Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Dungeon Game Review - Warhammer Quest
It's possible that this review is motivated by more than a simple desire to educate and entertain. In fact, it's completely likely that a third purpose of this review is to brag loudly that I own a copy of Warhammer Quest in absolutely fantastic shape. Heck, I had to take the plastic off the cards and cut the figures off the sprues before I could play. I mean this puppy is cherry. While I'm bragging, I have a very large penis (that may or may not be true, or even relevant. I just felt like adding in an extra brag).
Of course, that brag (that I have Warhammer Quest, not the dick joke) is completely lost on you if you're not familiar with Warhammer Quest, so allow me to drop some enlightment on you in the form of a completely unobjective game review.
Way back in the olden days (you know, 1995), Games Workshop used to make some really cool board games that riffed off their Warhammer minis games. Over time, the miniatures got all popular with unattractive guys who spend too much time in the back room at the game store and not enough time with girls. The board games, on the other hand, did not make quite as much money (probably because they did not require a new codex every two years that made everyone go out and spend another mortgage payment on plastic soldiers). So despite having some really hot properties on their hands, Games Workshop stopped printing them. More than a decade later, those games are pound-for-pound more valuable than a bar of gold (that is almost certainly not true, but since I don't know how much you can get for a gold bar, I could actually be right).
There are a few reasons why Warhammer Quest fetches such a high price on eBay these days. For one thing, it's sort of rare. Not ridiculously so - they're not like original copies of the Gettysburg address, or a signed DiMaggio rookie card - but they're not easy to find at anything like a reasonable price. If you do find a copy, it's probably in a beat-up box and missing half the pieces, so finding a copy that was just this side of brand new was not just lucky, it was AWESOME. Almost as awesome as my great job playing online video games and reading webcomics for six figures a year (I might have that job - but a reasonable person would ask himself why, if I make that much money, do I have to write a review site for free games).
The enormous number of awesome pieces is another reason Warhammer Quest costs more than a new television (if the television is very small). The figures in this box are absolutely, without contest, the best you'll find in a dungeon game. It goes without saying that they're better than anything else made at the time, but they're actually nicer even than what you'll find in Descent. And that's saying something, because those Descent minis are pretty damned cool.
It's not just the miniatures, either (though there are nearly 100 minis in the box). The dungeon tiles are fully illustrated and completely gorgeous. The tiles connect to each other using plastic clips in the form of fully sculpted doors. There are bunches of cards, and optional tiles, and little cardboard counters. By way of bragging further, I punched most of the counters on the set that I got a couple weeks ago. Also, I drive a Maserati (this is definitely not true, but it would make a pretty cool brag).
The game itself is hailed by many as the greatest dungeon game ever. The rules are fairly easy to learn and follow (unlike the current reigning dungeon game champion, which has to have online FAQs and fan-created indexes just so you can remember what happens when you get spider web on you). One enormously awesome feature is that you don't need a dungeon master - all four players can join in on the same side, so you don't wind up with one guy who has to be the bad guy all the time because he's the poor bastard who had to read all the rules.
As players explore, dungeon cards tell them which room to place next. There are junctions and dungeon rooms and corridors and horribly dangerous objective rooms where everyone pitches in to try to overcome huge bad-ass villains who could totally eat your head (and frequently do). You draw event cards when you explore a new room, and most of these event cards tell you all about the hordes of monsters that swarm into action and carve on your heroes like overzealous prison tattoo artists. In case you're wondering, I have prison tattoos so cool they'll make your great-great-grandparents cry in their graves (no, that's not true either, but it would be pretty cool, right?).
Now, a lot of dungeon games provide a good amount of replay value. HeroQuest can be played like 20 times before you even need to start making your own adventures, and Descent has the Road to Legend expansion that would require a team of four guys about two solid weeks of Mountain Dew and caffeine pills to finish a whole game. But Warhammer Quest - now THIS is a replayable game.
For one thing, you don't need to run out and buy big fat expansions (though there are a few of those out there). You can play out the part of the game where the heroes return to the town - or not, if you don't feel like it. You can add new monsters simply by buying a few miniatures and adding them to the mix - or not, if you're not in the mood. You can gain skills, and keep cool treasures, and get tougher so you can fight meaner dudes. You can start with the main game and play for years without ever worrying about buying more stuff. But let's face it, if you spent $250 to get this game off some eBay scalper, you can probably afford to pick up a few skeletons or beastmen.
There's even rules for turning your Warhammer Quest game into a full-on RPG, complete with a game master, and then you really never need to leave your mom's basement (except maybe to go to rennaissance festivals). You can run your heroes through dark, dank dungeons, while one guy tells you all about the scary kobold wearing a headdress made of human ears, and then says, 'Gimme a roll!'
Yes, I am exceptionally proud of my copy of Warhammer Quest. It's ridiculously fun, with years of playing goodness and a huge online library of fan-created support material. The components are absolutely top-notch. And as an added bonus, I'm dating Heidi Klum AND Tyra Banks.
Figure out for yourself if that last brag was true.
Enormous piles of great miniatures, beautiful dungeon tiles, and lot of other cool stuff
Simple to learn and challenging to win
You can even play it solo!
Can be a little arbitrarily 'holy crap that's hard!' if the dice hate you
Sweet Jeebus it's expensive
If you think I can link you to some retailer selling Warhammer Quest, you're delusional. Look for it on eBay, or be like me and just be this damned lucky.