Over the weekend, Obadiah came up from Berkeley to visit me in my new home in Oregon. Sunday night, he and I decided to finish assembling my box set of Warhammer Quest and give it a shot…
It’s the late 90’s, Warhammer 40k is still in it’s 2nd edition, Bill Clinton is president, and I’m a total dork in high school. In addition playing our typical games of 40k on the floor of a friends house, we’re intermixing occasional games of Necromunda, Gorkamorka, and the now legendary, Warhammer Quest. We would come up with campaigns for each other, sending our loved heroes deeper and deeper into Skaven mines, Undead crypts, and Daemonic lairs. Our heroes spun epic tales of slaughter and bloodshed, only to often be left dead on the floor by a snotlings spear. The game was ruthless, as were all older GW campaign based games, where models that you painstakingly painted and converted would end up slain in an often unheroic manner. We would pool our collections of models to have enough denizens, and if not playing one of our custom campaigns, we would just play the randomly generated dungeon, which was invariably an exercise in futility as our heroes would be overwhelmed by hordes of orcs, coming wave after wave, due to rolling a series of 1’s to determine the winds of magic… it was glorious.
After decades of playing the original, my nearly pristine copy met an untimely end a couple years ago due to an upstairs neighbor leaving the tub on, flooding the game closet and destroying my beloved game… a fate not too unlike the pitiful demise many of my heroes had suffered before.
I’ve been okay, not playing WHQ for the past two years, instead filling my time with other parts of the hobby. I had all but given up, until Games Workshop brought it back to me. I am typically skeptical of rebooted game, especially those which have undergone drastic rules changes, but I couldn’t resist the siren call of the Gaunt Summoner.
Enter the Dungeon
There have been plenty of box openings and reviews of the miniatures, so I wont bore you here with those details. We all know that they’re amazing feats of plastic sculpting, which will take me aeons to get up to my own standards. The tiles are lovely, full of detail and laid out in far more interesting patterns than those of it’s predecessor. After getting the last few models assembled, Obi and I picked our heroes, him with the elves, the Mistweaver Saith and the Tenebrael Shard, I on the other hand thought healing would be helpful and took the Warrior Priest and the Darkoath Chieftan.
The rulebook was laid out in such a way to easily guide you through the first trial, Hysh, the wind of light. Our first chamber contained a small number of Kairic Acolytes, which were easily dispatched as we learned the game mechanics. We found the mechanics easy to pick up, and in some spots so simple that we thought we surely must have been missing something… that didn’t stop us though from trudging deeper and deeper into the tower.
There are several times where you are referred to a passage in the Adventure book, all of which we found quite amusing, as a ghostly image of the Gaunt Summoner appeared summoning new adversaries, or as we stumbled upon The Librarian, a frantic super charged Pink Horror who, when slain, turned into two blue horrors that were too busy bickering to bother fighting. Much like the original Warhammer Quest, there is always a chance of something going horribly wrong, with monsters suddenly appearing when you are not quite ready. A Respite occurs when you have no monsters to attack, and instead your heroes recover wounds or spend time looking for some magical artifacts in the tower, this is also when there is a chance of enemies appearing. Should you be forced to respite for 2 turns in a row, an unexpected event like this will automatically happen instead.
One interesting thing about the game is that it clearly has a bit of a difficulty setting. The encounters you have in the first dungeon are not terribly hard and probably serve best to learn the rules, while later encounters summon more powerful monsters and in higher numbers. Additionally, unlike the original game, just because a Hero has been taken out, doesn’t mean he’s been killed, instead they are grievously wounded and will recover the next time you perform a Respite.
After battling through the different chambers of this dungeon, we were faced with a room full of more Kairic Acolytes and a Pink Horror, a short battle ensued and we solved the puzzle to complete the scenario.
Post Dungeon Crawl
The first dungeon was rather small, only encompassing 7 chambers, and took about 2 hours to play. We both had a good time and in the end, it felt very fulfilling, much like the original. It does lack a few things that I enjoyed about the original, namely the town-phase, where your heroes have random encounters in their local village while preparing for the next Dunegon. Additionally, it lacks a truly randomly-generated dungeon option, which I think/hope could be solved by a few enterprising fans.
After playing I went and took a look at the additional heroes available. I have the core set, plus the extra 4 from the Warhammer Quest Mighty Heroes, as well as Gutrot Spume, who will serve as a Lord of Plagues. After reading all the extra options, I’ve decided against blindly purchasing them all, as I had figured I might do on an impulse. The vast majority are restricted to melee-only attacks, making it very difficult to get them all into range of their attacks, which also seems like it would get kind of dull. I will however, without any hesitation, pick up the Weirdnob Shaman, because who could say no to this face…
If you were a fan of the original, I would definitely suggest picking up a copy of Silver Tower. It’s not the same game, and has very different rules, but it does give you that fix that only Warhammer Quest could before.