Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Heroscape's new direction

The Heroscape game seems headed in a new direction now, for good or ill.

The "classic" game was notable for its eclectic mix of combatants. The "battle of all time" would draw on warriors from just about any heroic genre -- Westerns, sword-and-sorcery, World War II, Rome, gothic, spies, etc. One of the first things I heard about the game was that it had, among the combatants, an orc riding a dinosaur! You have to be a hard hearted realist not to think that's really cool at some level.

This "world," involving five (later six) warring Kyrie lords was enough to take the game through 10 "waves" of 4-pack expansions, pluse several large pack terrain expansions and two master sets. Aside from a short-lived and noatbly unsuccessful foray into the super hero genere, this was Heroscape.

The newest Dungeons & Dragons themed master set, however, definitely alters the trajectory of the game into a much more fantasy-oriented direction. And I'm unsure whether this is a positive move, because to me it seems potentially limiting. There are now two full 4-set "waves" of D&D based squads and heroes so I think we can judge where D&D is taking the game.

The good news is that the D&D stuff is fully compatible in tone and detail with the classic game, unlike the Marvel Superhero stuff. A few new and interesting twists ahve been added to the system ("shadow" terrain, "uncommon" heroes and treasure glyphs).

The main concern is whether the game will become too tied to D&D and too fantasy-oriented. Can D&D maintain player interest over the long haul? Especially considering that there's already a D&D miniatures game out there AND that D&D, itself, in the latest version, become much more of a skirmish-type game. If you're going to go adventuring, wouldn't D&D make more sense than Heroscape?

So far there's no indication the D&D theme has hurt Heroscape, and there's been no official announcement that there won't be any more classic Heroscape, so it may be that this is just a short-lived diversion to take advantage of cross promotion with D&D and saving on production costs by reusing DDM molds. I do hope that this isn't a permanent change in the game.

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