HeroScape: Thaelenk Tundra
glacier mountains, ice and snow pack with snow hunters
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Put your enemies on ice!
Turn your battlefield into a frozen tundra with snow spaces, ice spaces and glacier mountains that slow your enemy down. Then track them and attack them with your Dzu-Teh Snow Hunters, who travel quickly through this treacherous terrain and become all but invisible near the glacier mountains. Includes a Thaelenk Tundra battlefield and two unique game scenarios.
I just got this set today and I added it to my Rise of Valkyrie set and it looks awesome and totally intimidating.
This was my first expansion set for HeroScape and my favorite! It comes with snow and ice terrain which slows you down so you have to count 2 hexes as 1. But the cool figures called the Dzu- Teh, who are these snow hunters, don't have to. This is a very cool set!!
The tundra terrain set is the complement to the Volcarren Wasteland lava set from last year, with the important distinction that these components are likely to be of much more use and get more play time than the lava fields do.
For your money you receive three Dzu-Teh figures with army card, twelve two-hex snow tiles, twelve one-hex snow tiles, twenty-one ice tiles (same size as water tiles), six glaciers of varying size (used much like the trees from RTTF), and the rules/scenario booklet.
These are great poses! Despite being MEDIUM 5, the Dzu-Teh are large Abominable Snowman-like figures, featuring white fur and a blue wash. Two of them are striding purposefully forward while hefting their clubs, an angry look on their faces. The third is joyfully poised to bring his club down on some offender’s head. The paint jobs on mine are excellent, especially the black eye pits around the white pupil for that extra-bestial appearance.
Imagine one-hex and two-hex tiles formed in white and shipped to you. That’s it. I must admit my first thought on seeing them was “blue wash”. I’ll be giving them a blue wash similar to that on the Dzu-Teh. They interlock well, but seem a little cheap and cheery with that bright white look.
These were a slight disappointment as well. I’d seen photos of them from the official site and other gamers, but they looked more blue and reflective in the photos. These are slightly blue but mostly transparent. Strangely enough, the unseen bases for the glaciers (see below) are frosted for an icy effect. I would have liked the regular ice tiles more if they were slightly frostier. It’s disconcerting to be able to see through the ice so well Mine interlocked well, at least as well as the usual water tiles and definitely better than the molten lava tiles from Volcarren Wasteland.
These are far and above the best part of the set. They’re visually interesting, they block line of sight in useful ways, and they’re well positioned. Each glacier is a hollow shape (like an inverted cup) with pegs on the bottom that latch onto the glacier bases. (The pegs seem strong enough to put up with repeated use, but time will tell on that.) The glaciers are translucent. When I opened my package, my wife started trapping Dzu-Teh inside the glaciers to get that “frozen in ice” look. If I had one complaint, it would be that they don’t stack exactly inside one another for storage, so they take up a little room.
The glacier bases are more attractive than the standard ice due to the frosting effect, and they fit together with your normal set very well, with one large exception. Unlike the trees, a single freestanding one-hex glacier unconnected to anything else is a hazard to fall or become knocked off. It needs another hex nearby with which to interlock Strangely enough, the sample scenario in the booklet has you build just such a freestanding glacier.
The rules included are, following Heroscape tradition, streamlined and simplistic. They are as clear as usual. A summary looks like this: Normal Ice and Light Snow – have no effect on any rules and are there for show. (Ice doesn’t protect from falling damage like water does because it is a frozen solid, just in case you’re wondering.) Slippery Ice and Heavy Snow – add one to the cost of each hex traveled. If a flier or leaper goes over them, the extra cost is eliminated except for the final, landing hex. Note that you can mix and match the type of snow and ice. One included scenario uses heavy snow and normal ice; the other uses light snow and slippery ice. Masochists may play with heavy snow and slippery ice.
My one dislike in the rules is the key used to build the scenario. The yellow “two-by” snow pieces were relatively hard to spot on the page when we built this under the game store’s fluorescent lights. We also had trouble (old fart problems?) remembering that a blue outline was ice but a red outline was single snow pieces.
We played the two-player scenario through several times. The defender has 450 points to the attacker’s 650 and must draft at least one Dzu-Teh squad. The defender has easy access to a Brandar glyph (occupation spot) that will protect them from the storms raging down the pass at the end of most rounds. (Roll 15+ to avoid a storm. If your team isn’t holding the Brandar glyph, roll six attack dice and divide that many unblockable, uninterferable hits to your team.) We found it to be fairly balanced, slightly favoring a skilled defender. We had an exciting time, the game often coming down to one model remaining by the end.
We’ve only played the three-man game twice, but it too is exciting. Three teams race in the same direction (the middle team receiving more points to compensate being a big target) trying to grab the useful glyphs and the Brandar glyph, which in this game TRIPLES the effect of any other glyphs you hold. I think middle has a slight advantage in getting almost guaranteed access to the Gerda glyph and possibly the easiest road to the Brandar glyph. Ever see Vipers with three defense dice and Charos with eight? Painful! The ending for a late game is a bit anticlimactic. In the first scenario, the storms can be avoided by getting to and holding the Brandar glyph. In this scenario, if you run over eight rounds, it becomes a random roll off until all models from two teams are dead. In the scenario’s favor, our teams (none of them turtles) had already wiped each other from the face of the earth by the end of round eight.
This expansion is not as useful as the RTTF (trees and roads) pack simply because trees and roads are so versatile. Even so, it quickly follows on my list. I will be buying more of these.
The glaciers do the job of trees, interrupting line of sight without giving annoying ranged attackers a place to perch for height. Unlike the Volcarren wasteland, non-ice models were much more confident entering ice and snow since there are minimal bad effects, just the slowing. The slowing effects were also useful for those powerful double-space figures that rely on brute force over subtlety. It is hard to get a two-space figure up and over into the higher areas of a map when they must wade through heavy snow or across treacherous ice. I felt that it helped remove some of the struggles that single squad units sometimes have to compete with the big heroes like Krug or Charos.
I like the relative amount of ice tiles in this pack. The Volcarren pack had only eleven molten lava tiles, making multiple sets a necessity for any kind of lava river or fingers of lava. The twenty-one tiles of ice are much more satisfying and more convenient for building an icy river or battle near a frozen body of water.
The Dzu-Teh are useful and powerful. Their ability to avoid any normal ranged attack when adjacent to a glacier is incredibly helpful, as is their glacier traverse, an ability to move from one hex adjacent to a glacier to any other unoccupied hex adjacent to the same glacier. It gave us the ability to rush them forward from “hiding” quickly to attack interlopers coming up the frozen streams. Best of all, due to the relatively low opportunity cost of entering their terrain, the Dzu-Teh sometimes were able to stay on their home terrain. The Obsidian Guard and molten lava from Volcarren Wasteland are almost useless because your army simply goes around those areas. You’re tempted to enter the snow and ice because it’s not such a hindrance. The Dzu-Teh are also robust enough (four attack dice, five with the height they can often achieve on home terrain) to lay down the smack when it’s time.
PRICE POINT AND RATING
This is a bit more than the Volcarren Wasteland, but I felt that I received my money’s worth. I like the rules, the figures, and most aspects of the terrain, despite the quibbles found above. I give this expansion a solid A-. If I didn’t have plans to frost my ice and wash my snow, I might go down to a B+ due to a little lack stylistically.
The Tundra I received through Funagain has frosted ice tiles that look very similar to the bases for the glaciers. The first box I received may have been early prototypes. I am very happy with the frosted quality of my new Funagain ice tiles.