I love board games. There are a lot of board games that I find to be incredibly fun. The games I enjoy the most are those that are based in fictional realms of fantasy and science fiction: particularly those that require the players to work together in some fashion. You may remember some time ago when I wrote about some of the games we played the last time I had a gaming day.
When I was about 10 years old, Milton Bradley released a game called HeroQuest in the US (the UK got it a year earlier). My cousin got it for Christmas, and after playing it with him, I decided I simply had to have it. Essentially, one player is a dungeon master laying out doors, monsters, furniture, traps, etc. and all other players form a band of Heroes that journey into the dungeon to accomplish some goal, slay monsters, and find treasure. A friend across the street also picked up a copy of the game, and we spent many, many hours playing through quests, building our own, and then playing through those.
I didn’t have the luxury of spending much time playing Dungeons & Dragons (I knew one group that played and spent one day playing, but we didn’t hang out much and I never got to try again), so HeroQuest was the closest I ever came to playing a tabletop role-playing game. Sure, it was more of a “dungeon crawler” than an RPG, but it still stuck with me throughout my childhood and young adult life.
Fast forward to just after college. My cousin Adam and I are sharing an apartment with Andrew (his brother) and then later Jesse (my brother). It is at the time when Jesse moves in, that I first discover Warhammer Quest. I had heard of this game before, thanks to a strong similarity between it and HeroQuest (much of the game world for HeroQuest was lifted out of Warhammer’s fantasy world and simplified for young gamers). Thankfully, Adam picked up a copy off eBay one day and we all got a chance to try it out.
The big plus to Warhammer Quest was the ability to randomly generate dungeons, eliminating the need for a player to be “the bad guy”. After a handful of games, however, it became obvious that in order for us to play a game quickly, we’d all have to either read the rather large instruction books cover to cover, or play several games with someone that had until we felt comfortable not looking something up every 30 seconds. The game went into a closet and began to collect dust.
I was at Adam’s house a couple months ago, picking up some stuff for my newborn baby, when I found my old HeroQuest figurines in his closet (I had been searching for them for 6 months or more). And sitting there, untouched for the last couple years, was Warhammer Quest. Adam took it down and told me that if I’d actually play it, I could take it with me. Nerd joy exploded in my heart.
And so it was, that on Saturday, November 7th, I invited my cousins over to play. The plan was to have a complete Saturday doing nothing but having some “nerd fun”. In the end, Andrew, Alex, Rachel (Alex’s sister), and Bri (Alex’s girlfriend) arrived for some Warhammering.
I chose, as always, to play the Elf. Andrew picked up the trusty old Barbarian, Rachel snagged the Dwarf, and Bri took up the Wizard. Since we had five players, Alex chose to play one of the add-on characters that Games Workshop released after the game was available: the Warrior Priest.
The first dungeon went fine, and fairly quickly even though three players had never even touched a Games Workshop game before. We each got to learn a little about how best to work together and the newbies got a good feel for their characters. The second dungeon, however…
We came to a t-junction in the dungeon early on and chose the wrong path. Of course, by the time we discovered it was the wrong path, we had encountered a fair number of murderous beings. Although the Warrior Priest was able to heal (Bri, unfortunately, drew only Resurrection for her healing spell as the Wizard, making it difficult to assist much), his Blessings were erratic at best, and did not restore health at a quick pace.
Thus, when my Elf was down to a mere 1 Wound remaining before death, my companions decided to simply walk off without me, leaving me several steps behind and unable to catch up to the healer. This actually turned out to be slightly advantageous. I say slightly, because in Warhammer Quest, when an Unexpected Event occurs and monsters are placed on the board, they are placed in the room with the Heroes. However, if one or more Heroes are in separate rooms, then they are randomly placed into one of the rooms.
I was quite thankful then, when the room they were to be placed into was not my room. That was, until I discovered that the enemies we would be facing were Goblin Archers. Thanks to a number of fortuitous dice rolls, I was able to remain standing until the villainous creatures were thrust out of this world and into the next (mostly via the application of pointy objects to their vital organs, though once or twice via blunt objects to the same and/or magic lightning to their everythings). I rejoined my compatriots, received my healing, and promptly smacked the Warrior Priest upside the head.
I mean, my character did that. Not me. I’m not my character.
Please don’t tell my therapist I said that.
And so we journeyed onward, found the chamber of evil bad things, murdered them all, and everyone went home mostly happy. Alex even remarked, during the course of the last dungeon, “Can we do this more often?” I’d say that counts as a win. I can’t wait until the next time we get together when I will be playing as an Elf Ranger, one of the add-on characters. I’ll let you know how it goes.