..the floor where my brother and I would play Warhammer Quest (OK not so catchy as the tune goes). In our shared bedroom sat around a recently explored dungeon laid out like a simple jigsaw of tile cards, reference sheets and various types of dice spread about, hero counters hidden in the drawstring pouch my mom made us, monster miniatures stacked and ready to be played, counters in tiny piles (revealing OCD tendencies), rules books with folded pages and pencil marked rules. Along with these game elements we have then the arguing and sniping. Ah yes nothing like gaming with a sibling to ruin a weekend. You’d think that as the game is team based this should mean our goals were shared; to kill as many monsters and loot as much gold as we could without our brave heroes dying. But no, and I can’t even think what the arguments would be about but I assume some sort of aesthetic issue with one or the others painting, or how one of us placed a dice menacingly or too aggressively for the other one or something really silly and pointless that seemed to occur often at the time. The digital version of Warhammer Quest avoids that interaction, it’s single player after all, which is a pity. And so the only argument I’ve had while playing Quest in recent days has been between my monitor and I as certain dice rolls just seemed to be rigged against me. I’ll say it right now, when the dice rolls are bad they do seem fixed and is a cause of much swearing. Much like real dice on a bad day, except this is not your brothers fault simply because he looked at them in a funny way. The jerk.
Being a lazy kid I would pray that one day some awesome people would make a Quest video game, that would: save space in our tiny room, save paint from spilling on our bedroom floor (inevitable when painting miniatures), and replace our imaginations with actual representations of towns, cities, mountains, spell effects and the monsters we couldn’t afford to buy. This digital version gives all of that, and that’s good. An example of this would be when entering a town, every time, a book opens up and the town builds and displays itself. You can then imagine which one is the inn where your heroes get college wasted. Previously I might have done this in my brain or discussed a theoretical town with my brother, but only briefly. This version fleshes that idea out, from the page to the screen and I am thankful that they have added this touch.
As far as imagination goes, establishing your party as a company that the towns locals can rely on, and come to revere is not something the digital version can offer. It’s the story one comes up with among those who you play a game with as a social experience, fleshing out your small band and their stories of daring adventure. I mean, you can do that with the digital version but as it’s single player you might only be doing that for yourself, unable to share in the glory with other people. And that’s why I really wish there was a multiplayer element to this, to bring back some of the board gaming part of this classic game. If Quest was multi-player, it would have a bit more in common with ‘Dungeons&Dragons’ in this respect. As it’s single-player the experience comes down to if one can be bothered imagining all of these extra things about your game or not. At times I can, at times I can’t.
The board game came with these small spider miniatures, a level 1 monster that a party of heroes would soon surpass. Why is that important? Well it is important to me because as I said, when we played we had trouble finding suitable replacements for monsters that we didn’t own. We would use all sorts of objects to stand in as gigantic Dragons or Daemons. This digital version just upgrades these initial starting creeps to bigger versions that progress and scale as your heroes level up. We would have saved many a long angry Sunday had we this years ago, no need to buy bigger models, paint and store them carefully and then claim protective ownership of them like a king in his kingdom. There is no need to fight with your about who bought what, who painted what, and who has the right to place and remove them. Maybe you can’t sympathize, but if my brother used one of his heroes to kill a monster that I had proudly painted only to then elaborate on this monsters death like it just gave up or showed little to no self-respect, instead of feeling happy that he, my brother the jerk, helped our party I would instead get bitchy that he had disrespected my monster. The digital version doesn’t care if its monsters get wrecked in the same turn it placed them, and it doesn’t care how you killed them. I guess being an immature child doesn’t allow one to see past an perceived slight by a sibling, even though he definitely knew what he was doing. The jerk.
The game has a bunch of different heroes to choose, and you can only take 4 with you on each adventure. Some are similar to each other but with slight variations. The Grey wizard character is similar to the Bright wizard for example, just different spells. My absolute favorite from the board game was the Witch Hunter and that character is available in the digital version although he doesn’t seem nearly as powerful. I remember being able interpret the rules in such a way that my Witch hunter could one shot the biggest baddest monster in the entire game, a Bloodthirster. I just had to roll a single 2 on a D6 and that would be it, one dead Bloodthirster (we called this sort of thing “beardy” which meant, some sort of lack of morality and honor where one finds the loophole and exploits it to maximum effect). The digital version won’t allow any of that. On numerous occasions my digital witch hunter could only miss miss miss and do basically nothing turn after turn. Instead becoming a back up healer and damage sponge. My current most powerful hero is the one I think is most annoying because he’s just so basic. He is the Marauder and he just bashes things with a massive great sword, including at times swiping at his fellow party members knocking them down with a single hit. The jerk.
Smashing monsters and everything is fine, it’s the entire point of the game after all. The rewards of each quest is essentially 1 piece of loot that one hero can use. There are a few smaller pieces of loot like bandages or a firebomb, but mostly it’s that one piece tailored to a specific hero. The major point of fighting the monsters is experience and gold collecting. Heroes gain exp’ from killing and healing each other and the more monsters each hero kills often results in being closer to that heroes new battle level. Which is what you use your saved gold on. Costing X gold per level and increase with each level. You can of course buy equipment with your gold, but if you don’t level your heroes, you don’t raise the average party level which means you are stuck fighting those small goblins and spiders for more dungeons than you’d like. Which can get boring and the lack of meaningful loot you can sell becomes a grind of lowbie dungeons to scrape together this gold for much needed battle levels. The board game would reward each surviving hero with 1 piece of boss loot, this game offers your whole party 1, and it’s usually something “OK” or “too good to sell right now”. So the gold hump is exactly that, and it sucks.
And on the other side of this, level up too fast because you’re selling your rewards rather than using them, you find that your party has inadequate equipment and the spread of monster levels becomes endlessly frustrating. If a couple large stone trolls suddenly appears on the turn after you have just revealed a room of vampires and zombies, you can be rest assured that your wizard and any hero with low hit points is going to die, and you’re in for a tough time. In my current game I am failing a dungeon 2-3 times before I complete it, and I have been saving my gear, but because of unlucky dice and poorly timed monster spawns that then stomp my face into the cold stone floor. And it just sucks the fun away.
That said, I have really enjoyed playing Warhammer Quest and I am glad that it is a good version. It is, don’t let anybody tell you different. I’m just being critical because I put this game on a pedestal, way way up there, and nothing is ever perfect. Nostalgia does that. If you enjoyed the board game you will also enjoy this, and if you haven’t ever played or even heard of the board game I am sure you will enjoy this too. Just treat it like a board game, you don’t play it all day every day like a video game. Load it up, play a dungeon, sell your loot, level your hero, and if you have time do another. Just don’t expect Diablo type constant gratification and rewards, and certainly don’t expect it to go easy on you. Ever.
Buy it here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/326670/
Original Boardgame: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1634/warhammer-quest