While I wasn’t even on this earth in the year 1989, those that were will have fond memories of a certain game that was released that year. A collaboration between Milton Bradley and Games Workshop hit the shelves in 1989 and to rapturous praise. This game brought about a cult following that to this day, a following that maintains the game is one of the great classics that everyone should play at least once, to experience the magic and intrigue that so many discovered when opening the box for the first time.
I am of course talking about Heroquest, a first for its genre and a game that allowed children and adults alike to dive into a mythical world and take on the evil forces of Zargon. The game itself was reflective of the hype around Dungeons and Dragons, which had been around for 15 years already. Heroquest required a player to play as Zargon and command the forces of darkness and the other players would form a band of renegades, attempting to flee Zargon’s dungeon.
Like A Phoenix From The Ashes
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and Milton Bradley would have you think as much since they let the trademark lapse back in 1997. Players who loved the game held onto their cherished copies and the second-hand market boomed. Most thought that this was it for Heroquest, until the year 2020, a full 31 years after the original release of Heroquest. Like a phoenix, rising from the ashes, Hasbro teased an announcement that many guessed to be Heroquest. Having bought the trademark, Avalon Hill was handed the torch to rekindle the flames surrounding this legendary game and finally, on the 22nd of September 2020, it was announced that a full, re-printed and re-designed version of Heroquest was to be released to the masses once crowdfunding had been completed. Fast forward to 2022 and finally, people have their hands on this reborn classic.
Welcome Back, Adventurer
So, what makes this Heroquest different to the 1989 edition? The biggest difference to note is the omission of Games Workshop in this release. This has meant that some of the physical features of the game have been reimagined and differ from that of the original. Of course, the core identity is still there but tweaks and changes have had to be made to ensure this new edition didn’t infringe on GW’s trademarks, such as Chaos, being changed to Dread. The other changes are only very slight when it comes to the core mechanics and how the game plays. It still remains true to the original game. One big addition for me is the
release of a companion app! Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, and I think this was a great addition to the game, allowing for solo play, as well as letting all players play as heroes instead of having one player as the “dungeon master”. The voice acting is pretty on point and the app allows first time players to breeze through the first quest with ease.
Onward, Brave Heroes
With the changes out the way, we can dive into the fantasy-ridden core of the game. Players returning to the game will be ever familiar with the roll-and-move system employed in this edition and I am glad they have kept it this way. There was some resistance to this being maintained, however, one thing it does allow for is simplicity. Those that are yet to discover the wider hobby will be right at home with a mechanic such as this and while us seasoned gamers may feel is lacking in innovation, it more than makes up for it in enjoyment!
Yes, roll-and-move is a tired, old system but it works and works well if the game can provide suspense and enjoyable frustration when you fail a skill check or miss out on that one move you needed to take on that towering dread warrior.
Players will also utilise dice to undertake attacks, although in this case, you will be using special “attack” dice rather than a D6. The number you roll is determined by the weapon your hero is holding and anything you attack may defend if there is a defence value specified. Again, this is nice and simple to understand. Nothing innovative but why change something that isn’t necessarily broken?
On A Turn
Players must decide on whether to move first or take one of six actions first, but you cannot switch between them on their turn and must do one first, and then the other. As players move throughout Zargon’s dungeon, the dungeon master will reveal rooms, trigger traps and spawn enemies according to the quest book included in the game. Players can counter these monsters with weapons and spells and while each hero starts with a weapon, more can be found when searching in rooms. The spells offer healing and also deal damage
to enemies and can be used once per quest, meaning you have to be strategic when utilising them. All of these elements merge together well to create a pleasant gaming experience. Once you understand the core mechanics, you will be breezing through the dungeon with ease.
In terms of component quality, generally, it’s good. The team behind this new Heroquest have put a lot of work into recreating the nostalgic 80s feel, while giving it a good old upgrade. My first complaint, however, is the material that was used to sculpt the miniatures. The plastic appears to be a little more flexible than the usual material we are used to seeing on big CMON productions, and I am not sure if this was a cost-saving measure or a conscious decision on the part of Hasbro as they saw it as the best option. What you have as a result are some minis whose bases needed dunking in hot water and flexing back into
shape to ensure they don’t tip over and sit well on the board. It only happened to a couple of minis and pieces of terrain, but it was enough to be notable.
If I was to don my detective cap, I think it may be as a result of my other complaint, the inserts! All the plastic minis and scenery come in black, vacuum-formed inserts that are more than fit for purpose but are perhaps a little too eager to clutch onto the contents. The fit is very, very tight and I think as they have been formed around the minis, this has caused the bases of the minis to warp, resulting in the end product that I saw. Of course, while not ideal, it certainly isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but it is certainly something to be aware of.
All other non-plastic components are of generally good quality and more than acceptable for a game within this price bracket. The punch board was the only slight drawback for me, being a lot thinner than most, but this doesn’t affect gameplay in any way whatsoever!
Overall, Hasbro and Avalon Hill have done a fantastic job in rebooting this 80s classic and allowing gamers to basque in that nostalgia! The unboxing experience has you giddy like an excited kid at Christmas, opening up a whole trove of adventure. I am glad they have maintained the core premise of the game and have tried to veer away from toying around with the rules and mechanics. Those that remember the original will be more than happy with a copy of this new release, as it livens up and awakens this old classic in such a way that will have them beaming from ear to ear!
Each little detail has been wonderfully reimagined and recreated and the end result is a humongous box, filled with adventure and intrigue that will delight all ages. Yes, one could argue this doesn’t make any bold advancements in the hobby and is simply recycling an old, tired classic, but that isn’t what this edition of Heroquest is at all. It pays wonderful homage to the original while allowing the younger generation to access a world enjoyed by many over 30 years ago.
Children and adults alike can command their heroes or evolve into their own iterations of Zargon, commanding his dark forces and challenging the heroes in his dungeons of dread. This game is what you make it and by jove does it offer a fantastic platform for some awesome adventuring! Now, what are you waiting for?! Zargon’s forces are approaching and you need to escape this dungeon. Ready your weapons and prepare for one almighty quest!