By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on November 18, 2015
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of our 'All Aboard' series; hosted, not by Lex "Gaz the Dungeonmaster" Ansems, but by yours truly: Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams. We are still waiting for Gaz to finish his brand new evil lair in Greece, and this is taking a bit longer than expected. In an unfortunate event, a local contractor, hired to fortify the ceilings, seems to have used sub-standard material, so eighty percent of Gaz's roof came crashing down. Luckily Gaz was not harmed; the same cannot be said for his imps. Almost all of his trusty servants were hard at work in the lair at the time of the collapse.
Gaz was absolutely heartbroken... for exactly 1.47 seconds. He quickly returned to his diabolical self and called the nearest Imps 'R' Us and demanded they extend their opening hours so he could come right over and pick out a new batch of minions. Alas, the nearest Imps 'R' Us is located on the planet Xrichilod in the Pterogantium universe. Never heard of it? That just goes to show how far away it is. Even with all of his awesome powers, it might take Gaz a while to get there and return with a new army of minions.
So, in the meantime, let's have a look at one of my favorite board games of all time, Heroquest! I actually thought we'd already covered this game, seeing as how the banner of the All Aboard category clearly is lifted from this game's box artwork, but I was wrong. So here it goes; come with me as I delve into the dangerous and mysterious world of dungeons, dice and delight.
Heroquest (or Hero Quest, whichever you prefer) was originally released in 1989 by Milton Bradley and Games Workshop. It offered 4 players the chance to go on various quests and explore dungeons, defeat monsters and cheat death. At the same time, 5th player was given the title of Dungeon Master (DM). The DM had control over the dungeon's traps and monsters, in order make sure the four heroes didn't make it out of the dungeon alive. It was a game that greatly encouraged teamwork. The four players, controlling the heroes, needed to work as a team in order to survive. Yes, you could charge on ahead without your teammates and single-handedly take on every monster in the dungeon, but this would only get you so far, especially in the later quests.
Your choice of character depended mostly on your preferred playing style (or the fact that you were the older brother and could basically do what you want); The Barbarian, the Dwarf, the Elf and the Wizard each have their own stats. The Barbarian and the Dwarf, being the tougher duo of the four, can happily hack away with their weapons of bloody dismemberment, while the Elf and the Wizard can use magic spells to decimate enemy forces but are more fragile. The more megalomaniacal players among us usually opted for the role of DM, because that meant having control over a large group of characters, as well as knowing what the entire level looked like. The DM had a quest guide that showed the entire dungeon; it showed the placement of the doors, furniture and treasures, as well as where the monsters and traps were. He or she could then use this information to trap or damage the daring heroes before they reached their goal and made their escape.
Heroquest came with a selection of dice, doors, furniture, trap tiles and monster miniatures and, of course four hero minatures. Movement of the heroes is dictated by rolling two six-sided dice. by adding the total points rolled, you know how many spaces your character can walk before or after perform one of the following actions: search for traps, search for treasure, search for hidden doors, cast a spell or attack a monster.
All four players start at a predetermined spot on the board, while the Dungeon Master read the quest to them. Usually, these quests were all part of a larger story-line, so the players could really get into their character, making the game that much more fun. After the quest is read, the heroes start to make their way towards their final goal by opening doors and exploring rooms. The goal, however, is not clear at the start of a quest, so our heroes have to search the dungeon room by room until they find what they were looking for. Sometimes, this might be a long lost treasure, while at other times, the goal is to defeat an ancient monster that lurks these damp and dark corridors and rooms.
If a player chooses to open a door, the contents of the room behind the door is revealed, including any monsters that dwell within that particular room. When the room is set up, each player take their turn, usually ending with the DM's turn, in which he or she may move all monsters on the board and attack the heroes if he or she feels like it, and if his or her monsters can get to them. Round after round, players keep pushing forward and the DM keeps pushing back, until: a) all heroes are killed or: b) all or some heroes have fulfilled their quest and have made their escape from the dungeon. Objects found during the quest can be kept for later use.
Attacking a hero or a monster is done by rolling a predetermined number of six-sided battle dice. Each character (heroes and monsters alike) have their own number of dice with which they can attack or defend. An attack die features skull or sword icons; 3 skulls, 2 hero shields and one DM shield. This distribution of icons makes it harder for the DM to successfully defend against attacks, but this is compensated with the fact that he has more monsters at his disposal then there are heroes.
When a player attacks another character, he or she rolls the number of dice, listed on the character sheet of his or her character, while the attacked character defends with the number of dice shown on its character sheet. When the attacker rolls three skulls, the defending party has to roll three shields (hero shields for the heroes and DM shields for the DM). If this fails, the defending party suffers damage points, equal to the number of shields he or she failed to roll. In the basic game, this usually meant that monsters were killed instantly, because they only had one life point.
Players can also use items they found to enhance their chances of survival. in-between quests, weapons can be bought with the gold players found on their travels, resulting in a higher number of attack or defend dice that can be used, or even the possibility to execute diagonal and ranged attacks. Other items can also be bought (or found when playing a quest), like a flask of healing water or a sleep spell to use on enemies. Use these items wisely, some of them can only be used once and have to be discarded after use.
The basic rules of Heroquest are simple and straight forward, albeit not always clear on various subjects. So the main thing to worry about when playing a game of Heroquest is the company you play it with. A good DM can make the difference between a disorderly, unorganized heap of Orc droppings and a smooth-played shining victory (for either the heroes or the DM). Make sure you decide who decides what to do in case of a dispute (usually the DM or the owner of the game) and you will have the time of your life. Heroquest spawned a number of expansion packs that even increase the number of adventures to be had. Even some new monsters are added to further challenge the group of heroes. All in all, Heroquest provides countless hours of fun!
You might enjoy yourself so immensely that you just don't want to stop playing. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when you'll even start thinking about writing your own story quests... and you can! A lot of Heroquest fans have made their own custom quests, sometimes even including new custom tiles and monster classes, and posted them online. And please believe me when I say: some of them are really awesome! And, if you are feeling particularly inspired, you can always write one yourself. Trust me, it takes a bit of work, but it's not difficult at all. Just let your imagination run wild and have fun!
The basic rules of Heroquest are simple and straight forward, albeit not always clear on various subjects. So the main thing to worry about when playing a game of Heroquest is the company you play it with. A good DM can make the difference between a disorderly, unorganized heap of Orc droppings and a smooth-played shining victory (for either the heroes or the DM). Make sure you decide who decides what to do in case of a dispute (usually the DM or the owner of the game) and you will have the time of your life. You might enjoy yourself so immensely, you'll even start thinking about writing your own story quests... and you can! A lot of Heroquest fans have made their own quests and posted them online. Just check them out; some of them are really awesome! And, if you are feeling particularly inspired, you can always write one yourself. Trust me, it takes a bit of work, but it's not difficult at all. Just let your imagination run wild and have fun!
So, if you have never played Heroquest before; if you ever get the chance, just play it. I guarantee you will have fun! If you have played Heroquest before and even own the game; what are you still doing, reading this?! Get out there and kick some hero or goblin ass!
Milton Bradley & Games Workshop
Designer: Stephen Baker
Players: 2 - 5 players, ages 10 & up
Playtime: approx. 90 minutes