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My First Three-Way!

Posted November 2nd, 2011 at 02:00 PM by Deroche
Updated April 30th, 2012 at 12:25 PM by Deroche
(Pseudo Battle Report that is...cough cough. Self-indulgent, long-winded prattling that scratches my occasional itch to write.)

Heroscape Evangelism

I'm the lone Heroscaper in my main gaming group. Actually, not quite -- one of our members actually has every single Heroscape item ever released (emphasis on the word "single.") He thought the purpose was to be complete and hence quite never grasped what it meant to be competitive. As such, he's never really gotten into Heroscape and I can't say I blame him if he's usually only fielding one card's worth of common squads the few times he's played. And yes, I've told him a thousand times what he needs to do about it...and I give up.

So our little group of four typically gets together once a week and we try to get to the table one or two of the million unplayed games we own in our collective collections. We primarily play Euros, and Heroscape certainly hasn't been a part of anyone's gaming agenda, but I managed to get them to give it a try last night (God knows I've ranted and raved enthusiastically enough about the game for over a year now, obviously I wore them down). At the very least, I thought they should have a basic understanding about what I think of as being a very big deal, even if they ended up remaining unimpressed.

When we played last week, it was one of the rare nights I got to host (because the wife was away), so I took advantage of this opportunity to set up a three player map. My motives were ulterior (of course!): Yes, I wanted my gaming buddies to have a good Heroscape experience, but I also needed some play-testing done for armies in a three player skirmish and wanted to see how a battle like this would fare on Tr3s by Ch1cano. The reason why is because I plan to foster and nurture what's hopefully an emerging Heroscape addiction amongst my two nephews this upcoming Thanksgiving, so a little test drive ahead of time might prove be beneficial.

I've played a couple games already with my nephews, and each time I gave them easy order marker armies (like all Stingers, or something that bonds, etc). But they've yet to experience the joy and frustration of Order Marker decision making when the army isn't synergistic. So I tried to come up with armies that could be effective, but wasn't going to play itself; I wanted them to have to work for it.

To start, I had put in squads and heroes that I thought would have appeal: Q9, Mezzodemons, 10th, Warforged, Eltahale, Raelin, etc. I also initially felt that each army needed both melee and range and so I went with some standard 500 pt armies. And then I started to build them with a specific nephew in mind. But each time I addressed what I perceived to be a weakness, there'd now be the third army out of balance. This led to a creep in point totals until the dust settled at 580. Here's what I came up with:

1st Army

Major Q9
Darrak Ambershard

2nd Army

Izumi Samurai

3rd Amry


Raelin for everyone! Okay, these armies aren't going to take down GenCon any time soon, but each army can go after both squads and heroes alike if they are played to their strengths. I also had in mind which army was going to have as its primarily target. The three player format being used sets up as the elimination of the player on the left to satisfy the win condition. I always thought that sounded intriguing: attacking the player on your right that's coming after you might end up helping your primary foe more than you -- can't be easy to strike a careful balance!

I'm assuming the Q9 army might be the strongest of the three, and I had in mind to give that to my youngest nephew. I know he loves to go after me in all games, so I'd be his intended target and I would play the Warforged build. This is also one of the rare maps that can really let the Microcorp shine because of the water on height. My oldest nephew would play the 10th and see if he could kill Q9 with Wait Then Fire from height, or perhaps with help of the Glyph of Astrid sitting in the middle of the map as a honeypot.


With all this in mind, I invited my friends to give the game a try and that I'd coach them through some of the obvious approaches on how to play (get max movement, try to always grab height, etc), but mostly leave it up to them to figure it out and let them judge the experience as naturally as possible.

So my friend Dodd, who's playing the 10th, wins initiative and moves his musket men first...and it's obvious that he wants that Glyph of Astrid. Despite advising otherwise, his Raelin is to the rear of his army and he doesn't have any order markers on her. It's at this point that I evidently didn't make clear enough that OMs could be placed multiple times on the same card, which prompts everyone to ask to reset their markers. After resetting, I notice Dodd is still ignoring Raelin.

Ralph, who's playing the Mezzo's and Q9, moves some demons to his left.

Andy moves forward with some MicroCorp and is able to get some shots off immediately and gets a kill against Dodd.

Dodd, losing one of his 10th, is instantly annoyed..he thinks he has a history of doing poorly with dice games, especially against Andy (which is ironic given that Andy is convinced he's even more cursed when it comes to dice games than Dodd is and I might be inclined to agree with him).

Dodd continues to move his 10th and is now able to take a few shots at Andy's agents and immediately the whining begins:

Andy: "Why are you shooting at me? You're supposed to go after Ralph!!"

Dodd: "Your guy is the only one in range."

Andy: "But you're only helping Ralph!"

Dodd: "..."


Fast forward a few turns and Dodd is blaming the dice on why he's lost so many 10th. Deciding to remain silent no longer, I point out he's overextended his 10th in the hopes of getting a Glyph that wasn't worth going after unless he had done a better job of bringing his army forth, such as keeping them in Raelin's aura and not always allowing a squad like the MicroCorp to have height against him.

Understandably, it's all a bit much to take in...he's still trying to grasp what his units can do, let alone worry about what his foe is capable of.

I'm starting to wonder now if I've done a disservice to these guys...after all, I'm known as the village idiot in our gaming group, always being the last person to understand the rules each time we play something new. Maybe I had assumed they'd pick up some things they hadn't so far and it was leading more towards frustration than enjoyment? (like when Andy went several turns without rolling his D20 each time he lost a MicroCorp...so much for me doing a good job helping them with the game )

Still, I wanted them to play the game for themselves instead of me constantly suggesting each turn what they should do...hindsight isn't enough to make me think otherwise, despite a few tantrums that always seem to emerge from a dice game.

Dodd has now rallied enough in subsequent turns and has moved Raelin so she can do some good. He's also now in range to hit Ralph. Distracted by this, Ralph spends a lot of time moving Q9 around back and forth in the hopes of avoiding attacks -- he had decided to keep Q9 back as the main unit to protect his flank against Dodd instead of using Q9 as his primary attacker against Andy. His Q-gun attacks against Dodd all pretty much fail. As a result, not many hits have been scored against Andy because the Mezzo's range of four isn't quite enough to reach Andy's remaining start zone figures just yet. Interestingly enough, Andy was worried about Ralph to the point of spending several markers on his Warforged and Zetacron in the hopes of repelling an attack from Ralph that never quite emerged.

So it was basically two or three full rounds of OMs where not much happened.

Dodd thinks he sees an opening to launch Eltahale against either Raelin or Q9, but has misread the card and can't quite leap to anything within five clear spaces, and can't use the Ram attack because the river between him and Ralph prevents that. This leads to more frustration from Dodd.

Once Ralph figures out what Dodd intends, he starts placing OMs on Raelin and Q9 and moves away.

It's now 10:30pm and Dodd needs to leave. Walking him to the door, I ask what he thinks and he's doubtful of the game. I ask him how much has to do with the negativity of what he perceives as himself doing poorly and if perhaps better success might have made for a more favorable impression? He still doesn't think that's the case (he's stubborn like that), but he's willing to admit the game still might have potential, citing several areas where he knows he made mistakes. He then emphatically points out I should have given them easier armies to play.

Fair enough. He does say, however, that he's willing to try it a few more times before he passes judgement. If I can get him to play one more time, I'll give him Stingers.

So now I step in for Dodd, with six 10th left, Eltahale, Raelin, and two Izumi. Andy is bearing down big time with his Microcorp and things don't look good.

What's working in my favor is that Ralph is finally in a position to mess with Andy, so much so Andy feel's distracted enough to ignore me for now. Had I been in Andy's spot, I would have pressed the attack, but now that I'm playing and my army isn't in great shape, I'm feeling less inclinded to point this out (yes, I am a horrible person).

A real fight over the +1 attack glyph is breaking out in the middle between those two, so I spend markers shifting away from Andy and grab as much height as I can. Andy hasn't forgetten me entirely, though, pushing forward enough to get my Raelin. In the meantime, I'm trying to manuever Eltahale to get Ralph's Raelin and realize that I'll need to spend some time in the middle and vulnerable before I launch. Hoping Andy would let me press the attack with Eltahale was pure folly, he wasn't about to let me take out Ralph's defensive hero. I whined to no availe (and it was a good move, I wouldn't have let me do that either if the roles were reversed).

But some luck goes my way. With four 10th on max height, I'm able to split my attacks: I'm picking off whoever's holding the glyph and the remaining shots go on Ralph's Q9. I'm out of Andy's Microcorp range, and Ralph has OMs continuously on Mezzo's, so I eventually punch through twice with two skull hits on Q9 to kill it off (Four attacks of four with 10th on height using wait then fire despite his nine defense dice; gotta love it). Andy and Ralph are shocked, but I kept saying all it takes is one or two whiffs!

Now I have some hope and decide to turn my attention back on Andy. My thinking is if I can get rid of his Microcorp, his Warforged will stubbornly hang around enough to thwart Ralph. Then I should be able to outgun his Mezzo's once I've gotten rid of his remaining exoskeletons.

And that's how it panned out. I got some lucky shots to get through despite him having height and range on me, and the 10th I lost in the process was worth it. Andy is now annoyed worse than Dodd was, citing how much he hates dice games. I personally find it interesting how invested he is, how much he cares, while complaining at the same time.

I then went to work on Ralph's Mezzos with my four remaining 10th, getting rid of those exo's and whittling down his remaining figures. Andy has run his Warforged far away enough from Ralph to come after me, but I feel I can finish off Ralph before Andy can run me down.

Good plan, but the dice needed to cooperate and they did not. I just couldn't get a hit, or Ralph would roll miracle defense dice.

It got down to Ralph having his Raelin and one Mezzo left, Andy having his Raelin and one Warforged left, and me with my lone Izumi and we were all in the middle. I needed to win initiative to have a chance...


Andy wins!

I asked what they thought. Andy said it was good (I didn't expect that after how pissed off he got, so I guess winning cures all ills). But he felt the game was way too long. I said he shouldn't judge an initial game where players are learning, in a three player format. I said most matches are two player, less than one hour affairs. That gave a favorable impression, so there's a chance I'll be able to play some matches with Andy in the future.

Ralph loved the map, saying that was the most fun match he'd ever played. Success!! Maybe he'll get into the game after all.

Update: I wrote the majority of this a few days ago, but didn't publish it because I knew it'd needed some tweaking to the narrative. Just finished it now and with the current sale going on at Coolstuffinc, Ralph is picking up some extra squads. Hooray! Now to get him up to speed in the tourney formats and see if he'll come play with us at our monthly local tournaments.
Total Comments 4


MegaSilver's Avatar
Andy and Dodd's conversation.

Nice to see you got three new potential players!

Perhaps at some point we can play a 3-player game at some point too.
Posted November 2nd, 2011 at 03:18 PM by MegaSilver MegaSilver is offline

Nice Work!!!

I'm a newbie as well. Thanks for all of this great information. Well written. Any suggestions for figure purchases beyond the two master sets?
Posted November 6th, 2011 at 11:28 PM by BWilly BWilly is offline
kolakoski's Avatar

Still Waiting . . .

Well met!

I've never had a three-way, but, once Angolina tires of Brad, and now that Kim is free . . .
Posted November 7th, 2011 at 11:19 AM by kolakoski kolakoski is online now
Sylvano the Wasabus's Avatar
Great read! Nice to hear Ralph has found the true path...
Posted November 17th, 2011 at 11:09 AM by Sylvano the Wasabus Sylvano the Wasabus is offline
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