Tag Archives: dungeon-crawler

Fire of Wrath: The HeroQuest boardgame Relaunches!

HeroQuest was the boardgame that started it all for so many of us.

It was published in 1989 by Milton Bradley and Games Workshop, and in all the significant ways it defined the genre of accessible dungeon-crawl adventure games for kids. It remains beloved to this day, despite being out of print for decades and original versions fetching absurd prices on eBay.

Fueled by some combination of nostalgia and market research, game giant Hasbro have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a new release of the board game, but only for US and Canadian backers. It has been launched on Hasbro’s own crowdfunding platform – HasbroPulse – with the arguably modest target of $1 million in pledges.

Stretch goals which include new miniatures, more dice and an entire new QuestBook designed by original designer Stephen Baker, will all be unlocked at $2 million.

Right now, with a month and a half to go, more than $1.1 million has already been committed, so it is safe to say that this game will smash the crowdfunding targets, and likely see mass production worldwide. For those of us outside North America, we can anticipate the game on store shelves in time for Christmas 2021.

The genre has evolved significantly since 1989, and whilst I treasure the memories of late night sessions of HeroQuest with friends (and using the same minatures later for innumerable D&D adventures), I don’t think the original mechanics are going to stand up to the gamer market by modern standards. The 2012 game Mice and Mystics – a dungeon-crawler targeted at 7 year olds and frankly with a more engaging and age-appropriate theme – shares many of the design mechanics, but exceeds them in fun and memorable ways. The spiritual successor to Mice and Mystics – Stuffed Fables – was released by Plaid Hat in 2018, and is a quantum leap in terms of innovation and modern gameplay.

At the other end of the heavy cardboard spectrum, it would be tough to market the rebooted HeroQuest to a gamer audience that has since embraced the complexity and depth of Gloomhaven, the number one ranked boardgame (boardgame franchise?) worldwide with no signs of slippage in popularity.

But of course, this is not the target audience of the HeroQuest reboot. This is a sweet nostalgia hit, and given that it funded in less than 48 hours, it is a hit that will not be denied. HeroQuest was the inspiration and touchstone behind all of the dungeon-crawling games that have succeeded it, for designers and players alike.

And for me as well. I still do room reveals in tabletop roleplaying games exactly how I did 30 years ago playing as Zargon the Evil Sorcerer. The tension and suspense of opening a dungeon door is as thrilling to me now as it was then.

So the decision to remain as close as possible to the original game is a double-edged broadsword. There are welcome changes to the depiction of the genders of heroes and some of the monsters, and some of the Games Workshop lore has been removed for licencing reasons, but on first blush the mechanics and even the card art are deeply faithful to the fan base.

And while this will satisfy us Gen-Xers with fond memories, it is unlikely to hold up on its own merits against its contemporaries in the tabletop genre that have long passed it by on the trial it blazed.

First Impressions of the Lost Mine of Phandelver

I must admit that I ignored the Lost Mine of Phandelver for the longest time, and it was only out of pure snobbery. “I have played D&D for decades,” I told myself, “Why would I demean myself with the purchase of a Starter Set?” The truth is that the Lost Mine adventure is actually really good, surprisingly so, and accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do – introduce new players to the game of D&D through a compelling, diverse experience. Continue reading First Impressions of the Lost Mine of Phandelver

Gloomhaven Digital Adaptation Launches

The digital adaptation of the number one ranked board game of all time, Gloomhaven, will launch on Steam on July 17th. The much anticipated release “Early Access” release will see the tactical combat and dungeon-crawler made available in an exclusive Adventure Mode for early adopters. Continue reading Gloomhaven Digital Adaptation Launches

Big Box Expansion for Gloomhaven in the Works, says designer Issac Childres

Gloomhaven – the game which released as five expansions in one – is getting a big box expansion, which promises as much content as the base game but in a smaller package. This is one of the enticing announcements from  Gloomhaven designer Issac Childres, who just finished up a very generous AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Gloomhaven subreddit. He also revealed his design process, and who in Gloomhaven he’d most like to sit done with at the Sleeping Lion for an ale.  Continue reading Big Box Expansion for Gloomhaven in the Works, says designer Issac Childres

Gloomhaven: The Strange Case of the Exploding Cultists

In our third Gloom Platoon installment, the party investigate a location along the Still River, which we discovered on a scroll in an bandit’s lair. Characters are leveled up, and I discuss some of the card pool choices for Level 2.

We uncover the ruins of an ancient crypt, half-covered by moss and ivy. We discover some bandits and more animated dead inside…

Wait, who are these cultists, and why are they exploding?

Spoilers within.

Gloomhaven: Discover the Grisly Truth of the Barrow Lair

This is the second scenario in my Gloomhaven solo campaign playthrough on Twitch. For something different (and for a video length that is watchable, at least), I’ve sped up the video of the original stream, and tried to live commentate what was happening. The result is mixed, quite frankly, and it is something that I’m clearly going to need to practice. That is, if I decide to do it again.

Also, the ‘background music’ isn’t.

Anyway, I hope you get at least a flavour of the gameplay from the video.

It was a great scenario, and while I missed the treasure chest and only completed one of three battle goals, I felt like I did a pretty good job. Specifically, kiting out of range of the lumbering melee enemies, and using both the Spellweaver’s and the Tinkerer’s summons to tank damage, block doorways and do ranged damage.

Once again, only Mason the Tinkerer remained unexhausted at the end of the battle, but the other two went out with poise and purpose.

There are a handful of rules mistakes – most of which I caught during the game, but some that snuck through. Bonus points if you can identify those.

Spoilers inside. Enjoy!

Gloomhaven: Introducing the Gloom Platoon

These are the first two videos from my Gloomhaven solo campaign playthrough on Twitch. After spending several weeks playing around with filming set-ups, I ended up just downloading Tabletop Simulator, and aside from my awkward navigation, I think this format will work fine.

There isn’t a huge volume of boardgames being played on Twitch, and I think that’s a shame given the relevance of the platform for gamers generally. In a small way, I’m hoping to help ‘grow the pie’, so to speak.

Feedback & tips welcome. Rules corrections are … inevitable.

If you’re interested, please follow me at: https://www.twitch.tv/stratplay1