The war-torn planet of Valhalla is once again calling for miniature wargamers to join the factional fray in Heroscape: Age of Annihilation, but only if they’re first willing to fork up a considerable amount of money.
Publisher Avalon Hill went live with its rebooted vision for Heroscape last Saturday (October 1st), updating the once-popular title after twelve years out of print. The Vanguard Edition being sold through the HasLab website will contain everything two to six players need to duke it out across a kitchen table of plastic hex-grid terrain, but it’ll cost you a hefty $250.
That price tag will likely boggle some eyes, so let’s first break down what’s included. Every Vanguard Edition box will come with 71 miniatures from each of the 5 factions: the forest-dwelling Dryan Lifeborn Order, the militant insectoid regiments of the Nemesis War Brood, the Dawn Raiders Syndicate’s hodge podge of free agents and sellswords, the erstwhile pacifist inventors of the Clockwork Combine, and the brutally pragmatic cyborgs of the Ironclad Collective.
There’s also 50 army cards that hold all the rules information for deploying the miniatures, along with some artwork. Heroscape’s unique modular hex tiles will be available in an abundance of base, wall and thick jungle terrain pieces. These can be stacked to create height differences and interesting tactical puzzles to consider when taking to the field. A book of 20 scenarios will also be included inside to provide some more structured encounters and ease folks into the new system.
All of the miniatures will come unpainted and constructed of different-coloured plastics. These show to which angel-like Valkyrie they owe allegiance, an affiliation that will matter more once the battlefield leaders show up in later planned products. Everything else one needs - dice, wound markers, etc. - will also be included.
Avalon Hill clearly wants their new and improved version of Heroscape to land with a splash, but the price point on the Vanguard Edition, along with it being the only way into the game for beginners and returning fans alike, makes it unclear who this is for.
As a HasLab project, which cribs actual crowdfunding platforms' FOMO-inducing time gates, stretch goals and pressure on consumers to collectively bring a project into reality (despite the fact that Hasbro has posted record profits throughout 2021 and the first half of 2022), Age of Annihilation claims it needs 8,000 pre-orders to succeed.
Senior director Chris Nadeau told members of the Avalon Hill Discord channel this sense of urgency is genuine. "If the Haslab campaign fails to fund during the 45 days, there is not a plan to produce Heroscape for retail after the Haslab. The relaunch of the game would be cancelled in it’s entirety. People who are saying that we would release Heroscape regardless are incorrect."
That campaign is lush with images of the miniatures, concept art of upcoming unit expansions - including the Valkyries and their winged Kyrian followers - portray how the world has changed since we last saw it, and Avalon Hill employees gushed about an “era and possibility for a broader narrative” at last weekend’s Hasbro PulseCon panel. They’re betting hard on long-term fans showing up in droves.
Even amongst a hobby notorious for big, expensive boxes of plastic, $250 is a steep price to ask new players to pay. Avalon Hill hasn’t mentioned plans for a starter kit or other introductory product that won’t cost as much as the Vanguard Edition. Additionally, the HasLab page makes no mention of the rules or how Heroscape actually plays, beyond a mention that it is both forward and backward-compatible with existing products.
During the PulseCon panel mentioned above, Nadeau and Heroscape’s creator Craig Van Ness both avidly mentioned units, armies and ideas they would love to explore as long as people back the campaign. It was always said direectly at the camera and with more than a little embarrassment, as if singing for their supper on Hasbro’s official marketing presentation was not an awkward state of affairs.
The HasLab campaign for Heroscape: Age of Annihilation will remain open until November 16th and currently sits at just under a quarter of its predicted 8,000 backers. The big box of hexes and minis is currently planned to ship in November of 2023. Dicebreaker reached out to Avalon Hill for more information but did not receive a reply before publication.
Edit: The launch date of the Heroscape HasLab campaign has been corrected, and additional comments from Avalon Hill staff were clarified.