Tuesday, November 10, 2020

How it was to paint HeroQuest

When I played HeroQuest again, after 25 or 30 years or so, what I had on the table was a second hand, very good set. All pieces were there, including candlesticks (I broke one while unpacking) and a perfect gargoyle (my sister tried to understand if the head was removable... it was, not just in the way she removed it...).

Anyway, accidents aside, the set was in perfect conditions, and unpainted. We played and it was like when we were kids. The monsters were green, sometimes white, the heroes red and in retrospective, they should be since they enter the lairs of the monsters and kill them one by one, so I guess it makes sense for the heroes miniatures to be blood red.

The furnitures made my players go wow almost as much as the miniatures. I'm saying it was almost like when we were kids because I was lucky enough to play with my daugther, my girlfriend, and my little sister and her husband - and none of them has ever played HeroQuest nor anything remotely similar. There were no discussions about the mechanics or their "simplicity if compared to ..." actually, in the first one or two quests they complained about "too many rules!" :-) 

So the sense of wonder and discovery was all there, and then I started painting!

It's something I failed to do as a teenager (I didn't even try); the few miniature games I had (or friends' games I played at their house) were all bare plastic. Even when my friends moved to Warhammer Fantasy Battles, for a long time they played gray (bare plastic, bare metal). In the end I moved to other games, and in general to other stuff in life.

Sometimes some of my old friends would show me a miniature they've painted (they were really good at it). I tried once to take a brush, painted a Bretonnian horse with a friend, gave up.

Well, not this time (I think it's called midlife crisis!).

And if you're like me, know that with under 100 coins worth of paints and brushes and primer, you can paint HeroQuest too! You just need to go slowly, and be patient. What you can see below, is the result of just a few months of work.

I assure you, it's not going to be perfect, but it's GREAT if compared to bare plastic!

So from the left, we have: skinks, fimirs, orcs, goblins, undead, chaos warriors and chaos sorcerer, and a mix of adventurers heroes.

They all have a little story to tell, and I'll be boring and tell you all about them!

- The skinks are actually the most recent addition to the set, made last week to extend the monsters range (and I'll add more in the future!)
- In the back row, the fimirs, the first models I painted! (I didn't know dry-brushing, and the metal was really messy and difficult)
- The orcs, with Ulag in brown and black (my first time taking the liberty of doing something "different" than what I saw on the reference images on the web)
- Front row, the goblins (they were the first were I tried to paint eyes, and they look a bit like The Kiss... then I went back to fimirs and orcs and did a slightly cleaner job)

- All the undead which were crazy easy between contrast paint and dry-brushing

- The chaos warriors and chaos sorcerer (I cursed all of the gods of chaos while trying to do the simple thin white lines on the chaos warriors

- And finally a group of heroes, from the back row: there is a female wizard (for my daugher), a female barbarian, a variant dwarf (I wanted to test Reaper miniatures), a resin elf reproduction (better than what I expected, with a recycled shield), a female elf for my sister, a red bearded dwarf (Chronopia model I found for sale) for my girlfriend, and then the (slightly larger than expected) resin sculptures of the barbarian (for my sister's husband - for now first and last attempt at NMM on the sword, because BROAAAADSWORD), the wizard (my daugher is considering switching to this model) and dwarf in the front

I didn't paint yet the original Gargoyle and original heroes... I am still afraid I will make a mess, and while original monsters are cheap to replace, Gargoyle and heroes are not...
Still, I expect before the end of the year to have the full - meaning, really, complete - set painted.
I will stick to a simple color scheme, be patient, and I will do the original heroes and Gargoyle as well.

Even if you never painted before in your life, if you have a HeroQuest set, give it a try. If you're afraid, buy a few spare miniatures and try with those. Be patient. Watch some videos (not too many). Make sure the videos are for beginners. Watch some more. Then paint. Paint. You might find it easier than you expected.

And I can tell you: when we played an adventure with ALL the miniatures on the board being painted, it was just GREAT.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

FEAR the DARK - HeroQuest fanzine issue number 2

 As a follow up on issue number one, here is number two with four new quests. These are all about the undead (as you can guess from the cover).

It also introduces the usage of double doors (two doors placed side by side, that open together... making the "barbarian stands on the door and kills monsters one by one" strategy a little less useful).


I am working on the adventures for issue three, and thinking about some changes starting from issue four... we'll see.

Issue 1 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/329570/FEAR-the-DARK--HeroQuest-fanzine--issue-1 if you missed it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Killing Ulag

So, last Sunday we played a little more... We were all worried for a possible new lockdown and in general for the whole Covid situation, so it was not a "regular" game. We all wore masks and I guess nobody was really focused on the game.

The best part for everyone was probably buying equipment at the start of the game. It was the first time they had enough gold coins to spend; the barbarian got an helm, the elf a shield, the wizard a staff. The dwarf had just 50 coins so had nothing to buy.

During the game the excitement for the new items they bought (giving a little defense boost to the barbarian and the elf, and a diagonal attack for the wizard) was fading quite quickly. I wonder if a slow progression of attack and defense dice will be enough to maintain a certain affection for the characters. The HQ rules are marvelously simple, but this means also that the characters are a little "flat".

Anyway, the game was quite easy; they learned their lesson and kept together without splitting the party, and relatively easily killed the monsters until they reached Ulag and the Chaos warrior in the final room. This is a simple quest, and was made easier by the fact that we're playing the Italian version which is one of those EU versions with monsters with 1 Body point only.

I gave the Chaos warrior and Ulag the American Body points (3 and 3 if I recall correctly) and this made the fight last a little longer, but a Ball of Flame by the wizard was putting an easy end to it.

I am not sure if it was the "right" call: we played with a certain set of rules and then I switched to more Body points for the final boss (which makes sense, yes, but it is still "cheating"). Yes, it was cheating for the purpose of adding a little tension and make the final combat last a little longer, and I didn't really have the chance to kill any of the heroes... but it still leaves me a bit uncomfortable. I tend to try to force myself to follow rules and obey the dice results - even when I don't like the outcome that much. The point is to make the best with what luck is serving on our plate... and the EU version of HQ is putting on my plate (and the one of my players) very simple quests...

What do you think?

Also, I want to think a little more about the equipment cards and possibly some "skills" cards... I don't want to make the game too complex or have players constantly looking at cards for special skills etc. but I also fear that a slow grind of one more attack die or one more defence die will be not enough to really get them attached to the characters.

Last thing: I received the resin remakes of the HQ heroes. They are really, really nice. I am still pondering if to paint or not the original miniatures (given their "value"), but in the meanwhile, I started with the remakes.

What do you think of the barbarian? (picture with and without flash)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

FEAR the DARK - HeroQuest fanzine

While the rest of the world talks about the new re-print (I'll call it re-print, with a new look, but just a re-print), here is my first little experiment after bringing back the game at the table after 30 years or so...

It's a short series of three adventures, and it is made to be played from zero, with new heroes. So it should fit any new group (new players, or veterans willing to start a new campaign without re-playing the original questbook).

It also introduces monsters little by little, and there is a nasty twist with the undead. I hope you'll like it...

I already have a draft for the next adventures, so the goal is to have a full campaign in a total of 3 issues of this fanzine... well, we'll see how it goes. Have fun!


Monday, September 21, 2020

A second HeroQuest session with the family

A few weeks ago I managed to get my daughter, my partner, my sister and her husband at the table to play HeroQuest - and last week we've met again for a second round. This time we played The Trial; as many others I used The Rescue of Sir Ragnar as the first introductory adventure.

I warned my players that The Trial is a harder adventure, and that they should try to remember the lessons that they've learned the last time. But as always, they wanted to explore and find treasures fast, which of course led to some troubles.

My sister (the elf) and her husband (the barbarian) ventured in the rooms at the bottom of the map, and the barbarian really managed to escalate things quickly. He went ahead opening doors even before getting rid of all the enemies left behind (counting on the elf to take care of orcs and goblins while he dealt with the fimir and chaos warriors). Unfortunately for them, they brought their 6 years old kid with them, and he was tasked with rolling dice for monsters. I don't recall how many times he rolled monsters' attacks that were all-skulls or nearly all-skulls, but definitely more than what statistics should allow him too :-) 

(he was playing with the Gargoyle all the evening, waiting for the heroes to go to the central room and suggesting several times to his parents that they should look for the entrance to that room... he was saying to them several times that the big monster was going to kill them all) 

While the barbarian and the elf were facing death like from the very start of the game, my daughter (the wizard) and my partner (the dwarf) moved towards the top half of the map, where the undead are. Skeletons, zombies and mummies were just recently painted and I was glad to bring them to the table. The dwarf and the wizard really took the game into hardcore treasure searching; they looked for gold in every room, while often the barbarian just went after more blood, and the elf tried to keep up and not be killed by the enemies left behind. The best part was a goblin which refused to die for like two or three consecutive turns, because of several lucky defense rolls, and was named "the acrobat" for how skillful he was in avoiding all attacks.

The dwarf and the wizard in the end took care of the goblins and the skeletons in the first rooms, but then faced a mummy with the zombies and had to retreat carefully while the barbarian and the elf rushed to help them. Together, they faced the undead in the tomb room. By then, they worked out some strategy, and I decided to add a little bit of extra-terror to the game. They wanted to lure the undead out of the tomb room, but the monsters did not exit and instead tried to lift the lid of coffin.

I didn't say what was inside, but just the threat was enough. They charged into the room, and then defeated the undead, and found the treasure. I should remember that HeroQuest is not just a boardgame and that every little piece on the table, with some narrative or descriptive bits, can change the perception from pure strategy to adventure, mistery, theat, fear.

They were out of healing spells, and they decided to avoid the Gargoyle in the central room. I guess the undead (and the barbarian) were a lesson they've learned (but I tought so too in the first adventure, and also this second time it took a little bit for them to favour caution over rushing).

When it was time for them to return, the wizard used Pass Through Rock to enter a room were they didn't search for treasures before, beating the others to it. We never discussed if they would share treasures equally or keep each what they've found... but I guess we're going for the selfish-mode approach :-)  Well, the wizard found a wandering monster instead of a treasure; my daughter survived the encounter but had yet another good reason to push for a retreat instead of a final battle.

The Gargoyle, this time, was undefeated. I might bring it up another time, to remind them of their failure!

Anyway, they all managed to find some treasure in other rooms, and we'll see next time if they have enough gold to buy something.

If you've read my previous play report, you might remember that my sister broke the head of the Gargoyle... well, that one is fixed. This time, instead, the casualties were an orc soaked in beer by accident (well, that just adds flavour to it), and the nasty goblin ("the acrobat") which kept rolling black shields and not dying which was thrown into the dead pile with a flick of rage when he finally succumbed (so much for honoring worthy opponents). This time, though, the miniatures were painted; I still have to assess the possible damage, but I need to teach the four adventurers to be a little bit more careful when they handle these little plastic pieces of history.

We should play again in a few weeks, and I hope to have the heroes painted by then... and we'll see how they deal with Ulag, the Orc Warlord!

Friday, September 18, 2020

More HeroQuest painting done

So here are a few more pictures of my progress painting the HeroQuest miniatures. They're far from prefect and I will probably fix many little details in the future, but for now I'm going to call them done and ready for the table.

I'm the next few weeks I'll work on the remaining monsters and I bought some remastered heroes on ebay... I'm planning to do the heroes last, since I can see my skills slowly improving mini after mini and I'd like the heroes do be decently done. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Painting HeroQuest

Not only I found a 2nd hand HeroQuest box in very good shape, but I bought colors, brushes, etc. and I am trying my hand at miniature painting. The goal is to have a fully painted set before the end of the year.

It's been like 25 years since I last touched a brush, and back when I was a teenager I was not very good at painting. I found out that even though my eyes are not the same anymore, I am much more patient now, and that helps a lot. And I use a magnifying glass, too :-)

So with the help of patience and video tutorials (which are really a big help! and those were also not available when I was young) and Contrast Colors, I am working first on the green monsters. It's not easy but if I manage to get in the right mood, miniature painting is very relaxing. And it feels good to have a visible, tangible project.

Here you can see a few pictures of goblins and fimirs. I used mostly Contrast for goblins, while with the fimirs I took more time to prepare them with a black wash. I struggle mostly with metals, but I am improving with those as well. I don't have pictures of orcs yet, but I will post those soon. Then it will be time to start with the undead. 

Next week I will host the 2nd game session for my family (partner, daughter, sister and her husband) and once the set is fully painted, I'll start a second group with my friends. I am writing several new quests with also a few house-rules to use with my friends, to get back to the sense of novelty and discovery that HeroQuest gave us back then...