Monday, November 22, 2010
Heroscape - Saving Some Of The Best For Last
Wizards of the Coast was nice enough to send me a complimentary set of Heroscape Wave 13, or D&DScape Wave 3, called Moltenclaw's Invasion. Now, I am not a huge fan of D&DScape because I think much of the draw of Heroscape is the interesting backstory and wide cast of compelling characters from different genres, so I was more than a bit skeptical about how Wizards would decide to end the seven year run of Heroscape's existence. I was pleasantly surprised.
I'm here to tell you that they went out with a bang. Some of these new squads are on their way to becoming my favorites, and for good reason. In the typical Heroscape formula, they've made characters that can be implemented in a wide array of armies, and to really get the full power of these new guys, you really need to have some of the older stuff as well. Allow me to elaborate.
First, there's the obligatory Hero Pack, called Heroes of Fallcrest, which contains four new heroes to battle it out on the landscape of Valhalla. The first is Moltenclaw, a dragon whose stature is about the same as a Deathwalker, but is so much more. He's worth 170 points, and he has a special attack that's a cross between Mimring and Zelrig, with five squares affected by four attack dice. Further, he's got Lava Resistance, can fly, and has six life points. His only downfall, if any, is that he's only got three defense dice, so he is a bit on the fragile side.
Next in the Hero pack is Siege, a Warforged hero with a really slick new special power type. If you placed the X order marker on him, you may, when activated by another order marker, reveal the X on him which activates his Crag of Steel power. This power raises his defense from five to eight, but lowers his attack and move rating from five to three. With five life points, he's a real tank and can walk right up to someone like Charos, take some beating without flinching, and start hacking. All in all, he's really a neat looking model, and is an interesting addition to the game.
Eltahale, a Goliath Warden, is the third hero in this pack and he has an interesting new power as well. His Thunder Ram attack allows her to advance to a target, attack with 4 dice, and these dice affect two figures of your choice that are within 2 spaces of that target. With five attack dice and four defense dice, she can move up to six spaces and cause some pain and suffering. She also has a second special attack that allows her to teleport up to 5 spaces away to an adjacent figure and then beat on that opponent with an additional attack die. The downside is that at the end of her activation, you must roll a die, and upon a skull's appearance she takes a wound.
The last hero in this pack is Evar Scarcarver, a Human Frostrager. Not sure what a Frostrager is, but suffice to say there'll be no bonding there. Anyhow, Evar has the double attack power, and with 2 attack, it's not that impressive. What is impressive, though, is that he has a Kruglike power called Frost Rage (Now I know what a FrostRager is!) which can be activated in the same manner as Siege's power, with the X order marker. This power allows you to add an additional attack and defense die to Evar for every wound marker he currently has. With five life points, we're talking about him having six attack and seven defense dice by the end of his life. That's a very potent little figure, and for 110 points, he is every bit as good as similarly costed figures, if not better. I've played with him as a forward scout, and he can run the gauntlet through squad fire, taking wounds and getting stronger with each hit, until he comes across a powerful hero, at which point he's juiced up to the point he can put some serious carnage in play upon them.
The next pack in the wave is called Bugbears and Orcs, which is comprised of two common squads. The first squad is the Horned Skull Brutes, who are clearly meant to be marine-type invasion units. With three to a squad, and costed at 75 points each, they're quite impressive alone as they have four attack and four defense points each. What really makes them impressive is that, like Tor-Kul-Na, they can expend other units to ignore all the wounds they receive. In this case, it's the Goblin Cutters from the last wave. These guys have a second power as well that allows them to swap places with friendly, engaged figures, meaning that you can move faster, lighter units into place and then swap these guys in for a surprise attack with a far more powerful unit. Very slick, indeed.
Moving on, the final squad in this pack is the Death Chasers of Thesk, a Gorilla-like squad of three Orcs. These guys have hero bonding that's very flexible, and can play well with any Large, Wild hero, such as Me-Burq-Sa or an Ogre Pulverizer, who is in this wave as well. With four attack and two defense dice, these guys aren't going to set the world on fire, but for the cheap cost of 55 points, they're exponentially better than the Roman Archers that share that cost.
The third pack in this wave is called Icewind's Scourge, and surprisingly is a second hero set. The first hero I'd like to talk about is the fearless Frost Giant of Morh. Gone are the days of Jotun-sized giants, though, as this guy is about as tall as Brunak. At 140 points, and with six life, he's an average costed hero, but when you consider he has four defense and attack dice, he appears bit on the weak side for an expensive hero. That is, until you check out his powers. He comes with the Indomitable power, which adds two movement points to his original five when he begins his turn unengaged, but adds two attack dice instead if he begins the turn engaged. To add to that, he has Battle Frenzy which allows him to attack subsequent times on a D20 roll of 16 or better, just like the Aubrien Archers. His final power, which is the most fun to play, is the Dying Swipe ability. This power allows you to roll three attack dice upon his death and any skulls rolled are unblockable hits against any adjacent figure or figures of his choice. This is incredibly satisfying when a powerful, high defense hero is close enough to be killed for free, essentially, and I did exactly this on Sunday afternoon. You can fill your ranks with these guys, becuase this guy is Uncommon, not Unique.
Next up in the cavalcade of heroes is the Master of the Hunt, or the Golden Spearchucker, as we've come to call him. Besides being the single coolest looking figure in the last two waves, this guy is all beef. At 140 points and with six life points, he's tough as a box of rusty nails, and he has four attack, defense, and range to boot. That is, until you include his Javelin special power, which can extend his range to seven spaces if you can roll better than a 15 on the D20. To add to his exquisite lethality, he has the Mortal Strike power which allows you to re-roll any skulls, giving an additional wound for every skull you roll a second time. All in all, he's my favorite hero from this set, and he looks a bit like a buffed out Luchadore due to his golden, winged mask. Very, very cool, and to add to the coolness, this guy is an Uncommon hero, meaning you can have two or three Luchadores chucking spears and mortally wounding people all day long. In the words of Palpatine, "Excellent!"
The last hero in this pack is the Ice Troll Berserker, who is a Ferocious Beast, sans Maggie. Yes, I have a 2-year old, so I know about Maggie and the Ferocious Beast. Anyhow, this guy is an 85 point Uncommon hero who is both tough and can regenerate either one life point normally, or two life points on an ice or snow tile. With four life, five attack, and two defense, he's really a gambler's figure as he can either whip some ass on an epic scale, or if you're luck is rotten, die quickly and cost you big. He has the Ice Troll Charge special ability which is almost exactly like the Tarn Vikings' power, allowing you to move again on a D20 roll of 13 or higher. If you're on an ice or snow tile, it then becomes a 50/50 chance because you add three to that skill check roll, meaning you only need to hit an 11 or better to activate it.
The final pack in this set is the Valkrill's Legion pack, which is loaded up with all kinds of goodness in the form of ridiculously neat squads and a big Ogre. The first is my new personal favorite, the Mezzodemon Warmongers. These billy badasses are hands-down some of the juiciest in all of Heroscape. With three attack and defense dice, and at 65 points a squad for two units, they don't look very juicy at first. When you look at their Exoskeleton power, which allows them to completely disregard an attack at the cost of one Exoskeleton marker, these guys are very tough to kill. To elaborate, you start with one marker for each Warmonger in your army, and you may discard one marker each time one of these would otherwise be killed, disregarding all wounds. This only affects normal attacks, which weakens it a bit, but still, if you have eight of these, you essentially get sixteen life points between them all. That's epic. On top of this, these figures have a range of four spaces, making them deadly from a distance, and they have a Poison Cloud power that adds one attack die when attacking adjacent figures. I just love these ugly little bastards, and I've completely murdered a Knights and 4th Mass build with them.
The last squad in this wave is the Death Knights of Valkrill, an incredibly powerful little two-man death squad that costs 60 points to field, but can bond with any Relentless hero you control, meaning you get to team up with Khosumet, a Dumatef Guard, Taelord, or a variety of others. These guys have a meager two attack dice, but they also have the Soul Weapons ability which reduces any attacked figure's defense by 2 dice. These guys are amazingly powerful, in short, against virtually all squads and all but the most powerful heroes. With five defense as well, these guys can take a pounding while getting into attack position, meaning that while you only get two attacks per activation, both will be effective.
The last hero in this wave is the Ogre Pulverizer, mentioned before due to its bonding with the Death Chasers. This guy is costed at 100 points, which seems expensive, but he has six life points, four attack and three defense points, making him a strong defensive figure to field. He has the double attack ability, allowing him two attacks per turn, but this is softened by the Lumbering Bully power which causes him to take wounds based off of an unsuccessful attack. This is, in my opinion, the worst hero of the entire pack. He really isn't a figure I'd field, and unless you have nothing else to bond with the Death Chasers, I don't expect to see him around. This is unfortuante, because he looks really, really cool.
Now that I've given you all the information I could on these guys, there's one last thing I need to say about this wave. The models are a lot better looking than the last wave, but the paint job is a lot worse. This wave's paint jobs are full of missed spots and colors that don't match across figures of the same squad, such as one Death Knight's sword being black and another's being cyan, and smudged at that. Maybe it's just my pack, but this is the one I got, so that's what I have to base my opinion on. The other thing is that the Exoskeleton Markers were not actually included inside the pack with the Mezzodemons, but instead is in a hero pack. This is no biggie if you plan to buy one of each pack, or even one of each Hero pack and two or three of the common squad packs, because the markers come in sets of six. If you just want the Mezzos, though, you can contact Wizards customer service and they'll ship the markers out to you for free. Alternatively, you can just paint some standard wound markers or use a proxy token if you don't want to mess with it.
The long and short is that while Heroscape has died after a spectacular run, all things must end and instead of softballing, Wizards has produced a great new wave of figures. My only complaint here is that I now have to go back and spend some money on the old Dungeons and Dragons waves because they've made me, the ultimate D&DScape skeptic, a believer. These are solid figures and I plan to play them now and in the future.
What Makes Moltenclaw's Invasion All Kinds Of Hot:
- Mezzodemons and Death Knights are some of the best squads ever
- The Golden Spearchucker has quickly become one of my favorite heroes
- The Frost Giant's Dying Swipe is super cool and the ultimate F-You to attacking figures
- New, innovative X order marker powers are a neat new use of the worthless X order marker
What Makes Moltenclaw Fizzle And Sputter:
- Epic Fail of quality assurance regarding the Exoskeleton markers being put in a hero pack
- The low quality paint jobs are distracting on the otherwise very cool models
- The Ogre Pulverizer is quite simply the Dund of D&DScape
It's a sad day for all Heroscape fans that the line has gone the way of the Dodo, but this pack really indicates that Wizards has committed to going out with some style. Great new heroes and awesome squads will have you wishing for more, but the quality of the paint jobs and the failure to properly package the markers takes a bit of shine of this otherwise great expansion.
Head to http://www.heroscapers.com/ for more info on these and other Heroscape units, because this is the last chapter in a very, very long saga of battles in Valhalla.