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Customs Creation July 2017

Posted July 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 AM by HS Codex

Make It Fun
by Scytale

Balance. Theme. Creativity. Playability. These are the big keywords when it comes to designing and evaluating customs. And yes, these aspects are of utmost importance for creating top-class customs. But thereís another important aspect that is rarely mentioned, yet holds as much weight or perhaps even more than the others: fun.

Heroscape is an amazingly fun game. I doubt anyone on Heroscapers.com would disagree with that. But when it comes to individual units, they are not all equally fun to play with or against. Itís not something as calculable as ďbalanceĒ or subjective in the same way as ďtheme;Ē ďfunĒ is a vague concept thatís difficult to pin down. Yet it absolutely can and will make or break a unit.

There are lots of aspects that go into making a unit fun to play with and against. Balance, theme, creativity, and playability are all factors, as well as other aspects like synergies. An exciting unit thatís sadly underpowered is no fun. An otherwise boring design that hits a thematic sweet spot can be quite fun. Synergistic units are already fun at the draft stage.

Donít just rely on these aspects to carry a design for you, though. Make it fun to play. Other aspects can make it worthy, but a unit thatís fun to play will see time on the table.

But what does it mean to be fun to play? The most important aspect is decision-making. Make the players think about what they are doing, both owner and opponents. Make them think about positioning, or order marker placement, or what to attack. Thatís what makes Heroscape a game instead of just competitive dice rolling.

To illustrate my point Iíll use a simple example. Imagine a simple unique hero named Torg with the following stats:
  • Race: Human
  • Class: Fighter
  • Personality: Combative
  • Size: Medium 5
  • Life: 5
  • Move: 5
  • Range: 1
  • Attack: 4
  • Defense: 4
  • Double Attack: When Torg attacks, he may attack one additional time.
How would you play this unit? Double Attack with attack 4 is solid, as are his defenses. Heís not particularly strong or weak against squads or heroes, and lacks anything but generic synergies. Of course gaining height is always useful, but otherwise there really isnít any subtlety to his game: move toward enemies and attack. How would you play against him? The usual anti-melee tactics such as screening apply, of course, but there isnít much to think about. Heíll hit solidly and defends decently no matter what you throw at him.

Thereís nothing technically wrong with Torg, assuming he is costed effectively. But heís dull. Not because he lacks new, complex powers or because he lacks direct synergies. Itís because Torg provides little in the way of decisions, either for you or your opponent. You might as well just set your figures next to each other and roll dice.

Now letís replace Double Attack with:
  • Whirlwind Attack: Torg may attack any and all figures adjacent to him. Roll each attack separately.
How would you play him now? Well, for one thing, one-on-one fights against heroes are significantly worse. On the other hand, his squad-killing potential goes up significantly. So you will try to position him to fight squads. Even more than that, though, his ability is maximized by engaging as many figures as possible, so you will want to squeeze him into the middle of enemy forces, perhaps even at the cost of losing height or taking leaving engagement attacks. Playing against him, you would try to engage him with a hero, or try to spread your figures to minimize the number of figures he can engage at once. You would be at least somewhat wary of surrounding him.

What a difference that seemingly small change makes! Positioning and risk-taking suddenly become an imporant part of how the unit plays. Now thatís fun ... for both sides.

There are lots of things to think about when designing a custom unitóall importantóbut never forget to make it fun to play. Think about how the unit is best played, what its weaknesses are, what sorts of army compositions it fits in, and take time to evaluate what sorts of decisions the owners and the opponents need to make when itís on the field. Consider twisting the design, even slightly, in different directions and see how that affects the decision-making. And above all else, try it out and see if it actually plays like you expect. If you find yourself excited to play with the unit again, you may be on to something.
Total Comments 3

Comments

Old
flameslayer93's Avatar
It's always important to remember to keep things fun. Heck, certain official units are on the drab side. Going back to the Torg example, he reminds me an awful lot of Syvarris. The biggest reason Syvarris is fun at all is because of his massive range. Even changes to the base stats of a unit can make a unit become much more interesting. Using simple powers (like Double Attack) may not sound fun at first, but with the right stats they can be. Syvarris might be drab at 7 range (an acceptable range for a hero using a bow), but 9 range is impressive.

Great read!
Posted July 23rd, 2017 at 06:59 PM by flameslayer93 flameslayer93 is offline
Old
The Dewk's Avatar
Awesome article.

My brother recently made a custom unit. We found a good mini for it, made a card, and started testing it. We soon found that while his abilities looked good on paper, they were boring almost to the "point of abject frustration" (his words). So he tinkered with it ever-so-slightly, and now it's great fun to play with.

On the flip-side of that, I made it a goal a few months ago to play with every Heroscape unit, both classic and SoV/C3V. I've been putting off playing with some of them because they look boring. But I am often pleasantly surprised with how fun a unit can be, despite it looking "meh" on paper.

So I guess what I'm trying to add is that one needs to test a bit before one can actually determine the "fun level" of a unit.
Posted August 4th, 2017 at 01:51 PM by The Dewk The Dewk is offline
Old
Whiskey McGreggor's Avatar
Would love to start submitting some of my customs, if only just to share some ideas, but if I got them play tested and turned into official units that'd be awesome.
Posted October 22nd, 2017 at 02:01 AM by Whiskey McGreggor Whiskey McGreggor is offline
 
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