Heroscape sometimes incorrectly spelt as HeroScape, is an expandable turn-based miniature wargaming system originally manufactured by Milton Bradley Company, but is now manufactured by Wizards of the Coast, both subsidiaries of Hasbro, Inc.. The game is played using pre-painted miniature figures on a board made from interlocking hexagonal tiles that allow for construction of a large variety of 3D playing boards. The game is often noted and lauded by fans for the relatively high production quality of the game materials, in particular the pre-painted miniature figures.
The game comes with two sets of rules. The basic rules allow for simpler games accessible to younger players. The advanced rules are designed for more experienced gamers but are still very simple compared to most wargames. Each figure or group of figures has a card, called an army card, with basic game statistics printed on one side and advanced game information on the other. Advanced game information includes species, class, personality, size, special powers, and the point value of the card.
The master set that is required for play contains enough tiles to build a nearly limitless number of scenarios, but experienced players often combine sets to create larger and more elaborate playing surfaces. The master set includes grass, rock, sand, water and ruins to make the playing surface; various expansions add lava, road, trees, snow, ice, glaciers, swamp, jungle, a castle, a bridge and more.
Two new master sets were released in 2007. One called The Swarm of the Marro was released on August 2007, and the Marvelscape Master Set called The Conflict Begins which was released on July 2007 and contains five heroes and five villains from the Marvel Comics universe. The Marvel edition is fully compatible with the regular Heroscape figures.
All basic game scenarios and some advanced game scenarios specify the units for each player. Most advanced game scenarios allow players to choose units based on the points values printed on the army card. Depending on the scenario, players may be required to place their team in a specific location, or they may randomly select where each player begins.
At the beginning of the round, each player must place order markers on his/her armies. Order markers determine which armies will be used during that round and what order they will be utilized. These markers indicate the turn in which each unit will be activated, but the numbers are hidden from the table. A fourth "dummy" marker may also be placed to add some ambiguity as to which units one will be activating. The same unit may be activated multiple times in a single round by placing multiple order markers on it.
After order markers have been placed, each player rolls a twenty-sided initiative die. The highest roller takes the first turn and play passes to the left.
The player with the highest initiative roll begins his first turn by revealing which unit contains his first order marker. A turn usually consists of moving and then attacking. For squads, each figure in the squad is moved before any may attack. The number of hexes that each figure may move is listed on its card. Typical movement amounts range from 4 to 8 and normally moving one hex costs one point movement. Certain types of terrain are dangerous (e.g. lava) or impassable (e.g. glaciers), or slow (e.g. snow) or speed (e.g. roads) movement. Moving up, but not down, in elevation also costs additional movement points. Some figures' special abilities, such as flying, may also affect movement.
After movement has been completed, each surviving figure in the unit may attack any figure within its range and line of sight. Melee units are those with a range of one, and ranged units typically have a range of four or more.
The number of dice rolled for offense is listed on the army card, but may be improved by various bonuses, including terrain bonuses, elevation bonuses, or special abilities. The attack dice contain skulls on three surfaces (in 1st edition) giving a 50% chance at scoring a hit for each die. The defender likewise calculates how many defense dice he may roll, based on his unit's natural defense value and any other bonuses (terrain, elevation, special abilities, etc). The defense dice contain only two shields, giving a statistical advantage to the attacker. In the second edition the defense and attack dice are combined into one, with three chances for attack, two chances for defense, and one chance for a blank roll.
If the defender rolls a number of shields equal to or higher than the number of skulls rolled by the attacker, nothing happens. If the number is lower, the defender receives a number of wound markers equal to the difference. Once a unit receives a number of wound markers equal to its total life points, it is destroyed and removed from the playing surface immediately. Heroes usually have multiple life points; squads always have one life point per figure in the squad. In the basic rules version of the game the wound marker system is not used, and each unit simply has one life point; hero units usually have exaggerated defense to compensate.
Various abilities by specific units may modify these rules to some degree (e.g., the samurai may counterattack and inflict damage while defending), but this move/attack/defense flow is typical of a turn.
Once the player has finished all of his attacks, play passes to the left, and that player then reveals his first order marker and takes his turn. Play continues in this manner until the final player has completed his first turn, and then play resumes with the first player, who reveals his second order marker and takes a turn with that unit. This process is repeated for the third order marker, and then the round is completed. Sometimes a player will lose a turn if the unit he had placed an order marker on was destroyed on a previous player's turn.
There are three versions of the Rise of the Valkyrie set available. The first edition is sought by some collectors mainly because it has sparkly translucent blue water tiles rather than the solid blue ones in later runs of the first edition, and all runs of the second edition. The first edition came with two sets of six-sided dice: a set of red "attack" dice and blue "defense" dice. The second edition edition combine these into a set of unified dice that are rolled for both attack and defense. The second edition is more common and also has slightly different packaging and a revised rulebook.
Multiple set purchases are common among devoted players, as the Master Set is the only way to obtain significant numbers of terrain tiles, which are generally used to build bigger battlefields.
A themed master set (labeled on the Box as Game Set "The Conflict Begins") has been based on the Marvel Comics license Hasbro has acquired from 2007. Marvel Legends Heroscape includes 10 unique figures (Captain America, Red Skull, Silver Surfer, Thanos, Hulk, Abomination, Spider-Man, Venom, Iron Man, & Dr. Doom) and urban style terrain, and is currently available in stores. Booster packs (not available yet as of July 2008) will include The Sandman, The Human Torch, Beast, Bullseye, Doctor Octopus, Punisher, Black Panther, Skrull, Invisible Woman, and The Thing.
A second Master set, Swarm of the Marro, was released in Fall of 2007. It was revealed at Toyfair 07. Most of the figures included are from Marros, which are an alien race designed for the game. Two remakes of figures from the Rise of the Valkyrie master set (Raelin, and Sgt. Drake Alexander) and several other heroes are also included. Swarm of the Marro also features a "hive" which can rebirth fallen Marro figures and a new "swamp" terrain tile type.
Due to the way these expansions extend the game experience, some have referred to Heroscape as a collectible miniatures game (CMG) and compared it to games like Mage Knight and Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game. However, the designers of Heroscape have stressed repeatedly that the game is not collectible per se, because purchasers can see exactly what they are getting with every pack they buy. Also, Heroscape expansions are not intended to go permanently out of print, although frequent stock shortages and lapses in the availability of certain sets have made them difficult enough to obtain that sellers can often demand a premium price. This differs from the marketing tactic of CMG's, which rely on the purchaser not knowing what they have until they've already purchased and opened the package, and limited availability to drive their sales.