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The Rogue Heir of Elethorn Review

heroquest rogue heir

Rogues. Thieves. Assassins. Lone wolves who like to focus on getting things done and getting them done with minimal issue. They slink silently amongst the shadows and fog, mere silhouettes stealthily slithering around the soft edges of the flickering torchlight. Unseen, they take advantage of everything they can; the so-called “protected” wares, the seemingly “hidden” stash of gold and gemstones, and the innocent, unturned back of a potential witness...

Well, that’s the fantasy anyway, and sadly RPGs of Heroquest’s era held this fantasy by the neck a little too tightly, perhaps worried that a skilful character would be too powerful in the hands of a skilful player. Rogues were mere cannon fodder back in the days of old school dungeon romps, representations of peasantry who simply got lucky with their lockpicks, their daggers and their exclusive ability of... hearing things? Whilst useful in the hands of a lucky roller, they were fragile, and were hard to keep alive for long.

So, it certainly is a relief to see that HeroQuest didn’t stick to the old school tropes. The sneaky protagonists that have made their way into the game via The Rogue Heir of Elethorn are versatile and powerful folk - and more importantly; they’re a lot of fun to play. This small, wonderfully priced little expansion brings you two rogues, one male and one female, both being identical in their mechanisms – and more variety is always good for an ever-customisable game such as HeroQuest.

What’s in the Box?

First thing you’ll notice when you crack open the beautifully designed box for this expansion is a note, pseudo-waxed and ingeniously sealed with the illusory power of folding paper. Opening this little note will provide you with a handwritten note from the Cadre of the Raven’s Veil, addressed to those born of royal blood. I won’t spoil what is contained within the letter here just in case people are interested in the lore, but it’s a lovely little introductory read that leads you straight into the contents beneath; a small deck of cards and two lovely little miniatures for miniature fans to ogle over.

The quality of the minis is pretty consistent with the base game's miniatures, so if you like the look of those; you’ll like the look of these. They’re nothing over the top fancy or hyper detailed, but they fit perfectly amongst the other pieces on the board and have a good amount of charm to them. One of the miniatures depicts a female rogue, whilst the other depicts a male rogue; both of which are clad in gendered variants of their roguish gear, each with two daggers in hand.

The cards in the box consist of the new mechanisms for the class. The Rogues each have their own Rogue card, with their starting dice, weapon and stats printed in the same vein as the other classes. Each Rogue comes with their own dagger alongside some interesting tools and abilities. Ambidextrous allows for a rogue to make multiple attacks when they utilise their light weaponry to their fullest – by dual wielding, Combat Mobility allows for sneaky movement techniques to slip through currently inhabited spaces, Opportunistic Striker allows a Rogue to make a stronger attack when a foe is busy dealing with another ally in combat, and the Bandolier allows a Rogue to always have a backup supply of Daggers to throw across the battlefield. Powerful stuff.

Are You Sure It’s Not a Trap?

Well, there is a little issue with this expansion. The Rogue gets to use all of their abilities freely, with no limit; giving them both power and adaptability without limited resources. It’s all balanced out via the limitations; you can’t wear heavy armour; you can’t wield massive weaponry... You may be thinking that I’m going to complain about balance or character longevity; but the twist is that everything I’ve described to you in this paragraph is nowhere to be seen in within the box. The box does not contain anything at all that actually explains how the Rogue works. The class cards don’t even say that Rogues start with all of their ability cards. Do they? People online say they do, and that’s as concrete as it gets.

Yes, a lot of the text on the cards makes it easy to assume their uses, such as the lack of gold cost on the skill cards meaning they must be unobtainable, and the lack of explained skill-expanding mechanisms surely means that you start with them all, right? Yeah, I think so. It’s an odd decision to not even have a little paper slip that explains the mechanisms included in the box, perhaps it was to keep with the aesthetic? Perhaps it’s to keep with the standard, hackable “HeroQuest is what you make of it” sentiment? I’m not sure, but I do believe the lack of explanation may confuse newer gamers who are attracted to the simplistic pull of HeroQuest itself. It’s not a major negative, as there isn’t much here to explain, but things could have definitely been made more beginner friendly here, and the opportunity was missed.