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Week @ Heroscapers, January 27th 2011

Posted January 27th, 2011 at 09:49 AM by truth
SoV Special!

In order to clarify exactly what these hard working people do in the Soldiers of Valhalla project we decided to interview their lead judges.

First off I would like to thank Killometer and the rest of the Soldiers of Valhalla team for taking the time to sit down with us and discuss what they do over at the Soldiers of Valhalla project.

Chardar: The Soldiers of Valhalla project is the most rigorous of all of the custom testing projects. What inspired you to create and work on such a massive undertaking?

1Mmirg: With the end of official units, we felt like it would be a great service to sift through the many customs available and find those that really shine, really add the most to the game, and that are fully compatible with all current Scape figures.

We also wanted to keep the sculpts things that people can likely find and use. The goal, for me at least, is to add to the range of Scape, allow more players to play with truly excellent and inspired units that match well with all the designers gave us.

Dad Scaper: When I first read Killometer's description of how such a group might operate, I told him it wouldn't work. There's no way, I thought, the judges would be able to handle the flood of quality nominees, and the sculpts would be too hard to get.

Then he pointed me to the thread where he'd already started. I saw he was determined, and a determined boss with a good cause is a fine thing. So I signed up, and we committed to high standards and available figs, and all these great 'Scapers agreed to be judges, and I'm just happy to have the opportunity to read their stray thoughts. Mostly I try not to break anything & stay out of their way.

Killometer-I was part of a discussion in the "Is the C3V the future?" thread, and concerns about the C3V team cliquing off kept arising, and at one point I suggested that someone pursue a BoV-style customs project, where any community member could have a unit put through a rigorous testing procedure to try to determine its balance. That someone just ended up being me.

Getting started, I was lucky to have a fantastic team come together very quickly to help me pound everything out (I could spend an entire article just effusing about my fellow judges), and I got some invaluable help from the admins.

Once we were together, we were fortunate to have a framework for this project already laid out by the BoV. A lot of our rules and regs we were able to crib from them, just changing "maps" to "units."

Lamaclown- I have been involved in the customs community since day one of my membership at HSers. I was always impressed with the creativity and game-sense of the customs community and saw many customs that I wished were ďofficialĒ.

During all the discussion preceding the forming of the C3V one thing became certain to me- I wanted to do whatever I could to help keep our great game and community going. During that discussion, Killometer made a proposal that resonated with my love of the customs community and their fruit- take existing customs and put them through a rigorous process to determine their viability as official-like units.

I didnít immediately volunteer to be a part of it because of my lack of competitive experience. I finally bit the bullet and tossed my name in the hat and the other SoV members had a momentary lapse of judgment and here I am as an SoV judge.

I really appreciate all I have learned from my fellow judges and the great encouragement they have been to me.

Chardar: What criteria do you use when deciding what units to review, and was there a unit that you personally liked that didn't make the cut?

I am looking for a unit that feels like it seamlessly fits into Scape as we know it, that feels balanced, carefully thought out, and fun to play.

I like all the units--each is fun--but I don't lament the loss of any that miss a cut. I enjoy reading each custom, but the cut is about offering more than a good idea--it needs to be an excellent finished product, ready to purchase and play by any Scaper.

It's never a loss to give a unit exposure, even if it doesn't fit into the SoV.

Dad Scaper: This is the order I go in; it works for me because the questions go from easiest-to-answer to hardest-to-answer.

The first thing I look for is typos, misspellings, and other violations of the English language on the card. Or a nomination without an identified mini. Those are the easiest to eliminate. Example: Deathwalker 10000.

Next is mini availability. (Sad) Example: Zombikazes.

Next I look for clarity: Do I understand what each power is? Would my kid understand what each power is? Example: Swarm Gruts.

Next I look for theme. Does the figure fit neatly into the HeroScape environment? Does it have the right level of whimsy, and interconnectedness, and character? Asmodeus - this is (I think) a very personal objection I had to this one; HeroScape just does not lift figures directly from fictional worlds and create units for them.

Then the mechanical stuff: Do the mechanics of this card present a unit that plays well on the battlefield, or is it broken in some way? Gor'Vath - Great powers. But broken on the battlefield.

Finally, the metagame. This is the toughest question for me. Will this unit give an unneeded push to one (or some) of the already top tier armies? Utgar Raelin - qt. bangerang clearly put a lot of work into this figure, which was nominated twice. Focusing on the second iteration of this custom: A Raelin costing 30 points more but never needing an OM is just too close to messing with the metagame in a bad way.

The minute we approve a figure not up to our high standards we compromise the service we are attempting to provide the community.

Killometer-Balance first (are its points close, or does it somehow break the game), creativity second (does it bring something new to the table, while still fitting in the HS "world"), hardware third (figures and card).

krysto2002's Swarm Gruts was a unit that I found interesting. In the end there were too many questions about their ability's wording and sculpt availability for them to move on.

Lamaclown- There are several things I look for on the first viewing of a card.
- Does this unit represent a unique and well thought out unit? I donít want to pass units that look like the creator slapped it together 5 minutes before he nominated it.

- Does the format of the card look official. I know that doesnít sound real important but if a card comes to us that has poorly worded ability text and non-standard formatting it tells me there is a good chance the creator hasnít spent much time with official units or looking at official cards. Without that experience it is doubtful the custom will fit in with official units.

- Is the chosen figure available to the public in reasonable quantities? It is no fun seeing a great unit that you can only hope to proxy.

There are others but those are some of the first things I look at.

As for the second part of the question, there, honestly, was something about almost all of the nominated cards I liked.

Chardar: After a unit is selected to be reviewed by the Soldiers of Valhalla how exactly do you test it?

1Mmirg: Personally, I run the unit looking for broken combinations. I play a few games for fun to get a feel of the unit and then I try to break it. There's more to it, but that's the basics of it.

Dad Scaper: Playtesting, followed by theoryscaping here and behind closed doors, followed by additional playtesting triggered by the theoryscaping.

Killometer-I play it some, to get a feel for it, then theoryscape it and mathscape it, to try to figure out its best and worst armies, and its best and worst matchups, then I start to throw those combinations at each other and see if I can break it.

One of the things that we intentionally kept open when setting down how we function was each judge's choice on how they test the units. This seemed like the best way to ensure the widest variety of playing experiences with a unit.

Lamaclown- I typically go with a C3G format of testing for most of the stuff.

After some insightful posts in the SoV thread, however, I have also added a couple of tests to see how the figure plays in campaigns and scenarios and not just kill-em all games.

Chardar: Where would someone who was interested in getting involved with the Soldiers of Valhalla get involved?

1Mmirg: Comb the customs, suggest great units, try some out, offer feedback in the discussion thread. I love to hear about great units, I love to hear about Scapers' playtests and feelings and responses to units.

As with the BoV, judges will rotate and if you are involved and helpful, you may even be nominated to judge some day. For now, just get involved with constructive posts ("positive, productive posts"). I love seeing people in the discussion thread.

Dad Scaper: In the thread. We love to read the contributions of the theoryscapers who are interested in our work. I suppose if someone wanted to join he should let Killometer know, but it would be helpful to see the person's contributions in the thread. The theoryscaping and playtesting can all go on right there with us.

Killometer-The SoV Discussion thread. We love to read peoples thoughts, both RealScape and TheoryScape, on units that have been nominated or are under review. I read every single post in that thread, and I have seen lots of great information and critiques there.

Eventually we will need new judges, and that thread is the first place we will look for posters who are enthusiastic, knowledgable and, um, write real good.

Lamaclown- If someone really wants to be considered for an official position (when one comes up) the best way to do that is by being active in the SoV thread by giving input on nominated units and even on units under review. We love getting input from the community as a whole- that was the driving motivation behind SoV afterall.

Chardar: Currently Soldiers of Valhalla has not passed a unit, but what is your personal favorite of all units you have reviewed thus far, either rejected or currently in review?

1Mmirg: It's too early to say. I hope that the Zombie Hulk comes through in my tests. It looks like a great way to appropriately add to the Zombies--who I love to play (competitive or not). But so far we've really only given a hard playtest to a handful of units.

I'm excited for what is coming. I think this project has immense potential. I look forward to Scapers embracing this effort and making it really work.

Thanks for the interview, Chardar--and to all the Scapers who make this community great!

Dad Scaper: I really liked Gor'Vath. I loved how clean his card was and how much he offered the game with his simple mechanics. The theme was right on and he really could have come right out of the official canon. If only he wasn't broken...

You didn't ask, Chardar, but I wanted to say this one other thing.

It really pains me to see the creators of some of these fine units be disappointed when we elect not to review their units. It really does.

I try to be right every time but I'm sure sometimes I'm not. I also try to take into consideration things the creator might just not prioritize: Would a 10 year old understand how this works? Will this mess unnecessarily with the tournament metagame? That sort of thing.

It's never, ever personal, and it pains me to see people upset. We're doing the best we can, and so far I think we're doing a good job.

Killometer-I'll always have a special place in my heart for robbdaman's Gor'Vath. Unfortunately I had to vote no to induct him, but he was an absolute blast to play (Gor'Vath vs. Krug is EPIC!), plus he was the first unit we voted on to review.

Lamaclown- Hextr1pís Zombikazes all the way! I have never had so much fun playing a unit before. They were innovative and made for some very interesting in-game decisions and strategy. Fun, fun, fun!

Even if they donít make the cut, I ordered 2 squads of them and plan on using them regularly.

Once again thank you for agreeing to this interview. It really means a lot to us. I hope you enjoyed reading our interview of the Soldiers of Valhalla team. Be sure to check out the Soldiers of Valhalla thread.
Posted in Week@Heroscapers
Comments 46
Total Comments 46


1Mmirg's Avatar
Thank you, Chardar. I hope that Scapers will continue to embrace the SoV and find an ongoing supply of excellent, ready-to-play customs, for years to come. Welcome to the era of FanScape!
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 09:57 AM by 1Mmirg 1Mmirg is offline
Johngee's Avatar
Very C0^0L ... I love the idea of FAN-Scape. Thanks.
&obtw: I never thought I'd ever be SECOND.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 10:18 AM by Johngee Johngee is offline
Updated January 27th, 2011 at 11:17 AM by Johngee
Dad_Scaper's Avatar
Thanks for the opportunity, Chardar, I enjoyed answering your questions. JohnGee, thanks for your interest, if you can make the trek down to one of my events in Savage I'll be allowing SoV (and C3V) units in the future.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 10:28 AM by Dad_Scaper Dad_Scaper is offline
Balantai's Avatar
Keep up the great work, guys! It's nice to see another project featured on the front page.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 11:11 AM by Balantai Balantai is offline
Johngee's Avatar

Reply to: Soldiers of Valhalla

Actually, I haven't been too keen on the idea of Customized Units showing up at HS events, because I never understood the playtesting process and probably didn't have a lot of confidence in the judges, but after reading this interview I'm more inclined to accept the fact that the SoV team is serious about enhancing this (no pun intended) marvelous game system and not just pushing out a bunch of miscellaneous units the way WotC might have, if they had their way.

Whenever I show up at one of our local (Mid-Atlantic / Eastern PA) tournaments, I usually show off one of the latest miniature figurines that I found at a yardsale, flea market, second hand or dollar store. And then joke about us trending toward Toy-Story-'Scape, Disney-'Scape, or Harry-Potter-'Scape, etc.

I'm always looking for characters to use as PROXIES to enhance a particular theme; i.e. an Indian Shaman to replace the lizard-like Venoc Warlord, to use with the Mohican River Tribesmen (for the +2 Scout movement bonus). I'm all in favor of PROXIES, that won't disrupt the game's basic mechanics or the balance of powers, such as using the Heavy Gruts card description for Elven infantry or Westron / Templar spearmen.

Now I'm excited about seeing what you guys have in the pipeline to eventually sanction as Semi-Official new units. So keep up the good work and I'll keep in touch. obtw: In four months my wife and I will be relocated to APG, MD so I'm hoping to make it down to the Baltimore area (including Savage) more often during the coming (not soon enough) summer months.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 11:16 AM by Johngee Johngee is offline
Porkins's Avatar
So the difference between C3V and SOV is that while C3V is creating, reviewing and releasing their own designs, SOV is reviewing and "approving" designs that others create. Is this correct?
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 11:26 AM by Porkins Porkins is offline
dok's Avatar
Originally Posted by Porkins
So the difference between C3V and SOV is that while C3V is creating, reviewing and releasing their own designs, SOV is reviewing and "approving" designs that others create. Is this correct?
Yes, that's the fundamental difference. The other major difference is that the SoV is a open project with most of the discussion taking place on a public forum, while the C3V folks (again, mostly) do their thing in a private forum.

Speaking personally, I've been extremely happy with the level of scrutiny and professionalism the SoV judges have shown. Keep up the good work, guys.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 12:09 PM by dok dok is offline
Killometer's Avatar
Thanks for the interview Chardar, and thanks for setting us up on the front page, truth.

@Porkins-You hit the nail on the head. The C3V is designing complete waves from the ground up, and the SoV reviews individual customs nominated by the community.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 12:10 PM by Killometer Killometer is offline
ZBeeblebrox's Avatar
Thanks Chardar for the opportunity to be heard by the community (even though I got my interview in too late )
I hope this can help encourage more people to particpate in the SoV process and test and nominate great customs of this community.

-ZB, the silent SoV judge
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 12:19 PM by ZBeeblebrox ZBeeblebrox is offline
DBC's Avatar
I am curious as to how you guys will be solving the problem with availability.
If the miniatures are taken from collectable games, it will not take long before they get hard to find and eventually fairly expensive.
But what other suitable stuff is out there?
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 01:01 PM by DBC DBC is offline
mrkurtb's Avatar
Keep up the good work guys.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 01:05 PM by mrkurtb mrkurtb is offline
Killometer's Avatar
@DBC-Figure availability is actually one of the key things we take into consideration when deciding to review and reviewing a unit.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 01:08 PM by Killometer Killometer is offline
Lamaclown's Avatar
Thanks again, Chardar, for a great interview and the opportunity to share the heart behind SoV with the community.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 01:29 PM by Lamaclown Lamaclown is offline
Pilgrim's Avatar
This is a really great idea. I'm glad nyys is on the team.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 01:39 PM by Pilgrim Pilgrim is offline
Taeblewalker's Avatar
Nice work!
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 02:32 PM by Taeblewalker Taeblewalker is offline
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