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Customs Creation - January 2016

Posted January 3rd, 2016 at 01:00 AM by HS Codex
Updated January 22nd, 2016 at 02:59 AM by Xotli

Tandem Designs, Part 1: The Theory
Author: Son of Arathorn

As anyHeroScape player knows, factions are a core part of the game. But what is a faction? In the simplest terms, I believe that a faction is a group of two or more units that are designed to work well together for greater effect on the battlefield. The most basic example of a faction is a simple bonding squad and hero. In this example, each works better with the other than it would on its own. Early examples of this relationship in HeroScape include Grimnak and the Blade Gruts, the Knights of Weston and the Viking Champions ... the list goes on and on. As the development of the game moved forward, the initial pairs and small groups of units grew to include more heroes, more squads, and the connections between those units grew with each addition to a faction. Mind you, the seeds of a faction donít need to bond. One of the best examples of units youíd never field each other without is the Venoc Vipers and the Venoc Warlord. Each one increases the value of the other on the battlefield, and yet they donít bond.

A simple example of faction development is the Gruts. Letís take a quick look at how the melee arm of the Grut Orcs developed chronologically with the addition of each new unit. The first unit, Grimnak, has a simple buff with Orc Warrior Enhancement, while the Blade Gruts supply order marker management with Orc Champion Bonding. Then Tornak adds the ability to field two heroes that buff the Blade Gruts. Nerak the Glacian Swog Rider brings in an Aura that affect units in a wider area than Grimnak and Tornakís Enhancement powers, and this Aura buffs the Orc heroes in addition to the squads. Ornak breaks the game wide open for the Grut faction by combining a new buff with the ability to activate multiple Orc Champions in a turn with Red Flag of Fury Aura. Whatís more, including Ornak in your Orc Army means other Utgar Heroes can be included in the Grut melee faction, because Ornak can give them activations, bypassing the order marker headache we have to deal with when including standalone heroes in a bonding army. Finally, the addition of Heavy Gruts allows us to build Grut Orc armies with cores that are slower but tougher than the original Blade Gruts, who made for a quicker but more fragile set of infantrymen.

What Iím driving at here is that no matter how complex a faction ends up being, it usually begins with a mutually beneficial relationship between a couple of units, and it builds from there. In the case of the Gruts, the exchange began simply. Grimnak and Tornak gave the measly Blade Gruts a boost to their attack and defense when the two were adjacent through Orc Warrior Enhancement, and in return the Blade Gruts gave the heroes multiple attacks per order marker through Orc Champion Bonding. Nice and simple. So, if we wanted to start a faction on a similar foundation, how would we go about creating our paired units?

I find that when creating customs that you hope to shape into a faction, itís better to design one with the other in mind or at the same time as the other, than to create one independently before the other. If you design a unit, call it completely done, and then move on to the unit you want to work with it on the battlefield, you can find yourself trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. People also run into this problem when designing a custom unit that they want to work with a canonical unit, especially if the canonical unit wasnít designed as a bonding hero. If you find yourself frustrated that your units arenít working together like the seeds of a faction should, it might be that they werenít designed with a workable relationship in mind. Do you think that the original design team crafted Grimnak without any thought for the unit he would enhance? Or that Spartacus was made without at least a rough sketch of the Capuan Gladiators, Crixus and Retiarius in mind?

If youíre looking to design customs that help each other out, donít force two finished units to share the battlefield. Instead, start with a cool mechanical tradeoff, and design the specifics of each unit based on the implications of that tradeoff. In short, designing the units of your prospective faction in tandem with each other is better than designing them separately and then trying to mash them together with tacked-on synergy.

In Part 2 of this article, Iíll walk us through the initial brainstorm of two units that can form the foundation of a faction, in keeping with the theory of Tandem Designs. Stay tuned!
Total Comments 7


Looking forward to Part 2.
Posted January 3rd, 2016 at 10:11 AM by AMIS AMIS is offline
TheAverageFan's Avatar
Cool article, very helpful to Custom creators.

I must say my favorite type of Tandem Designs are units that can benefit from not working together at times, like the Dwarves' bonding. More strategy that way.

Posted January 7th, 2016 at 05:02 AM by TheAverageFan TheAverageFan is offline
TREX's Avatar
Well said, after all the customs I have come up with, if I had seen an article like this it would have made the process much better, and sooner. I have already discovered this, but this is very helpful to people new to custom making.
Posted January 7th, 2016 at 01:48 PM by TREX TREX is offline
Son of Arathorn's Avatar
I forgot to include this in the article, so I'll include it here.

If any reader has suggestions for miniatures that could be used as the subject of Tandem Designs: Part 2, I'd love to hear them. Send me a PM with photos and the names of the minis, and I might end up writing Part 2 around your suggested miniatures. Unique Hero & Common Squad, Unique Squads, (Un)Common Heroes, whatever combination- just keep it to 1-2 units. Also, try to keep the minis something affordable/available (Pathfinder, D&D, AT-43, Confrontation, Legendary Encounters, HeroClix, etc.).

Posted January 8th, 2016 at 05:28 PM by Son of Arathorn Son of Arathorn is offline
Porkins's Avatar
This is the approach that HoSS uses when designing factions. It is definitely much more difficult to design multiple units at once, but the payoff for the "longer term thinking process" is that you end up with a nice tight and fun faction. Some examples of our factions that were designed this way:
Imperials: Darth Vader with Stormtroopers, Imperial Officer
Rebels: Leia with Rebel Troopers and Rebel Captain
Cloud City: Lando, Lobot, Bespin Guards, Cloud Car Pilots
Underworld: Jabba the Hutt, Bounty Hunters...and some other stuff. Releasing very soon in a Galaxy very nearby.
Ewoks: several units; currently in testing.
Posted January 15th, 2016 at 09:56 AM by Porkins Porkins is offline
A3n's Avatar
Great work guys.
Posted January 17th, 2016 at 06:18 PM by A3n A3n is offline
IAmBatman's Avatar
For anyone new to customs, looking for a leg up, here's the Bible, so to speak: GreyOwl's Custom Compendium.
Posted January 23rd, 2016 at 06:30 PM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is offline
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