Saturday, June 16, 2007


I've been writing a lot about computer topics, especially my switch to Ubuntu. But there is oh-so-much more to my life than computer crap... (well maybe not that much more.)

Lately I've been (re)discovering my love of boardgames. I've loved Axis and Allies for years. So much so that I talked my wife in to getting me the revised edition a for father's day a few years ago. The only problem with AaA is that it takes FOREVER to setup and play.
I actually haven't even gotten to play the revised edition yet - getting all my buddies together to do it has just proved too damn difficult. Luckily, for my Axis and Allies fix, I can use Triple A - an open source java Axis and Allies clone (that even runs on Ubuntu)

I haven't let my lack of real world AaA stop me though. Maybe its because my oldest daughter is getting to the age where we can enjoy a good game together, or maybe I'm just a complete geek (probably both), but I've been spending a lot of time "researching" over at I keep searching for a great board game that combines all the things I love about Axis and Allies, but is faster to actually play.

I'm embarrassed to say that My wife's little nephews got me interested in my new favorite game, Heroscape. One part war game, one part collectible card game, and one part legos, Heroscape is just too nerdy/fun for me to not fall for.

The play field is assembled out of plastic hex pieces that fit together (sort of like legos) and is 3 dimensional:

Players move and battle the little figures. Their abilities (movement distance, attack range, attack power, defense power, life, and special abilities) are listed on cards that you keep for reference. Combat is resolved with dice rolls.

Depending on the scenario you choose, you can have different goals, such as find something, be the last one standing, defend an area for a number of turns, etc. You can use one of the many included battlefield designs / game scenarios, or build your own.

All of the components are really solid - I'm not afraid the kids will break any of it - and at the same time are really nicely detailed.

One thing that is really great about the game, is that it has both basic and advanced modes, making it accessible for children to learn and play, while still having an entertaining mode for adults.

Heroscape is also an expandable game, meaning that there are numerous add-on products to enhance the gameplay. While not required, once you get started, I can see how this could easily turn into a money sucking hobby, especially for those of you who never met an "action figure" you didn't like. Another nice thing about the way heroscape works is the fact that you know exactly what you are buying with the expansions. Many "collectable" games similar to Heroscape have expansion packs that are just a random grabbag of units - like a pack of baseball cards - you never know exactly which units you are going to get. Not so with Heroscape, you know exactly what you get in each expansion.

This game begs for "house rules" to be implemented, which is another thing I think is also really cool. For example, there are 3 types of terrain included in the master set - rock, sand, and grass. The rule book makes no destinction between them. But lets say that you find in your games that large creatures such as the dragon are too powerfull. You could come up with a house rule that says large creature (creatures that take up 2 tiles) move slower (-1 to range) on sand tiles. Hasbro designed Heroscape with plenty of opportunities like this for you to add your own flavor to the game. Your imagination is the limit.

I've only been able to play the game a few times, and it moves fast enough for you to overlook its sometimes basic gameplay, and relatively simple strategic requirements. Now I just need to get those previously mentioned buddies on board.

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