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Old April 20th, 2010, 11:50 AM
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Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

A lot of people have requested artillery weapons (cannons, catapults, howitzers) be added as future units in Heroscape. I agree that these would add a great deal to the gameís mechanics and add some interesting strategy. However, I feel that these types of units are significantly different from what is currently available and would need a lot of special consideration when producing them. These are my thoughts on how the units should be created and marketed. Iíve broken my thoughts down into three key areas: the figures, the unitís abilities, and marketing.


The Figures:
My biggest argument for the creation of artillery (and the one that is least likely to happen) is for artillery units to be set on a 3 hex base. Obviously this would mean that Wotc would have to take the time and money to produce a new base type, which is fairly unlikely. However, I feel a three hex base is necessary for several reasons. First and most importantly, it severely limits mobility. Artillery units should not be mobile units. They are big, cumbersome, and slow. A three hex base would guarantee that cannon isnít sprinting across the board or nimbly jumping up cliffs to get height. A three hex base wouldnít have any excessive rule changes either. It would move similar to a two hex base, by simply picking one of the three ends to move and the other two can be rotated as needed. Physically, I believe a 3 hex base would also be similar to a two hex in that there would be three Ďbulbsí at the corners and it would bow in between them. I also feel a three hex base is needed because of the sheer size of the units. Yes, maybe cannons could fit decently on a two hex base, but to fit comfortably and to scale, a three hex base would be required. Plus it is easy to imagine how they would be positioned, here are a few examples:

(forgive my poor terminology when describing them)
Cannon: Two front wheels across two hexes and the back end on the third
Ballista: Front bow across two hexes with the back end on the third
Catapult: the structure being in the middle of two hexes and the Ďarmí being back on the third
Howitzer: Cannon on one hex and its stabilizers on the back two hexes.

Basically, a three hex base would be best to accurately produce some high quality figures and limit their movement.


The Units Abilities:
Obviously each unit is going to have its own unique abilities, but there is going to be some consistencies to the type of abilities that an artillery type unit will have. First, letís start with the base stats. These will be similar in nature across the board. Iíll break them down:

Life: low life, but definitely more than one. Around 2-3 would work well.

Move: Very limited move, ideally a move of two. A move of two would allow the unit to step up one hex. This lets the unit climb, but very, very slowly (as artillery should). Artillery is designed to fire across the battlefield, not move across it.

Range: Incredible range! This is the selling point of artillery. I would guess a range anywhere from 10 for more primitive weapons (ballista, catapult), and up to 15 for something like a howitzer.

Attack: There is a good bit more wiggle here and can vary depending on the unit. I feel the attack needs to be higher than that of most range units, to distinguish it as a powerhouse. I would guess anywhere from 3-5. Anything higher would be way too deadly with such a high range.

Defense: Defense should be relatively low. Itís a machine, so it canít defend itself. On the other hand, itís a machine, so itís stronger than flesh. I would say 0-3 is fair.

Points: I would say pretty pricey. Within the 150-200 range.

Now for the special abilities. There a lot of options out there, but here are a few that I think should be expected for artillery units.

1: A special ability that does not allow a unit to attack if it has moved on a turn. I highly recommend this ability for several reasons. In terms of the units, it takes time and energy to move artillery and set them up before they can fire. Therefore, it would make sense for them not to be able to fire on the same turn that they move. This power limits the movement of the unit as well. Having to sacrifice an attack to move makes it costly to move around the battlefield. It also provides a great dilemma in strategy. Do you move the cannon to your advantage and lose a chance at doing damage, or give up the good position for more opportunities to fire (for those who have played Battlemasters, you will remember this dilemma well!).

2: A special ability that affects multiple units. Something similar to Deathwalker 9kís Explosion special would be good. I feel that it should not be considered a special attack though. I do not believe you should be able to choose whether to attack one figure or a group of figures with artillery. You should always have that large explosion. This prevents you from using artillery to fire from a distance when your own men are in the thick of the fight. So, I say it should be a normal attack that says that every unit adjacent to the unit you are attacking is also affected by the artillery attack.

3: A special ability that dictates line of sight when firing. Artillery fires in an arc, which makes their line of sight complicated. Should it be able to fire over ruins, trees, and rocks? How high can it fire above its current position? I have no definitive answer beyond there should be a limit to how high above the artillery base it should be able to hit/arc (8-10 hexes above maybe?). I am really interested to hear thoughts about how to handle this, because I am unsure how to best handle los with artillery.

4: A special ability that changes the attack strength when fighting adjacent units (or perhaps even units that are 2 hexes away as well). Artillery is powerful at long distances; you canít fire artillery at point blank. The attack power should be greatly reduced at close distances.


Marketing:
Not much to say on this front, except that I feel artillery units should be sold together in a large booster rather than split up into small boosters. Artillery units play very differently than a standard unit, and will be drafted when particular situations call for it. It is by nature a defensive unit that may not appeal to players with more aggressive play styles. In other words, they are niche units that provide great defensive strategies. This type of unique game play style should be contained in a set for those that want it (as not everyone will). Units with specific design features like artillery cannot be considered a Ďnormalí unit because it doesnít have the mobility and versatility of normal heroes. This is why I feel they should be packed separate and come out as a big booster.






Iím really interested in hearing the rest of the communityís thoughts on adding artillery. Is it a good idea? How do you balance a unit with such large range? What special abilities will be useful? Should they be uncommon or unique?

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  #2  
Old April 20th, 2010, 11:59 AM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I like your ideas. I also would like to add a few of my own:

They should have some bonus against destructible objects, like the Door. I could see castle sieges becoming more popular if that darn Door didn't have 10 life and 2 shields against small or medium. Maybe just negate the Tough?

As far as movement and 3 hex bases, I could see some potential problems. With a move of two, it couldn't move onto height at all. Maybe that's a good thing...?

A solution could be to eliminate the move altogether and simply place the artillery on the battlefield. It wouldn't be the same, obviously, but it does solve some of the problems. You could fire the cannon or whatever if you had a figure adjacent to it for one turn. I could see this being a fun addition to some maps.

Well thought-out, Sporkthesloth.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 01:44 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

Interesting and something I have thought about but I'm not sure I'm sold on it.

The entire idea of Heroscape (for me at least) was the pulling of heros and heroic squads to fight, not the pulling of equipment (other than what they're carrying on them).

That being said, what type of artillary would already be in Valhalla? Catapults? Ballistae? Battering Rams? Are there heroic figures that operate these?

Some of your ideas are great and I think you are right about the three hex based figures but I think WOTC need to be careful with what they allow onto the field.

I'm not against artillary, I'm just not completely sold on the idea. And Frylock is right about those pesky doors.

Interesting thread.

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Old April 20th, 2010, 02:37 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I would love to see this. Although I think some of them should have a move of zero, and have to be moved by units. One unit can move an artillery piece one hex as a move action, two units can move it 2 hexes as a move action and three units can move it their speed as a move action. Then to be fired they need an adjacent unit. This of course would be for ordinary artillery pieces that appear as the weapons of our past and present. For more fantastic artillery, living pieces, no figures woud be needed to move or fire.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 07:19 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I would also favor a zero move. Like the hive. I would also favor a condition that a Hero has to be adjacent to the cannon for it to fire. Maybe if the cannon fires on the heroes move

The artillery would allow field conditions were the units are preplaced on the map as either LOS blockers or tactical point on the map that players would want to hold.

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Old April 20th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I would definitely go out and get an artillery pack in a heart beat. I think that artillery fits naturally with almost every theme. They could even come up with a lazor cannon for the Marro, or a steam punk cannon for Vydar (<---- would be EPIC!).

However, I think there is one important thing you forgot to address, and that is class, i.e. Hero, Squad, etc. I personally think Uncommon Hero would be a great fit for artillery.

As to the other ideas, I do think at all that the artillery should depend on other units for move, i.e. it is just the hunk of metal/what have you. I think the crews should be part of the figure, such as one or two men standing to the side. Realistically, it just does not make sense that a random elf can pick up a cannon from Revolutionary America and be able to fire it and cart it around.

I think that the best cannon would be an Uncommon Hero with 4 move and the other stats in the original post.

Another thing that should be differentiated on would be whether it would be a field cannon (i.e. shoot people) or a siege cannon (i.e. shoot people). Several ideas come to mind from when I used to play Age of Empires. Basically all Nations got your basic Falconet field gun, which was the one you would shoot into crowds. There were also I believe Culverins, which excelled at taking other artillery. The Chinese/Japanese, of course, had flamboyant Fire Arrow cannons, and even something where a wooden eagle filled with explosives was shot a buildings from short range. Some other nations had quite mobile artillery called Horse Cannons. The Indians even mounted cannons on elephants! Elephants!!!!!!!1 And lastly, the almighty Turks had their Great Bombard. This was basically my favorite part of the whole game. It was a massive tube of steel that shot cannonballs the size of exercise balls. It was very expensive, but immensely devastational. Also, the Turks had some Abus Guns, which were basically squads of men who wielded some kind of mutant rifle/cannon hybrids. The list goes on...

As for abilities, I agree there would have to be a wide range. Certainly some splash damagers, some long rangers, etc. Also I think a Howitzer and the like should have a limited window of range, such as it could only fire at 7-10 range. Some other more generic guns could maybe could increase and lower attack as range increased. Maybe at 1-4 range it has 1 attack, 5-7 range 2 attack, 8-12 range 4 attack, and then decreasing in similar increments.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 10:05 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I suppose an option for LOS is that the artillery piece would come with a designated spotter. So effective LOS would be if the artillery piece has clear LOS of the target (direct fire) or if the spotter could see the target (indirect fire).

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Old April 20th, 2010, 10:19 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

You should add some futuristic stuff in there too. What about a rail gun or a plasma mortar?
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Old April 20th, 2010, 10:19 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I'd do LOS like the AE's grenade: Lob 12, no clear LOS needed. Also, I'd do 4 Life 4 defence, with only a double base. A cannon with a small soldier behind it. Also, I believe a 3 move is required for a triple-hexer to move up one level.


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Old April 20th, 2010, 10:39 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I like your ideas. How about the cannon can use grapeshot to take out infantry?

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Old April 20th, 2010, 11:52 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

I always imagined artillery in HS as something you needed outside figures to operate.

I imagine a bunch of Orcs pushing along, and one runs off to the side to make use of the idle cannon and instead of that one Grut attack you would use the cannon. Maybe they have to stand on a certain spot or can't have moved in order to use it, maybe it takes more than one person to operate or have an enemy adjacent to them or the cannon.

Just how I imagined it.

I like the thought of killing the stuff, but I don't think it should move. Then it becomes a thing that you consider while building a map.

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Old April 20th, 2010, 11:56 PM
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Re: Implementing Artillery in Heroscape

There is a good MageKnight medieval cannon type of figure that I use as a Dwarf Bombard. You can see its card with its crew in my Dwarven Army in my customs thread.
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