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View Poll Results: What would you like to see more of in Heroscape?
More? I still haven't bought everything that I want! 20 19.23%
I don't really care. I trust them to make more awesome units as the business cycles allow. 11 10.58%
I'd like to see some Cheerleaders that boost underappreciated units. 14 13.46%
I'd like to see some new squads that bond with lackluster heroes. 22 21.15%
I'm sick of bonding. I'd like to see more alternatives. 17 16.35%
[Insert favorite general/race/personality here] totally needs some love! 15 14.42%
Other (please specify) 5 4.81%
Voters: 104. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 8th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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Roles and Holes in HS- How OM affect Design (OM III)

Order Markers III

The holes in Heroscape, based on Order Marker roles in Heroscape!
(Or... what I’d do if I could Mindshackle Craig Van Ness.)

The goal here is to use my earlier classifications to see what’s missing for different groups and generals, and also to see what can be done to dust off the units that I relegated to the Niche category. Anything that can turn sharks, defenders, or niche units into potential menacers or bread and butter units is what I'm looking for here.
By the end, I get a bit sidetracked, but I hope it’s still an interesting read.
First, I’ll look at the holes (if any) in the current bonding units.

Warlord Bonding
This is the most complete bonding set out there. The Romans have the ability to bond with an awesome cheerleader in Marcus Decimus Gallus, a great Cleanup hero in Me-Burq-Sa, and some rather hefty Meatshields in Valguard and Ne-Gok-Sa. Even Venoc Warlord bonds with them, and he’s not an awful Shark. The only downside to this is that the Greeks and Armocs can’t really be helped without further overpowering the Romans. I’d like it if Zelrig were a Warlord, but that’s probably not gonna happen. A Marro squad that bonds with (Utgar or Marro) Warlords would also be nice! This is the model upon which I base all other bonded units.

Beast Bonding
The Arrow Gruts are my favorite squad ever. I’d like them to have more bonding options, but they don’t really need it- they’re the only common ranged squad with either disengage or full bonding. Swog Riders are great dispensable cheerleaders; Mimring is an excellent shark or cleanup hero, and adds a much needed special attack to the Arrow Grut repertoire. Krug is a pimp.

Orc Champion Bonding
Another rather complete set, full of Cheerleaders and guys with Disengage. Nerak and Tornak are just a blast to play. Ornak and Grimnak are more ponderous, but their special abilities are really cool. All 4 of these guys are rather Cheerleaderish, but have decent offensive potential. Nerak is cheap and fast enough to count as a cleanup hero too in my opinion. The only thing I’d like to see added to this group is a Hawthorne or Ne-Gok-Sa strength Meatshield.

Human Champion Bonding
The Human Champions are almost all Cheerleaders and Meatshields. They are over saturated with them at this point. Sir Gilbert is also so good that most of them become redundant. The only one that plays more aggressively is Alastair MacDirk. I’d almost like to see a 4th viking in the 40-50 point range that plays similarly to Me-Burq-Sa (and possibly adds Range to a unique unit upon death) to round out this group.

Heroes that could sure use bonding
Many of the Niche units that I mention would become much, much better if they had a squad to bond with. They often feel like either a waste or a huge risk whenever you place an order marker on them. The Gladiators, Kee-Mo-Shi, Brunak, and Agent Carr spring immediately to mind. A squad of Gladiators that benefit from Spartacus’ special ability and bond with him could be downright dominating. A Marro Squad that randomly bonds with either a Warlord or a Warwitch would be fun and a way to simultaneously solve the Marro Warlord problem I mentioned above, and keep with the Wild, random theme of the Marro. Brunak is the only Mount (even Theracus is a Scout!) in the game; this is sad and unfortunate; what would the world be like if he were a Beast? Krug and Brunak would be like buddy-troll-cops, breaking the racial divide between the Greens and the Reds. The main thing to watch out for with Agent Carr is making sure that the wording wouldn’t let you bond with the Nakitas, Gorillanators, Microcorp, or KMA.

There are more heroes that could use bonding that I’m probably forgetting. None of them are Kings or Queens- sorry!

Movement Bonding
This is an interesting option for bonding with ranged squads without completely overpowering them. The designers probably don’t want too many units to play like Arrow Gruts. The Nakita-Gorrillanator relationship is neat, but I think I might like to see a melee Gorillanator variant made, that has higher base stats (maybe 3A/2D+Tough), but only 1 range. Gladiatrons and Blastatrons are just plain cool.

Attack Bonding?
Nothing has this yet, but what if they added a melee Jandar soulborg squad that had some sort of ‘Covering Fire’ ability that allowed 3 Omnicron Snipers to attack before they took a turn? It would work thematically well with the Airborne Elite too if they ever make another WWII squad of Americans. If they ever remake the Zettian Guards, giving them Deathwalker Attack Bonding would be the thing to do.

Alternative Bonding Methods
I really like what they’re doing with Zombies, Ornak, Red Skull, Marro Hive, Ulginesh, and Kato Katsuro. As you can tell from a lot of my above statements, it often seems like the thing to do is just give a hero bonding and call it a day. I’m excited to see what the upcoming Wolves in wave 8 do, and to see the stats of the rest of those Elf Wizards.* There might yet be a better way to fix Brunak, Agent Carr and the others besides simply allowing them to bond. Shiori probably deserves a mention here just for messing with people’s heads and what to expect from an order marker.

The Missing Children
In my original Order Marker article, I quipped that the Cheerleaders can be thought of as children, because they are ‘better seen and not heard.’ I don’t believe in this statement in real life, but in Heroscape it brings home the fact that you don’t need to put an order marker on these units for them to be effective. We already have Cheerleaders like Raelin, Taelord, and the Nakita Agents that can be used to help out any sort of unit; those that affect uniques and adjacent units like the Vikings; and those that boost specific groups like the flagbearers (General-Specific), Marcus (Soldiers), Parmenio (squad specific), Venoc Warlord (Scouts), Nerak (Orcs), Warden 816 (Guards), etc.

One of the most common types that has no bonuses given to it are Warriors- which make for quite an eclectic bunch including Tarn Viking Warriors, WoA, Runa, Concan, Marro Warriors, Saylind, Kelda, and Jotun. All of them that I just mentioned (save Concan and the Ashras) could be given a +die roll bonus that wouldn’t make Raelin (or Taelord or Kiova) any more popular. Eliminating the chance for Kelda to hurt her intended target, or make Jotun’s Throw or the Tarn’s Berserker Charge work more often are all good ideas in my book.

I made a custom idea for Ulrick and the Dreadguls that reflect my thoughts on this matter.

More personality effects are possible, but most of the common ones like Precise or Tricky really don’t need any more of a boost. (Although I think a +die roll to Tricky units would be thematically fun and appropriate. Hurrah for boosting Mindshackle units without helping the KMA!)

Optional Powers and Special Attacks
I also really like abilities such as Wait then Fire or Stinger Drain which give the player an option to give up map control or (perhaps even their turn) for a shot at the big time. Agent Carr’s ability to stay back and fire, or engage and hit much harder is another good example- I expect the upcoming Redcoats to have a similar ability with their bayonets. Special attacks are great options as well, and contribute to the versatility of Kaemon Awa and the Raknar’s Vision all-stars. The abilities of the Yari, Roman Archers, AE, and Zombies also deserve mention, as these give squads options for special situations.

Latent Powers
These (usually defensive) abilities force your opponent to do something that they wouldn’t normally do. From Raelin’s Aura, to Warrior Spirits, to Tough, to Vanish, to Shields of Valor, to Cyberclaw, to Counterstrike, to Evil Eye Defense, to Coward’s Reward, to Thorian Speed, to Scatter, abilities such as these either completely take away options for your opponent, or force them to second guess their original intentions. And best of all, they require no active order marker placement. My only real complaint is that many of these abilities are trumped by Special Attacks, but as I once noted, this might have been necessary for the early balance of the game when it comes to the power of Engagement. (Just imagine a world where Izumi Samurai could counterstrike Mimring or Deathwalker 9000.) The possibilities for future latent powers are pretty enormous when it comes right down to it.

Terrain Specific Powers
Although most of the terrain-specific units are on my Niche list, this might change as Lava and Snow become more common in tournament and casual maps. I’d also like to see more units that take advantage of the more basic terrain (water, grass, rock, and sand.) An animal squad that treats grass as roads or gains camouflage on them, more slithering or swimming units, things such as the Capricorn Slingers (from HS codex #7) which get benefits from rock, or perhaps a giant worm which can tunnel through sand would be great. (I really hope that Wo-Sa-Ga does something like this). In a similar vein as Disengage, I think a unit without flying that can still fall any distance without taking damage would be very cool. More weaknesses like the Obsidian guard’s could also be interesting: some could be as simple as movement penalties in sand, grass or rock. The goal wouldn’t be to make the terrain required for the new units’ success, but rather to create more ‘Oh crap, I forgot that they could do that!’ moments, similar to what we currently see with phantom walk or stealth flying.

The addition of the soft cover/Tree Town Open sort of rule that will officially be coming out with Ticalla Jungle is also a nice step in this direction, lending more importance to battlefield positioning. Good lava maps already do this. Good RttFF maps help balance out the typical melee and range discrepancy. Good Castle maps are few and far between when looking for a balanced fight.

Flying Ranged units?
It’s often been mentioned that the main reason that Ullar’s Protectors haven’t come out yet is because flying ranged units would be overpowered. But look at the Dragons. Just make their little crossbow things a special attack, that way they won’t get height advantage. Keep the range short and attack low, maybe R5, A2. They could also have limited ammo a la the Airborne Elite, although that could be tricky with them likely being common.

Final thoughts

If I go through the generals and see who needs more defenders and whatnot, the main thing that I think really needs to be addressed is that Ullar needs more Menacers and Bread and Butter units (AKA easy to use, very strong units.) This factor is what's keeping Ullar out of tournament winning armies. On the other hand, maybe this just isn’t part of the designers’ vision for Ullar. This general’s units are almost exclusively sharks with the only notable defender exceptions being Warriors of Ashra and Charos. The release of more Scouts (like the spiders) will improve the worth of both Venoc Warlord and the Armocs. Acolarh and Kyntela Gwyn are passable cheerleaders, but they don't look so great when compared to Raelin, Marcus or Gilbert.

Solid. Jandar has great squads, and the two best cheerleaders in the entire game. He might be lacking a bit in the offensive department, but as a whole, Jandar has very few holes. I'd like someone to have a 40-50 point Valiant hero, but I'm probably just being greedy.

Again, good squads and cheerleaders, coupled with fun thematic armies. In a few months, he'll finally have some double-spacers, and I expect Zelrig to be downright menacing. If the Redcoats are disciplined, it should improve the worth of the Sacred Band without overpowering the Romans.

The only problem with Vydar is that he's too good. (He could also use something that costs fewer than 60 points- Dünd and Murphy aren't exactly the best cleanup figures ever.)

Enough already! This general is well balanced, with plenty of choices, both casual and competitive.

What, no Kyrie or Dragon yet?!

Overall, the design of the Heroscape Master Game continues to impress me every day. The fact that there are well over 100 units now, and that no two play exactly the same even if they have very similar stats says a lot about the system that they’ve created. At its core, the Order Marker system is about limiting your opponent’s options, broadening your own, and taking risks. All of the additions I propose are designed to give players more choices than are currently available. Even in the middle of the game, I want players to have to ponder their next move and attack based on a number of criteria. Providing new bonding options, alternatives to bonding, boosts for underplayed units, and interesting terrain-based and passive abilities are key to doing this.

There are still some holes to be filled, but they are fairly minor, and mostly due to thematic ‘hey we need an X for general Y!’ or ‘Z still sucks!’ or ‘this game is so unbalanced 4 T3H UTG412Z!’ thoughts than actual faults with the game as it currently is. Even the worst units can be fun to play, or extremely useful in the right drafted situation, or with a lucky roll.

[As usual, I recommend that if you don’t play with Order Markers that you try it out. I think that they’re a lot of what makes Heroscape the game that it is. However, please don’t turn this into a thread about the merit of using them or not; that is not my intent. I’m going to ignore any argumentative posts on that matter, either for or against my position. This is mostly a sounding board for thinking about what makes this game great, and what could make it even better.]

*As for the Elf Wizards, I’d be excited if one of them had either (or both) of these two abilities:
Chain Lightning Special Attack
Range 5, Attack 2
If at least one skull is rolled with Chain Lightning Special attack, you may attack another target within 2 clear sight spaces of the last target with Chain Lightning Special attack. You may not attack the same target more than once, and you may not attack more than 5 times in one turn with Chain Lightning Special attack. Soulborgs roll one less defense die when attacked with Chain Lightning special attack.
Lightning Strike Special Attack
Range 7, Attack 4
Soulborgs roll 1 less defense die against Lightning Strike Special attack. If Lightning Strike Special attack inflicts at least one wound, roll the twenty sided die. On a roll of 17 or higher, remove one unrevealed order marker from the defending unit’s card.

Eat that Deathreavers, Trons, and Q9!

I expect and hope that most of the other Wizards will have attacks like toned-down versions of Mimring, Nilfheim, and Braxas’ breath weapons, with maybe a shotgun blast/explosion attack thrown in for good measure.

For some of my earlier thoughts on unit design, here's something I put in General awhile ago: Top 10 Best Designed Units in HS

Quote:
Originally Posted by fomox View Post
(I've also played many matches with great, fun people who were using Q9. So using Q9 doesn't make you a tool. But being a tool sure seems to make you use Q9.)
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Old November 8th, 2007, 05:41 PM
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Nice review of the units as always Jexik. I always find your thoughts on unit selection intriguing and it gets me to ponder my unit selections a little more carefully. I have a tendency to just go with a thematic army, but if I ever think about making a tourney army I'll make sure to keep your comments in mind. Once again an excellent topic and well thought out.

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Old November 8th, 2007, 08:26 PM
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Wow, those Special Attacks you came up with are hot. (Electrifying) I could easily see either of those in the game, and they would be quite useful in the right situations, but not so overpowered all the time.

Your work concerning order markers is super useful- please keep it up!


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Old November 8th, 2007, 08:58 PM
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Another excellent article, Jexik. You make valid points and discuss good strategies. My only complain with this series of posts is the names of the classifications: Shark, Bread and Butter, Menacer, and Defender. While these names are descriptive, I think you could've come up with something better.
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Old November 9th, 2007, 10:43 AM
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I probably could rename the groups a bit.

Originally, Bread and Butter units were called Fire and Forget.

Niche units were called Fire and Wish you had Forgotten.

Defenders were merely a subset of Children/Cheerleaders.

There was a list of less useful squads that were originally called Bread and Butter units (back when the current B&B's were F&F's). I later changed those to be called 2nd Stringers, and I later removed that category entirely, placing the few squads that were there into more descriptive categories.

Shark, Cleanup, Cheerleaders, and Menacers have always been what they are. I started a thread about the three main types of armies, and I was about to change my names, but no one liked that thread in the competitive armies section.

I was going to go with Swarm, Power, and Finesse for BB, Menacer, and Shark.

As always, I am open to constructive criticism and suggestions. This has been a work in progress ever since its inception.

Even still, I am open to changing things further. There are three main groups. Defenders and Cheerleaders are units that don't require many order markers and serve as distractions for your opponent. Sharks are offensive units. Menacers are somewhere in between.

Bread and Butter units are essentially Menacers that are Common and often seen in winning tournament armies in bulk and have 4-5 attacks per turn (where most Menacers have 3). Cleanup units are also like Menacers in that they are balanced offensively and defensively. The main difference is that they are like Menacers with just 1-2 attacks per turn, and usually at a much lower price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fomox View Post
(I've also played many matches with great, fun people who were using Q9. So using Q9 doesn't make you a tool. But being a tool sure seems to make you use Q9.)
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Old November 9th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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Well written! I particularly liked the:

Quote:
Even the worst units can be fun to play, or extremely useful in the right drafted situation, or with a lucky roll.
I find that too many people hold consistency up in the all high and let things like luck and theme go by the wayside.

It's sometimes hard to fit units into a single category too. The Venoc Warlord for example has elements of shark and cheerleader. I'm sure there are dozens of others...

I usually like to break figures down into "offensive" "defensive" and "supportive", but that’s still dumbing things down too much. It would be interesting to really sit down and hammer out a system of classifications for different cards… I’ll get back to this thread a little later…

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Old November 9th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Lord_Mortis and I are cooking something up for the customs community that could get a lot of mileage out of this thread. Thanks, Jexik!


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Old November 9th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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Jexik,

I enjoyed the special powers you came up with more than anything -- Lightening and Chain Lightening -- bravo. Don't know if I'd write them exactly the same way, but the concept -- anti-soulborg.

I've noticed reports of tournament winners and high placers typically contain the newer soulborgs (Deathwalkers excluded). Its unfortunate any power that counters soulborgs would likely hurt the already power-diminished Deathwalkers. But with their high defense, losing 1 def dice may be the best way to do that.

I voted other in the poll. The biggest need are units that counter units that are too dominating, even for thier cost. When the same units or combos keep showing up in top places in tournaments there is either a balance issue there or the community has some issues with originality in building competative armies that can win. I would hope the first rather than the latter.

The other need, a similar one, is units that make "overpriced" units more valuable. At the top of this list (by leaps and bounds) is the need for a gladiator squad.

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Old November 9th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riggler
Jexik,


The other need, a similar one, is units that make "overpriced" units more valuable. At the top of this list (by leaps and bounds) is the need for a gladiator squad.
I agree, some of the higher priced units that are used infequently need some love.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NecroBlade
Lord_Mortis and I are cooking something up for the customs community that could get a lot of mileage out of this thread. Thanks, Jexik!
Necro, I'd been interested in what you and Lord_Mortis are coming up with, you guys have a good grasp of bvalancing Customs.

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Old November 9th, 2007, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riggler
Jexik,

I enjoyed the special powers you came up with more than anything -- Lightening and Chain Lightening -- bravo. Don't know if I'd write them exactly the same way, but the concept -- anti-soulborg.
Exactly! This would make Ullar, as nature guy, the anti-mech general. Nice work!

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Old November 9th, 2007, 01:51 PM
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Very interesting article. Well written and thought-out.

I see the biggest need in HS to be the revitalization of seldom-used heroes, such as Khosumet, Carr, and Concan. I occassionaly use all 3 (Kho with 3+ Wolf squads, Carr as a thematic end-gamer, and Concan also as a thematic end-gamer), but they could certainly use a shot in the arm to ratchet up their competitive factor. At this point, the primary reason I draft them is actually due to their rare usage factor... I like to see all figures (yes, even DW7K ) get in some play time.

But I would love for Concan to be an easier draft, and for Carr to regain some of the intimidation factor he used to have, and for Khosumet to do more in a game than simply huddle behind a starting zone wall, hoping the opponent forgets that he's there.

What the designers did for the Gors was brilliant. The nudge they provided for the Zettians from the Warden is perfect. Ornak dragged Brunak back into the tactical spotlight. Sir Gilbert breathed new life into the ranks of the knighthood... I'm confident we'll see a bone or two tossed to Khosumet, Concan, and Carr in the not-to-distant future.

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Old November 9th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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For the poll question I chose "Other (please specify)"
So,... to specify,... I REALLY want to see the designers boost up the vipers. We've recently seen that certain factions are being buffed out and made more complete thematically. The vipers never received that love. Sure they got Armocs in like wave 3 or 4, but as a faction they're still pretty weak. What I'm really hoping to see at some point is a ranged spitting viper unit, with like a "Frenzy Spitting" power that would allow you to keep attacking as long as you get the required d20 roll, (let's stick with 16). I've created a custom squad, but I can't decide on the combination of powers I should give them for 75 points. But I do have an AWESOME custom Armoc Warlord, (he would add +2 range to the Spitters and be an Ullar Warlord so that he can be activated with the Armoc Vipers as well).

In addition, "I'd like to see some new squads that bond with lackluster heroes."


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