Sunday, June 17, 2012

War for Father's Day

It’s another Heroscape battle report blog post; you may have read the one about my younger son’s first game.  This will be another one, and will probably make about as much sense if you don’t know anything about the game.  But, then again, maybe you’ll get the general gist.

For Father’s Day, I got a bunch of Heroscape stuff, as usual.  Of course, being that Heroscape has been discontinued, what I’m getting these days isn’t so much actual Heroscape stuff, but more non-Heroscape stuff that I can still use for Heroscape.  Also I got some cool handmade Heroscape custom terrain from one of the cool online stores that offers such things.  (For more info on what a “custom” is, see my previous blog post on that topic; note that some of those custom units I talk about will show up down below.)

Here’s the map we built:
Notice the weird mushrooms peppered throughout, and the giant volcano in the middle: that’s the new custom terrain I got.

Now, of course, there isn’t much good in getting a bunch of stuff for your favorite game if you can’t play it, right?  So I talked both my sons into playing with me.  We set up a nifty map using some of the new terrain, picked out armies, and agreed to play a two-against-one game: my younger son and I vs. my older son.

First, let’s look at the armies:

The Marro Horde (elder son), at 940 points:

The Elemental Resistance (younger son), at 440 points:

The Undead Contingency (me), at 410 points:

Since it was two against one, we had to give the solo player an edge on points.  But, with two people beating on you for every turn you take, plus you having to split your attention between two opponents, 90 extra points wasn’t nearly enough.  As a result, I agreed to give #1 son his choice of two “magic items,” and he chose to give the Holy Symbol of Pelor to Tul-Bak-Ra, and a Belt of Giant Strength to Su-Bak-Na.

In the end, this still wasn’t enough, though.  Having two people attack you for every one time you attack back is just too hard to come back from.  He either needed a much more defensible position (e.g., I could have given him a castle to hang out in), or an extra turn each round, or some flexibility in turn management, or something.  Ah, well, lesson learned.

The elemental army is a fairly powerful one, as evidenced by the fact that my six-year-old can play it effectively: this time around, the elementalist took 2 wounds and he lost only two elementals (one water and the air).  Fire elementals in particular are vicious as hell: they have a 7-in-20 chance of burning anyone they stand next to, plus a 4-dice attack.  Sure, they can accidentally burn their friends, too, but that’s easy enough to avoid if you watch where you move, and there’s no joy quite like planting a merrily burning little fire dude right in the middle of the enemey’s forces.

I was playing an army composed entirely of units that my group has developed, post-official-demise (again, see my post on that topic).  In this case, it’s our new vampire, Nicholas Esenwein, and his zombie-like thralls.  I’ve never played these guys before, but I’d heard they’re a fun army.  Nicholas can fly around, draining your enemy’s squad figures, which not only heals him if he’s wounded, but creates a new thrall in the process (with a few limitations).  That just leaves your opponent’s heroes, and the two thralls we’ve released so far take care of those nicely: deathstrike thralls can sacrifice themselves to get one big attack, and preybloods get extra attack dice for attacking wounded people.  And, hey, if your thralls get squished—or you have to kamikaze a deathstrike or two—it’s no big deal, ’cause Nicholas can just make more.  It truly was a lot of fun.  (I was also looking to test out a new flavor of thrall that’s still in development, but I never got around to bringing those guys into the fray.)

My other son went with the Marro.  The Marro are Heroscape’s resident alien race, and their faction is one of the game’s best developed.  It was a powerful army, and they did their best, but they were just overwhelmed.  Tul-Bak-Ra has a teleportation power that let him leap across the board to put those first two wounds on the elementalist, but then after two rounds of concentrated fire from water elementals, he was two-thirds dead and had to beat a hasty retreat.  His power to teleport in reinforcements was negated by proper placement: by surrounding him, the elementals denied him any empty spaces for reinforcements to land on (and, since Kurrok was hiding out at the edge of the board, behind a bush, this was easy to do).  He bounced over to my side and put 3 wounds on Nicholas before a deathstrike thrall took him out.  Su-Bak-Na, the bone dragon, never got a chance to use his Belt of Giant Strength before he was earth slammed a couple times and finally polished off by the air elemental, who engenders defense penalties in flying figures.  Me-Burq-Sa, affectionately known as “Pony-boy,” took two wounds from a deathstrike/preyblood combo, and only succeeded in hitting his Paralyzing Stare roll once.  After taking out a few thralls (who eventually just came back anyway), he was finally shot down by a water elemental.  The Hive, which can bring some Marro back from the dead by rebirthing them, never managed to do so a single time before it was earth slammed and water bombed to death.  The drones only hit their roll to move 9 figures instead of 3 once, at the beginning of the game when it wasn’t as effective, and after that they just got decimated by a combination of Nicholas and fire elementals.  The cyborg Marro suffered a similar fate.  The Marro Warriors (which we call just “the clones,” due to their water cloning power) took out the only two elemental casualties of the game, but lost half their numbers in return.  Finally, with only 2 cyborgs, 2 clones, 2 or 3 drones, and the full set of 6 nagrubs left, facing nearly the entire elemental army and nearly the entire thrall army, the Marro conceded the game.  Both the two dead elementals and the two dead thralls could have easily come back into the game, while on the Marro side only the two dead clones had a shot at reincarnation.  There weren’t enough drones to swarm effectively, and the nagrubs are low-cost, low-power figures, mostly only good for their power to heal Su-Bak-Na, who was already dead.  (One interesting thing I never noticed before: you can put an order marker on the Hive, use Hive Mind to activate the nagrubs, and then use Life Bonding to take a turn with Su-Bak-Na.  This may be the only case in Heroscape where you get a double bonding.)  So I think he made the right call: if he hadn’t taken out Kurrok or Nicholas by that point, he was pretty well screwed.  Plus it was getting late.

So that was how we spent Father’s Day: in an all-out battle royale to the death, where the undead teamed up with elementals to defeat aliens.  Moderately insane, but, then, that’s Heroscape for you.

* I can’t reveal the nature of these Thralls, as they haven’t been released yet.  As it turns out, they never got to engage the enemy anyway.

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