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Old December 29th, 2010, 05:55 PM
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davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Introduction
Since Heroscape has been officially discontinued, there has been a lot of interest in the customs that have been created by the Heroscapers' community. The Marvel section is getting some of this notice.

As you know, the official Marvel Heroscape project pretty much fizzled after its Master Set. Ten more units had been promised, but they never saw the light of day. Members here have taken the reins, and have been producing Superhero customs for quite some time.

If you're just checking into the Marvel section for the first time, you might be overwhelmed. What is C3G? NM24? What do I need, and where do I find it? And you likely have a host of other questions. I've been playing various customs for a bit over six months, so I thought I'd put together a guide for the newcomer to hopefully give you a tour of what is available, and where to find it. Please note that this is not going to be a guide on how to design your own customs. If you're interested in designing your own customs or creating your own cards, try this index.

My focus will be skewed towards my own experience and perspective, so please don't consider any omissions on my part as a reflection of the other stuff that is available. I will point you to some areas beyond my own personal gaming. This way, you can choose from the widest possible selection.

You will see many links throughout this guide. When I click a link in my browser, the linked item will appear in a separate browser window. I will assume this behavior. If this doesn't happen for you, then follow your own browser's method to open the linked page in either a separate window or separate tab. This will allow you to keep your position in this guide in the main window, and view the linked page in a separate area. This way, you can go back-and-forth between the two as I discuss things. Usually, you can right-click and select a menu option to do this.

Bear in mind that things may change within the linked items after the time this guide is written. If you see any broken links, please PM me so that I can update this guide.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

If you click any of the links below, the single post will open. You can expand the single post to the full thread by clicking the upper-right link after Thread:. If I edit anything, date edited appears. I will note what last changed in the Reason for Editing section of the post.

Part I: Initial Questions You May Have (02/18/11)

Part II: The Customs
Chapter 2.1.1: C3G - Introduction (02/17/2011)
Chapter 2.1.2: C3G - Navigating their Subforum
Chapter 2.1.3: C3G - Favorite Units (10/19/11)
Chapter 2.2: The HelmAVerse/Sherman Davies Group
Chapter 2.3: Balantai's Battlescape
Chapter 2.4: GreyOwl's Customs and Customs Compendium
Chapter 2.5: NM24 and other customs

Part III: Putting it All Together
Chapter 3.1: Where to find it (02/01/2011)
Chapter 3.2: Rebasing (03/10/11)
Chapter 3.3: Proxies
Chapter 3.4.1: Tweaking - Introduction
Chapter 3.4.2: Tweaking - The Power of Numbers
Chapter 3.4.3: Tweaking - The Power of Words (04/03/11)
Chapter 3.4.4: Tweaking - Documenting your tweaks (04/03/11)
Chapter 3.5: Maps, Special Rules, and Final Comments (03/07/11)

If you want a more abbreviated guide, tcglkn has a C3G Quick Start Guide that is dedicated specifically towards C3G.

Corrections and suggestions are welcome. Feel free to PM me.

Last edited by davidlhsl; October 19th, 2011 at 06:22 PM.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 08:46 PM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Part I: Initial Questions You May Have

Before we begin with the guide proper, you probably have some questions. Some of your questions will be described in more detail later, but here are some I anticipate that I'd like to answer out of the gate:

Q: Will we ever see the stats on the Marvel Wave 1 figures that were promised but never released?
A: This question gets asked a lot, and I simply don't know. The stats would be interesting purely from a curiosity perspective. If the information was released, that would just bump the "official" Superhero count from 10 to 20. I don't know about you, but that's hardly a full and satisfying collection for me. Besides, you'd only get three of the Fantastic Four.

Once you've seen the vast collection of customs provided here, I hope you will see that these customs have expanded the Superhero universe far more extensively than if we had relied on the official release.

Q: Are superheroes compatible with classic Heroscape?
A: This is a very touchy subject. Griffin has a really great read here that addresses that.

Still, there are some people who do play Supers with Classic, even though other people keep them separate. There have been some Supers, such as C3G's Jonah Hex, which have been designed with some Classic figures in mind while still maintaining a stance of separation.

Basically, it's important to understand that while some Supers were designed with specific Classic figures in mind; my understanding is that most, if not all, Superhero customs were designed to be played primarily within the Superhero universe and not with Classic. As a result, Superheroes are not as extensively designed with Classic in mind, so balance issues and unforeseen synergies may actually lurk. One of the biggest items I see is that Classic is squad-centric, while Superheroes are hero-centric.

But you will have to be the final word on whether you decide to mix the two. If you do, you can always tweak problem areas as needed. It is, after all, YOUR game.

Q: What figures are used for customs? Are the customs figures difficult to find? Are they expensive?
A: As more people find their way to Superhero customs, there will likely be a greater demand for those figures. You should expect availability of those figures to drop. The cost can vary anywhere from 50 cents per figure up to over $50 per figure.

In my own experience, I've been able to toss 30 figures into my shopping cart and reach a total of less than $50. That varies, but isn't atypical for the most common units. The great news is that the most iconic Superheroes tend to have a wide variety of figures available, and tend to be the least expensive.

The figures selected are from a Superhero game system produced by WizKids called HeroClix. HeroClix is its own game system with its own set of rules. The figures are the same scale as Heroscape, making them ideal of use with your Heroscape terrain. I will go into more detail later, but there are online companies where you can purchase specific singles without having to pull your hair out with blind booster purchases.

If you can't find the unit you need, you can resort to proxies. That really isn't as bad as it sounds. Consider this: even chess players use proxies. That's why you have Civil War Chess Sets, Lord of the Rings Chess Sets, and Star Wars Chess Sets, just to name a few. I'll discuss proxies in more detail later.

Q: I notice that there are multiple Heroclix figures that have the same figure, but have titles such as Rookie and Veteran. Which do I buy?
A: The Heroclix game system releases superheroes at different power levels. Examples are Rookie, Veteran, and Experienced. This is part of the collectible aspect of Heroclix, and this is how they get you to buy more booster packs. You may have bought a Rookie Batman, but he will have less powerful stats than an Experienced Batman. For use as customs in Heroscape, we don’t have to worry about those designations, because we won't use the Heroclix stats. So you can purchase whichever is available and least expensive without worry.

Q: I’ve noticed pictures of these figures have different bases, and I’ve seen discussions about rebasing Heroclix figures. I really don’t want to do this, because I might damage the figure or want to use them to play Heroclix. Is rebasing necessary?
A: No! I will discuss this topic in its own chapter, but the main reason people rebase their figures is to make the figures look like they are a part of the official Heroscape set. The only figures I’ve rebased are figures on flying stands.

Another reason people rebase is to allow the figures to be used on ladders. I’ve actually come up with a handy method where figures using their original Heroclix bases can still climb ladders. Please see my chapter on rebasing for details.

Q: Do I need to know the rules of HeroClix to play?
A: No. The customs created here are designed with the Marvel Heroscape rules in mind. Some customs, such as C3G, even provide their own rulebook with information pertaining to their units. And that rulebook is really rules for equipment glyphs, one optional rule set for knockback, and a bunch of scenarios. You're basically playing the Heroscape you already know and love. HeroClix only provides the figures that you need to play.

Q: Do I need the Marvel Master Set to play?
A: Honestly, no! You can download the rulebook from Heroscapers.com, but you can play with whatever you have. If you want to build some of the maps that are here, you might want a couple of Master Sets for the terrain. But the castle set is probably used more heavily with Superheroes than the Marvel stuff.

Q: Are Superhero Customs balanced?
A: Unfortunately, not always. Customs designers simply don't have the time or resources necessary to perform the testing that is essential to properly cost and ensure abilities aren't broken in a gameplay sense.

One major exception to this is the C3G Project, which I will discuss later. C3G employs a very rigorous design and testing process, which produces units that are very well balanced.

Other customs creators do provide and receive feedback from each other. This collaboration does catch some potential problems during the design phase. Furthermore, many in the customs community now have extensive experience of a year and even longer. This experience is able to catch the most common design pitfalls.

It's also important to know that a customs designer will primarily design his or her units with each other in mind. When mixed with figures outside their set, you may find conflicts or synergy breaks. I will discuss how to deal with this when I discuss tweaking.

Complicating this issue is that some customs designers actually design customs more for the joy of realizing their favorite figures in card form rather than actually putting them into play. Also, there are customs creators who design figures as a prerequisite of designing for C3G. Finally, some creators design customs faster than they are able to put them into play. In all cases, there are usually ways to tweak these units for actual gameplay.

There are some projects that I will discuss later in more detail that do offer more than just casual feedback.

If you'd like an example of how customs play, please check out my Battle Story thread. These are from actual games that I've played. I've written these battle reports in the form of stories to make them more interesting.

Q: If there are balance issues with Customs, then should I avoid them?
A: That's for you to decide, but I think you're missing out on a really fantastic gaming experience if you do. Many conflicts are easily resolved through some tweaking. For example, I saw one designer's version of Commissioner Gordon that establishes synergy with his own Batman. However, his Batman has a different personality than the personality many others use for Batman. Solution: Change the reference on Commissioner Gordon's card to refer to the Batman you use if you decide not to use his Batman. I'll go into this in a lot more detail later, but do know that there are ways to deal with these issues.

Another possible solution is to pick one creator's customs set, and play within just that collection without combining with other customs. But there are advantages to mixing that you should consider. The main advantage is that you likely have interests in specific comics areas (e.g., X-Men, Spiderman), and branching out allows you to complete the figures you're most interested in playing.

Finally, let me offer these things that I hope will put the issue in perspective and ease any concerns you have:
(1) Even the official game has errata. Nobody's perfect.
(2) Customs designers do not get paid for this. They provide their talents free of charge to the community at large.
(3) This is your game. You do not have to complete anyone's collection. You can pick and choose any figures you want. Nobody is going to kick down your door if you lower a figure's attack or give a character flying. If you have a regular group of friends you play with, you have a great collaborative resource.

Q: I'd like to play X's customs, but X doesn't have a card for a favorite Superhero of mine. Do I just have to wait?
A: For customs created by individuals, some will gladly take requests depending on their own workload and your own laundry list. But customs projects, and many individuals, are usually too busy for this. Most customs creators are actually involved in several projects. So you should expand your reach beyond just one customs collection.

Example: As of this writing, the C3G project is working on the Fantastic Four. Now I'd love to play with the Fantastic Four figures. Thanks to the extensive collection of customs available, I actually have! So I've gotten play from Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and Thing while waiting for C3G. Once C3G releases their set, I'll add theirs to my collection.

Finally...
You probably have many more questions, but I think it's time to move along. Once you have been introduced to the other topics, some of those questions may have been answered.

Last edited by davidlhsl; February 18th, 2011 at 03:50 PM. Reason: Placed better on C3G testing process, which produces balanced units.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 09:20 PM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Part II: The Customs

Let's now turn our attention to the customs themselves. I'll highlight the ones I have personal experience with first (the first three chapters), then point you in the direction of finding others in the final two chapters of this section.

I want to emphasize that my own experience is not a reflection of the quality of anything that isn't in the first three chapters. Please don't assume anything about those I neglect to mention. It's just a reflection of what I've chosen to focus my own energies playing.

Last edited by davidlhsl; January 7th, 2011 at 06:33 PM.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 10:33 PM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 2.1.1: C3G - Introduction

Main link: C3G Public Directory

C3G was my personal introduction to the Superhero customs world. If you clicked the link above, your head probably exploded. That is a very intimidating directory.

What is C3G? It stands for the Comics Customs Creators Guild. Yes, I had to look that up. There are several things that distinguishes C3G:

1) C3G isn't just one person. While one person is responsible for leading a design, it is the group members themselves that collaborate on the design. The end product is the result of feedback from several people.

2) C3G doesn't just design custom figures. They also design maps, glyphs, optional rules, and scenarios.

3) C3G groups and releases their customs as if they were actually sold.

4) C3G has a design and testing process. I had hammered the subject of tweaking in my Q&A, but I can attest from my own gaming that there isn't anything in their collection that I have felt a need to tweak. I have played many close games that attest to their balance. If balance issues are a big concern and you really get queasy at the thought of tweaking, I recommend C3G.

5) C3G has an established hierarchy that ensures quality control during the entire process, with highly experienced members heading the enterprise.

6) The upper level of C3G has a private forum section where they collaborate and conduct business in private. They refer to this as "The Sanctum." This prevents the excessive "noise" that always surfaces in public forums, which tends to distract rather than help. That keeps the discussion focused, and helps move the process along in a more efficient manner.

If you haven't clicked the link above, please do open it in a separate tab or window, and I'll point out the areas along the way. First, click on Current C3G Members. Then open the Spoiler tag (get used to this). As you can see, C3G is even more than just a gaggle of geese. There is a very structured hierarchy at work. At the top, you'll see the Active Guild, more commonly referred to as Heroes. This is the top tier of the organization. These are the members with extensive customs experience, and these people shoulder a huge amount of the workload. They set and enforce the standards; they are the primary designers; they set and enforce their policies and procedures; and they are the first and final word on the project. They have accumulated the experience over time to know what works and doesn't.

It's important to know that this project is essentially their project. That isn't intended to diminish the contributions of the others, because it is also this ability of the C3G Project to attract contributions from other talented members that explains the success of C3G. The Heroes have created a hierarchy that does allow individuals at other levels to make their own contributions, which also reduces some of the workload on the Heroes. This provides everyone involved terrific on-the-job training, if you will, that allows them to gain valuable experience and make contributions to the project. But the Heroes oversee and have the final say on what is finally released under the C3G label. Promotions aren't automatic, as positions have to become available. Members have to earn their positions through very hard work in contributing to the project, and there are members who are qualified for higher levels if positions did open. You may close the Members list window/tab.

Now, please click on the C3G Books of Index and open it in a new tab or window. This is where you will find the units available for play. Again, you'll see lots of spoilers. Let's concentrate on the units. Open its spoiler. You'll probably see another spoiler tab and two links. Click the spoiler tab to expand that.

You should now see the following: In Alphabetical Order, In Order of Point Value, and By Release. Open the spoiler for By Release.

You should now see two items: C3G Design Waves and C3G Public "Exclusives."

The Heroes are the ones who design and produce the units in the first section. The public is allowed to playtest the figures at the appropriate stage of the design process, but those who playtest are required to keep the information on those units confidential. To my knowledge, nobody outside of the Heroes are permitted access to any stage of production other than playtesting.

However, the Heroes have created a process where the other members can contribute to the design process through the C3G Public "Exclusives." This opens the process to the rest of the members, provides valuable design experience, introduces them to the rigorous process and standards that C3G has established, and provides fans such as myself more figures to play than would've been provided if the Heroes had done all the designing themselves. Don't open those spoiler tags just yet.

Let's now open the spoiler tag under In Alphabetical Order. This allows you to see the entire collection at a glance. Quite a lot, isn't it? This is where I started my collection -- by clicking and saving each unit. Close the spoiler. Look for PDFs and JPGs and click that link. You will now see a great one-stop area to download the entire collection in one file. This wasn't available when I started. If you're interested in checking out the C3G units; you can either keep the tab/window open, or you can just go ahead and do the download. I don't know how often this gets updated though, so there may be some units released that aren't in the download. You can return to the C3G Books of Index to check and download those.

Let's return to the Books of Index tab/window. Hopefully, you kept the spoiler under By Release opened. This is how you can check new releases, because this is organized in order of release. Open the spoiler under C3G Design Waves. You will now see several spoiler tags, beginning with "DC Master Set: World's Finest." This is organized in order of release.

You may wonder why some of those waves were listed as "Master Sets." When Waves are released, just figures are released to the public. But when C3G releases a "Master Set," they will release scenarios, maps, rulebooks, and lots of other goodies with them. You will have to open spoilers below for each of those elements. I recommend you locate and download the rulebook to World's Finest under The Books of C3G Downloads. Please read IAmBatman's introduction, as it will give you valuable insight into the goals of the group.

The C3G Design Waves are released in batches, much like Classic Heroscape was released in waves. Open the first wave (technically a Master Set), World's Finest, to see the units grouped in that collection. This is where C3G actually began. If you scroll down, you'll see more waves. If you click on the last one, you'll likely see TBA. This means "To Be Announced," and indicates a future release in the design stages.

C3G has recently released units as "Super Secret Exclusives." These are designs that have been completed by the Heroes in private, then released to the public on their own. The Heroes have done this for the fans, as assembling a collection for a Wave or Master Set is a very time-consuming process.

Now, close the C3G Design Wave spoiler and open the C3G Public "Exclusives." You'll see collections here, similar to what you saw with the C3G Design Waves. Open the first, Collection One. You'll see five figures. One main difference between the Public Exclusives (where non-Heroes are allowed to lead the design with the oversight and approval of the Heroes), and the Design Waves (where only heroes are allowed to design), is that Public Exclusives are released to the public as they are approved. So a "collection" doesn't have to completely fill in order for figures to be released. That's great news for us players, as it provides us with a more regular release of units.

If you'll scroll down to the second post of the "Books of Index," you will see a reverse chronological release listing. If you're interested in checking on the latest additions to C3G since you last checked, this is a good place to look. Then scroll back up to the first post to locate the item(s) you need.

This has, admittedly, been a lot to take in. I have simplified and omitted a great deal, because the actual workings of the group aren't important for this discussion. I'll give you an opportunity to let your own curiosity explore some of the other areas on your own. Once you're ready, I will continue my discussion of C3G.

Last edited by davidlhsl; February 17th, 2011 at 06:14 PM. Reason: Clarified reference to chronological listing on Books Index
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 2.1.2: C3G - Navigating their Subforum

C3G Project Subforum

Let's now get to the meat and potatoes of the C3G Project from a player's perspective. If you'll click the above link, you'll be taken to the subforum set up for C3G. This is not the Sanctum, which is hidden.

Sticky items you should know:

C3G Books of Index: I took you here in the first part of this chapter. This is where you will find the figures, maps, scenarios, and assorted goodies. Let's click on the C3G Books of Index, because I want to show you what one of the figure's books looks like. Hopefully, you clicked to go to the original post. Open the spoiler tag under The Books of C3G Figure Units, then open the spoiler under Spoiler, then open In Alphabetical Order, then click on The Book of the 5th Precinct Beat Cops.

If you're familiar with the Books of Index that Heroscapers has set up for the Classic figures, this should be familiar to you. This is where you will download the card. C3G provides you with a choice between using a card featuring the image of the figure itself (which is what Classic and Marvel Scape uses), or you can use a card featuring a comic image. This is a matter of personal preference, so you should use whichever card you prefer.

If you scroll downward, you'll see any special rulings or clarifications, synergies, and special strategy tips. If you start reading through the thread, you will actually get a behind the scenes peek at the discussion that took place during the design process. If you really want to get a taste of the enormous work that goes into designing a unit, as well as some glimpse into how C3G works, I recommend reading through at least one thread.

If you have any questions about a specific unit, you should post them in the appropriate book. Let's return to the C3G Project Forum.

C3G Promotions Department: This is a recent addition to C3G, and this is where you will find glimpses into upcoming releases. Contests are periodically offered, particularly when a new release is imminent. This is a very fun thread, and it's a worthy thread to subscribe if you wish to follow C3G's progress.

C3G Public Directory: This was the main link I used in the first part of the chapter, so you've seen this. This is the Master Directory, if you will. This is also the "bulletin board" where updates are usually announced.

The C3G Cave - Hangout: The sticky has been removed from this, so it might find its way to the second page. This is basically the general chat room for the group. C3G loves to hear from their fans, so this is the best place to offer your own responses.

Those are the main areas that concern the player and those wanting to check out C3G. The other threads are works in progress, specific books, and other working topics. Please keep in mind that this subforum is a working forum necessary for the operation of C3G. Unless you're a member of C3G, please do not set up any new threads here without permission.

C3G has really pushed the envelope on customs design while maintaining the highest fun factor and tight balance, and their units have my highest recommendation. I'll wrap up my discussion of C3G by telling you about some of my favorite units.

Last edited by davidlhsl; January 10th, 2011 at 04:02 PM.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 10:49 AM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 2.1.3: C3G - Favorite Units

C3G Books of Index

Finally, to wrap up my discussion of C3G before moving to the next chapter, I'd like to highlight some of my favorite units to give you a sense of the type of units C3G provides. I will do likewise for Chapters 2.2 and 2.3 (and indirectly 2.4). This won't be an exhaustive list, but I simply want to provide a few examples.

Anti-Monitor
Discussion
Anti-Monitor is where C3G broke the sound barrier. Many customs designers have attempted designs on 500+ point characters such as Galactus and Fin Fang Foom. I prompted the linked discussion before Anti-Monitor was released, because I had doubts that figures above a certain point level could be played fairly with mid-level and below figures. I've linked the discussion to give you a peek into the types of design complications these ultra-high level figures present.

I played Anti-Monitor the day after release, and the battle went down to the wire. C3G pulled another rabbit out of their hat with this unit. Perhaps this isn't the best figure to introduce, as this isn't really a typical customs figure. I initially thought Anti-Monitor would likely hit my gaming table on special occasions. However, he's proven to be so much fun, I've actually played him several times.

Let's talk a little more about this guy: He has 30 life, move 4, and 6/6/6 on range/attack/defense. This, I think, is likely the key to his success -- his stats aren't pumped where mid-level figures can't hit him.

However, his special abilities are positively cosmic. Master of Time allows him to remove an order marker from each opponent if he wins initiative. Master of Space allows him to use the X order marker to take a turn, and warp 10 spaces in the process. Erase from Existence allows him to use a d20 insta-kill roll on each enemy figure within 3 spaces.

Lanterns (all)
With the most recent release (as of this writing) of Wave 4: Fight Against Fear, C3G has amped their Green and Yellow Lantern lineup.

All of the Lanterns have one common design element: use of battery markers. Each Lantern receives a certain number of these markers at the beginning of the game, and they can use their markers during play for certain bonuses and effects. The most common use of the marker is to cancel an attack where attack dice are rolled. In addition, for each marker on a Lantern's card, that Lantern's Move/Range/Attack/Defense are boosted +1 apiece! So the Lanterns begin the game as high-powered Death Stars, but they become significantly weaker as each battery is depleted.

But each Lantern also has their own personal uses for their battery markers that keep each Lantern from simply being a clone of each other. One of my favorites is Green Lantern (John Stewart), whose battery use in canceling an attack also doubles as a counter-strike by inflicting a wound on the attacker if the attacker is adjacent and uses a normal attack.

The entire battery marker mechanic introduces a very fun and challenging resource management element to the game.

Green Goblin
Four words: Pumpkin Bomb Special Attack! Green Goblin flies over figures, selects one to bomb (which works like a grenade). But wait! It doesn't end there, as Green Goblin can now fly 4 more spaces and fire his normal attack. If you think this sounds fun, just wait until you actually play it.

Punisher
This was one of the figures that Hasbro was going to release in their first Marvel wave. I highly doubt they could have come up with anything better than this design. Loaded for pain, Punisher has an Assault Rifle that dishes out three attacks, an Auto Shotgun that is similar to other shotguns you've seen in Heroscape, and an Armor Piercing Rocket that reduces an opponent's defense for each skull rolled!

Hawkgirl
I love the Hawk Swoop ability because of the choices it gives you. If you "swoop" at least 4 spaces while flying, you can either roll 2 extra attack dice or attack twice. If you "swoop" at lease 2 spaces, but fewer than 4, then you just get 1 extra attack die. Now you have several things to consider: I've swooped, but should I just stay engaged and attack with no bonus, or use a turn to fly away at distance and swoop again? If I do swoop again, should I attack twice, or just once with extra dice?

Another thing this design encourages is what I call a "pinball" effect. If Hawkgirl swoops away to set up a future swoop attack, that figure might be able to move closer to Hawkgirl to reduce the distance and eliminate the bonus. But Hawkgirl has Stealth Flying, so she can attack one figure on one turn. Then on her next turn, she can select a different target that is at range of 4+ and swoop on that figure instead.

The only drawback to Hawkgirl is that, for reasons I can not explain, the dice absolutely fail me when I defend with her; and she goes down in flames early in the game. I have the same problem with everybody else's Hawkgirl! But that's not something C3G can fix.

Chronos / Kang
C3G has already broken design barriers left and right. They have recently (as of this update) designed figures that use glyphs. Annihilus and Red Skull (C3G, not the official) are two recent examples where the figures begin with equipment glyphs.

However, Chronos and Kang have not only broken design barriers, they have crossed into some bizarre creative universe. You see, they don't begin with equipment glyphs. They begin with permanent glyphs. That brilliantly exploits C3G's glyph rules, because these glyphs can't go flying onto the board when Chronos or Kang take damage. No, Chronos and Kang plant their Temporal Displacement Glyphs like Easter Eggs. They can opt to backtrack onto the glyph on their turn to activate it. But the real power is they allow them to perform some nifty magic tricks.

Chronos can take a break and disappear off the map to fully heal, then plant himself back onto the map where any Temporal Displacement Glyph lies at a later time. Kang can snatch the Temporal Displacement Glyphs to take an extra turn. If there are several of those glyphs on the map, more turns for Kang! If that doesn't make Kang awesome enough, Kang is an Uncommon Hero! Now I have to sit down and breathe into a paper bag to keep from blacking out.

This fun doesn't come without a price. You could clog the glyphs on a single Kang, limiting their plant potential. If the enemy can park a unit onto the glyph(s), those glyphs become unavailable to Chronos/Kang, while also giving the opponent a nasty ability from the glyph itself. And if Chronos hasn't already been taken down in one knockout blow and is the only figure remaining in his army, he can't disappear off the board without conceding defeat to the opponent.

It all sounds complicated until you put it into actual gameplay. Once you've become acquainted with the mechanics, things flow very smoothly. I've only played one game with them so far, but I can imagine these may eventually become my all-time favorite C3G design. That's until C3G produces their next wave.

Incredible Hulk
This is one of the most aggressively fun designs C3G has ever produced as of this entry. You're probably familiar with the Hasbro design where Hulk's attacks are boosted based on the number of wounds he's taken, up to a cap of +5.

This design boosts both attack and defense with no cap, but there's another element that simply takes this design to the top: Rage Marker. Hulk gets the Rage Marker if he takes 2 or more wounds in a turn. He only gets his attack/defense boosts when his Rage Marker is active. The opponent can try to calm Hulk down by keeping Hulk out of engagement at the start of a round. If the opponent succeeds, then the Rage Marker is removed, and he no longer gets the attack/defense bonus.

The impact on the battlefield is hilarious. You're sniping at Hulk, then you go, "Uh oh!" when you trigger his Rage. Now you're scrambling to break engagement, taking engagement strikes in the process, in an attempt to calm him down. Meanwhile, Hulk is smashing into engagement to keep the Rage going.

This concludes my discussion of C3G.

Last edited by davidlhsl; October 19th, 2011 at 06:21 PM. Reason: Anti-Monitor = Fun! Hulk = Fun x 10!
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Old December 30th, 2010, 08:32 PM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 2.2: The HelmAVerse/Sherman Davies Group

Matt Helm's HelmAVerse
Sherman Davies' DC
Sherman Davies' Marvel

Blog Post: Building a SUPER Custom

Matt Helm and Sherman Davies are actually two separate designers who have each designed a lot of Superhero customs independently of each other. They share such a similar design philosophy that their customs complement each other perfectly, though there is overlap with the most iconic heroes. I highly encourage everyone to read Matt's superb blog post linked above, as it really gives you an insight into his (and Sherman Davies') design philosophy.

Since I'm a relative newcomer to the customs world, I don't know Matt Helm's background with the group. But I do know from following various discussions that he has the highest level of respect from the customs community, which is how his customs hit my radar. Having communicated with him, I find him a humble and kind person.

I have also interacted with Sherman Davies as well. None other than Grungebob has stated publicly that he would gladly play Sherman's customs any time. How's that for an endorsement? I think the thing that impresses me most about him is his phenomenal attention to detail. He has assisted many other customs designers, new and old, with his advice.

Things I admire most about their customs:

(1) Matt Helm and Sherman Davies limit the point cost of their units within the same range that the original Marvel presented. In fact, if you value playing Superheroes alongside Classic, these are the customs you want to play. I think most, if not all, of them would actually play very well with Classic Scape.

(2) They have selected the least expensive figures in the Heroclix line. I was able to affordably collect their entire collection myself, which is something I wish I could've said about the Star Wars minis I've purchased. But that's another story.

(3) There are two types of Classic Scape units: those you can read and quickly understand to start playing; and those you have to read, re-read, consult the Books, consult the FAQ, study, examine with other units, and carefully consider when drafting.

Now, I honestly enjoy playing the complex stuff. But I'm getting older, and I have more difficulty absorbing things the way I was able when I was younger. I used to play Avalon Hill wargames. Now, I'm perfectly content with Solitaire on my computer.

With these customs, I only need to reference the cards occasionally. I enjoy that immensely. I don't want to call these customs simple, though. I think better terms to describe these designs are streamlined and elegant. There are still plenty of choices you have to make during game play.

(4) There are synergies in some of these units, but they aren't so overt that you must play them in specific armies. For example, Sherman Davies has a custom for Valkyrie, which offers an enhancement to a figure with Warrior Spirit Special Power. I played her in an army without such a unit, and didn't feel the army suffered as a result. So this collection encourages mixing and matching better than any group of customs I've seen.

Let's actually take a look at their contents. If you will click the link at the top for Matt Helm's customs, we'll begin with his.

Don't worry about expanding the spoilers, because the figures are actually listed below the spoilers. Scroll down. The first grouping are his Superhero customs, but you can see he has customs for other themes (or "HelmAVerses"). Just click and save the linked items to your hard drive.

Now examine Sherman Davies' links (either DC or Marvel is fine for now, as they have a similar layout). Here, you will find TONS of customs. Again, click and save the linked items to your hard drive.

I'll present some of my favorites, but let me begin with the figure I think best represents the streamlined design philosophy:

Blackfire (Sherman Davies)
Stats: 5 life, 5/6/4/4 move/range/attack/defense, 140 points. Two special abilities. Twin Starbolts: This is similar to a Double Attack, but requires her to not be in engagement. Super Strength: the standard Marvel special ability.

Once again -- I love playing the complex figures. But I also like a solid, dependable unit. That is Blackfire.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Matt Helm)
Ever wished the Airborne Elite could be a common squad? Well, these Agents are close with their Helicarrier Drop. You can only hold one squad off the map at the beginning (and even that is optional), so you already begin the game with a choice. They are also equipped with abilities to attack both Unique Heroes and adjacent squad figures. Triangulation, their Unique Hero ability, incrementally adds dice for each additional attack on the same unit. Nasty.

This unit has gone through the NM24 process, which I will discuss later.

Flash (Matt Helm)
Much like Hawkgirl, Flash is a figure that seems to bring out the best in customs designers. Move = 12. Nuff said.

Rhino (Sherman Davies)
Figures with abilities that depend on straight line movement or attacking offer a ton of tactical planning to properly execute. Rhino adds 3 to his move if he uses his entire move in a straight line. His charging attack gives him +2 attack dice if he can move at least 3 spaces and entirely in a straight line. With a life of 7, I would risk an engagement strike to break engagement from one figure if a Charging Attack opportunity presented itself. Brilliant and elegant design.

Awesome Android (Sherman Davies)
When you look at his stats, 180 points seems to be severely undercosted for a figure with 6 life, 6 attack, and 6 defense. However, there's the matter of Limited Intelligence. If Awesome Android is the last figure for his team, the player controlling him is immediately taken out of the game, and the Android remains on the map as a destructible object.

Last edited by davidlhsl; January 17th, 2011 at 10:28 PM.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 11:07 PM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 2.3: Balantai’s Battlescape

Balantai's Battlescape

You’ve probably taken a look at a Heroscape card, especially during previews or when you first see the card after buying the figure, where you’ve examined the abilities and said to yourself, “Wow! I have got to play a game with this!”

That’s the reaction I had when I began going through Balantai’s customs.

Balantai is a creative customs designer who is active in the customs community. I know that he currently moderates the Heroes of Star Wars customs project; and offers suggestions, feedback, and advice to other customs creators. If you click the link above, you will see his index of customs. As with others previously discussed, you click and save each linked item.

Note that some of his customs are flagged with an asterisk (*). These are customs he designed earlier, but he feels after experience needs reworking.

My favorite aspects of his designs:

(1) I’ve already mentioned the “Wow, I’ve got to play this!” factor. Balantai has a way of taking familiar elements, such as Mindshackle, and working a clever twist in his mechanics. I’ll give you some specific examples when I discuss some of my favorite units.

(2) Balantai has a talent for selecting great comics images for his cards. Joker’s card is my favorite!

Here are some of my favorites:

Bishop
Perhaps I have a thing for using markers, but Bishop has a really clever mechanic with Absorb Energy. Bishop receives one energy marker for each skull rolled in an attack against him, up to a maximum of 10. This markers can be used to either add 1 additional defense dice at a cost of 3 markers, add 1 attack die at a cost of 2 markers, or remove 1 wound marker at a cost of 5 markers.

Riddler
As befitting his character, Riddler is a character that will frustrate the opponent to no end. Riddler is the opposite of other figures that don't begin the game on the battlefield, as Riddler's power works while off the battlefield. I'll explain.

Riddler does not appear on the battlefield until a 17 or greater is rolled under Riddle Me This. While he is off the battlefield, he adds 3 to initiative rolls. He can target an opponent’s Unique Hero with a Riddler’s Focus marker (another marker!) at the beginning of each round, which completely removes that figures special abilities during that round. Now the opponent has a tough choice. If he doesn’t place any order markers on that Hero, there will be no roll for Riddle Me This, and Riddler remains off the battlefield. If the opponent does place order markers on that Hero’s card, then the d20 is rolled each time an Order Marker is revealed on that Hero. 8 or less, and that Hero’s turn ends and takes a wound. 9 – 16 is a normal turn. 17 or greater, and Riddler’s Focus is removed, the Hero regains his/her special abilities, and Riddler appears on the battlefield. And Riddler is one weak dude once he appears.

Riddler is a real gamble in drafting. If he hits a lucky streak and stays off the board, he can really be vicious. But if the 17+ roll appears early and he hits the board, you’ve just wasted 100 points in your army draft.

Nasty!

Karma
Karma introduces a really great twist on Mindshackle. With Karma, she can Mind Possess an opponent’s Unique Hero on a roll of 14 or greater. That seems broken at first, but wait! Once the opponent’s Hero is controlled by Karma, Karma can no longer take turns. In addition, she won’t be able to give orders to that Hero until the following round, as that hero loses his order markers when Mind Possession is activated. Finally, control of the hero will return to the figure’s original owner if Karma receives a wound or is destroyed. So this is a weaker version of Mindshackle. But if you don’t deal with Karma early and you are down to one figure, she can quickly snatch that figure to win the game. And even if the opponent can quickly gain back the Possessed hero if it's not your last figure, Mind Possession removes any order markers that were placed on that hero. So Mind Possession also serves as an efficient order marker removal ability. Brilliant!

Incredible Hulk (Ultimate Avengers)
All of Balantai's Ultimate Avengers are fun, and I love the way Balantai creates abilities in this group that have great power, but also bad consequences if you choose to use them (if you have the choice, that is).

Hulk is a brick, similar to the official Marvel Hulk. However, once 4 or more wound markers hit his card, Hulk is susceptible to Blind Rage on a roll of 1-15 each time Hulk reveals an order marker. If that happens, Hulk must attack the nearest figure, even if it's friendly to Hulk. Nothing is more hilarious than watching as figure panic after Hulk takes his 4th wound and flee in terror to get away from him. If you're playing against Hulk, nothing is more fun that exploiting this to try to work him into being forced to attack his own side by moving your units away first.

Last edited by davidlhsl; January 10th, 2011 at 04:23 PM.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 12:00 PM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 2.4: GreyOwl’s Customs and Customs Compendium

GreyOwl's Superhero Customs
GreyOwl's Star Wars Customs
GreyOwl's Customizing Compendium and Tools

GreyOwl’s avatar should probably be a rabbit instead of an owl, because this guy literally breeds customs. Consider this: if you combine all of C3G, Matt Helm’s superheroes, Sherman Davies superheroes (both Marvel and DC) and Balantai’s superheroes, you would only exceed GreyOwl’s superhero customs by only around 30 or so. And he has nearly as many Star Wars customs as he has superheroes.

In addition, GreyOwl provides considerable resources to the customs community, which you can glimpse if you click the link on the Customizing Compendium. Even if you don't design customs yourself, the Compendium is a worthy read. I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that if it weren’t for GreyOwl, the customs community would likely not be nearly what it is today.

One characteristic of his index is that there are times when you click on a link to one of his cards, and the card will only partially load with the rest blocked out. This is likely an aspect of the server where the images are stored. If you refresh the image, the full image should load correctly.

I don’t have personal experience with his superhero customs, but I have downloaded all of them to my hard drive for eventual inclusion. That actually took several days. But I am getting acquainted with his Star Wars customs. I’ve bought a ton of the minis over the past two months, and I consider it money well spent.

I’ve prepared a battle report with his Star Wars customs to give you a taste of how they play:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ”Battle Report”
Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight) and Princess Leia (Slave Outfit) are pitted against a nasty Rancor. Leia appoints the Rancor as her Slave Master, which gives her 2 extra defense dice when attacked by him. Both sides move towards each other, and Luke reaches the Rancor first and attacks. Due to the Rancor’s Tough Skin, Luke rolls one less attack die. The attack is blocked.

The Rancor growls and tries to Devour Luke, but Luke isn’t tasty enough at this point. So the Rancor attacks Luke, and Luke blocks the 3 skulls. Leia now approaches the Rancor and tries to Strangle it. A roll of 12 or more would place a Strangle Marker on the Rancor, with two markers enough to kill it. She misses the roll. The Rancor now tries to Devour Leia. Leia’s Strangle ability is a real threat. The roll misses, so the Rancor tries to attack Leia. That activates Luke’s Loyalty to Friends, so Luke gets to attack first. He puts 3 wounds on the Rancor, with 4 life left. The Rancor roars and gets his attack on Leia, with Leia adding 2 defense dice due to Slave Master. A brutal 5-skull attack deals 3 wounds, leaving Leia down to her last life.

Leia has to choose between strangling or using her normal attack. Down to her last life, Leia feels that there isn’t enough time left to attempt the two strangle markers need to take down the Rancor. So she uses her normal attack, which the Rancor blocks.

Luke gets the initiative in the next round and attacks, rolling only one skull. But the Rancor whiffs defense and takes the wound, 3 life to go. The Rancor switches his focus on Luke, as Leia is badly wounded. Devour misses, and Luke nimbly dodges the attack. Luke changes the batteries in his light saber, then swings at the Rancor. “Hey, watch where you’re swinging that!” Leia exclaims. “Sorry,” Luke replies. (This isn’t a feature of the customs, but my weird imagination. Pay it no mind.) The Rancor blocks Luke’s attack. Devour misses, so the Rancor aims for Leia. That triggers Luke’s Loyalty ability, but he misses the roll. The Rancor is able to finish off Leia.

Now it’s down to Luke and the Rancor (Hey, that sounds like a new sitcom on NBC!). Luke’s swing is a powerful 4 skull attack (new batteries, doncha know), and the Rancor only gets one shield for 3 wounds. Since that’s all the Rancor had left, the Rancor goes down and collapses on top of Luke. Everybody dies! George Lucas cashes his box office receipts and buys himself a new house.

I played a battle with these same forces previously, which I forgot to record. In that battle, the Rancor devoured Princess Leia, Luke delivered 6 wounds while taking 3, and the Rancor finished the game by gulping down Luke.

Last edited by davidlhsl; January 10th, 2011 at 04:32 PM.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 11:55 PM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 2.5: NM24 and other customs

NM24 Working Thread
NM24 Halls of Justice
A-Z Customs Index
What Type of Customs Creator or Fan Are You?

I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg of the Superhero customs community. However, here are some other indices you should see:

NM24
If you’ll click the first NM24 link, you’ll be taken to the NM24 working thread where customs are run through the process, evaluated, and approved.

What is NM24? That’s actually explained in the first post of the link, but I’ll give a brief explanation as best I can. One of the most important things a customs developer needs is feedback. With a bunch of customs creators each working on their own project, a need arose for some way to have their customs evaluated. The NM24 is a group of people who will evaluate one custom nominated from the previous entry’s designer for gameplay issues, wording, graphics design, and points cost. The specified goal was to have a turnaround of 24 hours, but lurking in the thread reveals that the process can actually take longer. The customs designer makes any changes he/she feels appropriate based on the feedback. Then the NM24 group votes on the finalized custom. If approved, the custom is entered into the Halls of Justice (second NM24 link above), the designer can add the NM24 logo to his/her customs card, and the designer nominates another custom from a different designer. No playtesting is actually conducted during this process. It’s simply a discussion procedure, though from experienced people qualified to offer their suggestions.

The second link is where you can locate and download the customs that have completed the process.

A-Z Customs Listing
The third link is a master index for more Superhero customs than you can shake a stick at. You may find some broken links in the group. If you’re looking for a specific figure, such as Superman, you will likely find several versions from which to choose. Go for it!

What Kind of Customs Creator or Fan Are You?
The fourth link is a fascinating survey conducted by Matt Helm. Here, you will find many prominent customs designers and their own visions and design philosophies. This is a great thread that will give you a nice way to get to know the designers a little better.

Another great way to locate customs is through the signatures of the customs designers themselves. For example, you may read a thread and see someone whose signature points to their customs thread. Feel free to click and investigate. This is how I’ve branched out.

Finally
This concludes the second part of my guide. Hopefully, you’ve clicked some of the links and have found some customs of interest. Now you’re probably wondering how to actually put the customs into reality onto your gaming table so that you can actually play. That is what the third, and final part of this guide, will attempt to address.

Last edited by davidlhsl; January 10th, 2011 at 04:36 PM.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 12:03 AM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Part III: Putting It All Together

You've now been introduced to the various customs creators, and where to locate their work. Hopefully, you've found plenty of interesting things you're anxious to start playing. The cards are pretty easy: save to your hard drive and print. Now, I want to describe where you can buy figures, proxy those you can't, tweak problems areas, and locate other goodies to enhance your gaming experience.

Last edited by davidlhsl; January 1st, 2011 at 08:50 AM.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 11:48 AM
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Re: davidlhsl's Guide to Superhero Customs

Chapter 3.1: Where to find it

This isn’t a complete listing, but these are the most popular vendors:
Troll and Toad: trollandtoad.com
Miniature Market: miniaturemarket.com
Strike Zone Online: strikezoneonline.com
Auggies Games: store02.prostores.com/servlet/auggiesgames/StoreFront
Cool Stuff, Inc.: coolstuffinc.com


The first thing we need to discuss is where to find the figures needed to play. There is a Superhero game called Heroclix that has produced a ton of superhero figures over the years. Those figures are the same scale as Heroscape, so they are ideal for use. I want to emphasize that Heroclix is a completely separate game system than what we’re discussing here. The customs I’ve been discussing all use the Heroscape rules. We’re only using their figures to play our game.

Unfortunately, Heroclix is sold through the dreaded blind booster system. That means that you simply buy an opaque box containing figures, but you don’t know when you buy them what you’re going to receive. Fortunately, there are several online vendors who sell singles. So if you’re looking for Batman, you don’t have to empty your wallet on a case of boosters in the hopes of getting the figure.

The price of these singles varies wildly. The good news is that most of the high profile superheroes are inexpensive and provide more than one figure. I’m looking at one vendor’s website for Batman, and I count at least 17 different sculpts, with many in stock. The one I bought, #107 from the Hypertime “wave,” currently shows 7 in stock from this vendor for 99 cents. Many customs creators don’t have deep pockets either, so they tend to gravitate towards the less expensive figures anyway. For the cheap figures, expect to pay anywhere from 50 cents - $4.00.

Some of the figures are more rare, and are very difficult to find. When they are available, they can cost anywhere from $10 - $50 per figure, with some even going higher. For figures in the lower range of that spectrum ($10 - $20); I find that when I purchase a bunch of cheap figures ($0.50 - $1.00), that I can toss a couple of these higher priced figures into my shopping cart and still get a reasonable final total. In other words, I’ll let the really cheap figures offset the cost of the more expensive figures to reach a grand total that balances out to what I would expect to pay for the set. But some figures that I’m less interested in playing, or expect to play less often, are simply more than what I’m willing to pay. That is where using proxies comes in handy. I’ll discuss that topic in a future chapter.

Availability also varies wildly. In order to build my collection, I have needed to order from more than one vendor. If the figure you’re looking for is out of stock at all of the places you check, keep checking for them periodically. Eventually, they do return to stock.

One word about Troll and Toad: There have been occasions when they have something listed as in stock, but I get a notice that they are actually out of stock after I've ordered it. This is understandable, as they have a massive inventory. Still, it's important to mention.

Online vendors, such as those I’ve linked above, have a search feature that allows you to search for the specific figure you’re seeking. For example, typing “Batman” will give you a list of Batman singles. Customs creators will usually name their cards to match the names you need to search. There are a few, rare exceptions. For example, Sherman Davies has a custom for Tommy Monaghan. But the actual figure you need to search for and buy is actually called Hitman. If you do run into a case where your search results from everywhere turn up empty, you can always ask the customs designer which figure they use. Do not ask customs creators about figures that do show, but are out of stock. That’s just rude.

Squad figures can be trickier. For example, there is a squad called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. When doing the search for this, I find it best to zero in on just one word, and search the singular form of the word instead of the plural. In this example, I would search for SHIELD (without the periods).

C3G actually provides the name, and even model number and wave title, in their Books. For example, C3G’s Black Canary lists models #034, #035, and #036 from the Cosmic Justice “wave.” When you know the name of the “wave,” you can usually find the figure by following links on the vendor’s website instead of searching. For example, if I wanted to find this Black Canary on Troll and Toad, I will click the “Collectible Miniatures” tab at the top of the site, then click “Heroclix” under Categories, then click “Cosmic Justice.” I can now just scroll down and look for #034, #035, and #036.

You may wonder what the difference is between these three units, as the sculpts for all three look identical. The Heroclix game system releases superheroes at different power levels. Examples are Rookie, Veteran, and Experienced. This is part of the collectible aspect of Heroclix, and this is how they get you to buy more booster packs. You may have bought a Rookie Batman, but he will have less powerful stats than an Experienced Batman. For use as customs in Heroscape, we don’t have to worry about those designations. So you can purchase whichever is available and least expensive without worry. It’s only an issue if you decide to also use these figures to play Heroclix.

Remember that you don’t have to select the same figure that the customs designer uses. I use a different Batman figure than recommended by C3G because I like it better.

Last edited by davidlhsl; February 1st, 2011 at 05:24 PM. Reason: Added note about Troll and Toad's stock
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