Heroscape's new boxed set costs $250, but it could jumpstart a decades-old wargame

Heroscape’s new boxed set costs $250, but it could jumpstart a decades-old wargame

Beloved miniatures wargame Heroscape is back with a major new crowdfunding project. Everything depends on the success of the lavish $249.99 box set call Heroscape: Age of Annihilation, which features plenty of customizable scenery and five playable factions. It will only be produced if the campaign receives 8,000 pre-orders, but if successful, publisher Hasbro Avalon Hill plans to bring the franchise back to life with more releases.

Avalon Hill is riding high on the success of its relaunch HeroQuest, a classic dungeon crawling board game. The game was similarly rebooted after a successful crowdfunding campaign and now includes several expansions and additional character classes. Chris Nadeau, senior director of design and development at Avalon Hill, told Polygon that once the new HeroQuest the line found its foundations, Heroscape naturally became “another target in the vault”.

First published in 2004, Heroscape is an asymmetrical war game that pits warriors known as Valkyries against each other for control of the planet Valhalla. The game is highly asymmetric, with fictional factions from across space and time. However, the franchise is also known for its terrain – sturdy, stackable plastic platforms that allow for dramatic landscapes. Devoted fans accumulate tiles in huge quantities and export them outside to create vast landscapes for their home games.

Unlike the surprise announcement HeroQuest, HeroScape has been teased for some time now by dedicated fans – most notably via the recently established Avalon Hill Discord server.

Xenithrax Soulweaver is a giant armored dragon standing on two legs with outstretched wings.

“It wasn’t quite the cold open. HeroQuest he had,” Nadeau said. “We know the community has continued to play. There were conventions and tournaments that never stopped in this community. They’ve stayed together as a community for years, and what we wanted to make sure we did when we relaunched the game was to make sure that their current collection, their current tournament meta, was all completely viable official material. Onward.”

This new one HeroScape the menu is fully backwards compatible with all previously listed sets. The terrain itself uses the exact same digital files to produce, meaning that all terrain ever created is viable in the future. Even the rules, hero cards and other game materials are designed to be compatible.

“It’s tailor-made to allow the existing fan community to jump right into the game and feel like it’s picking up where it left off,” Nadeau said.

This new Collector’s Edition is more than double the size of the original 2004 edition. It includes over seventy heroes – 76 if all campaign objectives are completed – plus 74 basic terrain pieces and 68 new modular wall tiles to create structures on the map. The terrain will also include a remake of the highly sought-after jungle terrain pieces, which at the time of publication are going for nearly $250 on eBay.

“In terms of the miniatures that are included, what we wanted to do going forward is we wanted the ability to tell richer stories and build on the IP in a way that we could as Avalon Hill with all the things we do in terms of storytelling . So we introduced five completely new factions to the game [representing] new species, new planets, new factions, new powers that never existed in the game before. So it’s not a reissue […] Everything in this set is brand new and that goes back to the idea that we wanted fans to feel like they were expanding their collection.”

The Necrotech Wraithriders of the Ironclad Collective are an amalgamation of other orb-riding creatures carrying chains and chainsaw-like weapons.

The New Tortuga Dreadnauts of the Dawn Raider Syndicate are massive brutes carrying oversized clubs and swords on chains.

New factions include the Dryan Lifeborne Order, a powerful group of magic users who can only field a limited number of very expensive units. There’s also the Nemesis War Brood, a group of insect warriors who graft armor and other technology directly onto their exoskeletons. Finally, Avalon Hill adds the Clockwork Combine, a group of militant forest creatures. Imagine squirrels, skunks, and opossums inserting aerial reconnaissance vehicles with even more nimble jump units that deploy forward onto the battlefield.

“One of them actually has a two-legged walker,” Nadeau said, “with a Gatling gun mounted on top.

Buried in these new factions are some fan favorites, including Kyrie – a winged angel-like faction native to the planet Valhalla. The goal, Nadeau said, is to fill a faction that simply wasn’t given enough time to develop “at the time.” There will also be other characters based on the lore of the original game, but who have changed and evolved after years of conflict.

If the campaign is successful, what could come next Heroscape? Nadeau is extremely optimistic about the game’s potential.

The complete Heroscape: Age of Annihilation boxed set collection includes gray ruins, green grass, and blue water tiles.  Cubes and other plastic pieces are also shown in this render.

Image: Avalon Hill/Hasbro

“What the team was doing in 2004 was kind of scrapping the entertainment trends, the different genres that were coming in, and they were building different units based on the different genres that were emerging in pop culture at the time,” Nadeau said. “She’s created a very interesting brand that’s insanely scalable. You can basically put any genre, any IP, any licensing partner, anything into the Battle of Valhalla and it makes sense in the story. The opportunities for the future are almost endless.”

That kind of openness in Heroscape universe fits well with other Hasbro game properties, e.g Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. Both of these franchises have put a lot of energy into crossovers in recent years. Hasbro’s own IP, including Transformers and GI Joe, would be an easy addition Heroscape space in the short term. Meantime, MagicThe Universes Beyond initiative shows the way forward with external brands. Previous partnerships include Stranger Things, Walking DeadGodzilla, Street Fighter and Fortnite, while Magic Also on the horizon are cards based on the Warhammer 40,000 universes, Dr. Who and Lord of the Rings.

Project to be financed Heroscape: Age of Annihilation running now through November 16. Delivery is expected in autumn 2023.

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