaper of the Week # 49!

Who are you?

I'm Adam Tarr.

Who, or what, is your avatar and how did you come up with your username?

My avatar is a picture of my son teething on a 3-hex tile. He's 21 months old now, and can point a 'scape map and say "daddy toys". He's gonna be great, I can tell.

My username is a shortened version of an old nickname of mine, dok-Tarr. Nobody calls me that any more, but it makes for a nice short internet handle. If I had it to do all over again, though, I'd pick a longer username. You can't search three-letter words using forum search, which can make it difficult to find some random old posts sometimes.




I'm an electrical engineer by training and trade. Mostly what I do is just a lot of math. My most recent job was designing algorithms to run on dedicated satellite hardware. At the moment, though, I'm a statistic...

Allegiance and why?

Utgar. I mean, it's a third of the deck. And the bad guys get most of the really cool powers. Good guys wait and fire; bad guys devour your soul.

When did you first get into HeroScape?

I was spending a weekend up in the mountains early in the fall of 2008, and one of my friends we were staying with had gotten RotV as a gift. Even though we got a bunch of rules wrong, I immediately recognized that there was a lot of strategic depth to the game. I found Heroscapers.com the next week, and I started getting my own 'scape almost immediately.

Favorite aspect of HeroScape and why?

So many things, but the bottom line is that it's just an extremely well-designed game. From a relatively simple set of rules, we get such rich gameplay. Little things like the height advantage rules and the order marker system and the common squad mechanic and the engagement rules have very profound strategic effects.

I also have to add that, for me, Heroscape has just about the perfect balance of luck and skill. Results are mostly dominated by skill, but there's enough of an element of chance to keep things interesting.

Favorite Hero and why?

Tor-Kul-Na. He's got a great power for dealing with squads in trample stomp, and his stats give him an edge against almost every hero in the game in a head-to-head matchup. Nagrub healing gives him excellent survivability. His Achilles heel is irregular terrain and trample-denial, but that's why he's not your entire army. I think he's pretty underrated by the community at large.

Favorite Unique Squad and why?

I guess I have to pick the Marro Warriors. They were one of my early favorites. Figuring out that Marro Clone is a two-edged sword was one of my early lessons as a player, but for 50 points you very rarely regret having these guys.

Favorite Common Squad and why?

Zombies! They're such a well-designed figure. They're dripping with theme, they create a totally unique playstyle, and they are surprisingly powerful. Horde Movement and Zombies Rise Again elevate a squad with terrible base stats and give them a way to compete.

Favorite Special ability and why?

Has anyone ever said scatter?

I've brought up most of my favorite ones above already, but since you didn't give me a "favorite common hero and why" question, I'll throw Searing Intensity out as a favorite power. I was one of the people sounding the alarm when this power and Kurrok's "Master of the Elements" power were revealed. I still think it's a powerhouse combo, but I've come to realize that the current range of tournament armies has a few answers that keep the firestorm from dominating. I find it to be a really fun army to play - you always feel like you're a few missteps away from defeat, which keeps you on your toes!

Favorite map and why?

It's the boring answer, but I'll go with Highways and Dieways. That map was way ahead of its time when it comes to use of line-of-sight blockers. A lot of the maps currently popular in tournament play have a lot of H&D in their DNA.

Anything you'd change about the game - a unit, rule, or mechanic?

The more I play this game, the less of a need I feel to tweak it. The game and the metagame are very self-correcting, and there's so many ways to play within the existing framework of the rules.

Shortly after I came onto this site, I tried to argue that you should be able to draft a part of a second or third common squad into your army, and only pay that fraction of the points. I still think it's a good idea, but in a "that would be a fun variant to try at a tournament" sort of way. Similarly, I love the idea of playing an event with tweaked point costs, or changing the powers of some figures, or all sorts of other modifications... but none of them are really necessary for the game to be great.

What do you enjoy most about Heroscapers.com?

There's so much to like. I love the theoryscaping. I love reading reports of other people's games. I love that when I went to GenCon this year, I was positively giddy at the prospect of actually meeting a bunch of people who I had been talking to online for the previous two years.

Favorite HeroScape moment:

Well, I guess winning the main event is the obvious one... there's so many good ones though. The very first time I played was a great moment, because I realized I had discovered something great. Getting my butt kicked by lonewolf when he visited Denver, and realizing how well the game can be played, was a turning point for me. Every close game is a great memory.

Another board game you enjoy and why?

I'm a fan of Catan, particularly the Cities & Knights version. Recently I discovered that I can play the old Milton & Bradley classic "Shogun" online. I'm also a fan of basically every abstract strategy game. My favorite might be mancala, which is a surprisingly deep game (much like Heroscape).

Three true things and one lie about yourself:

I DVR every episode of "Jeopardy!" and firmly believe that I will get on the show one day.

In some circles (not Heroscape!) I am considered the leading authority on tournament formats.

A goal of mine is to run a marathon in less than three hours and twenty minutes.

One of my favorite board games is the home game version of the movie "Willow".

Other interests?

A big passion of mine is the sport of ultimate (ultimate frisbee to those outside the sport). Ultimate has a reputation for being popular with stoners or slackers, but like any sport, the people at the top are extraordinary athletes who dedicate themselves to their craft. I'm not at the top of the sport, but I did play it all the way through college, coached my college team while I was in grad school, and I play on a club team now. My alma mater actually won the college championship the year after I left - I like to joke that getting rid of me was the last piece of the puzzle.

Any Heroscapers member you'd really like to play against?

There's so many that I can't possibly pick one. I guess the top of my list would be Jexik, fomox, ollie, and killercactus. I'd also love to get games in with spider_poison and Mattsertruckrally, for obvious reasons.

What message do you have for the community?

'scape on; this game belongs to us now, more than ever. It is what we make of it.

Considering the flak you've received since winning the Gencon Main Event, if Gencon happened again tomorrow and all the Main Event parameters remained the same, would you play the same army you did?

Well... probably not, but mainly because the metagame keeps evolving. I'd expect to see a few more Heavy Grut + Grimnak armies and Nilfheim + Greenscale armies, given both that those armies were really successful, and that they are a good counter to the rat-based builds that Mantrainchoochoo and I were playing. I'd also expect to see some Axegrinder + special attacker builds, which are really strong against heavies, greenscales, and my Q9/Hydra build.

If I re-cast the question as "If I had it to do all over again, would I make the same army choice", though, the answer is yes. I had such a great time playing in the main event this year. I was fortunate enough to play against good players playing strong armies from the first round on, and I had a bunch of really close and exciting games. The finals was easily the most intense game of Heroscape I've ever played.

I've said many times that I played the strongest army I could come up with. I deserve every bit of razzing I get for that army choice; that part doesn't bother me at all. That said, I'm not going to lie and say that I don't care what people think of me personally, because I do. But I'm not asking for or expecting people's adulation or praise. I think I've proven that I'm a good player, but I don't think I'm the best player by any stretch, nor do I expect people to read that into the results. I hope people realize that, even though I don't exactly do a great job of communicating humility through my writing.

What are your thoughts concerning the "death" of HeroScape?

I'm disappointed that WotC won't continue to support the game via smaller re-releases of current products, as this would continue to bring new players in. However, aside from that, I'm honestly not too disappointed. New 'scape is great, but we already have an incredible variety of existing official figures. As I said above, 'scape belongs to the community now. There's no reason we can't have a vibrant scene for a long time to come. This game has great depth and richness despite an end to official releases.

Now that there are no more official units to be released, out of all the entirety of the HeroScape, which is your favorite unit (excluding Raelin, of course )?

Well, I've already listed my top favorites above, so I'll just note which figures I think look the coolest - Kaemon Awa, Shurrak, Mogrimm, and Sonlen. It's worth noting that half of my favorites wouldn't exist without D&D-scape. D&D-scape didn't have the thematic variety or the overall sculpt quality of some earlier waves, but it wasn't all bad.

Random question: When it comes to pizza, thin crust or deep dish?

It's tough to beat a really good thin crust pizza fresh out of the oven.

Which would you pick and why: DW7K, DW8K, or DW9K?

DW8k. Rapid fire is a pretty cool special - he would see more play if it wasn't for the Q-brothers.

Aside from Gencon, what's the furthest you've travelled to play 'Scape?

I played Porkins recently while I was in Tuscon. I didn't go to Tuscon just to play Heroscape, so I don't know if that counts, but it's pretty far...

Five Fun Favorites
(because, let's face it, you won't find these things out in the middle of a Competitive armies thread or the What's In An Order Marker discussion )

Favorite TV Show:

For how awesome they were at their best, I'll say "Family Guy" for comedy and "Lost" for drama.

Favorite Movie Of All Time:

Again, I'll split it up since I'm so wishy-washy. I could go six or seven different ways here, but I'll say "The Shawshank Redemption" for drama and "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" for comedy.

Favorite book:

I don't really have one that stands out. Lately I've read more nonfiction than fiction; I'll say "Freakonomics" because I've recommended that book to people a ton in the last several years.

Favorite sport:

Ultimate, as I mentioned above. It's such a great combination of a bunch of different athletic skills, and it's a truly beautiful game when played well.

Favorite food:

I'll say eggs - everything from a fried egg on my morning bagel to a souffle at a fancy restaurant. It's tough to go wrong with eggs.

Thanks for doing this interview dok! Final question, who do you pick for the next 'Scaper of the Week?

Total Comments 27


flameslayer93's Avatar
Woohoo! I love this feature
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 07:41 PM by flameslayer93 flameslayer93 is offline
AliasQTip's Avatar
Nice interview, dok. Glad to see these are back again.
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 08:07 PM by AliasQTip AliasQTip is offline
Killer Lawnmower's Avatar
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 08:11 PM by Killer Lawnmower Killer Lawnmower is offline
Shockma Ranyk's Avatar
I'm guessing the marathon one as false. I just think it's impossible to be good at a nerdy board game and anything athletic at the same time.

Looking forward to Mattser's interview NEXT WEEK. You hear that rym? NEXT WEEK would be nice. Let me say it one more time. NEXT WEEK.
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 08:41 PM by Shockma Ranyk Shockma Ranyk is offline
I predict the marathon one.
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 08:48 PM by Fen_Hydra Fen_Hydra is offline
arp12's Avatar
Haha, Freakonomics is also one of my favorite books.
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 08:59 PM by arp12 arp12 is offline
Cleon's Avatar
I absolutely love Ultimate Frisbee too!!!!! My bro and his friends had games going throughout high school. Now that they're gone, I only play on rare occasions. We'd really appreciate if the game became more of a popular and commercial game. It's games like this (also: badminton ) that are pushed aside and truly overlooked by the sports that have been big since long ago.

I'd probably rather watch a game of professional Frisbee on TV than intense games of Baseball, Basketball, Football, etc., but I cannot.

Fun read, dok. Thanks for continuing these rym.
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 09:30 PM by Cleon Cleon is offline
dok's Avatar
Originally Posted by Cleon
I'd probably rather watch a game of professional Frisbee on TV than intense games of Baseball, Basketball, Football, etc., but I cannot.
You can watch some pretty nice highlight videos on youtube, though. (Warning: the music on that clip is NSFW.)

You can also watch quite a lot on USA Ultimate's multimedia page. They even had streaming video for the recent club ultimate championship finals.

Those videos are way more interesting than watching the Cowboys unravel, schadenfreude notwithstanding.
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 10:07 PM by dok dok is offline
Sherman Davies's Avatar
The Willow boardgame thing is the lie, right? I like the movie and all, but no way could a licensed game from back then be that good.

Regarding the recent internet drama, I've never found you to be arrogant or cocky, for what it's worth. Go ahead and re-evaluate your posting style if you feel you must, but don't beat yourself up about it.

As for your winning army - eh, it's GenCon. To paraphrase Chris Rock, "I'm not saying I would've brought that army - but I understand."
Posted November 7th, 2010 at 11:39 PM by Sherman Davies Sherman Davies is offline
quozl's Avatar
Shogun online? Please invite me to play!
Posted November 8th, 2010 at 12:12 AM by quozl quozl is offline
killercactus's Avatar
Go dok! Go ultimate! Go Heroscape! Go-Go Gadget Copter! Go interview with MattserTruckRally! It's about time the Ohio guys make it into Scaper of the Week!

I think the lie is Jeopardy.
Posted November 8th, 2010 at 08:22 AM by killercactus killercactus is offline
Updated November 8th, 2010 at 11:36 AM by killercactus
dok's Avatar
quozl - here's the link to the yahoogroup, where you can get access to the web-based game (hosted elsewhere).
Posted November 8th, 2010 at 09:10 AM by dok dok is offline
tcglkn's Avatar
I'm looking forward to this being a more weekly thing, will you have time now that you don't have Week@HeroScapers to work on rym?
Posted November 8th, 2010 at 09:11 AM by tcglkn tcglkn is offline
kolakoski's Avatar
Congrats dok! I'm with you on your faves, and on D&D 'scape generally. And, as a 60-year old, third degree Black Belt, I take issue with Shockma that one can't be good at a "nerdy board game" and anything athletic at the same time, and I'm not the only one (nyss?)
Posted November 8th, 2010 at 10:26 AM by kolakoski kolakoski is offline
Updated November 8th, 2010 at 12:49 PM by kolakoski
chas's Avatar
Its great to hear what dok has to say!

I had that Willow board game, and I don't have it any more. That's my guess, but it not, to each his own... On the other hand, had the movie had 3 minutes of the background that was in the paperback, and made the whole thing make sense regarding the romantic couple characters, people would now remember it more fondly!
Posted November 8th, 2010 at 01:08 PM by chas chas is offline
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