Tag Archives: family

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.

Protect your thatched roof cottages: Trogdor the Boardgame on Kickstarter

Homestar Runner was one of the internet’s first meme generators. There was a time when I would go out of my way to get online just to see if Strong Bad had answered any emails lately, or if Homestar had released any “TOONS!” in celebration of a holiday or season. The Homestar Runner franchise has been quiet of late, but no doubt still enjoys the favour of a legion of fans around the world, if the response to their recently launched Kickstarter board game campaign is anything to go by.  Continue reading Protect your thatched roof cottages: Trogdor the Boardgame on Kickstarter

Legendary Marvel Studios Announced for GenCon, but it’s a hard pass from me

Allow me to provide an unpopular opinion. It’s no secret that I deeply invested in the Marvel Legendary franchise, designed by Devin Low and published by Upper Deck. I have referred to it often as my favourite deck-building game, not just because of the depth of gameplay that it currently provides, but also for its versatility. It can be played as pure co-op, or as a cutthroat competitive game, and it scales from gateway to brainburner, depending on the company. No other deck-builder, in my experience, has the versatility to provide for such diverse audiences and gaming experiences. For that reason, it has pride of place in my collection.

But.

There is a limit to how deep I will go in my dedication to Legendary, and I found it this week.

Upper Deck have announced what seems to be a re-release of the original base game, but with art and characters from the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to be unveiled at this year’s GenCon. The art will no longer be the gorgeous and diverse comic book art style that makes Legendary pop so hard on the gaming table, but stills and photos from the blockbuster Marvel movies. According to the publisher:

The Avengers are back in a new setting with images straight from the Phase 1 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers). Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America and more face off against the Villains of the first six movies. Three Masterminds including the all new Iron Monger and his Iron Foes try to complete their evil schemes.

I had this moment with the release of the Spiderman Homecoming expansion. It is one of the few Legendary expansions that I have passed on, and ultimately it was only due the fact that the use of movie image stills would just be so out of place with the rest of the game.

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Superficial? Maybe. But surely a big contributor to the love of the boardgaming hobby is the aesthetic. Part of what constitutes the magic circle of gaming, what transforms the experience of shuffling cardboard and plastic about on a table, is the immersion in the gameplay aesthetic. And the mix of art and screen capture is going to undermine the immersion in the consistent aesthetic. So, despite my abiding love of this game, the Legendary Marvel Studios: Phase One set is going to get a hard pass from me.

That said, I do hope it brings in a whole new audience for Legendary, and for deck-building games in general. Legendary is still the exemplary and quintessential Marvel gaming experience bar none, and if this leads to a revamp of the franchise and the production of more content in the longer term, I’m all for it.

You can find out more about this expansion as it releases over on BoardGameGeek.

Learn to Play That’s Not Lemonade With Matt Fantastic

Earlier in the week, I reviewed the newest release from Matt Fantastic and Tuesday Knight Games called That’s Not Lemonade – a wickedly clever and addicting push your luck game being marketed as a drinking game for kids.

Twist Gaming put out a video with the designer of That’s Not Lemonade himself, Matt Fantastic that introduces the game in its advanced prototype format. The video was recorded live at Origins Game Fair in June this year, and is great fun to watch. And at the end of the day, who better to learn the game from the original designer himself?

You can read my review of the game here, and if you’re not too late, you can help Kickstart this game here.