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Customs Creation - October 2017

Posted October 30th, 2017 at 03:48 PM by HS Codex

Customs Creation
The Question of Balance
Author: Scytale

In a prior article, I gave an overview of the various aspects of custom design: balance, theme, creativity, and playability. That article spoke briefly about each and how they relate to a unit’s role. This is the first in a series of planned articles that take a deeper look at each.

Balance is arguably the most frequently discussed feature of any unit, be it custom or official. A unit’s viability, especially in the tournament scene, is dependent on the value it provides compared to its price. Even in less competitive “for fun” games, overpriced or underpriced units can ruin the overall experience. Simply put, balance is an extremely important part of design.

So how does one decide on a unit’s point cost? You can find many opinions and guidelines, even formulas, scattered around the Heroscapers site, including in other Codex articles. These are valuable resources, but why are there so many, and why isn’t there a singular solution? Here’s a little secret to unit pricing: there is no “correct” cost.

One of the greatest features of Heroscape is its flexibility. Games can have two players, or three, or six, or even more. They can be arranged in teams or it can be a wild free-for-all. Army sizes can be as small as a couple hundred points to thousands of points. Maps can be large or small, flat or hilly, plain or mixed with lots of different types of terrain. The opposing sides don’t even have to be symmetric. Additionally, there are special kinds of battles like heroes-only, heat of battle, and scenarios. And that’s without even discussing glyphs. The variety of game styles that Heroscape can support is massive.

Are all units equally valuable in all situations? Of course not! Cheerleader units become more valuable with larger armies, as they can provide their boosts to more figures. Melee units prefer flat, smaller maps that allow them to engage more quickly. Units with terrain-specific powers are (obviously) more valuable on maps with that type of terrain. Additionally, unit values depend heavily on what other units they’re paired with, as well as what units their opponents are using.

With so many factors, it’s amazing we can give units a set price at all! But we can, and we need to. The usual approach is to settle on a price based on the standard tounament scene of 1-on-1 battles of approximately 500 points each, considering the best synergistic options and the current metagame. Of course, there are still many variations within this set, not to mention some aspects are in flux. You also can’t disregard other game types; you have to keep the price reasonable even in the best conditions.

The good news is that any unit can work within a range of points. A unit priced well at 100 points for a certain game setup is probably still pretty useful at 110 and probably not a must-buy at 90. The viable range will vary depending on game style, map, and opponents’ armies. The key to correctly pricing a unit is to examine these different ranges and look for the overlap. While some ranges, like those related to the tournment scene, deserve more weight in this examination and others, such as certain scenarios, deserve less, ideally you can find a value that fits everything.

Of course, playtesting is ultimately essential for locking in a point value. When doing so, try the unit in a number of different types of games, especially those that are most common in your gaming group. If you’re looking for broader approval, stress the standard tournament setup. Get a feel for the point ranges the unit belongs in, and be wary of synergies, counters, and unusual game styles. There may not be a “correct” cost, but with some effort and thoughtfulness you can find the “best” cost.
Total Comments 3

Comments

Old
HS Codex's Avatar
We apologize for lumping the articles so close to each other. This happened due to the new schedule, which required we tweak a few deadlines so that articles could be more spread out. There was an inevitable crunch during the transition. The articles should be more spread out from here on.
Posted October 30th, 2017 at 03:50 PM by HS Codex HS Codex is offline
Old
Sir Heroscape's Avatar
good article. simple and to the point
Posted October 31st, 2017 at 06:44 PM by Sir Heroscape Sir Heroscape is offline
Old
TheAverageFan's Avatar
Good points. Heroscape is so infinitely flexible and yet many of us forget that there are army point values that aren't 500 and games that aren't 1v1.

~TAF
Posted November 1st, 2017 at 01:29 AM by TheAverageFan TheAverageFan is offline
 
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