OK. Last year I dipped in and bought silver tower, whilst we enjoyed it for a short while. It didn't really have the last ability at our table. If anyone frequents this blog you will see how I started posting up painted figs. but held off reviewing the game because i didn't want to be one of those "i played it once so i will review it” type of players. But the boat has kind of passed on me running a review on silver tower now. So I've decided to do a blog post that i will update and then finally post it when i am happy. So it’s kind of like a journal so to speak.
EDIT - this post has now been broken down into chapters which will be posted up following the journey. call it a journal review if you like
I'll try not to spoil anything or state too much of the obvious. But because there is very little source wise. I'm going to try and give everything, without giving anything away so to speak.
Sunday 2nd July 2017
So after a few very hard weeks of work i decided a little retail therapy was in order. A treat for myself! Shadows over Hammerhal was not on the agenda at this point. A nice summer’s day out shopping with the family. Where i actually treat myself for once lol. However after shopping we passed my local GW and i just decided there and then to take the plunge.
I walked in grabbed it off the shelf. Paid and away i went. A little bit of guilt soaked in because i was buying a game that has been out now for 2/3 months and still there is very little to be found about it on the internet. I had even posted a thread over at BGG asking people to state the differences purely so i could try and learn a little info before spending anything. Most of the responses i got were very indifferent. Some giving valid points and some feeling very one sided, but none really telling i should go and buy 'BECAUSE' this forced me to hold off even longer.
Seeing the lack of support for silver tower over the last year also had put me off. Yes they released lots of cards for heroes.......really? Isn’t most of the fun making your own? Maybe that is just me and the other 90% of dungeon crawling fans
But no new quests. Very little to add to the game. And maybe it was a little too thematic to ever feel extendable i dunno. But i have very little faith Hammerhal will get additional support either. It seems they are pumping a lot into Bloodbowl at the moment and the new edition of 40k. But regardless i didn’t get the dungeon crawler i had hoped for in silver tower and Hammerhal looked a little more generic. So maybe there is hope?
Anyways... What DID i know about this new Warhammer Quest before i decided to splash my hard earned cash on it?
- It doesn't have coop play. It has a GM!
Whilst we enjoyed the coop play in silver tower purely because it allowed us all to play together on the same side for once. It also brought a lack of direction. The AI for the adversaries was awful. And even with the behaviour charts to vary the actions of the adversaries it still felt very black and white. "Move and attack, move and attack with range, attack" OK let’s say black white and orange. But regardless. There is only so much AI can do. So with this in mind maybe having someone control the bad guys isn't such a bad thing? Potentially it could also help drive the story line better? I guess we will see...
- But the rest is like silver tower?
Sort of. Uses same mechanics i believe? But the result of having a GM means that the dungeon is no longer laid out in random by turning cards over to discover what comes next. I liked that. So will be sad to see it gone. Not sure why they couldn't have done both?? I mean really a few cards so that people could generate random dungeons to just play whenever they liked? Like the original WHQ!!
- No new models this time but still a decent selection.
I think the WOW factor of silver tower was not only a return for WHQ but it had brand new sparkly miniatures. And love or hate the Age of Sigmar setting but there were some absolute crackers in that box. Now there still is some great models here. But not brand new ones. It seems GW are recycling a lot of stock at the moment. Repackaging to sell in varied batches. And whilst this offers great value. It would of been nice to see a couple of new sculpts in Hammerhal. But again this didn't put me off as i kind of wanted some blight kings anyways.
- It's not in a magical tower!
One of my gripes with silver tower was that the theme was so strong that it had very little leg room for custom created content. A year later and still not a single new quest in white dwarf or a single user created story line kind of reinforce that for me. I know nothing of the AOS world. But i loved the old world. And something here very much twanged the nostalgia strings. Hammerhal is within the mortal realms. What does that mean? I don't have a clue! But straight away I'm thinking 'mortals'? Like...normal people? Like proper dungeon crawlers? OK well whilst this still isn't grass roots dungeoneering it does hearken back very much to the original Heroquest where a band of adventurers are brought together for a cause.
It’s actually set in a district of Hammerhal called Cinderfell. Of which to me screams that all these varied districts could have quests for themselves (99% of which i can’t even pronounce!)
SERIOUSLY....that is all i knew going into buying this game.
So i go home crack open the box (don't you just love that smell when you open a brand new boxed game? takes me right back to when i first got Heroquest. There's something nostalgic about that smell. Or maybe that's just me?)
Anyway. I won't go on about UN boxing as there are loads of online UN boxing videos. But none of them really tell you much about the game other than what I've stated above.
- Loads of sprues
- A divider so nothing gets damaged by the sprues (nice inclusion as i was one of the suckers that ended up with damaged cards when i purchased silver tower)
- cards (some character cards treasure cards, skills cards, artefact cards, achievement cards, red yugol cards a compass card and a torch bearer card.
- Double sided dungeon tiles
The rules book is thick for a game like this. Then you soon realise that half of it is a mini novel to set up the story for the game...cool idea. But not sure I want to read all of that just yet. This also contains the rules of course and a basic painting guide that also includes some fluff to build up the in game characters (read the fluff before playing and this will get you more in tune to your heroes)
Games master book that contains all of the secrets for the game (I'm fighting not to look!!)
And an assembly book for the miniatures. Which seems like a great place to start?
Tuesday 4th July 2017
So it’s taken me since Sunday to assemble the miniatures!!
OK not 3 whole days. But most of Sunday. And Monday and Tuesday after work. I'm fairly certain it only took a day to do all of silver tower. So maybe it was the additional choice options here to these recycled multipart kits that caused me to ponder over what choices to make
I was never much of an Airfix model person as a kid. In fact i wasn't one at all! And whilst I like having the variation and choice that comes with these multipart kits. They do feel like an Airfix model kit. Can’t they make solid models anymore with a few changeable bits? Maybe people will disagree with me here. Choice is great. And the designs are fantastic so maybe I'm just whinging for the sake of it.
But after putting them together I really like what i see.
The Blightkings are fantastic models
The kairic acolytes are an improvement over the ones in the silver tower box
The heroes look great
As do the bloodreavers
The evil wizard dude though...meh
The instructions are about 98% correct, with a few misleading examples that i pondered over. To get the most out of the variants its worth actually looking in the back of the games master book at this point to see what variations can be played. I'm sure people would be pretty pissed if they glued all of the figures together and then soon realised that they'd cut a mechanic out of the game purely because the info needed is in a book that is branded with a "for games masters eyes only"
The silver tower booklet had quite a few errors in it if i remember right. But here they have managed to sense test it a little better. But i feel they should have listed the "recommended build" variations within this booklet first.
Tuesday 11th July 2017
so I've read the rules started reading the story that comes in the first half of the rather impressive rule book, sadly i got bored of the story purely because i just wanted to play. I guess if you want to read a mini novel to start playing, it most likely adds plenty of fluff. For me i read the first 2 pages
"Gold dude and dwarf start investigating some strange goings on that lead to something beneath the city of Hammerhal" So with me being lazy. I'm assuming they meet up with the fleet master in a bar (he's a pirate after all) and the loremaster later on and they end up going underground to see what the eff is going on?
Anyways for now. That’s the story until i can be bothered to read anymore.
it would of been nice to of had a few paragraphs at the beginning of the quest that summarises this story line so that players can be quickly introduced instead of saying "go off for an hour and read this!"
What stands out in the rules?
- That horrible respite ruling is gone from silver tower
- There is a book you absolutely shouldn't read unless you plan on being GM
- You can search! YAY!
- Portals still exist? Couldn’t they just call them doors? This isn't in a magical tower anymore
- Rune bearer becomes torch bearer
- destiny phase is a little varied as there are no little critters to crop up on doubles anymore but still looks pretty sound
- Ambushes added. Every time you reach the GM phase and no beasties are on the board the GM gets to roll to see if an ambush occurs
- stair wells that go up and down, you can either proceed further into the dungeon or go back up to spend your hard fought gold in the district of Cinderfell.
Pretty much everything else was as per silver tower from first glances anyways.
Right now we are aching to get moving, there are a few things i would like to point out first before i embark on our first venture under Hammerhal
- The game isn't really filled with 8 quests. It is 1 big long seamless quest that gives you "save spots" so to speak (stairwell down or going back up to Cinderfell)
- You have to play with 4 heroes. Any additional heroes required are brought along as companions.
- We soon realised there isn't enough dice!!! WTF! In silver tower you have those nicely coloured dice to represent the destiny dice and 1 of each colour for the heroes...not here. You get some black dice. That doesn't cover 4x4 for heroes and the destiny dice. So we cracked out the dice from silver tower so we all had something unique. I don't know why they moved away from this and it worked nicely in tune with the renowned mechanic.
- Renown becomes harder to track!!! WTF again. Because of the no colour dice it’s much harder to remember whose marker is whose. So I made this. Or you could just additionally use the markers from silver tower.
I think both of these last choices were poor ones. If it isn't broke don't try to fix it. And the whole destiny/renown thing with silver tower was one of the high points of the game. So i have no idea why they changed it here
- Adversary stats are still in a book.....these needs to be on cards! C’mon GW!!!
Anyways that aside. We are itching to get going. Another quick scan over the rules led us to take the first steps alongside the rule book to get us familiarised with the play.
My wife took charge of being GM and buried her head into the GM book (which I somehow still managed to avoid looking at...painfully holding back from having a flick through there)
I decided to take the Lord Castellant and the rules
My eldest daughter took hold of the Cogsmith and Fleetmaster
And my youngest daughter took the Loremaster (i had to lie and say it was a girl so she would play)
So away we went, first setting up the stairwell to which the GM reads out the opening paragraph to get the quest going.
I go first and right away how to play the game comes flooding back via silver tower.
Open portal. Into a new chamber. And so on.
Having search here adds a bit more flavour. It’s already starting to have a HeroQuest vibe about it.
From the basic actions to the GM book. It feels like they are trying to recapture a much loved classic.
At this point i really don't want to give a great deal away. But we quickly found that searching is a must do. To the point where I have no idea why you wouldn't search a chamber once you've cleared out the bad guys. It would be stupid not to! But we searched a few rooms whilst i constantly flicked through for rules clarification. Taking our turns and getting used to the heroes attacks and specialities. We cleared a couple of rooms out and found a stairwell. Where we decided to wrap up for now. And we enjoyed it too. Didn’t take too long for us to reach this point. Which concerns me as this was less than an hour. And there are only 8 dungeon level...90 quid for 8 hours of play? Surely not? But we already know we took the first stairs down and there were still doors we hadn't opened. So we will go back later on to explore further.
The inclusion of the GM adds a much better dynamic from initial appearances. Making the adversary phase a much more fluid action as well as helping tell the tale.
I'm still baffled by the search thing. It’s just like a must do action. And am struggling to see why it was even an action in the first place. Maybe it’s supposed to be a way of killing time to allow the GM to spring an ambush? I dunno but it hasn't happened yet. So feels like a waste of time. In a game like HQ it works because you are searching for different things. Here it is just search and you find something. I think if a wandering monster sort of trigger was in place here it would feel like the whole search mechanic had more risk. But so far we haven't needed many rolls to successfully search. I thought also comparing search to HQ was maybe an unfair comparison due to the board layout lending a lot more suspense to the search, but AHQ had search with a much more similar table set up to this game. And even that worked better.
- We enjoyed it immensely but as this was our "learn what we are doing stage" it was much more stop start, but can see us flying soon enough.
- there's still parts of this level we didn't explore and can go back later on (maybe we might find something cool?)
- Search is weird. But springs up some nice little things
- Destiny dice and unexpected events is nice and simple
- Exploration feels really fresh and that the choices you make may or may not have a varying impact.
- We were all a little disappointed about the renowned tracking and dice issue. I was more annoyed because i had to go out of my way to fix it.
- And you need to track on a sheet of paper anyways once you've wrapped up...no phone app here guys and gals)
So for now we wrap up until the next session.
I'm hoping to provide as much info as possible on this one as i really do feel that because of the secrets within the GM book having the potential to give away the story...but I'm not the GM this time, and I'm not going to look at that book, and I will do my best to pick up on all the things that i like and dislike about this game to give a pretty conclusive final review.