Many people had a mixed reaction to the news that Wizards of the Coast would be taking over the management of Heroscape. Now that their first master set, The Battle for the Underdark, is available, the uncertainty of their capabilities is more solidified then ever. While the new master set is still Heroscape, it definitely suffers from obvious cost cutting measures. In all honesty, Battle for the Underdark feels more like a large expansion that a stand alone starter set.
Carrying the Dungeons and Dragons brand name, Battle for the Underdark attempts to bring a Dungeons and Dragons feel to the Heroscape Universe. At $30, this is the cheapest starter set, but it is also by far the smallest starter set. It only contains 10 pre-painted figures and 50 terrain pieces. The previous starter sets had over 25 figures and 75 terrain pieces. The paint quality of the figures is on par with the rest of Heroscape, but all figures seem a little smaller then before. This is because every sculpt in the Dungeons and Dragon's Heroscape line was previously used in WOTC Dungeons and Dragon's Miniatures. This becomes especially apparent when comparing the tiny black dragon in this set to any of the awesome looking ones from previous expansions. As for the other components, quality has changed little from the previous sets.
Even though this is a new Master Set, it is not a new edition. The core game play rules have not changed at all, which of course is a good thing. Heroscape has always been about quick and fast combat, and that remains the same here. What is new is the design philosophy behind the game's included scenarios. The campaign is supposed to be a series of dungeon rooms. However, since all the included terrain is similar to what Heroscape players already have, these scenarios are just small battles with some odd rules or objectives.
Over looking the cost cutting measures, long time fans of Heroscape should welcome Battle for the Underdark. It is a great way to expand their existing collections. I like the idea of the dungeon themed adventures, but I just have some problems with how they were implemented in this game. For new players, try to look for a copy of the previous master sets. Both are better introductions to the Heroscape then this one. However, if all you can find is Battle for the Underdark, be sure to pick up a few extra squad packs so that the full spectrum of Heroscape can be experienced.