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Customs Creation - April 2016

Posted April 4th, 2016 at 01:14 PM by HS Codex
Updated April 4th, 2016 at 07:58 PM by Xotli (fixing image links)

Tandem Designs Part 2:
The Practice
by Son of Arathorn

Last time around, I discussed the theory of Tandem Designs. To recap, when you design a faction, or even just two units with synergy, following the Tandem Design principle means that you settle on the relationship between the two (or more) units before hammering out the hard details. That relationship can consist of bonding, buffs, or having each unit cover the otherís weak spots. For instance, Grimnak gives the Blade Gruts a much-needed boost to their attack and defense, and, in return, they give him multi-attack potential via bonding.

Today, Iím going to take us through a rough sketch of what designing in tandem looks like. For my example, Iím going to use two of my own customs: Grondos the Mighty, and Allahar the Swift. Mind you, these guys arenít finished yet (play-testing needs to be done and what-not), but this should give you an idea of what itís like to follow the Tandem Design theory.

So when sitting down to design this pair, I asked myself: whatís the relationship they can have that is mutually beneficial? I decided to go very simpleóone should be able to handle masses of common squads, and the other should be able to handle more powerful heroes. But whereís the link between them? Canít call it a faction if they canít help each other out, right? We arenít looking to create two isolated heroes, one good against squads and one against heroes (for instance, Zelrig and Crixus do not a faction make). My answer to this was straight-up bonding.

This brings up a question of theme when designing in tandem. It can be tricky to pull of a relationship that fits the miniatures youíre working with, or to find miniatures that fit the relationship you want to design. This goes double when working with bondingóif itís between a hero and squad, the heroís leadership has to be believable. In this case, it must be plausible that these behemoths could work together. I decided that making the characters related personally (through backstory and a neat power name) would give sufficient justification for highly specific bonding. And so the special power Brotherís Bonding was born.

Now that we have a way for our faction to work together, how do we express the mutually beneficial relationship we set out at the start of the design process? How do we make Grondos good against squads, but not heroes, and Allahar good against heroes, but not squads? Again, we need to keep our expression of this relationship in line with the theme of the miniatures.

Taking Grondos firstówhat does the miniature express? Right away, itís a very big, bulky mini, with a very large weapon. And of course, itís an anthropomorphized rhinoceros (kinda hard to miss that). Now, I tend to think of rhinos as slow and ponderous, but very tough to take down. So in order to make him better against squads than heroes, right away I thought that the special power Tough was a good way to express his ability to shrug off weaker attacks dished out by squads, but leave him vulnerable to heroes with higher attack values, or special attacks that can get by Tough. For his third and final power, I needed a way for him to take down squads, not just resist their attacks. Thatís where the miniatureís weapon comes in. That huge battle-axe made me picture a warrior cutting a wide swathe through a crowd of enemy mooks, sometimes two or three at a time. So why not tweak Cleave, an anti-squad power, to make it a little scarier, and more in line with the scale of the miniature? Thus, Great Cleave was created.

Turning to Allaharóagain, what does the miniature remind us of? Standing next to Grondos, itís easy to see Allahar is slimmer, carries two smaller weapons, and wears less armor. As a lion, he evokes the idea of a big catófast, deadly against one figure (like his prey), and able to dish out a ton of damage with a single blow. Anyone whoís seen their house-cat hunt knows what Iím talking about. In order to bring that idea of high damage against one target, I turned to VCís Varkaanan Quickblades, and the First Strike special power. That gives him a way to throw a lot of dice, as desired. It also bumps his move, allowing him to reach his target. To me, this power really fit the idea of a cat pouncing on its prey. So Allahar can reach his target and do some damage, but what if thereís a screen in the way? Allahar is naturally faster than Grondos, so waiting for the rhino to catch up and clear out whateverís between Allahar and the big hero doesnít make a ton of sense. But giving Allahar a way to wipe out those screens doesnít fit his theme, and would do Grondosí job for him. So instead of letting him clear the screen out of the way, I gave him a way to move through it with the Long Stride special power.

So now that their special powers are hammered out, we can turn briefly to base stats and left-box stats. As weíve discussed, weíre trying to emphasize that Grondos is slow, but tough, while Allahar is faster, but more fragile. So Allahar gets a higher move value than Grondos, and a higher life value (though Grondos will be tougher to kill since heís, well, Tough). For their left-box stats, I made them both fighters to avoid synergy with other units. Their personalities stem from their play-styles and intended background theme. Grondos is slower and able to take more punishment, so heís stoic. Allahar runs through the crowd, going for a cheerleader or high-cost hero, but is more vulnerable, so heís bold. The contrast between the two plays up the buddy-cop dynamic I had in the back of my mind when creating these two.

So now we have a rough draft of the two, designed from their relationship to their special powers and base stats, instead of the other way around.

Images courtesy of Ninja Status

Now, reflecting on these two, there are a couple things Iíd change. First off, Iíd probably switch their attack values, so that Allahar can get an even bigger shot at heroes, but Grondos isnít so solid against them while still being able to put the hurt on squads. I would also consider lowering Grondosí life to 5, and bumping his defense to 3, to reinforce the ďtankĒ ideaóbig armor, less endurance. Finally, depending on how Allahar performs in testing, Iíd consider dumping First Strike, raising his move and attack to 7, and giving him Defensive Agility, so he can survive longer against high-attack heroes. If he struggles to take out even cheerleaders behind enemy lines, Iíd probably make this change. However, if heís capable of assassinating figures like Raelin, Marcus Decimus Gallus, Agent Skahen, etc. (but not the biggest of heroes like dragons and soulborgs), I might keep his original set of powers.
Total Comments 2


TGRF's Avatar
Dysole's article will be late, or possibly skipped for this month. We apologize for the wait.

Posted April 4th, 2016 at 01:18 PM by TGRF TGRF is offline
Lazy Orang's Avatar
Those look like amazing cards, @Son of Arathorn - can I ask what the figures are? I may have to pick them up!
Posted June 30th, 2018 at 03:16 PM by Lazy Orang Lazy Orang is offline
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