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Q & A with Wizards of the Coast

Posted February 14th, 2008 at 08:43 PM by truth
Updated April 14th, 2008 at 02:57 PM by truth
If you have not been following along on our forums you have missed a great deal of Heroscape News.* Wizards of the Coast representative - Paul Barclay has been answering questions posed to him by the community of heroscapers gathered here.* We have compiled these questions and Paul's answers to them.* I now bring the results of that ongoing Q & A session here to the front page.

Design Questions:

Is the design team staying on HS?
WotC: Yes, kind of. There's been some shifting of responsibilities. The Heroscape playtester team have been given more responsibility for design and development of the sets. They've done a stellar job over the last 5 sets, and we're expecting them to do even better over the next 5 and beyond. Craig is working with them and with the R&D lead here at Wizards (Henry Stern, designer of Vegas Showdown) to keep everything running smoothly.

Will CVN play any role in future design/development? If so what specific role?
WotC: He's going to play two critical roles. First, as a consultant on design and development, and second, as a voice for maintaining the vision of the brand.

Craig is involved in the transition of Heroscape. Long-term, he's not assigned to the brand - he's got other Hasbro responsibilities that he has to do in order to feed his kids. However, we couldn't tear him away from Heroscape if we tried, so he's still going to be active on the playtest forums, and he's very involved in working with our team on the transition. He's also been very influential in making sure the vision and direction of the game stays the same.

Will the old cards receive much errata when re-released?
WotC: If they need errata (because there was a bad mistake), then they'll get it if we do more than just reprint a set. But, we don't make random power level changes to minis.

Will the rules be updated/cleaned up in any fashion in the near future?
WotC: Not in the near future, but I could see some clarifications in the medium-term.

Is there also a possibility of creating a set of world books and things to bring the HS world to life in the D20 rule system?
WotC: Right now, our RPG guys are a "little" busy with D&D 4th Edition.

Are we likely to see more terrain shapes upcoming such as 'reversed' 24 hexes, 24 hex sand, and multi-hex water?
WotC: Our effort's going to be sculpting (1) new figures, and (2) new terrian elements. New hexes are going to be a third priority (with something like 24-hex sand, or other different colors being the easiest to do).

Wizards of the Coast tends to have a business model based on recycling it's product line over a certain time frame within it's customer base—the new and old products are usually not entirely compatible. Will Heroscape continue to be 100% backward compatible?
WotC: Heroscape is going to stay backwards-compatible. I can't predict out past 3 or so years, but I don't see any major changes coming within that timeframe.

Wizards of the Coast stuff has a certain type of unified look and feel across it's product lines - a kind of gothic-punk fantasy look. Will Heroscape retain the more simple/classic stylization that it currently has?
WotC: We're keeping the Heroscape look and feel.

Are you and the new staffers players too? The best way to get into the HS mindset is by trying the game on for size to gain a better perspective of why we're after what we're after.
WotC: I've played some, but not a great deal - normally, I'm lucky if I get to play even a couple of games of the products I work on. I'm not a hardcore (or great) player by any means, but I've held my own against the Hasbro designers in the past.

There are also a bunch of people around the office who have been players forever, and since it's now in our product room, the number of players is growing rapidly. Strangely, people seem to like it.

Are you going to change the card design?
WotC:We're keeping the card design as is - photos, and hex-shaped.


Aquilla’s Alliance and Ticalla Jungle:

Is there any news on when Aquilla's Alliance and Ticalla Jungle will be released?
WotC: This is a tricky one. As you know, the Jungle set was delayed for a number of reasons, including having to go back and rebuild a couple of the components from scratch. The downside of this is that, with the changes, we'd lose money if we produced this set. And that's not good for our long-term survival.

So, we've taken a step back, and looked for other ways that we can put trees into your hands. Our leading contender is something that solves two problems in one fell swoop. It'll give you the trees you want, and it gives the hobby stores the ability to sell terrain to people (they can't easily carry the master set because they can't make enough money on it).

Here's the plan: Cut the packaging down to a simple box with no window (saves a bunch of $), and put the following components in the box: 2 Trees, 2 Brush, and around 20 swamp/jungle-themed hex tiles (1, 2, 3, and 7-hex). At the same time, we're also looking at a desert terrain pack, containing rock formations (using the ice molds), with 5 rocks and a similar amount of sand/rock-themed terrain. Both of these would sell for $20, and would be sold in hobby stores.

Both of these will be a big test for how well future terrain packs will do. We're working on a plan that will put brand new terrain features (graves, statues, columns, walls, whatever else we can come up with) out in similar packs for 2009. Look for another thread some point soon to discuss desired new terrain features.

Will the Aquilla general idea be discontinued altogether?
WotC: I definitely hear the voices on the jungle terrain. Our engineers are trying to get the cost of the product down, and any cost savings will go right back into putting more stuff into the packs. But, we're limited on what we can do.

Personally, I don't think the Aquilla [Alliance Large Pack] general idea works well enough the way it's been done. But, I think there's a definite place for large figs in Heroscape. We're going to give it more thought (and maybe you guys can help too) to figure out how it could work.

Am I understanding correctly, Aquilla may be scratched completely?
WotC: By "Aquilla", I was specifically referring to the Aquilla's Alliance set, not the character Aquilla - she's here to stay. If I said anything bad about her, she'd probably send some of the scarier parts of her army to kill me. Monks and spiders, I can deal with. But not those things.

Regarding the already completed figures for the Aquilla's Alliance set. Can we expect to see them eventually, somewhere?
WotC: Yes. We'll definitely release all of them. I don't have a timeline yet, but it will happen.

If the terrain is going to be repackaged as stated, what's going to happen to the spiders?
WotC: We'll release the spiders somewhere. Not yet sure where, but they're done, and they're cool, so they'll come out. The trees and brush look exactly like they did when you saw them.

Future Units and Releases:

Not all feel that Rise of the Valkyrie is the superior master set. Have we seen the end of Rise of the Valkyrie, with Swarm of the Marrow replacing it?
WotC: The Marro master set is the current set. We're not planning on reprinting the Valkyrie master set at this time (although I think we may have some still in stock). I imagine we'll be looking at a potential new master set later this year. Maybe it's time for (yet another) new thread about what makes a good master set...

Can you tell us anything about the inclusion of figures that are often requested (such as Native Americans, Ents, pirates, etc.)?
WotC: Native Americans are a definite.

Will new boosters include Glyphs (like Wave 1) or small terrain pieces, such as a rock or plant?
WotC: We've talked about this idea, but the first time it could really happen is wave 10.

Will we see an Einar war elephant and an Ullar tree village set?
WotC: Heh. Actually, the elephant could be really cool if we could get it to fit on a base.

What are the chances on another figure like the hive? A soulborg factory or something?
WotC: Interesting.

Any Ideas for a Aquilla flag bearer?
WocC: I don't, but I'm sure our playtesters have thought about it.

Any more orc heros like a grut riding a pteridactyle?
WotC: I haven't thought that far yet.

Are there any thoughts on general specific fortress sets?
WotC: None yet.

Will the convention exclusives be re-released to those who couldn't/can't go to the conventions?
WotC: No plans at this time, but things can change.

Are hard to find exclusives (Elite Onyx Vipers) ever going to be made available to the public at large? (Want badly, but not $79 badly.)
WotC: We'd have to do some serious thought before we'd consider doing that. On the one hand, they were released as exclusives. On the other hand, $80 is way too much to have to pay for a mini.

Will store exclusives be discontinued or will they be remade (i.e. Volcarrean Wasteland and Flagbearers)
WotC: We're not discontinuing anything at this time.

So, with Wizards' staff members on this site, does that mean they will look at custom threads for ideas of what HS fans want? I understand there may be a legal problem with this, in regards to whose idea it was, but what if the thread had something like:
"I NAME give permission to and encourage Wizards of the Coast staff members to use the ideas presented in this thread*"

WotC:As for customs, no, our designers won't look at the customs area of the site - we get into all kinds of sticky legal issues if we do, even if there are disclaimers etc. We'll mostly be looking at the various threads that have been set up for us to look at, so if you have anything you want to suggest, let us know in one of those threads.

Any chance on giving us the stats of the Wave 8 figures?
WotC:You'll get wave 8 stats before the wave comes out. Just not yet...

Marketing/Distribution:

What is the expected time between Wave releases?
WotC: I'd expect 4-6 months on average. We're going to try to make things more regular.

Would there be the possibility of offering the figures in waves of their own?
WotC: Possible - something like an "all-stars" set could be great.

Will Heroscape see an extended surge in marketing?
WotC: We're working on marketing plans too.

Will there be more official WotC scenarios like those done by Hasbro?
WotC: We're planning on doing more official scenarios.

Is it possible that we will see a LEGO like system over Heroscape.com allowing you to buy bulk of exactly what we want.
WotC: I like the idea of a hex-by-hex store, but I worry about the effort that it would require to put it into place and get it running. I'm going to keep the idea in the back of my mind - there could definitely be a right time for it.

Most of the shelves are completely wiped out of Heroscape in my area. When can we expect more product?
WotC: You'll probably see more product on shelf in Feb/Mar (I know there was some Wave 3 in the back room of one of our warehouses, and a few other things, so that should start trickling through). It's really hard to predict the stock control at the major stores.

You asked what we wanted to see distributed, but will you also take into account where it is sent?
WotC: The addition of hobby stores to our arsenal should help out the "where" a lot. (and yes, for the Canadians present, we do have Canadian distribution for hobby stores too)

When I compare the prices of CAN 'Scape to that of AMR 'Scape, even though our dollar is higher now, it still costs more than in the US. Do you have any control over this, or should I go yell at my Wal-Mart?
WotC: I don't have any control over Canadian prices at all, sorry.

What can you tell us about European distribution?
WotC: I do talk to the guys in Europe whenever I get the chance, but I don't control what they do - I can only suggest things to them.

I work for a local gaming store and I have the owner bring in what Waves I tell him if they have them, but they only have 7, I'm not really sure where he orders from, I will have to ask him... but will this change so he could order any Wave at any time
WotC:I imagine that it'll get a bit easier for you to get backlist product. Maybe not every wave, but definitely some. (and no, this won't happen immediately - we'd have to reorder, and that takes some time)

Will the old tree and road set make it back into production in some form, soon?
WotC:Yes. We've managed to secure a bunch of those packs for distribution to stores right now. We'll talk to the big chain stores (although this always takes time); if you want to see them in your local hobby store or online retailer, you should go in and ask them to order some.

The future of Tournaments:

Will there be any attempts to create an "official" competative environment including official tournament rules, tournament standings, and official tournament maps?
WotC: We're working on that question at the moment. It'll take us some time to get the right answer.

If and when WotC starts running official tournaments, will there be a restricted or banned list?
WotC: Too early to think about this yet. Ian will take these thoughts into account, I'm sure.

Any chance we could see some non-game related HS merchandise? Keyrings of the general's symbols, t-shirts with nifty slogans, etc. would probably sell well to us addicts
WotC: I like swag as much as the next gamer, but it's going to be a lower priority than some other stuff.

Marvel/Licensing Questions:

Is Marvel staying with Hasbro?
WotC: Marvel, yes. The Marvel booster wave is going to come out - our engineers are working on it now. We don't have a date for it yet, as it wasn't as complete as Wave 8 when it transitioned.

Are Marvel waves going to be released the same way as regular Heroscape, with four packs in a wave, large expansions, and terrain expansions?
WotC: Marvel waves are 2 packs per wave.

Does this open up some more leeway for DC Comics to sneak into the MARVELSCAPE line?
WotC: We're definitely releasing the already revealed expansion. But, I wouldn't expect DC Heroscape any time soon.

Will WoTC puruse other licenses like Marvel? Will we see Star Wars HS and the like?
WotC: We're looking at other potential licenses that could be brought into Heroscape.

Does new control mean that Heroscape will be further leveraged as an open combat-mechanics system?
WotC: We've talked about it, as Heroscape's such a good game system. I'd love to hear more thoughts about this in a little while (probably "ways to expand Heroscape" is a good topic for another thread, if there isn't one already).

Web Questions:

Will there be an updated Rules Clarification/FAQ section on the main Web Page?
WotC: Our web folks will probably look at the whole site and figure out what's needed. But, I don't want to speak for them.

Will WOTC actually have a continued presence on Heroscapers.com or insist those who want to communicate use WOTC forums?
WotC: We're planning a continued presence here, both directly and through our playtester team.

Will WOTC have a more liberal policy in linking to non-company sites? Such as a link on heroscape.com to heroscapers.com?
WotC: Our policy may be the same, but our ability to ignore the policy is considerably higher. We just have to wait for the guards to be looking the other way.

Will all Heroscape items be available on Hasbro Toy Shop.com or some other online retailer?
WotC: I fully expect that everything will be available on HasbroToyShop.com at one time or another. Maybe not all at the same time, but everything should rotate through there.

What will become of HouseMouse, Heroscapers.com, and the old official website?
WotC: I can't speak for HouseMouse or Heroscapers, because we don't own them. The official site will continue to be updated in various ways.

When it's all said and done, will online stores like amazon and housemouse be able to carry the complete line at competitive rates or will we be trekking between box stores and hobby shops to collect new expansions?
WotC: I can't speak for the purchasing and stock control abilities of other companies, but we don't actively prevent people from stocking everything that we sell.

Now that Heroscape is under WOTC's wings, and Craig is no longer "in charge" of Heroscape, is it possible that he could, if he so chooses, post on Heroscapers.com?
WotC: I don't get to decide whether Craig's allowed to post or not. That's up to Craig's boss.

Idea Factory:

I Many posters are tournament players and would like you to gear the game towards them. They may not reflect the casual player, though. Will you take everyone’s voice into account and how will that change the game?
WotC: Yes. I have other, far more nefarious, sources of information too.

We're not looking to change the direction of the game. Rather, we know that tournament players are one of the big driving forces behind the game (casual players being the other one). Casual players will generally be served by new booster waves, and tournament players are more important when thinking about reprints and about new products.

It seems apparent, but are you going to take fan-based ideas more seriously? As in, a thread of posts that say what type of units we want, what type of abilities we want, and keep up to date on it?
WotC: We'll definitely take fan suggestions seriously. However, it'll usually take the form of asking a question in a thread or on a website, waiting a while, and then pulling out the answer.
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