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Old June 6th, 2020, 10:55 PM
Knight of Scape Knight of Scape is offline
 
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Heroscape Mle

So I've trickled bits and pieces of the house rules that I use for Heroscape throughout the forums, but I think it's finally time to post the full set. The biggest change, and what I originally called Heroscape Mle is a replacement for Heroscape's OM system (I know that this has been tried by lots of people before in lots of ways, but I think that my approach is a bit unique and yields a game with just as much strategy as the original). This big change has led to some other smaller changes that got incorporated into the system over the years.

Core Rules:

The Initiative Line:

The big difference between Mle and regular Heroscape is the structure of a round. Order Markers are not used. Every figure on the battlefield gets to take a turn once each round (barring a small number of special abilities). At the start of the game, all army cards of all players are shuffled (or otherwise randomly ordered) and placed in a line (called the "initiative" line).

Each round, the player who controls the army card at the front of the line takes the first turn of the round with that army card. Then whoever controls the next army card in the line takes the next turn with that army card. This proceeds until the end of the line is reached. If, at any point during the round, all figures belonging to an army card are destroyed, remove that army card from the initiative line. After the player who controls the card at the end of the line has taken a turn with that card, the round ends. At the end of the round, take the card at the front of the initiative line and move it to the end of the initiative line. Then perform any end of round effects (e.g. Glyph of Wannok) and then start a new round.

Common Units (and Duplicate Uniques):
In essence, Heroscape Mle turns every common squad/hero into an "uncommon" squad/hero (however, they are still considered common for the purposes of special abilities). Unlike in regular Heroscape where you may use a single army card for many copies of the same common squad or hero, in Heroscape melee you must bring one army card for each copy of a common squad or hero that you bring. Furthermore, each set of figures must be associated with only one of the cards (put some kind of colored markers on the figures bases and on the army cards. Stickers work great, but my family uses little colored LEGO pieces). When you come to a common card in the initiative line, you may take a turn only with the associated figures (the ones of the same color as this card), even if this causes you to activate less than a full squad.

Returning a Previously Destroyed Card to the Initiative Line:
If a card was previously removed from the line due to all its figures being destroyed, but one or more of its figures is returned to the battlefield (e.g. due to a special power like "Rejected by Death" or "Zombies Rise Again" or due to the glyph of Sturla), place the card at a random position in the initiative line (determined, for instance, by a d20 roll). If that position is further down the line than the army card currently taking its turn, the revived army card will get to take a turn this round, otherwise it will have to wait until the next round. This rule also applies when figures did not start the game on the battlefield are placed there (e.g. due to a power like "The Drop").

Prevention of Multiple turns
Any special power that allows you take a turn with another figure "before" or "instead of" taking a turn with the figure on the army card being activated may not be used in Mle (note that powers like "Frenzy" or "Overextend Attack" that allow you to take multiple turns with the same army card are still used). Replace these abilities with ones that allow the associated units to be placed adjacent to each other in the initiative line (note that units that have this kind of power are usually less powerful in Mle relative to comparable units that do not). Some example replacements are given below, although this list is not necessarily comprehensive.

Note that special powers that allow you to place one card before another in the initiative line (rather than after) should be avoided, since these powers would allow a player to "freeze" the initiative line by repeatedly bringing back to the front of the line a card that was sent to the end of the line at the end of the previous round.

Human Champion Bonding (Knights of Weston)
At the start of each round, you may take this army card and place it after the army card of any Human Champion you control in the initiative line.

Hive Mind (Marro Hive)
At the start of each round, you may take this army card and place it after the army card of any common Marro squad you control in the initiative line.

Mind Link (Ulginesh)
At the start of each round, you may choose up to two Elf Wizard army cards you control and place them immediately after Ulginesh's card in the initiative line.

Summon the Rechets of Bogdan (Iskra Esenwein)
After taking a turn with Iskra... When the Retchets are summoned, place their card immediately after Iskra's in the initiative line, instead of at a random location.

Adaptation of Special Powers Involving OMs
Several other special powers do not make sense in a game without order markers and must be adapted to fit the initiative line. Here are suggestions on how to adapt some such powers to Heroscape Mle.

After revealing an Order Marker... powers:
These should activate any time the unit takes a turn.

Order Marker removing abilities (e.g. Crippling Gaze, Entangling Web):
If successful, these abilities cause the targeted army card to miss it's next turn (flip the card around to indicate this, and flip it back at the time the figure would normally take its turn, instead of taking that turn). If used on a common figure, these abilities affect only the army card that the targeted common figure belongs to, not all cards of the same common squad/hero. These abilities have no effect if used on a figure who would already miss it's next turn due to an OM removing ability.

Frost Rage (Evar Scarcarver)
When taking a turn with Evar, before moving, you may choose to activate Frost Rage for the duration of the round...

Concentrated Will (Shiori)
If this is Shiori has not previously taken a turn this game, or if Shiori did not attack on her last turn, add 1 to Shiori's attack and defense values.

Gladiator Inspiration (Spartacus)
All gladiators you control (except Spartacus) add one to their move number and roll one additional attack and defense die.

Point Costs in Mle
The point values on army card do not accurately represent their value in Heroscape Mle. We recommend selecting armies from Mle by having one player select two balanced armies and the other player choose which of them to play. Those willing to invest more heavily in the system may consider using the Personal Delta system to find appropriate prices for their collection in Mle.

Why use this system?

Heroscape battles can often feel a bit unthematic when each player is just sending a small portion of their army out to fight while the rest of it sits around twiddling their thumbs in the startzone. Mle changes this by letting all of your figures move out together, giving you the feeling of controlling a real army, and forcing you to figure out strategies that combine the strengths of all of your units.

The constantly shifting initiative line allows a lot of planning ahead, since you know who is acting next, and adds some interesting strategy in who to target, which choices between trying to take out a unit who is about to act, or a stronger one who doesn't take a turn for a while, as well as questions of whether it's worth taking out an army card at the front of the line which will move to the end if it survives. This movement to the end of the line nerfs the advantage of having a lot of cards towards the front of the initiative line to balance out the luck of the initial order randomization. It also simulates initiative switches in end-game scenarios to avoid endless hit and run tactics.

Heroscape army building is often restricted by order markers. Top armies usually rely on explicit synergies and draft lots of the same common army card to make order marker management easier. One of the coolest parts of Heroscape for me is the huge mishmash of themes and the way that you have robots fighting alongside dragons and gladiators and cowboys. Mle greatly reduces the benefit of explicit synergies and makes many new hodge-podge armies interesting and viable. Good army building in Mle tends to rely on having a good balance of unit roles (e.g. ranged units + a screen, anti-hero and anti-squad units, sharks vs. tanks), rather than on taking a bunch of the same card and the cards they explicitly synergize with.

I have played close to a hundred games with the Hersocape Mle system, and have enjoyed it enough that now at my house when we play Heroscape, we pretty much always play with the Mle variant.

Additional Variants to Use with Mle

The above rules are very playable and enjoyable on their own. However, the following three modifications were inspired by changes to the meta that Mle generates and we find that they improve the experience. They are independent of the rest of the system and could also be incorporated into regular Heroscape games with order markers (although I haven't tested those interactions much).

Start Spaces:
Traditionally, every Heroscape map has a 24-hex "startzone" for players to place their figures in. This limitation can prevent some powerful, but uninteresting builds, like bringing 8 cards of 4th Mass. In Mle, however, there's not nearly as much advantage to bringing a bunch of the same common squad. Rather than putting an arbitrary restriction on the maximum number of spaces your army can be, whenever I build boards, I designate one or more "start spaces" for each player.

When a player places their army, they place it one figure at a time. Each figure, when placed, must be as close to a start place as possible (that is, if the figure can be placed on a start space, it must. If it can't it must be placed one space away, if possible. Otherwise, it must be placed two spaces away if possible, and so on. This elegantly allows armies of arbitrary sizes (although it potentially gives a tiny advantage to large armies that can start key figures closer to glyphs or height).

Realistic Leaving Engagement Attacks:
When a figure leaves engagement, the figure they left engagement with rolls a number of dice equal to the attack value printed on their card, while the figure leaving engagement rolls a number of dice equal to the defense value on their card. The figure leaving engagement takes wounds equal to the number of skulls minus the number of shields (to a min of zero).

Intuitively, this rule just says that you get to make a free attack against anyone leaving engagement with you, but, like a regular LEA, it's not technically an attack to avoid a whole bunch of messy interaction with special powers (the non-interaction with powers still leads to some weirdness like Agent Carr only using his gun for LEAs, but it makes more sense than regular Heroscape's LEAs).

This has the effect of nerfing rats, who become extremely powerful in melee where they don't even require order markers to get into position, while still leaving most other melee figures capable of tying stuff down (a 3 defense ranged figure leaving engagement with a 3 attack melee figure is actually slightly more likely to die under this system than under the regular rules). You still have tricky decisions about when to disengage, but they come at different points than in regular Heroscape (some disengages that you'd never consider normally become reasonable when you can roll defense, some disengages you'd easily take normally become iffy if the disengagement has the potential to inflict several wounds).

It also buffs DW8K and DW9K a bit, since they gain functional disengage against a lot of enemies (it always felt silly to me that a deathreaver that could never kill DW9K normally, has a 50% of doing it in leaving engagement).

Nerfing Range On Height:
I know other people have come up with this idea independently, but I at least can say I've playtested it in a lot of games. When attacking a non-adjacent figure with a normal attack, a figure with height advantage adds 1 to their range instead of adding 1 to their attack value. When attacking a non-adjacent figure that is higher than the attacking figure, subtract 1 from the attacker's range (whether they are using a normal attack or a special attack with a printed range value). The defender does not roll an additional defense die. Attacks at a range of 1 add attack or defense dice for height normally. Special powers that are not attacks do not add or subtract from their range due to height, nor do special attacks without an explicit range value (e.g. Mimring's Fireline).

This power tries to mirror the regular rule (height doesn't apply when attacking with special attacks, but does apply when defending against them), but it makes range on height a bit less strong, while still making it useful to put ranged figures on height. This nerf is extra necessary in Mle, where it's much easier to quickly set up a ranged pod on high ground.

Conclusion:

Any thoughts or questions are appreciated. If anyone is interested in trying out Heroscape Mle, I'd be happy to play a game through the online interface (my brother and I have played it that way a couple of times, it's no more trouble than regular OHS). I hope that this post might give you some new ideas for ways to spice up your Heroscape games.
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Old June 7th, 2020, 11:09 AM
Jak Jak is offline
 
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Re: Heroscape Mle

very interesting, I'm gonna use some/all of these variants next time I play.
I love the idea of using ALL my squads every round!
Well done, good Sir Knight, Well done!
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Old June 7th, 2020, 10:08 PM
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TheAverageFan TheAverageFan is offline
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Re: Heroscape Mle

It'd certainly be good for big games since everything takes a turn, plus it'd help out units that struggle to justify putting a whole OM on 'em such as Shades or Deathstalkers. Completely shuffling all cards seems pretty chaotic though: someone could get to go with several of their units before your next turn. Stack your army with as many Cards as possible to increase the chances of taking several turns in a row and target opponents' figures whose Army Cards are further down the Initiative Line to knock 'em out before they get to go.

And what about Initiative powers like Mogrimm's?

~TAF, who just has a set of OM's off to the side to count the three turns before rerolling Initiative whenever he plays without them

TAF was the Storyteller...
in THE ENEMY'S LAST RETREAT

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Old June 8th, 2020, 08:38 AM
Knight of Scape Knight of Scape is offline
 
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Strategy tips

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Originally Posted by TheAverageFan View Post
It'd certainly be good for big games since everything takes a turn, plus it'd help out units that struggle to justify putting a whole OM on 'em such as Shades or Deathstalkers. Completely shuffling all cards seems pretty chaotic though: someone could get to go with several of their units before your next turn. Stack your army with as many Cards as possible to increase the chances of taking several turns in a row and target opponents' figures whose Army Cards are further down the Initiative Line to knock 'em out before they get to go.

And what about Initiative powers like Mogrimm's?

~TAF, who just has a set of OM's off to the side to count the three turns before rerolling Initiative whenever he plays without them
(sorry if this is an overly longwinded response. As you should know from CoN, I suck at brevity)

Ironically, I don't really have experience using this system with big games. We pretty much always play with point values between 350 and 750 (in fact, we use a pair of d20 rolls to randomize a point total in that range).

Getting a bunch of cards to have as many turns as possible isn't really that effective a strategy in my experience. First off, taking a turn with all your figures every turn makes figures that are cheap in Heroscape much better in Melee. So most 50 point squads or heroes go for at least 70 points in Melee, and some of them (like the Tarns or the Marro Warriors) can go for 100 or more. Cheap ranged squads in particular get a big price hike, even with the nerf to range (4th or 10th go for around 125), and cheap ranged heroes like Arkmer or Me-Bruq-Sa can go for around 80. This means it's quite hard to mass a bunch of ranged figures. Massing range 1 figures is easier, but at some point melee has diminishing returns. Heroscape Mle battlefields get very crowded, and if you have too many melee figures you can pretty easily get stuck with figures that have no one to attack because the front lines are all jammed up.

Having several turns a row is certainly useful, but the nature of the initiative line is that if most of my cards are clumped together, most of yours are as well, so it's kind of a symmetric advantage. If you can use those turns to take out one of my key cards further down the initiative line, that's obviously a huge advantage, but if I'm playing well I'm probably not going to give you that opportunity. I know that you have all those cards together, so I'm going to advance more cautiously. Usually what happens is each player leads out with weaker figures meant to act as a screen while holding back stronger units so that they can have a choice of who to target. If you take advantage of your consecutive turns to have your strong heroes mop up my screen, I don't care too much about the lost turns (the whole point of a screen is to absorb attacks, not to deal damage itself), and then I can use my consecutive turns to attack your powerful figures (this is obviously just theoryscape, the details get messy depending on the exact map and armies. If your strong units all substantially outrange mine, I may be in for a bad time. But if that's the case, you would hopefully have less firepower, so I can afford to sustain a loss from your consecutive turns and then still be able to hit you hard on my consecutive turns).

Another key component of good army building in melee is trying to ensure that your main offensive units (not screens) all have about the same balance of offensive power to tankiness. This ensures that you don't really have any "key figures" for your opponent to target which will drastically reduce your armies effectiveness.

For example, combining Syvarris and DW9K is probably not a good idea, because your opponent can focus down Syvarris first and drastically reduce your offensive power (although depending on the map and matchup, maybe he can stay out of range). Combining Syvarris with say, Krav could work better, since then your opponent has a trickier choice between focusing down Syvarris to take out two of your attacks of 3 while taking heavy fire from the Krav, or attacking a Krav to try to immediately get rid of an attack of 3 but having lower odds of dealing damage (Krav can be tanky units, but 3 attacks of 3 at range is really strong, and when Raelin goes for like 150 and height doesn't boost defense it's hard to boost their defense enough to make Stealth dodge reliable). Zettians on the other hand could pair better with DW9K who also has better tankiness than offense.

When all of your main attackers have a similar offense/defense ratio, losing one card isn't going to cause as dramatic a drop in your armies offensive output, and you're more likely to be able to take out a strong card of the opponent's in retaliation.

One final note is that if your opponent has a bunch of good cards going in a row early in the initiative line, it's sometimes worth it to try to stall and delay engagment for a round or two so that you can attack when one of his valuable cards is going to the end of the line. The "move the front card to the end of the line at the end of the round" rule was implemented specifically to prevent a player from having a game-breaking advantage just because they happened to have a bunch of cards going early in the original initiative line.

As for initiative powers, we generally just ignore them. I've played around a little with replacing them with stuff that plays with the initiative line, but that gets cumbersome to remember and doesn't feel as much in the spirit of the original design. These powers are usually not that game-warping anyway, so I haven't felt that their removal dramatically changes the characters. (I have, however, designed some customs specifically for melee with special abilities that take advantage of the format).

~KoS, who could probably write a whole strategy guide for Mle
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Old June 8th, 2020, 08:50 AM
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Re: Heroscape Mle

Ah, I forgot about the adjusted price of units. That'd help immensely, especially for balancing out the numbers issue. I'd much sooner get to go with 12 Stingers over 1 Jotun, but that was assuming their original Point Values.

~TAF

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Old June 8th, 2020, 08:58 AM
Knight of Scape Knight of Scape is offline
 
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Re: Heroscape Mle

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Originally Posted by TheAverageFan View Post
Ah, I forgot about the adjusted price of units. That'd help immensely, especially for balancing out the numbers issue. I'd much sooner get to go with 12 Stingers over 1 Jotun, but that was assuming their original Point Values.

~TAF
Yeah, I'm not sure I would have stuck with Mle if I wasn't already used to changing everyone's costs via the Personal Delta system. Playing Mle with base costs does not go well. Stingers go for almost double their regular cost in Mle, though, so they aren't nearly as oppressive (in general cheap units cost more, very expensive units cost less, and ranged units get a small boost (despite the nerf to range)).

I could try to publish an "official" Mle price sheet, but I'm not sure if it would be a whole lot more accurate than people's intuitions (which is why I reccommend just using the "I cut you choose" army selection technique), since the costs I use are tuned not only to Mle, but also to my collection, so their are some weird oddities (e.g. Blastatrons are priced under the assumption that Gladiatrons don't exist).

~KoS
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