certain games that come along on certain platforms at certain times that define
a purity of gaming experience. They are perfect traps for the mind. They are so powerful
that even after you stop playing, when you close your eyes you see the game,
playing out on the back of your eyelids:Tetris on Gameboy, Goldeneye on
Nintendo 64, Street Fighter II Arcade cabinets, Bejeweled on smartphones. I'm
sure you can think of one or two more.
Quest for iOS on ipad is one of those games.
that Warhammer Quest itself is considered one of the best, if not the best
dungeon bash game of all time. Now out of print, after an astoundingly short
print run of 3 years (1995-1988) if you wanted to get the tabletop version,
you'd need deep pockets and a passion for ebay. But even so, that version is
inferior to the digital version brought to us by Rodeo Games.
Why is the
best dungeon bash board game of all time out of print? Money. Games Workshop is
interested in selling goods that have a long tail, and although the tail was
quite long on Warhammer Quest, with extra classes, treasure and dungeon
expansions, and more, it wasn't long enough. Games Workshop is interested in publishing miniatures and miniature accessories. Books and cardboard are costly for them, and have a lower rate of return. The game, although popular, was never very financially successful. Only one person needed to buy the
game. Only one expansion was needed for each group. There may come a day for a
reprint, but it won't be soon.
talking today about he iOS version. Luckily, it's also available on Steam, so if you're reading this, you do have
an opportunity to explore the game. But the iOS version is
As fun as
dungeon bash games can be, they are a little fiddly. Warhammer Quest contains
over 200 pieces, almost 100 different cards, and somewhere north of 200 pages
of rulebook (although only 20 or so contains the game rules, the
"role-play" book is the majority of that page count). Manipulating the actual
game is quite time consuming. iOS removes that difficulty.
just addressing what digitizing a game does. You get many of those features on
Steam. Steam brings the game to a much wider audience (instead of just those
subset of people with ipads). However, the portability of the ipad, along with
the display is the perfect size to both show detail and play the game at. Open
the game on the computer and it's in a small window. Blow it up full-screen and
it becomes fuzzy. You're either too close or too far out. The display, size,
and portability of the ipad version is sublime. As well as the fact that you rotate
the ipad vertically to access the inventory. Which is just one of those
mind-blowing innovations that we take for granted living in the future.
How do you
check your inventory? You open the bag and look inside.
about the game itself? Why is it so good?
analysis of Warhammer Quest
Quest is a dungeon bash game. You take a party of heroes and they descend into
a dungeon, usually made of tiles and fight monsters and recover treasure. As
they recover treasure, they become more powerful and level up. You may be
somewhat familiar with the concept.
is a specific board game niche. It's a relatively large niche title; Rodeo
games has sold over 250,000 copies of the digital version (at least—sales
may be above 500,000), along with however many actual print sales their were,
so as niche as something can be that has a quarter of a million sales. But it
isn't on the scale of a mainstream title, like Dominion, Dungeons and Dragons,
or Settlers of Catan with tens of millions of sales.
bash game is different than an adventure game in that it focuses on tile-based
movement, line of sight, and tactical combat; this includes games such as the
Dungeons & Dragons adventure games and Descent (and Descent 2). This is in
opposition to adventure games like Arkham Horror or Talisman which are adventure games, due to a lack of tactical manuvering.
digital and real world version of Warhammer Quest offered expansions in the
form of new quests, new monsters, new treasures and new heroes. Warhammer Quest
also contained a "role-play" book containing rules for moving among
an overland, buying goods from merchants and more.
version is a direct implementation of the complete game. Your party travels
from town to town, completing random quests to earn money and gear along with storyline
quests. In the quests, they move through each tile to the arrows, when then
places a new tile in the dungeon, fighting monsters as they go. Each town has a
specific market, and many of the optional characters are available. The rules
inside the game, though opaque, are an honest translation of the spirit of the
board game rules*.
some minor changes, for example, ballistic skill counts up to six. In the
tabletop game, it counted down, and any roll equal or higher to your ballistic
skill would hit an opponent. The odds are still identical, though the numbers
are reversed. Hence, "honest".
all pretty straight-forward. What is it that makes Warhammer Quest great?
system in Warhammer Quest is that you roll a d6. E.g. to attack someone you
compare your character's weapon skill versus your opponent's weapon skill on a
matrix, and if your number is equal to or higher to the target you hit. A 1 is
always a failure an a 6 is always a success.
This is the
cool part: Each turn a "Winds of Magic" roll is made. In addition to
determining the amount of power your wizard has, any time a 1 is rolled
(indicating the casters have no magic power available) an event card is drawn.
70%+ of the time, this is an encounter with monsters. This roll is made every
turn, even while in combat! Not only do 2-12 new enemies appear, however any
spell-casters you have are granted no resources to do anything about
For a board
game involving risk and reward, this is a fantastic system. There are monsters,
like orcs, that just attack. There are also monsters like Vampires, Shamans, or
Spiders that can cast spells or have attacks that immobilize members of your
party. There is enough randomness in this system to allow the no guarantees of
outcomes. A slight run of bad luck can spell doom for even the most prepared
means, is that even in safe situations, small choices matter. Every turn spent
in combat increases the chances of having enemies dumped on you, some of whom must
be killed immediately. With your warriors pinned to the monsters they are
fighting and your wizards who always have 0 power when new monsters appear, it
constantly creates tense situations.
matters. Will you push ahead to uncover that next tile now, or take a turn and
heal. Where are you positioning your party members? If someone drops, is there
anyone with healing items next to them to revive them?
The plus side
of course, is that even in a terrible situation, there's always a 1 in 6
chance of survival. Even if the attack is super-powerful or you're surrounded
by spiders who are webbing you, there's that 1 in 6 chance your Marauder breaks
free and kills enough of them to prevent them from locking down the party. So
it isn't over until it's actually over.
is over frequently enough.
Of course the
characters have resources to deal with these surprise situations of course. All
resources deplete during the exploration of the dungeon and do not replenish
until the dungeon is exited.
have to deal with the flow of the winds of magic, but each has a personal pool
of power that they can draw from to cast spells. Most often this is used to
target those dangerous enemies during a turn an encounter is drawn. As they
increase in levels, this pool also increases.
limited resource is inventory. Potions, bandages, scrolls, and rations can all
help the players heal. High-level characters may gain regenerate rings or use
powerful magic to heal themselves, but these are of no use if the character is
character is dropped, they spend one turn dying. Unless healed, at the start of
the following turn, the character is dead. On casual and regular modes, this
simply means he/she receives no experience for exploring the dungeon and is
removed from play. In hardcore mode, this means the character and his equipment
are gone forever.
that another character has to be able to reach them (adjacent) and have a
healing item available. Then they must use that item and the use of the item must
be successful. Usually they are.
But for that
1 in 6. . .
always successful at healing, assuming it wasn't your spell-caster that was
dropped, assuming it wasn't an ambush round and they had enough reserve to cast
it, and assuming they don't need to do something more critical with their
power. Skills that heal do not have the
same guarantee of success, and in fact sometimes even do damage.
course, you just load up on cool items, right?
If only it
were so simple.
Quest has an unique inventory system. Instead of a paper doll system, each
character has four common slots, four uncommon slots, and four rare slots as
well as 24 slots split among all characters in the stash (which can only be
accessed out of combat). In addition to items you might use, the stash must
have room to contain "junk" artifacts for sale found during an
adventure, as well as any replacements for healing or replacement items you
wish to carry.
Of course you
are constrained. You can't wear two helmets. If you have an uncommon helmet,
and you put on a legendary helmet, the uncommon one is transferred to your
system is filled with significant choice. You may notice that I'm not wielding
a rare bow, instead opting for an uncommon one with my Marauder. It provides a
strength bonus, increases his melee damage, which since he has 9 melee attacks
(and only 1 ranged) is a good choice. The bow isn't available in a town or from
an item quest, only as a random reward from a "rescue" quest for a
fletcher or blacksmith. I also had to ditch my rare shield, needing the bonuses
to armor, attacks, and chance to hit instead.
and replenishment items you want? They are expensive. It costs progressively
more and more to level your characters (200->500->1,000->2,000->5,000->10,000->15,000).
A common healing item costs 10. An uncommon one costs 100+. A common power
store item for wizards costs 300, a rare one costs 1,000. Money is tight, often
it's a choice between leveling a character or buying new equipment.
You are never
outfitted as well as you wish you would be.
The fun of
Dungeon Bash games, and in fact Old School Dungeons and Dragons (Original and
Basic/Expert) comes from the tension in survival. The dungeon is dangerous, at
any given moment it could violently kill you, but if you're lucky and skillful
you can get away, having put one over on it.
tension (and the importance of the hard-core nature of these games) means that
the choices made during play matter and create for a pulse-pounding situation.
After spending 6 hours and thousands of gold to outfit and level your grey
wizard to 5, having him fall to the ground and be uncertain any of your
teammates can reach him can put your heart in your throat.
You don't want
to lose that time. Your time is important, you only have a limited amount of it
before you die. It's kind of a rush.
Warhammer Quest is such a good game is that it really skillfully consistently
creates this tension. The original game did also, but the digital game sustains
that feeling, speeding up the actual play of the game to focus on the fun
parts, and is overall an excellent experience.
But for the
full game, I don't recommend the hardcore play mode. . .
why tomorrow in part 2 of our Warhammer Quest Analysis