I’ve previously written about how our nerdy gaming group first got introduced to Hero Quest first via the Speccy game, then later the board game.
One of the things that we didn’t really realise at the time was that it was jointly released by MB and Games Workshop. We knew who MB was, but no idea who these Games Workshop fowk were. Later on through seeing someones White Dwarf magazine, I found out they made other games you could get through mail order, and it had cool reviews of RPGs etc. I first saw White Dwarf when it was a hobby magazine covering all kinds of nerdy stuff. Yes I’m old.
Later in around 1995 or thereabouts I discovered a Games Workshop in Dundee City Centre, opposite the Burns & Harris shop where I occasionally nipped in to look at the model aeroplanes. When looking around I saw they had a game that looked like Hero Quest – Warhammer Quest but it was in the range of about £50! That’s close to £90 in 2017, which to a young teenager was crazy money. We asked if they had any old Hero Quest stuff in the back and they said no. Wandering round, Necromunda was the other game that looked cool to me. Punk guys raking in skips for gear and getting injured after missions. You were basically playing at Mad Max.
Later as well as expanding my Hero Quest collection I picked up some Necromunda and other random bits including the re-released Space Hulk. We had always been put off expanding the creatures for Hero Quest by the expensive price for a bunch of mono-pose dudes for the fantasy setting.
In 2015-2016 I had heard ever more frequent rumours of a reprint of Warhammer Quest. Eventually Warhammer Quest Silver Tower came out in 2016. I bought it immediately. Building the figures was a bit more difficult than the snap-fit Space Hulk stuff but the figures seemed a bit more posable. I managed to get a game in and it was great, but then couldn’t sort a regular group to play it.
Soon Colin and I started playing and before we had completed we found out about Shadows Over Hammerhal coming out soon. Gah we weren’t even done with this one yet.
Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower
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Silver Tower was great fun, some nonsense aside and we enjoyed the campaign a lot.
Things I liked:
- The figures are cool, especially the Chaos characters.
- Choices when it comes to levelling or searching for treasure.
- Some parts could be brutal – we got killed on one level, and on the final level found 4 boss level monsters within the first 3 rooms, which was, erm, challenging. It also felt fitting for it to be the final mission.
Things I didn’t like:
- Sigmar. The setting is pretty crap compared to the old world, maybe it’s because I grew up on Hero Quest, but the loss of the silly comedy feel and classic fantasy type setting to be replaced by this bright colourful mess wasn’t as immersive. Sigmarines typify this. Fantasy shouldn’t have C3P0s running around.
- Riddle we couldn’t solve. I don’t mind riddles, especially ones which seem solvable within the context of the game. But one riddle was reliant on you knowing a bit of Warhammer lore. I checked later and the relevant word was mentioned in one place in the book, and the link with the riddle question was in the fluff of one of the things that can come up on a random roll – which hadn’t done for us.
- Disappointed to have no orcs or other fantasy trope enemies.
Hero Expansions and Games Workshop
I had also bought the hero expansions so had some new characters. In doing so I realised that Elfs and Dwarfs had went the way of the old world. Games Workshop have decided to rename a bunch of stuff for copyright reasons. Like Tolkien when his estate decided they owned hobbit and everyone else could use halfling thank you very much (even though it’s an older word).
Games Workshop were happy to jump on the existing ideas of fantasy worlds to build up their setting, but once they had done so they have decided to ditch Elfs, Dwarfs, Orcs, Goblins, Lizardmen, Treefolk, Ogres, Trolls etc. GW have decided that now it’s Aelfs, Duardin, Orruks, Grots, Seraphon, Sylvaneth, Gutbusters and Troggoth.
I don’t even understand this level of stupidity. Like as a kid I saw the cover of Hero Quest and saw Barbarians, Dwarfs, Elfs, Orcs etc. you cut yourself off entirely from existing fantasy tropes.
But that seems to be the whole point. I remember going into a GW store and thinking I’d walked into some LARP of the childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Worst sales technique until mobile phone shops came along. There was this incessant use of the term
the hobby to describe Games Workshop games. Not a hobby. The hobby. White Dwarf had morphed into a sales catalogue for their games only, which you buy, and they decided that their games are the hobby, not one hobby among many or one type of hobby game.
I believe they have now relaxed their rules about playing figures with non-GW parts in their shops and tournaments but I know they used to clamp down on that too. Of course, they won’t attribute any of this stuff at all as to why large numbers of stores have closed or turned into actual 1-man (and it’s pretty much always a man) shops. So yeah you can see there’s been some barriers in the past and currently to be playing these games. It’s fair to say I play the games in this article in spite of GW, not because of them.
Warhammer Quest: Shadows Over Hammerhal
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Hammerhal arrived, and I built all the bits up, but we haven’t had a chance to play it yet. Some of the figures are duplicated, others were new. I’ve been disappointed that again all the enemies are Chaos, with no Orcs, sorry, Orruks. The destiny board has become flimsy. The thing that stood out though was the use of monocoloured dice and a different variety of colours for the destiny markers. In Silver Tower I found it really useful to know the colours of my marker and then dice. In this one, well the photo here probably shows a good approximation of what I see in the bottom left image. The roleplaying aspect and between mission stuff looks great though and I am looking forward to playing it.
Around the time Hammarhal came out there were rumours that Necromunda was getting a re-release. Given the re-release of Space Hulk and Warhammer Quest this piqued my interest. Later, the name Shadow War Armaggedon leaked out and then it was previewed. Space Marines vs Orks. Eh? But Necromunda is gangs in sewers fighting over scrap. Puny humans in vests holding a gun, not 8 foot tall acid spitting Nazis.
Well that was me pretty damn disappointed. The pre-orders sold out and even though my local games shop had 1 remaining I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Even the paint jobs of the scenery were off-putting. The future promise of Forge World releasing proper gangs doesn’t entice me. Forge World are an off-shoot who make small batch stuff so it’s even more expensive than normal Games Workshop stuff.
Having been let down by Necromunda not being re-released, I saw there was another small scale skirmish game coming out – Skirmish. Set in Age of Sigmar, but more importantly costing only £6 for the rules. For Games Workshop that is pretty accessible – White Dwarf costs £5.99. Looking into it it seemed I’d be able to play with the figures I already had and the book. The Age of Sigmar rules were free online. So I picked it up when it came out.
The AoS rules were 4 pages. The FAQ for them was 7 pages! You are to read those first then the Skirmish rules. These are 2 pages of rules, 2 pages of campaign rules, and er, that’s it. There’s a list of point cost for your army, and then those types of figures have a small sheet with rules on what they can do. Really really simple. Perfect for a quick try anyway.
We set up for a first game, my Chaos against Orcs. We started at around 28 points. We got a few rules wrong but generally figured out some of the basics.
Then I played against Order and got killed. The leader of the Sigmarites had an ability that said
At start of your turn deal 1 damage to a Chaos character within 12″. My army consisted of wee guys we decided to name squishys who could move 6″, then attempt to charge, and had no save. So he was able to just pop the heads off my guys trying to run at him. This seemed slightly strong. I was enjoying it and figured I’d play more than once, so splashed out on the Khorne Bloodbound big box. This gave a better variety of models. I had worked out that I probably had enough points of chaos to make it through the 6 missions of a campaign but almost all were heros, a different faction or just the 1point squishy dudes.
Learning from someone who knows the game
Later when talking about how we’d enjoyed it we were told by someone who knows AoS that we had some rules incorrect. He agreed to have a game of Skirmish so we could learn the rules. Picking a band at 50pts so we’d get some different abilities we had a quick battle and I got to know a bunch of rules we’d skipped over. I don’t mind learning games like this. Jumping in and learning every single rule can be off-putting, so learning stuff and gradually building on it is fine. It does mean I still don’t know what to do against spellcasters though as that hasn’t happened yet.
First go at the campaign
I then arranged to run through the campaign with Colin2. We started at 25 points as the book advises, although some people online thought 45 might be better. We left the scenery as it was and just rearranged for the final match where we could recreate the described scenario with a fenced off area.
I started with a Slaughterpriest named Khornebyn (leading Khornebyns Coalition of Chaos, for politics lols). He took up 20points and was joined by a Blood Warrior (4pt) and a Bloodreaver (1pt squishy). Colin2 started with a Slaughterpriest with Hackblade and Wrath-hammer called Bolvin and some dorks too. Over the course of the game he took the strategy of buying lots of little dudes whilst I focused on sinking renown into big single units, dunno if that affected outcome or not.
We set up the board which consists of the Sigmarite Mausoleum on the Necropolis Battle Mat and decide to just reroll the mysterious terrain rule for each item each game – Cursed, Arcane, Embolding, Crumbling, Enchanted or Foreboding.
1. Clash At Dawn
This mission has us set up in random quarters of the board. I think we were basically in one half, at different sides. we just ran at each other for a rammy and I managed to win due to lucky dice rolls. This meant I got 10 renown to Colin2’s 6. I had started with the Crusader Command Ability and the Helm of Authority Artefact (which let’s you pick a Command Ability). I randomly rolled on the spoils and earned another Command Ability. Oh well. I then used my renown to buy a Mighty Skullcrusher. This is a guy riding on a giant demon cavalry thing. I won’t describe using the terrible GW fluff-speak which is alliterative adjectives and heavy thesaurus use. There does seem to be a template of phrases which annoyed me during Silver Tower which thankfully has been avoided as far as I can see. So far 1-0 me. Yay. The way the campaign works though is you can be 5-0 and if you lose the last mission you lose overall. Winning the missions just gives you a higher renown count to improve your squad.
2. Treasure Hunt
Starting at opposite corners we were to find and hold some treasure. I went first and raced my Skullcrusher to the middle and split my dorks between the other 2 closest. By round 2 I had found 2 hoards whilst Bolvin had only found 1. Ha. Time to start chopping boys. After a round or 2 of combat we have a squad of 3 of my dorks in the middle with a dead Skullcrusher and poor Khornebyn. Bolvin is all who remains for Colin2. I could make my guys retreat to a horde with 1 round left and earn a draw, or team up on Bolvin. As the great Bob Maher would say
Greatness, at any cost. I surprise Colin2 by charging my squad of 3 at his lonesome dude with a couple of health left. I hit him once dealing another damage. Ha. he swings back. With his guy who does 3 + D3 attacks. So 6 attacks split against my 3 guys then. Oops. The suicide run ends the round quicker than expected and Colin2 gets the score back to 1-1. We are now tied on around 42 renown. I buy another Blood Warrior and yet again roll a Command Ability on my prize list. That’s 3 and the ability to choose one, whilst Colin2 has 2 artefacts.
3. Fragile Cargo
This mission has Colin2 trying to move his squad from the central column of the map off my side of the table. He yet again investiged in a pile of squishys, and at this point has about 12 models to my 6 or something silly. I send the Skullcrusher in the middle of his team and take out about 3 of them. That almost evens things out. We then knock the shit out of each other until I manage to kill his leader. Bolvin has 8 bravery which means if 2 of your team die, no one else cowardly runs away. Once he dies though the squad bravery drops to 5. Kill one and roll a 5 for battleshock and 1 guy flees. I immediately look at his squishy guys and send in the team. A crude victory earns me another Command Ability and enough renown to buy a second Skullcrusher. 2-1.
4. Vortex of Power
Khornebyn is stuck in the centre of the map and we each have a half of the table. This isn’t good for my hero ability. This lets you find a character within a certain distance, and if you pass a roll, roll to do damage. Colin2 has the same leader, so he has the same ability. I try to send the Skullcrushers round to flank, but rubbish rolls and terrain I have to avoid means they are bogged down by Colin2s left hand side. He sends his army of dorks to beat up my smaller army of dorks. During this Bolvin managed to kill some dorks reducing his roll needed to hit my leader who was stuck to the spot. Taking 2 turns in a row like a Cheaty McCheaterson didn’t help (me). He now has to roll a 2 to boil Khornebyns brain. He gets a 4. Now a D6 for damage. 5. Brilliant. I need to roll a 5 or 6 to save. 1. Obviously. 5 damage to my boss with 6 health. He then pops his head a turn later before I take Bolvin out. I then wiped out his team. Phew. The first sentence of mission is
If one player wipes out opponent…win a major victory. Bizarre template then overrides this with the last sentence which says if my leader is dead but I wipe out Colin2s team then it’s a draw. The programmer in me is annoyed at the blatant disregard for how if statements work but accept it nonetheless. It’s 2-1-1 and we have 2 missions left. I suit up another couple of blood warriors and now we mean business.
I have my army in the centre of the map and Colin2 lines his up around the edge on all sides. He has to come in and kill my leader. Colin2 has been raiding my model collection now to make up points and has a Wrathmonger. These attack 5 times and when you kill them they take over the model who killed them and have a shot fighting. Hmm. He places that to my West, a squad on the East and Bolvin and a group of BloodWarriors to the North.
I go first and send a Skullcrusher East and one West. A strategy he didn’t expect. Given the large movement I make it to the east but fail to the west. Landing in amongst a group of guys I kill 3 and then we fight later. The result of round one is his East flank breaks and flees. I split my party but took out over a third of my opponents with 1 model. Seems legit. I bog down the enemy to the north and run the Skullcrusher into them later after taking out the Wrathmonger. Total Party Kill. Major victory, celebration and all that. Colin rolls on the rewards table, gets 12 and earns an extra 6 renown. We are going into the final mission with me having won 3, Colin winning 1 and 1 draw, and I have an army of less points than my opponent. I’m not sure that’s how it’s meant to work but two armies of Chaos can’t complain about stuff ending up weird.
6. Seize the Relic
Having left the scenery in pretty much the same place we rearranged to match the final battle plan and prepare for battle. Due to Colin2s large squad after I recruited a third Skullcrusher we know I will be going first. The map has us racing to the top corner from 2 sides through a wall with only 1 entrance for each of us. Every round a storm gets closer to that corner dealing damage to models it reaches.
I decide that I’m gonna race a Skullcrusher to try and block his entrance. He has lots of dudes who move 5″, whilst Skullcrushers are 8″ and most of my guys are 6″ range. I also have less guys to get through the narrow doorway. I get so far, and then Colin2 wins the diceroll to go first in round 2. Disaster. He gets a pile of them through the door before my partycrasher can arrive. I manage to bog down some of his team and then try to flank them inside the sanctuary and blocking access to the objective. Having achieved this there are 2 routes to victory. 1. Hang on another 2 rounds and have more models near the objective – when he has more models. 2. Try to slaughter them all.
Blood for the Blood God
Being the motto of the army we are both playing I have no choice.
Skullcrushers attacking for 5-6 attacks plus anything you run into is good against an army of squishy dudes.
Victory is mine. The whole thing took around 4 hours and was great fun. We started at 25points and finished on around 70 going into last mission, so starting at 45-50 would end in around the 100 range which would be cool too. It was interesting to see 2 similar armies with different strategies. I’m not sure if my victory was down to Colin2 going easy on me, differing strategies, my superior strategies or just plain beginners luck (spoiler: it was totally beginners luck).
I have tended to avoid games based on dice rolls because of my notoriously bad luck at them but it kind of evened out here. Shocked myself by rolling 5 dice needing 4s, and getting a 4, a 5 and 3 6s. That’s better luck than I’d normally expect over the course of a day. All those sad 1s though. Bad dice.