I have been a HeroQuest player since '00. My Barbarian Connacth is still ready to shake off some dust and slash with this Broad Sword
The return of an iconic game
Hasbro recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to relaunch an old IP: HeroQuest
The target for the 45-day campaign was $ 1,000,000.
The goal was reached in the first 24 hours and a total of $ 3,722,649 was raised at the end of the crowdfunding campaign.
In this article we will briefly retrace the history of this iconic game and the reasons why you should play this game too!
What made HeroQuest so special?
The Original HeroQuest was created in the late '80s by Games Workshop (GW) and Milton Bradley Company (MB) as a Turn based RPG set in the world of Warhammer Fantasy.
One player takes the role of "Dungeon Master" and, using miniatures and cardboard tiles, builds the board while the other players can impersonate a group of 4 adventurers (a Barbarian, a Dwarf, an Elf and a Wizard) and explore the dungeon in search of fame and glory.
These adventurers moving around the dungeon can activate traps, search for hidden treasures and doors, run into monsters defending the dungeon, flee or fight them, find legendary equipments and so on.
The gameplay is quite basic but it was created especially for a younger audience or for players who did not want to make too long or too complex story arcs (as often happens with D&D) or for a fairly fast pastime. The game was intended as an entry level for warhammer fantasy in fact the figurines can be colored with Citadel colors.
One of the biggest misconceptions about HeroQuest is considering the game as a self-contained story. HeroQuest needs to be compared more like games like D&D or Gurps or Cyberpunk 2077 where the dungeon master has the power to create new story arcs, add new storytelling elements, etc.
Some fans have correctly interpreted the basic concept of the game in fact there are many sites around the world and in different languages that present new stories, new objects, new quests, etc.
The group consists of 4 heroes each with different roles:
The Barbarian with his high attack value and life points is perfect for brave plays as he can fill an attacker / tank role.
The Dwarf comes equipped with a tool bag (useful against traps) and a good life score making it perfect as an offensive / defensive support.
The Elf is endowed with a magical skill that allows him to use a school of magic, depending on the school of magic he chooses he can be a healer / buffer or play a more offensive role with fireballs.
The Wizard knows 3 schools of magic so he can be extremely flexible (healer / buff / debuff / direct damage, etc.) but his poor fighting skills and low life points relegate him to a less important role in direct confrontations, Glass Cannon.
Equipment and Magic
Each player has their own card where they can note the character's remaining life points or where they can mark the magic potions or other inventory items found through quests.
Among the quests you can buy items with the gold coins found in the dungeons and enhance the characteristics of the characters.
A Crossbow for the squeaky goblins? Check!
A big Battle Ax for the Fimir or the Chaos Warriors? Check!
A Chain mail to defend against the Gargoyles? Check!
Holy water for the undead? I've found one of those in the previous dungeon, so Check!
Together with the provisions, the spells are recharged and then they are available for new quests.
In HeroQuest there are 4 schools of magic, one for each element: Fire, Earth, Water and Air.
Fire is the one most geared towards aggressive play and allows direct damage with spells such as fireball or teammates' offensive buffs.
Water is the most defensive with healing effects or debuffing opponents.
Earth allows for body healing or teammates' defense buffs.
Air has the most utility or can summon a Djinn for a single powerful attack.
The enemies and the combat phase
From annoying little Goblins to fearsome Chaos Warriors , from the imposing fimir to the ancestral mummies, from stinking orcs to hungry zombies, the Original HeroQuest can represent a very diverse bestiary of the Warhammer ecosystem.
The Gameplay very often respects those elements by providing extra depth and recreating the right atmosphere.
Goblins are the fastest creatures but they don't bother the more experienced adventurers much except attacking from behind when already busy with more important opponents, skeletons and zombies who protect their crypts and graves with their slow but inexorable pace, opponents can hide behind pit traps targeting us with bows and arrows, Boulders that can fall from above and pit traps can suddenly swallow unaware heroes and the list goes on.
Each character or monster has an attack and defense value that is used in combat by rolling dice made especially for the purpose (3 skulls, 2 shields and 1 monster are depicted on them).
In combat, the attacker is required to roll dice equal to his basic attack plus any upgrades while the defender rolls dice equal to his base defense plus any upgrades. Fair and Simple.
There are no complex statistics in the game to calculate which makes it easy for any player to understand.
Expansions and other media
The basic version released in 1989 in Europe and in 1990 in the US (the European and American versions are substantially identical, there are only a few names that have been adapted) several expansions have been made with new mechanics, new enemies and new miniatures.
A new version called Advanced HeroQuest was also released in the following years.
In addition to being a game for the kitchen tables, HeroQuest has also had transpositions into the world of videogames.
In fact, in 1991 the video game was also launched for various consoles including the Amiga (which I had the honor of playing).
Over the years HeroQuest has also entered the app market with fan-made games that echo the mechanics of the original game, such as Arcane Quest.
Around the world it is still possible to find websites and forums where fans can share content, create new quests or get excited again with this game.
A particular software (the HeroScribe) was created in order to recreate the maps and make them identical to those of the original game.
Maybe the fanbase isn't incredibly extensive but it's particularly focused on this game, some original content is sold at high prices by collectors.
My opinion HeroQuest was a great game and the new version seems to be (at first sight) an updated version for today's world.
As we have seen Hasbro has renewed the graphics (new drawings by Max Dunbar have been revealed) and has already communicated that an additional adventure book (Prophecy of Telor) created by Stephen Baker who was part of the original staff has been added to the game and we hope that this can be the beginning of a renewed interest with many potentials, such as crosses with other Hasbro IPs such as D&D and Magic: The Gathering.
We as teenagers loved HeroQuest for its accessibility (as the rules book was very small) but it helped us to become very passionate about the topics covered, so much so that decades later when we meet we still remember the memorable moments when we faced hordes of Orcs and Goblins or more massive creatures like the Chaos Warriors (which I later also played as an army in Warhammer).
I sincerely hope you can enjoy the new version as much as we enjoyed the old one and all its expansions.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
© 2020 Christian Allasia