Sunday, 15 November 2015

An Advanced Heroquest primer - Part 1, Overview

Life has been keeping me very busy these past few weeks, so I haven’t been able to devote as much time to painting and dungeoneering as I’d hoped. Eventually, however, I hope to post some Advanced Heroquest (AHQ from now on) reports on this blog – mostly from solo games. Since I’m aware that relatively few people have actually played this fine old game, I thought I’d write a short primer, so everyone has a chance to understand what’s going on.

If you have absolutely no idea what AHQ is, and why you should care, I urge you to read (or even better – listen to) this excellent piece by Mr. Paul Dean over at Shut Up & Sit Down. It is that very article which finally convinced me to track down a copy on eBay (actually, Shut Up & Sit Down is probably responsible for about half of my current board game collection, so read at your own risk).
AHQ is a dungeon crawler from Games Workshop. It is ostensibly a “revised and expanded” sequel to the extremely successful Heroquest, though I have my doubts about the connection. The games have almost nothing in common, except for being dungeon crawlers and the characters depicted on the games’ front covers (even though AHQ includes four different heroes in the actual game). Rules for using bits and pieces from Heroquest were included in AHQ but the game would have worked perfectly well without those.

I haven’t done any research into the area, but I’d almost be willing to bet money that AHQ had been in development at GW for some time under another name, and that at some point it was decided to capitalize on Heroquest’s success and label this new game as Heroquest 2.0. It really isn’t, but that’s o.k. – it’s a very good game in its own right, regardless of what it ended up being named.

AHQ is ideally played with a dungeon master, though rules for fully cooperative and solo play are included. It is also best played as a campaign. A lot of the tension in the game comes from deciding between trying press on just a bit further, despite being wounded and out of arrows, in the hope finally finding treasure, or returning to town and having to face your landlord, whom you owe three weeks rent (yes, really!) which you can’t afford if you don’t find any treasure. It’s all very “80’s GW”, if you ask me.

If I were to describe AHQ in a single sentence, I’d call it “a board game rogue-like”. I’d even claim that the actual, and very good, rogue-like Darkest Dungeon owes a lot of its ideas to AHQ. Both are about competent, but very (very, very) mortal adventurers exploring (semi)randomly generated dungeons with a mix of hazard rooms, lairs and quest rooms (more on that next time), and both share the same real enemy – going broke. You can take it easy and leave a dungeon if you ever get in trouble, but money is tight and you need to pay for upkeep, equipment and training, and there’s a real possibility that you’ll lose money on an expedition if you play it too carefully. So you forge ahead, down into the darkness...

Dungeon crawling - now and then...

So, that’s my introduction to Advanced Heroquest. Next time, rules…


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