So, with Space Crusade out of the way, it’s time to tackle it’s sister game; Hero Quest. Unlike it’s futuristic sequel, this questing adventure is set in a much older fantasy realm. Essentially this is the standard Warhammer universe compared to Space Crusade’s Warhammer 40k landscape. Created in collaboration with Games Workshop, Hero Quest was designed by Stephen Barker of Milton Bradley Games, and was first released during 1989 in Europe and Australia, shortly followed by a slightly different variant for America and Canada, unlike Space Crusade, which strangely never saw a North American release.
I remember seeing the mesmerising box art splashed throughout Littlewoods, Argos and Index catalogues and thinking “I want that”… “No, I need that”. But, by the time a suitable present receiving event came round, Space Crusade had also been released, and due to my love of the Space Marines, I opted for that instead. But this didn’t detach from my fondness for the original game, even if it did feature a semi naked, animal skin clad warrior on the front. To my 8 year old brain, this guy was the exact thing the name suggested, a frickin’ Hero… look, he’s got a sword and hair and ugg boots…. Hero. Absolute hero.
In the box art background you can see some of the foes you have to defeat, including Skeletons and mummies (both of which I was a huge fan of), and beside them, you can also see the orks, Chaos warriors and goblin like creatures which are also familiar fare in it’s 40k counterpart – it’s just they have bolt guns and plasma rifles in the latter, as opposed to large blades.
Like Space Crusade, Hero Quest is a strategy game which offers an enormous amount of freedom, role playing and imagination. Again it’s a simplification on the original Warhammer games, allowing families to get in on the war gaming action without the trepidation of looking foolish in front of others, when confronted with the reams of rules. Also, like Space Crusade, one player must take the baddie role, in this case known simply as the “Evil Wizard”. And there he is, looking like a rowdy drunk David Bellemy, steaming out of his local at 3am – he’s even got his hand out to try and grab onto a nearby railing for support. Come to think of it, this could actually just be a photo of Oliver Reed.
So let’s run through the gameplay, shall we?
Thankfully, the board doesn’t take too long to setup. Unless it’s brand new out of the box, in which case you have to assemble all this bloody furniture, and de-peg your pieces.. but then, these little plastic objects are what make the game so damn compelling in my opinion. During play, pieces are added to the board as they enter the Hero’s line of sight. It’s the Evil Wizard’s job to keep on top of this and dispense pieces according to the setup plan depicted on whichever Quest has been selected. This layout is kept a strict secret from the Hero players, hence the reason for this cardboard wall.
All heros start in the stairwell room, with the door shut. If you’re playing with less than 5 players, then you can opt to play as more than one hero, otherwise the game can quickly weigh in the favour of the Wizard, with the hordes of evil foes he has at his disposal. Upon moving out of this room, the door is replaced with an open doorway – there are no pre-set door locations on the board, they move dependant on your quest. Here we have the warrior, and immediately in his line of sight there’s an ork, along with another door and a blockage in the hall way ahead – because often, the entire board isn’t used.
The job of the questors is to rampage through the board, search rooms for treasure and to generally kick the ass of the prevailing demons. This is completed using a set of special dice. If you’re in a space adjacent to a monster you can attack. Your attack strength varies depending on your character, but generally involves rolling two dice. If you roll a skull then it’s a hit, but your opponent can defend himself with one shield per hit. You can only kill a demon by getting one successful hit, without a counter shield being rolled by the Wizard. This premise is also the same when a demon attacks you on the Wizard’s turn, although because the heros can suffer more damage than the evil scourge, you need to record your damage on your character sheet, using an object known as a pencil from the 1950s.
Along the way heros can find equipment cards and use special power ups like this “Heoric Brew”… I won’t question what’s in it. Probably Special Brew.
Usually the goal is to find objects like this wonderful “Wand of Recall”, then get the hell back to the stairwell and escape. If you die on the way, you lose. If you don’t die, then you can carry your finds over to the next game until you complete every single quest, defeat the wizard and vanquish your demon foes. After which you can then buy an expansion pack and carry on playing! Yay!
The Video Game
Alternatively, you can abandon the real game upon realising that it’s video game counter part is far easier to setup and play. Then you also have the added advantage of not having to put up with cretinous friends invading your living space.
Just like Space Crusade, the video game conversions are pretty spot on. Offering isometric view points and a variety of missions.
I won’t go into detail about the digital version here, but suffice to say, it’s worth checking out… So, stay tuned for a review in the future.
So, that was, and indeed, still is, Hero Quest. If you’ve got some buddies, it’s worth picking up a copy on fleabay for about £40. If you haven’t got any friends, just get the video game and quest through those dungeons like an absolute medieval trooper.
Good luck to you my fellow hero.