Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Epic Fantasy War

Armies marched, fought, claimed victory or conceded defeat, all for the wellsprings... - Thormun's Journal
It was a long time ago that I bought Heroscape. 2004? 2006? I think somewhere in there. In the years that I've owned it, I really only ended up playing it once or twice a year. Part of it is that you need a certain crowd to want to play a complex epic fantasy battle and the other problem is the setup. That certain crown that wants to play gets obsessed over the fact that there are 20+ different characters all with their own stats and special abilities.
The way it ended up was we would spend an hour putting the board together followed by another hour of people just looking through the various army cards. Maybe we'd get to the point of spending another thirty-minutes selecting armies and putting them on the board. Then everyone was done for the day. No need to play. So unless I could get people to set aside a good six or more hours to play it wouldn't happen. And honestly, who is going to set aside that much time? Even I have trouble doing it and I love to play the game.
Recently it was proposed that instead of painstakingly studying every hero and squad card for hours before the game, why not just pick armies randomly? Randomly? YES! So at first we started by doing our best to randomly draw cards from the deck trying to get everyone up to but not over a number (like 400 points). Then I realized, you know what would be way more efficient doing this than us? A computer.
The joke was that to ramp up with my new job, I needed to build a PHP app using the Zend framework against the NoSQL database. In the end, I just wrote a web app. Works great on the iPhone. So now when we sit down to play we are just five seconds away from having randomly fairly balanced armies. The future is awesome. It's a little sad that only two years after they stopped making it did I find the secret to playing it. Live and learn. Also - come over and play a game with me, will ya?