View Single Post
  #3810  
Old February 4th, 2014, 05:11 PM
Scytale's Avatar
Scytale Scytale is online now
Thanksgiving Custom Contest Champion
 
Join Date: August 25, 2006
Location: USA - MN - Rochester
Posts: 9,482
Images: 459
Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth Scytale is a man of the cloth
Re: Soldiers of Valhalla - nominations and discussion

Asterios by the French HS community

Heroscape (official and VC) has mined the fantasy realm pretty heavily, especially during the D&D era, but we have yet to see a minotaur. Certainly a welcome addition, but does the design live up to the legend?

Balance

Anyone who plays Heroscape at all seriously knows that 120 points is a sweet spot, with some of the best stand-alone (or at least works well alone) heroes in the game, including Krug, Kaemon Awa, and the Fen Hydra. A stand-alone hero almost has to be comparable to them to be useful, or at least provide something sufficiently unique. Asterios is either really good or rather weak, depending on what he's up against. Against small/medium squads, the minotaur has a nice multi-hit, mobile special attack that also gives him a limited form of Disengage, and he has a whopping 6 Life / 6 Defense (unless the squad has a special attack), making him one of the toughest creatures around. On the other hand, against heroes, his special attack is significantly less useful since it can't hit a single figure multiple times in a turn, he doesn't get Disengage, and his defense drops to 3. A 4/3 creature with 6 Life with a mediocre special attack doesn't compete in the 120 point space.

So is he overpowered or underpowered? Both? Neither? Let's take a moment to compare against the Fen Hydra. Without considering all the details (such as being able to take glyphs after attacking), the Fen Hydra's four attacks of 4 is generally stronger than Asterios's Furious Charge. Furious Charge has a better threat range, but the Fen Hydra mostly makes up for that with Reach. Also, the Fen Hydra can attack the same figure repeatedly -- do not underestimate the value of that, especially against heroes. There is some advantage to Furious Charge being a special attack, but being normal attacks means the Fen Hydra's can be boosted. So initially the hydra has better offense, but he loses attacks as he loses heads, and he has less life than Asterios. On the other hand, Asterios loses a lot when facing anything other than small/medium squaddies.

Overall, theoryscaping suggests that Asterios is more matchup-dependent than his 120pt brethren, but not outrageously over- or underpowered. He appears to be somewhat better against small/medium squads, decidedly weaker against everything else. Personally, I'm fine with that, as long as he's not too strong against small/medium squads.

Theme

First, let me discuss the figure. While he looks big and intimidating on the lovely card, the mini itself isn't as big as I had hoped. It's about the same size as a Dzu-Teh or an Ice Troll Beserker. But hey, if the Ice Troll can be Large, this similar-sized mini (or even a touch larger) can be too. His axe poses some denial issues, but not too bad. Otherwise, it's a sweet-looking figure. I have the lovely black-colored version.

As far as the design is concerned, I love the theme of Legendary Creature. Heroscape has always had a base distinction between heroes and ... uh ... not-heroes. It's classic mythology that only heroes can defeat monsters. Ok, large/huge squaddies can fight him well too, and I'm also ok with that, 'cause they're, ya know, bigger (and many of those can use the slight boost).

When I first read Furious Charge, I thought it was a good representation of a charging minotaur. After playing it, however, I now feel differently. It doesn't play like a vicious charge, it feels like a dexterious dance through enemy lines. The concept works better as a ninjutsu attack than it does a charge. It seems similar to Augamo's Headlong Charge, but the disengage ability really opens up the options. Still, it's not bad, and it's a really useful, fun ability.

Creativity

As I said in the Theme section, I love the Legendary Creature power. While Furious Charge does not play as I had hoped, the name and the concept also bring out the theme well.

Marauder is a great fit. Dauntless is not; it fails to match the theme presented by "Furious Charge," "Marauder," and the mini. It doesn't match his playstyle either; he fearfully avoids getting tied up by large/huge figures and heroes, and instead picks on the weak. I would have prefered something like Ferocious, but Dauntless isn't enough of a problem to sway my vote.

Playability

I've already written plenty about the unit's balance and theme, and I'm a bit sorry I'm being so wordy (and thanks for reading this far!), but for a unit that was feared to be overpowered he needs careful examination and clear reasoning why I'm voting the way I am. So let me revisit what I've said before in terms of actual gameplay.

How powerful is Asterios against small/medium squads? As we all know, such units are pretty common (excuse the pun). Is 6 Life / 6 Defense nigh unkillable? The answer is no, you can kill him just like you can kill anything else: you just have to throw enough attack dice at him. Are Minions of Utgar unkillable? Anyone who has played them can tell you a definite "No." It's not too hard to throw lots of dice at him either, since being a melee figure he's usually on the front lines. Now, 6 Life is no joke, and if he's rolling hot defense he can be real brutish. But he's far from unkillable. Additionally, being a melee figure that likes to stay mobile means that Raelin isn't a great help. Sure, you can use him as a close-range guardian for Q9, but a Fen Hydra will do better at that.

As for his offensive output, it's merely ok. The mobility that Furious Charge gives him is great and often allows him his full three attacks. But remember that special attacks are not boostable; while he may be able to claim height, it doesn't help him with his attacks. Three attacks of three dice is easy to come by; even defender squads like the Warriors of Ashra and the Sentinels of Jandar can do that much (and they can use height to their advantage!). Against units that are weak to special attacks, such as the aforementioned Warriors of Ashra, Asterios is devastating. But he's not alone in that regard. When there aren't multiple figures to go after, a single attack of 4 isn't anything to brag about.

Against mass common armies the minotaur shines, as he should. But heroes mixed in can be trouble, especially bonding ones. For this reason he tends to be better as a counterdraft than in a blind environment, but of course he can be counterdrafted too.

Outside of the standard tournament environment, his value is, again, dependent on what he's facing. All-hero? Bad. Heat of Battle? Great, if your opponent is running mass commons. Dungeon crawl? Curiously, he's bad as dungeon monster but great as a adventurer for clearing out those annoying drow or pesky goblins. For pretty much any scenario, his value is matchup-dependent.

Summary

Asterios is great against small/medium squads, there's no denying. You know what else is? A lot of things. A squad-killer is not new to the game, nor is a squad-killing hero; if anything I'm happy to see another one, especially at this price point. He tends to be a bit better than his high-powered 120 point brethren in ideal matchups, but not overwhelmingly so. Perhaps enough to make him tournament-draftable, though I suspect not quite given that the others are not as matchup-dependent.

If nothing else, Asterios is fun to play. A rampaging minotaur tearing through enemy lines? Heck yeah!

I vote to induct Asterios into the SoV.

Last edited by Scytale; September 21st, 2014 at 05:30 PM.
Reply With Quote