This week will be a little different; I usually do game reviews on Sundays, but today I'm going to tell you a bit about Heroscape events that are held all around the country, and what makes them different from a lot of the other types of events I've been to. I know what you're thinking; a Heroscape tournament is probably a lot like Magic, without the foul odor and sissies crying foul when they lose. Heroscape tournaments aren't just a place for losers with no other notable skills, who could never compete in anything other than playing board games would thrive to shore up their insecurities. These tournaments are places for friends, new and old, to meet up and play a couple of games together.
The premise of these is that a player brings an army that they wish to play with the whole day, and then play four or five consecutive matches against different opponents. Many of these are free, although some require a nominal entry fee around five dollars, but it is an expectation that everyone there bring a prize of some sort, usually Heroscape-related like a twelve dollar expansion pack or the like. The initial pairings are, essentially, random, but each subsequent match is based both upon your win-loss record as well as any variety of formulaic equation that takes into account how much of your enemies' armies you've wiped out thus far. The winner is the person who had the best win-loss record and, generally speaking, how well they fared during those wins and losses.
These tournaments are held in all manner of places, such as in halls, churches, and most commonly, at game stores. There's anywhere from ten to 35 people that show up at these, although at some local venues there are far more. There's even a national Heroscape Championship at Gencon where 60 people vie to stomp the piss out of their fellow Heroscapers for a set of Gencon Heroscape Dice, a bad ass trophy, and an assload of fresh Heroscape swag. Well, that and the ability to tell other Heroscapers to kiss your ass because you're the Champ.
You show up at the venue, sign in, pay if you need to, put your prize on the prize table, and then you’re ready to play. There are maps all set up and ready to go, generally, but If not, most people chip in and help in the setup. Scope out the competition, because the minute you get there, people will be chatting about what the best strategies are, and which army is the “one to beat.”
After all are aboard that are coming aboard, the Tournament Director will draw random names from the sign-in sheet and set the timer. Most matches last fifty minutes or an hour, although many end long before the time runs out. Although these games are adversarial and there’s a lot of hemming and hawing about bad dice rolls or bad moves, there’s more friendly banter and chatting about luck than anything else. People are not out for blood, they’re out for a good time. Every once in a while you get one of these competitive asswipes that are clearly either completely fucking insane or are obviously compensating for other shortcomings, but in my experience these things are just a bunch of people that share a hobby coming together to play with people they don’t normally play with.
After a match ends, you tally your scores by noting how many points of your figures have fallen gallantly in battle and how many you’ve gloriously slain, and who won the match. These go to the Tournament Director or their proxy and then you have time to chat it up with the other players. This, in my opinion, is the single best part of Heroscape. These events are all about the people and the love of the game, not about schlong measuring or bragging rights. It’s good folks having some fun.
I’ve met professional musicians, accountants, CEOs, janitors, college professors, bums, telemarketers, and security agents at these things and the vast, overwhelming majority of them share one singular trait: they’re good folks. At all of the great many Heroscape tournaments I’ve been to, I’ve only met one guy that I’d have liked to see sliced along the carotid artery for the sheer delight of watching him clutch at his throat as he breathes his last. He was an outright cheating bastard who I saw making illegal moves, very slyly, against some ten year old kid because his enourmous ass couldn't have handled it if he got beat by a child; the other Hutts would've exiled him for sure for his weakness. On top of that, there's only been one guy I've met that was as annoying as a bee in your car, stinging you in the face while you were trying to just get home for dinner, and he is even a great guy but a little too competitive.
These are the exceptions, though, and they are certainly few and quite far between. There are kids, families, and just regular Joes at these things, and it’s amazing who you’d meet. In fact, I met and became friends with two standup comedians, one who is a nationally known comedian who plays venues all over the country. These are simply great, great folks, and not what you’d expect at a geeky little game convention. It’s just not like that. They may be geeks, but they’re not the basement-dwelling, nerdy, unshowered gamer-funk dispersing NBLs that you might find at a Magic: The Gathering event or something. These geeks are definitely a cut above the stereotype.
One of the most interesting things that you find at these events are people actually helping their opponents out, reminding them that they forgot a specific bonus to roll, and other beneficial stuff. In fact, the one I played in on Saturday had a total freshie; a guy who really had never played the game much at all, and I helped him out several times. This is simply the norm, and people are far more interested in having fun then kicking ass.
At the end of the day, the players get to choose prizes from the table based upon the order of their final standing, and if everyone brought something, everyone gets something. At every event I’ve been to, in fact, there’s been a second round of prizes handed out because quite a few participants will bring more than one prize as a token of appreciation and because they’re simply generous folk.
When it's over, people all pack up their toys, help disassemble and store the maps for the Tournament Directors, and either say, “Via Con Dios” or go shopping at the game store the event was held at. It’s always a great time and people are just exceptionally friendly in most cases.
In short, if you are looking for a good time with some cool people, for less than ten bucks, a Heroscape Tournament is one hell of a good way to go.
What Makes Heroscape Tournaments Heroic:
- Great folks
- Heroscape is such a fast paced game that rounds seem to end quickly
- Cheap way to kill 6 hours on a weekend when you don’t want to get drunk
How These Events Can Be A Six-Sided Pain In The Ass:
- Rarely, but worth noting, people decide to wear rubber, nasty, stained flip-flops without showering for a couple weeks or some other manner of odor faux-pas
- Playing the same army for six hours can be discouraging if “you have chosen…poorly”
- There are times where a large, menacing robot will get his ass kicked by a Revolutionary War soldier armed with a bent musket
Heroscape tournaments are a great place to have a good time, meet new friends, and chill for a day. If you’re not familiar with the game, though, you should know that Heroscape is a luck game at its core. I don’t give a shit how good you think you are, if your dice hate you, well, you’re screwed. If you can’t handle that, you should stay home and wrestle with Jimmy. Otherwise, head to your local venue and have a great time!
Looking for a venue? Shit, man, how am I going to leave you hanging! Check out this link for every Heroscape event on the planet:
If you ever get to see this cat at a comedy club, do it. The man is ridiculously funny both in person (once you see him you’ll understand) as well as on the stage. The man is a comic genius, so if he’s in town, show him some love:
For those of you wondering what NBLs are, it is a “Ne’er Been Laid”. Think about that fat kid in school that the assholes picked on, never had a date in high school that didn’t involve Jergens Lotion and a streaked page from his Dad’s Playboy. The guy who doesn’t shower, his house is always nasty as shit, and has no hope of ever, ever, ever seeing a vagina in real life. That, my friends, are what NBLs are.