Board Games
July 21, 2020 By: PauperTim

That question has come to me quite a few times when going through and working on my Descent Board Game Conversion to Heroscape. I even asked it the Heroscapers Facebook group, and I had some responses all over the place. There was a silly response or two, some people complaining about certain units(both too weak or too strong), people supporting the idea, as well as people disliking the idea (Stay off my lawn!). I predicted that I'd get a wide variety of responses, but overall I think most of the people that were in the Heroscapers Facebook group support customs or redone cards in general, as long as they are balanced. Now I know that the sample size of people who responded to my post overall is small and I shouldn't purely base it off of that, though I think there is those that would appreciate it.

Heroscape is awesome. Why would you want to change it?

It's not that Heroscape is broken or completely unbalanced. It has a great system and if you are reading this, you probably already know that. The simplicity of the system does wonders for it's accessibility and general flow/speed of game play. It has a little depth to keep players interested, but not enough to overwhelm them even if they are new to miniature war games.

One of the points I brought up I brought up on my post was that there are some units that are rarely played for the fact they aren't good enough. I would like to have different strategies so different units are good in different armies and there are no terrible units to avoid. In a perfect world everything would be balanced, but with special abilities and different styles of maps, it would be impossible to perfectly balance everything.


There is the rebuttal of TCG players such as Magic the Gathering Players: "There are bad units out there to show you what the good units are and so you can learn." While I believe this is perfectly fine in a card game where most of the cards are cheap and disposable; the figures cost a decent amount of money, take up some space, and are not in print anymore. I think with the figures already being there, templates in place to print cards fairly cheaply, and tons of customs floating around anyways; Why not tweak the cards and have updates to re balance the game?

This could be done in seasons where every so many months a handful of cards are updated. It may be simple things such as point costs or a couple of complete makeovers. The metagame may or may not change a bit due to that. Video games do this all of the time not only for balance reasons, also to keep the game fresh.

You could argue that Magic the Gathering does this with format rotations and card bannings. Magic the Gathering it is still in print and print new mashups of ideas and concepts to play with every few months, where Heroscape is not. I believe that groups who put out customs do a great job keeping the game fresh on that front, but there are still those old figures that could use an update.

I know there are groups who have posted adjusted point costs to balance the characters out. I think that is a good place to start. From there there could be small tweaks to a few units at a time slowly seeing how the changes are before making any more changes.


I could write an entire article series on synergies, how they are implemented in various games, and how they could be added to Heroscape in different ways. Units should stand out on their own, while having synergies that boost them. My wife and I typically play in our own custom draft format so if we see units that are only good/decent if you have a critical mass of synergies with them, they are hardly drafted because it isn't likely the synergies will show up in the style of draft we play. (Which I will go over in another article at some point) I'm talking about the elves, gladiators, most things with bonding, as well as things that get value from certain types of terrain.


The idea of synergies is fantastic though the bonding mechanic is a bad representation of what it should be in a game like this. Bonding itself, to balance units out, would have to be weaker as they give you a free turn with other characters (Free turns are really strong). While the game itself could be balanced around bonding, it is sort of sloppy in a sense and makes drafting with a "trade row" even worse. I think bonding in it's current form, should be removed from the game.

One way I would like to see synergies implemented is give more description to units. In Heroscape they list a race, a faction, size, and one trait describing them. There are some cards that interact with characters of a certain trait if it is on your side to give bonuses, but often one trait doesn't describe a character fully. I'm unsure how many traits there should be; if there should there be a standard amount or an open ended amount.

That is the direction I would like to move Heroscape into, at least for my wife, our friends, and myself when playing Heroscape. I can't reasonably expect everyone to agree with my thoughts or uproot the entire way they play Heroscape, I plan on working on this for my group and sharing the results. Also... I don't plan on calling it Heroscape second edition and I will have a different name eventually. Until then, I'd love to hear your input on this. I have a lot more coming down the pipeline that will be released soon. Stay tuned!

About the Author

PauperTim is this websites owner and has always been into games of all sorts. He is a founder of the Pauper format for Magic: The Gathering. You can find him on facebook, twitter or OCTGN as PauperTim or as TheOrangeMitten on Magic Online.