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Why Heroscapers should buy Magic:Arena of the Planeswalkers

Posted July 13th, 2017 at 05:38 PM by lefton4ya
Updated August 14th, 2017 at 01:20 PM by lefton4ya
This is my first attempt at a “blog” style post but I felt I must post this as a PSA both to Heroscapers and for the game Magic: the Gathering - Arena of the Planeswalkers. I am 95% sure the game is dead/discontinued, but that does not stop why people should buy. Tom Vasel made an excellent video that explains the similarities, differences, and some reasons Heroscapers should get.

M:tG Arena of the Planeswalkers compared to Heroscape
However, I thought I would compile some well thought-out reasons why everyone at this site should get the three available sets.
  • It is cheap and easy to get! Right now, you can get all three sets for less than $30 (actually both master sets for $5 each on HasbroToyShop on eBay); see MtG:Arena of the Planeswalkers - Sales Online for links to buy each set with prices, but you can also get at some Wal-Marts, Toys-R-Us and local game stores. Even compared to the original MSRP of Heroscape sets it is the same price as one Master Set to get two Master Sets and one large expansion. Also consider Heroscape is going for about double MSRP and is hard to buy from a reputable retailer other than eBay, very niche sellers, or trade forums. If the reason you claim to not buy MtG:AotP is due to price and you have more than a couple sets of Heroscape, you are lying to yourself, and have another real reason.
  • Yes, it does not come with that much terrain, but if you have at least one Heroscape master set that is more than enough for most people, and all terrain is 100% compatible in both map building and rules so you can play on the exact same maps.
  • However, it can set up way quicker and is more portable. I keep the terrain from both Arena of the Plansewalkers and Shadows over Innistrad master sets plus one RttFF and some extra grass hexes in the SoI master set box, and the figures and cards and dice/markers in another box. I have took the two boxes and set up in a bar for BYOBG in about 15 min (including passing out premade armies, decks and dice).
  • You can use the mats to make Heroscape games set-up quicker, plus the Cryptoliths are a nice little terrain addition. See Herosape and Magic:AotP Cryptolith Map Contest for some combined maps.
  • You can use the figures as customs for Heroscape or combine the games. See @TREX ’s Heroscape/AOTP Mixed Play Rules and the rest of the AotP Blender forum.
  • As a stand-alone game comparing having all three MtG:AotP sets to having Heroscape Master Set 1 & 2 and one large figure expansion such as Orm’s return or Raknar’s Vision, I would say that Magic:Arena is about the same complexity/difficulty (Spell cards vs. Order Markers) but is more streamlined (Summoning, no common squads). I have found games last about the same time as it takes more time to make decisions on spells but less time moving characters across the board to be able to attack. Again, not counting terrain and expansions I think the two games are about equal objectively in terms of gameplay and if you were introduced to both games at the same time most people would only find slight subjective advantages to one or the other.
  • However, it is a lot easier for new people to get into than Heroscape. The cost and availability as well as product learning curve is a huge factor as most people would shy away from a long defunct game that you tell them “Get some sets on eBay, others on a trade forum, or scour craigslist and thrift stores – oh and you need to look up the 60 sets of figures and their ratings to see what you might like and be prepared to pay in the $1000s if you want it all” rather than “Go to Wal-Mart toy isle to check clearance, and/or buy on Amazon and buy all 3 sets for about $40.” I would tell newbies to also buy one Heroscape master set for terrain and dice, but even a partial set would do and could be bought for another $30 max.
  • The only disadvantages are:
    • It only has 3 sets, while Heroscape has a lot more sets to add more army diversity and synergy
    • No common squads (although some people do not think this is a disadvantage, especially in cost and storage)
    • The theme of “Battle of All Time” with robots, orcs on dinosaurs, historical units from around the world, in addition to fantasy units is a lot better than the Magic: The Gathering universe, unless you are a super Magic fan.
    • And of course, not all the figures come painted and the cardboard terrain does not look as cool.
  • The spell cards, summoning, multi-life squads, and cryptliths add something new to the game. If you want you can play with Order Markers, use your Heroscape terrain, and paint the figures, so the only thing you are “loosing” from Heroscape is common squads and theme and synergy options of all the expansions, but you can even mix the armies and make custom synergy where general=color and tweak some of the species/personality/class to not lose anything. It may turn some people off as spells seem more “swingy” or if deck-building is not your thing, but for those who want a new strategic challenge without taking away the strategy of Heroscape, this is for you.
  • Capitalism as Democracy: Even though the game is practically discontinued, if enough people buy up the remaining sets, renewed interest is a vote to spark Hasbro/WotC to reuse or sell the IP.
I am not saying that MtG:AotP is better than Heroscape, just that it should be an alternative at every Heroscaper’s house. In short, Magic the Gathering: Arena of the Plansewalkers can be set-up quicker than Heroscape, is easier and more appealing to get your friends who never played or are only casual Heroscapers to play with you, adds some new strategy if you want to change things up, and is a cheap addition to your collection if you combine the two games.

Agree or disagree? Did I convince you to buy? If not, why not (again money is not a real option as even if you are short on $, you could sell one Heroscape set to pay for 3 MtG:AotP sets)?
Total Comments 5


Lazy Orang's Avatar
I'm actually already getting the base set for my birthday - seems like it could make for a really fun game/Heroscape expansion, when you work out how to fuse it with regular 'Scape.
Posted July 17th, 2017 at 09:53 AM by Lazy Orang Lazy Orang is offline
Taeblewalker's Avatar
In Brooklyn we (the NYC gang of four) tried a mixed game and it worked out well.
Posted July 17th, 2017 at 04:09 PM by Taeblewalker Taeblewalker is online now
I picked up all three sets after playing the base game and really enjoying it with my family. The value was too high to pass up when the prices dropped drastically over the 2016 holiday season. I enjoy the game on it's own and don't really desire to mix it with Heroscape other than using terrain from Heroscape to make the maps for Arena more interesting and tactical. Even with only three sets released, there is a lot here to play with with all the Planeswalkers of single and dual colors, units, and spell cards. It's just too cheap and too good (if you already enjoy Heroscape, which if you're here you probably do) to pass on.
Posted August 11th, 2017 at 12:17 PM by rudyvalentine rudyvalentine is offline
I got into AotP earlier this year when the MS went on sale on Amazon for around $15. Since then, I've purchased both expansions and gotten my hands on a HS master set plus another handful of odd terrain tiles, and my wife and I both love the game. We have no intention of getting deep into Heroscape, but Arena fulfills our desire for a medium-weight game if we've got an evening free and don't feel like watching TV.

I've really been enjoying painting all the unpainted minis, which is also adding a nice degree of immersion to the games. The lack of terrain isn't really problematic considering the wide AoE the Planeswalkers have in summoning units, but some well-planned elevation changes can really step up the overall quality of a skirmish when considering the interactions between melee, range, and flying figures.

All in all, I agree with your assessment of the game. It's a fantastic way to spend <$40, get a big ol' pile of miniatures, have a handful of cool scenarios that take less than ten or fifteen minutes to prep, and get your game on. If you want more complexity, there's some (admittedly limited) deck- and army-building options if you have all three sets.

I will say that I wish there were more canon scenarios in the rulebooks, particularly for two players. The MS only had two scenarios suitable for two players, and beyond that only SoI had a single 1v1. All the other canon scenarios are 1vMany or 2v2.

TL;DR: Great game, great value, tons of fun. Well worth $40 for the minis alone, plus some cool medium-weight wargaming.
Posted August 11th, 2017 at 05:55 PM by obisean obisean is offline
Nukatha's Avatar
The only downside is that I'm left wanting more (especially due to the couple game mechanics mentioned in the rulebook that aren't in the final game).
Posted December 15th, 2017 at 10:59 PM by Nukatha Nukatha is offline
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