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Marvel HeroScape Review

Posted July 11th, 2007 at 06:06 PM by truth
Updated April 14th, 2008 at 03:54 PM by truth
Heroscaper Wytefang* is the first lucky 'scaper to get the new Marvel set in his hands.* He's got a review for us.* Wytefang writes:

Marvel Legends HeroScape has finally arrived at HouseMouseGames.com and is shipping out to eager fans, all over the world. I received mine last Friday and since I’ve had some good time to play with these figures already, Truth has graciously allowed me to write a quick review of this inaugural Superhero Master Set.

My first impression of this exciting new setting in the HeroScape system was that the Master Set box wasn’t very big. This is primarily due to the smaller amount of included terrain than you’d find in a ‘classic’ HeroScape Master Set. Ostensibly this was done to keep games close-up, fast, and personal and it definitely works as anticipated. Battles in the Marvel Legends game are frenetic, hard-hitting slug-fests – perfectly suited to the ten powerful Marvel superheroes included in the Legends Master Set. Super-powered characters range in scope from brawlers like Captain America or the Red Skull, all the way up to cosmic titans like Thanos or the Silver Surfer, with the Incredible Hulk costing more than any other HeroScape figure, ever! Probably the coolest thing about these units is how cleverly they capture the powers and abilities of each superhero in HeroScape game mechanics, but enough yakking, let’s go check ‘em all out…

The paragon of patriotism, Captain America is a very utilitarian figure who can stand on his own in a slug-fest on offense or defense (thanks to Counter Strike) but who can also provide you with a multiple ranged attack courtesy of his amazing Vibranium shield. His
Tactician ability, which provides a 1-point Off/Def stat boost to all adjacent friendly figures, makes him the most well-positioned Marvel figure for success in mixed games between the two game settings.

His figure, though not as dynamic as some of the other figures’ poses, is extremely suitable for such a proud American superhero.

Spider-man, arguably one of the best known of all the Marvel heroes, is certainly one of the weaker figures in the set, offensively, but by no means the least useful for his cost. At 160 points, he has a very solid attack and defense as well as a nifty ranged web special attack that degrades an opponent’s defenses. His Spidey-Sense and Swing-line abilities make him one of the toughest foes to knock out as well as one of the most mobile opponents. He’ll fit well for glyph-rushing duties or ‘guerilla tactics’ style combatant, able to hit and run at will. He also has the Super-Strength designation (the ‘S’ symbol at the bottom of the card) which makes falling damage (other than extreme falling damage) ineffectual against him and grants him a bonus versus the included destructible wall terrain piece from the Marvel Legends set.

His sculpt captures him in mid-web attack and I have to admit, was a bit less impressive than I’d hoped for in a character so insanely limber but the figure does manage to (at least) capture his spirit and personality adequately.

Venom, the horrific melding of alien symbiote and ticked-off shlock reporter Eddie Brock, is a bit cheaper than his arachnid rival, Spider-man, but packs a meaner punch offensively, with a 6 attack versus Spidey’s 4. However, his Spidey-Sense is a wee bit less effective, at 14, than Peter Parker’s, so he should be easier to hit. Again, this is another useful hit-and-run warrior who can occasionally stand up to the big boys in the set (or in classic HeroScape) and deal out his own share of hurt. The only disappointment I had (and some others may have, as well) with his powers is that he should be listed as being immune to Spider-man’s Spidey-Sense, just like he is in the comic books. It seems like there was ample room to list this fact but the designers may have omitted it for game balance purposes.

His sculpt is more ‘buff’ than Spidey’s which it should be and the sculptor has even captured his trademark drooling, snake-length tongue and sharp teeth – you can easily feel the rage bursting out of him in this awesome pose.

The Red Skull, aside from being one of Captain America’s arch-enemies, is one of the more intriguingly-powered figures in this set. His bait-and-switch Master Manipulator ability could prove useful in both Marvel HeroScape matches and mixed matches from both the Valhalla and the Marvel Universes. The Dust of Death ability makes him similar to Runa from classic HeroScape Wave 6 and won’t be an ability that is terribly reliable, though when it works, it’ll prove devastatingly useful. His stats are well-rounded for his cost with a potent ranged attack, decent movement, and a good life tally but his low defense, in a game with some serious offensive juggernauts, makes him tricky to keep alive for very long.

His particular sculpt is crisp with battle-scuffed clothing and two menacing pistols – one in each hand. There is some nice detail work on his inner shirt, making him one of the more precisely crafted figures in the game.

Tony Stark is ‘Iron Man’, an electro-mechanical marvel (pun intended) of engineering genius. He’s a tough figure to dislike but there are reasons players might find him less exciting than he could be. One of these is that his powers seem less wide-ranging than they are in his comic book series. His armored battle-suit (in comic books) seems almost Batman-like in its breadth of weaponry and utilitarian options yet he’s given only two special powers in Marvel Legends – flight and a double-attack. It’s not that he isn’t powerful – with a 4 attack, a ranged attack of 6 (as well as the flight), and a tough 6 defense – it’s just that he seems like less of a superhero than he is in his own book. He’s higher-priced as well but the cost matches his abilities and stats, for the most part - no Taelord here, folks. His high movement and flying ability should help keep him very mobile in a fight, which is never a bad thing. He doesn’t have the highest hit-points, which is his primary weakness, so he seems best-suited for repulsor hand-blasts from afar rather than a stand-up slugging match.

Despite the careful crafting of his armor joints within the sculpt itself, the paint job looks a bit too blobby in most areas of his face and also in any of the yellow areas. He may be a figure that would benefit from a more precise custom paint job. His pose isn’t terribly intriguing though it isn’t necessary horrible either – it’s just kind of average.

The self-proclaimed Lord of Latveria (who would argue the title?) has one of the more useful, albeit unreliable, powers in Marvel Legends HS with his Mind Exchange ability. To use this skill, Doom need only roll a 17 or higher, which is a bit easier to pull-off than any of the mind-shackle abilities of the Marro heroes, though it’s admittedly temporary. However, even one free turn with any of the Marvel heroes is a worthy score indeed, so it’s not a power to take lightly. This mad tyrant’s stats are cringe-inducing for your opponents, with nearly 6’s across the board in every stat other than attack (at 5) and life points at 4. It would have been cool if he’d come with some Doom-bots or a Doom-bot related power of some sort, that could enable him cheat death (as he all-so-frequently does in the comic books) but he’s still an extremely potent combatant regardless with both flight and good range, he can put the hurt on someone fast. His cost seems quite appropriate and he’d make a good figurehead for any mixed army, especially if you match him with some of the mind-shackling Marro units to keep the ‘capture figures’ theme going.

Doom’s sculpt is one of the best in the set – nearly perfect in every way. It’s a well-done pose with a very cleanly sculpted set of body armor and the green tunic is highlighted perfectly over his armor. He’s one of my favorite miniatures in the set.

What more can you say about a character who packs the potentially highest attack in all of HeroScape? The Incredible Hulk truly lives up to his name with a Krug-like wound-enhanced Attack score (up to 11) and a tough defense (6). His Super Leap can land across half of most medium-sized maps and his classic Stomp special attack makes him dangerous in close quarters as well. His powerful nature is mitigated, somewhat, by the rolling of 3 less attack dice when using his Super Leap. One important consideration when picking Hulk is that he has a whopping 8 life, making him time-consuming to knock-out. He’s a fearsome behemoth with a cost to match. You’ll have a small team if you mix Hulk with classic HeroScape (within normal army cost constraints) but you probably won’t need a lot of figures with ol’ Green-skin around.

Along with Dr. Doom and the Red Skull, the Hulk is one of the most impressive sculpts in the set. He’s not as large as Krug but that matches their stated sizes, respectively. He still dwarfs the other Marvel Heroes which is appropriate. The wash effect on his green skin is particularly well-done and he’s in that classic ‘Hulk smash’ mode that we’ve all seen a million times.

The Abomination is one of Hulk’s oldest foes and as such, he’s quite the powerhouse himself. His 7 attack strength makes him the best straight offensive character in the Marvel game (un-aided by special powers like Hulk’s wound-enhancing strength, for example) though he’s mostly a lower-cost Hulk all things considered. For 50 points less you still get quite a slugger but a slugger sans range, though this omission is tempered by his ability to (probably) reach you in a single Super Leap, ala the Hulk.

The abomination’s sculpt is a uniform swamp green but the cool texturing on his skin sets him apart from the other figures. Unfortunately he’s another blobby paint figure, much like Iron Man. Still, his unusual and grotesque appearance seems to have been well-captured by this sculpt.

Probably one of the most striking heroes in the Marvel mythos, the Silver Surfer aka Norrin Radd, is chock-loaded with special powers that make his every bit as useful as the other figures in this set. He has a better life total than most of the lower-cost figures at 6, a very good movement, which is made even better by the Hyper Speed 5 special power that allows him to move an extra 5 spaces for a whopping total of 11 spaces, and he’s tied for the best defensive score in the game at 7, with his nemesis, ‘Thanos’. His Cosmic Force Blast special attack (at a range of 6, attack 6) combined with his normal movement of 6 means that he can ‘reach out and touch someone’ from 12 spaces away! Norrin Radd’s only weak spot is his rather mundane regular attack and range scores of 4 but those are hardly deal-breakers in the big picture. He’s on the expensive end of the spectrum at a whopping 320 but he’s worth every penny.

This was probably the easiest color-scheme of all the Marvel Legends characters – pure silver – but it had to be a more difficult sculpt for capturing the ‘essence’ of the Silver Surfer himself. Hasbro’s sculptor has nailed that whole ‘soaring through the solar system’ feel of the one-time Herald of Galactus. The whole ‘blobby’ paint issue (again) rears its ugly head here though the effect isn’t as bad as it is with Iron Man.

Finally, we come to Thanos, the paramour of Lady Death, and a Titan of Saturn as well. Thanos is nearly the same price as the Hulk and with very good reason. The release of his card on Hasbro’s web-page sent Marvel fans in a tizzy at his high cost (only 10 less than the Hulk’s) and amazing ‘Rejected by Death’ resurrection power. It doesn’t hurt that he has all 6’s for life, movement, range, and attack and is tied with his old foe, the Silver Surfer, for the best defense in the game at 7. He can also fly, making him extremely mobile with an effective combined attack range of 12, the same as the Silver Surfer. Thanos is a near-diety in the Marvel universe and though some may claim that he’s watered down here, if so, it’s primarily to keep game balance aligned. He’d make a fine primary champion for any mixed army.

Much like Dr. Doom’s figure, Thanos has been well-detailed in sculpt-form with his prototypical color scheme and a fearsome ‘come get some’ stance that admirably captures his arrogant, power-mad attitude. This is one of the more impressive figures in the set, graphically and thematically.


With the super-units out of the way, all that’s left from this set are two generic artifact glyphs that are well-implemented into the back-page scenarios of the Marvel rulebook and some nifty new terrain pieces – asphalt and concrete – along with some grass hexes. These new terrain types don’t offer any special movement restrictions or enhancements but they should prove useful for keeping classic HeroScape maps unique-looking and they’re certainly helpful for creating small urban-style environments in keeping with the quick-play aspect of Marvel Legends.

The last addition to this set is a unique terrain piece that includes a breakaway wall segment within a broken corner of a warehouse building. The wall segment comes with its own card and acts much like the Castle Door from classic HeroScape, although a bit tougher. It’s a nifty piece of terrain that should add some nice visual diversity in Marvel clashes or on classic HeroScape battlefields.

With an excellent mix of sculpts and unit powers, a well-recognized theme and setting (the Marvel Universe), and some excellent game scenarios, the Marvel Legends set has brought a whole new intensity and power level to the HeroScape system. Fans of fun unit powers or comic book superheroes will be very pleased with this first set, in what is hopefully a long-lasting and successful new line of HeroScape products.
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I love the Marvel set, and agree that it can be used in "clasic" Heroscape. My favorite power is Red Skull’s Master Manipulator ability. It is best used when a hero you intended to use is killed. You atleast get to use all your order markers.
Posted March 24th, 2009 at 11:27 PM by Scapegeek Scapegeek is offline
EliteAztec's Avatar
It was my very first Heroscape set, and let me just say, it is one of the best. It's third place in my imaginary ranks, right behind the Rise of the Valkyrie Master set and The Swarm of The Marro set. The Breaking wall just blends right in with the Marvel theme.
Posted April 29th, 2009 at 03:16 PM by EliteAztec EliteAztec is offline
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