Sunday, 27 December 2015

Not-Oldhammer: A few thoughts on Warhammer Quest – The Adventure Card Game

I’ve been having the family over for Christmas and therefor haven’t had much time to myself, which again means that I don’t have any news on the Oldhammer front. I did, however, find time to sit down with my brothers and play through the campaign of Fantasy Flight Games’ (FFG) new card game, Warhammer Quest – The Adventure Card Game.

The hunt for the ultimate “dungeon crawler” is sort of an obsession for many board-gamers. I believe the general consensus is that there’s no such thing – each game has some kind of imperfection that keeps it from greatness, whether it’s unclear rules, too-simple gameplay or simply being overly fiddly. My personal opinion is that Advanced Heroquest is the dungeon crawler that’s come closest, but many would probably name Warhammer Quest as their all-time favorite. That’s why, when FFG announced they were doing a card-game version of it, many were cautiously excited. It’s not really what they were hoping for, but FFG does maker very good games and a card-game version of an old favorite is better than nothing. So, when my brother brought it over for Christmas we immediately decided that we had to finish the included campaign before the end of the holidays.

Well, we did finish the campaign, so I thought I’d write a bit about my impressions.

I won’t waste time describing the rules. They can be found on FFG’s site it you are interested. The game itself is relatively simple anyway – most of the intricacy comes from the interaction between different cards.

FFG has done a very good job of differentiating the characters and enemies. The various kinds of enemy feel very thematically appropriate; goblins are weak, but dangerous in numbers, Skaven are unpredictably dangerous (especially jezzail and warlocks) and orks are tough and scary. You will fear the nastier kinds of critter and you might actually come to loathe a certain cunning old ork (which is nicely out of character for “Newhammer”) who just won’t stay still when you try to wack him over the head.

The heroes also feel pleasantly unique. My only gripe is that there’s only four of them available in the base game so you’ll quickly run out of new combinations – especially if you play with more than two people at a time. I’m particularly impressed by the feel of progression you get from the game. At the end of the campaign we were accomplishing feats we couldn’t even dream of in the beginning – all with very little rules-overhead, which is especially remarkable. You just add an effect here, switch a card there and boom! Suddenly you’re a bad-ass. 
How you'll feel at the end of the campaign. I love this picture by the way - Its by this guy
Art-wise the game uses a lot of FFG’s stock Warhammer art, which aligns closely with the later editions of Warhammer. That means everything is as over-designed as you’d expect. See this big ork:

You just know he’s tough, because his head is the size of a walnut. And the elf, well she’s a wood-elf, so obviously her clothes are partially made of twigs! (however that’s supposed to work), and so on and so forth...

Actually, the art is undeniably gorgeous (and, thankfully, there isn’t a “sigmarine” in sight), so I find myself willing to suspend disbelief for a while. I don’t know – maybe it’s just because it’s drawings and not miniatures, but the cartoonisism (not a real word, I know) doesn’t bother me as much. Besides, FFG does know when to dial it back, as exemplified by the wonderfully moody location cards.

All in all, it’s a very, very good game. Each quest takes, at most, an hour to play through (including set-up), which is nice and fast, but when you combine them into a campaign, it still feels appropriately epic.

It’s not the “perfect” dungeon crawler and I suspect that, as a card game, it won’t ever be, but it does scratch the same itch, and at a low price, with easy rules and a low play-time it definitely has a place in my collection – as will any expansions that may be released in the future (you hear me FFG? Bring out the expansions!).

Merry Christmas

Friday, 18 December 2015

It’s a kind of magic

I always knew I’d eventually regret my decision to mimic Phil Lewis’ original paint-job on the AHQ heroes. You see, while the three other members of the party sport relatively simple paint-schemes, the wizard very much doesn’t – not by a long shot. There are flames, stars and multiple white-and-black-patterned borders – all of which have to be painted free-hand.

So, how did it turn out? See for yourself:

I’m actually quite proud of this little guy. Needless to say, I spent way longer on this figure than any of the others, but that’s ok. The paint-job is much rougher than Phil’s, but I think it’s a reasonable approximation all the same.

I initially attempted to do a wet-blend for the flame effect, but it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped (I obviously still haven’t quite got the hang of the technique), so I ended up doing a more traditional layering transition from yellow to red.

I’m becoming very fond of Phil’s way of painting wood (also seen on the elf’s bow), where he uses a very high-contrast drybrush on the protruding detail. It provides a very good effect for relatively little work, which is just what I need.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Literary treasure

It is no secret that one of the great pleasures of (and, indeed, reasons behind) “Oldhammer blogging” is getting to brag about all the rare stuff you got a sweet deal on. Usually this involves figures, but as many will agree, collecting the original publications is just as big a part of the experience.

Which brings be to the pride and joy of my Oldhammer collection:

My collection of TEW-modules – all first editions and all in good condition. The individual books aren’t quite as rare and expensive as, for example, The Lost and the Damned (though the Death on the Reik box can get close), but it’s still quite a challenge to get hold of the entire set without having to sell a kidney. 

You’ll notice that I also have the much maligned Something Rotten in Kislev (SRiK) and Empire in Flames (EiF), mostly for the sake of completeness. I’ve never actually run them, and if I ever got that far into the campaign, I’d probably go down a different path anyway (more on that in a later post). Quality of writing aside, the EiF book is an especially lovely item – quite long (154 pages), hardcover, nicely illustrated, and with lots of maps and handouts.

I also got hold of this:

The, very nice, omnibus-edition, comprising TEW, SoB and DotR

Why, you ask? 
‘Cause there’s no way I’m letting a bunch of greasy, unkempt roleplayers be in the same room as my lovely first-editions. Actually, I normally use a set of PDF’s, since it’s generally easier to use, but you get the idea.


Friday, 11 December 2015


The third member of my AHQ party, the elf, is now done.

I really like the colors on him and the face is the best I’ve done to yet, so I’m really quite satisfied.

If you hadn’t noticed yet, I’m following the “official” paint-scheme seen here, which means that I’m in for a tough time not that I have to tackle the wizard – lots of free-hand painting in that figure. But, I’m really looking forward to seeing the gang together, so I’ll get cracking right away…

Monday, 7 December 2015

An Advanced Heroquest primer - Part 2, Rules

Last time I wrote about my general impressions of Advanced Heroquest (AHQ). This time I’ll get a little into the rules.

I have to open with a caveat. I didn’t grow up with AHQ so I cannot claim to be some kind of rules-guru. Also, AHQ is written in that distinct 1980’s-GW fashion, which is to say rather haphazardly. Rules are scattered all over the place, often ambiguous and occasionally missing entirely. This doesn’t mean that AHQ is a bad game – absolutely not, for the same reason that WFB 3rd Ed. isn’t a bad game, despite having a, shall we say, rather loosely worded ruleset. It just means that you have to take responsibility for your own fun, and figure out what works for you. See here for a more coherent version of what I’m saying.
It does, however, mean that there’s a fair chance that I’ve misunderstood and/or overlooked something, so don’t take my word as gospel. This write-up is probably more useful as a description of the rules I play by at the moment. Please comment if you find anything you don’t agree with – you are probably correct, and I’d be very interested to learn what I’ve missed.

The AHQ rules can be loosely grouped into three categories: campaign rules, rules for generating dungeons and rules for exploring said dungeons. Today I’ll concentrate on the last category and only briefly cover the two others.

Dungeons can be randomly generated or designed beforehand by a GM, and the game is probably at its best when you use a combination of both.

Before starting a campaign, the players select their characters. There are eight pre-generated characters in the rules, but otherwise characters are randomly generated. There are two classes: fighter and wizard, and three races: human, elf and dwarf – all with certain strengths and weaknesses.

Players also get a small amount of money to buy gear. They’ll need the usual armor and weapons, but they’ll also need to buy arrows and spell-components for any archers and wizards in the group. Arrows can sometimes be reused, but a spell-component is always expended when the wizard casts a spell, and restocking can be a major drain on the party’s coffers. Finally, the players can buy various types of adventuring gear, which might come in handy (rope for rappelling down into chasms, for example).

The party then enters the dungeon…
Most dungeons are set up this way. A short corridor branching off into the darkness.
Play is divided into exploration- and combat turns.

During exploration turns, all characters move at the same speed (orthogonal moves only). When they end their turn on a board section with an unexplored exit, or when they open a door into a new room, a new part of the dungeon is randomly generated (or laid out, if using a pre-defined setup). The heroes can also search for hidden treasure in rooms and hidden doors in dead ends and rooms with one door.

All this time, the GM can spring ambushes and traps on the heroes using dungeon counters. These are randomly drawn at certain times (there’s a chance to get one each turn as well as when the heroes search for hidden doors and treasure).

Whenever the heroes run into monsters, the game switches to combat turns. The heroes and GM then roll for initiative, which determines monster set-up as well as who goes first. Most monsters can’t open doors themselves, but every so often the heroes will run into a sentry who can open doors, and who will usually make a break for it to try and gather reinforcement, which can be really bad news for the good guys/nasty burglars (depending on your perspective).
Roll for initiative!
During combat, a characters movement is determined by its speed characteristic. If a model moves into the death zone of an enemy, it cannot move any further until its next turn.
 Unless they are using ranged weapons or long weapons (such as spears), models can only attack enemies in their death zone. Ranged attacks require a clear line of sight, buy you can see through an adjacent friendly model.

When attacking in hand-to-hand combat, you compare the weapon skill (WS) of the attacker and defender on a table to get a to-hit number. Ranged attacks are based on ballistic skill (BS), range to the target and any cover.
If you roll equal to or higher than the target number on a d12, you then roll a number of damage dice, depending on your weapon and strength. Each roll that equals or beats the targets toughness causes a point of damage. Most normal enemies have 3-4 wounds.
Critical rolls to hit (a natural roll of 12, or 11-12 with a two handed weapon) will give you an extra attack (or halve the targets toughness, in the case of ranged attacks), while fumbles (1 or 1-2 for two-handers) gives the enemy a free attack (/hits an ally, on a ranged attack). Natural 12’s on the to-wound-roll can also cause additional damage.

The heroes can try to escape a fight, and can even leave the dungeon at any time (assuming they can make it safely to a set of stairs leading out), but monster lairs will be restocked when they return, if they don’t clear them completely.

Slain monsters leave treasure behind (mostly gold), and all lairs have a treasure chest, which might even contain magic treasure.

Heroes are reasonably tough, but not invulnerable by any standard. They do have one great advantage in that they get fate points (two to begin with), which only the toughest baddies have. A fate point can be spent to negate all damage received that round or to avoid death from a trap or hazard.
I hope you’re not all out of fate…
Fate points refresh every time the heroes leave the dungeon, but rewards are greater for completing dungeons quickly, and, as I said in part one, each time the heroes return to town they have to pay rent!

Not all rooms contain monsters – many are simply empty, and some contain hazards. A hazard might be a chasm the heroes have to leap over if they want to get to the chest on the other side; it might be a statue with eyes of precious stone, that may come alive and attack if tampered with; or it might be something else entirely.
Do you feel lucky?
Eventually the heroes will find a quest room, which contains a large amount of baddies and the stairs down to the next level of the dungeon or the final boss-monster.
The lair of the evil Skaven Sorcerer. And yes, if you are unlucky, this is about what you might encounter in a single Quest Room.
And… that’s basically it. Well, not really, but it’s about what you’d need to follow an adventure report, so I’ll stop now.

In the third, and final, part, I’ll write a bit about campaigns and give a few final thoughts on the game, though it may be a while before I get around to it.


Friday, 4 December 2015


I’ve been on a bit of a roll this week and got my AHQ dwarf painted in the (for me) record-breaking time of about three hours. The model is very simple, which helped quite a bit, but I’m pleased all the same – especially because I feel that I still did a good job on the layering (and his face doesn’t look like he just got punched in so hard on the nose he got all cross-eyes, which is a plus).

Technique-wise, I’m taking my inspiration from this guide by Mr. Andy Craig, though I’m obviously miles away from his level of expertise. I don’t really have access to all the different paints he mentions either, but the general guidelines are still very helpful.