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Subject: Am I The Only One? (Fantasy Games) rss

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Steve Noneyobusiness
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I'm a huge fan of the fantasy genre of games (particularly minis and boardgames). However, I can't seem to find one that really hits the mark. Am I the only one, or are there more fantasy fans out there who are also still looking for that one great fantasy boardgame?

My favorite fantasy game is HeroQuest. This game has so much potential, but it requires some significant work in order to make it great. It is also out of print and perhaps never to be made again (along with some much needed tweaks).

WarhammerQuest is a beautiful game, but it really just amounts to a bunch of dice rolling. It needs a lot of work as well, but it is harder to change compared to HQ since it is far more complex.

Dungeoneer has so many great ideas, but they are wasted in all of the problems it has. Fixing the problems would require changing too much of the text on the cards to be worth it.

Talisman is great for what it is, but it is too simple for that dungeon crawl kind of experience where you go room by room, dodging traps, fighting the goblins, and taking their gold.

Return of the Heroes is just boring.

I've read extensively about Runebound, Descent, and WoW, but they just aren't what I am looking for.

Is it just me? Am I the only fantasy gamer that just can't find the right game? Or am I just so picky that I can't be happy unless I was to make my own game to my own exact specifications?
 
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Shane Is Board
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Nah, you're not alone.

I enjoy an awful lot of fantasy games, but i feel the same way...still looking for that game that is all fulfilling.
 
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Brad Miller
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I'd suggest Magic Realm as the all encompassing fantasy game. It has serious negatives, but it is a pretty great world to play in. Runebound also works pretty well for me, in a Talisman-y way, without the interminable randomness, pointlessness, and neverendingness that is Talisman.
 
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Skip Olivares
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I know exactly what you're talking about; I agree on all your points and am right there with you. Moreover, I tried Runebound and found it to be a shockingly bad game, as explained in the rating I gave it. However, I got Descent, as well as that Dungeons & Dragons boardgame that was only released in Europe, and I am sincerely hoping that one or the other can capture the old school HeroQuest feel. I wish I could already tell you if they did or not.
 
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Neil Carr
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I too have yet to find the perfect fantasy game. Warhammer Quest has come closest so far in terms of dungeoncrawls. While it is dice heavy I haven't had any problem with that, especially when compared to Heroquest.

In terms of what has nailed it the closest for me in really being evocative would be Divine Right. When you pull all of the material out the theme is just so vast and wandering that it feels like a story is unfolding. The problem is that the production is really dated, even with the new reprint. I've wanted to make my own materials for the game so that the zillions of exceptions to rules could be organized in bite size chunks. That way more could get cramed into the game without bogging it down.

I've played Descent a couple of times now and while it is an entertaining game with wonderful production values it nonetheless feels too much like a simulation of a computer adventure game, which of course makes sense since it is derived from the doom system. It's all a little too streamlined and abstracted and I don't end up feeling the grit that I'd like to experience.
 
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k b
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There are those who play Divine Right who say that while playing it's like watching a story unfold. There is a Yahoo Groups Divine Right group that is active and very helpful (and devoted), and they usually have a pbem game going.

Another fantasy game that has a staunch and happy following is Swords & Sorcery. There is also a Yahoo Group dedicated to that game. Both games are out of print.

The Columbia block game, Wizard Kings, also has a dedicated fan base. I just checked Yahoo Groups, and there is a Wizard Kings Yahoo group as well.

The first two, I believe, are more involved than Heroquest. Wizard Kings, I think falls somewhere in between the Heroquest and Divine Right/Swords & Sorcery in terms of complexity.

Good luck in your quest!
 
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Philip Thomas
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If you are prepared to play with a DM, you can get a whole lot more out of the experience. Plenty of great Fantasy RPGs out there for DM+players.
 
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Karl
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Same for me. Also was looking for a good fantasy dungeoncrawl for ages now. Talisman and Heroscape were nice at its time and good looking (Heroscape at least), but too easy. For the newest ones IMHO neither Dungeoneer nor Runebound have a crawl feeling for me, mostly because there isn't all that visual appeal without miniatures. WoW really isn't your typical fantasy rpg-like game, but rather a strategic racing. Not necessarily bad, but IMHO not really in this category if you ignore the look.

Right now I am extremely pleased with Descent however. If the playing time were about half of what it is it would probably be close to perfect for me. If you liked Heroquest I'd seriously consider to give Descent a second or third look.
 
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Jesse Smit
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Youre definately not the only one. I often have the urge to play a good fantasy game but im yet to find one that isnt hugely dissapointing.
Runebound and Descent in particular are games that could have been great but ended up being complete dogs.
 
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Jay Richardson
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For anyone wanting to learn more about the various fantasy boardgames, here's a list of 30+ Geeklists that discuss fantasy games:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=viewtagged...

I think Magic Realm is the best of the bunch... but it is VERY complex and used copies are expensive (or you have to make up your own copy from the downloadable component art). You can, however, download the Java-based computer version and the 3.1 rulebook and give it a try that way.
 
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Mark Wright
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Warhammer Quest is often sited as the business and it is good more complex than hero quest with a wealth of additional material
 
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Steffan O'Sullivan
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"To be honorable and just is our only defense against men without honor or justice." -Diogenes of Sinope
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War of the Ring and WizWar are the only really satisfying boardgames with fantasy themes I know. Titan the Arena is also a great game, but the theme is too thin to count.
 
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Mark Wong
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Talisman used to be fun for me when I was younger but it was an utter bore later on as the game just keeps going on and on and on and on ....

Runebound was alright and I rate it higher than Talisman in terms of game play but there is just to much player individualism and very little interaction (unless you actively kill other players). Another game comes into mind when reading this post. I remembered this game called Kings and Things. While not exactly a dungeon crawl kinda game it was nevertheless a very cute fantasy themed game.

Maybe we could just hold our breath and just wait for a company to take note of a this fantasy shortage and come out with something thats good. hmmm..
 
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Paul DeStefano
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There is definitely NO fantasy shortage.

Just nothing encompasses everything.

And I still don't understand the HeroQuest worship. I believe it must just be nostalgia. I had the game and most expansions (minus Mocar) and happily unloaded it all as pretty poor.
 
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Steve Noneyobusiness
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Geosphere wrote:
There is definitely NO fantasy shortage.

Just nothing encompasses everything.

And I still don't understand the HeroQuest worship. I believe it must just be nostalgia. I had the game and most expansions (minus Mocar) and happily unloaded it all as pretty poor.


I'm not looking for an all encompassing fantasy game so much as one that really "hits the spot." I'm looking for a very specific kind of game.

Not all of HQ's fanbase is composed of nostalgia. I started playing D&D when I was 7. I played that game for many years until about 2-3 years ago. That is when some friends of mine introduced me to an old, OOP game called HeroQuest. I played a game and I was immediately hooked. The game was only so-so, but I immediately saw the potential with some customization.

HQ was what got me to sell off my D&D collection and got me into boardgaming.
 
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Steve Bachman
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richfam wrote:
I think Magic Realm is the best of the bunch... but it is VERY complex and used copies are expensive (or you have to make up your own copy from the downloadable component art). You can, however, download the Java-based computer version and the 3.1 rulebook and give it a try that way.


I completely agree with Jay. I just played Magic Realm face to face for the first time in 20 years and it was a blast. We had 7 characters playing and all but myself were new to the game. There were two GMs running the game which helped out the newbies quite a bit as did the "deluxe" version that they made from their original copies (using oversize counters to get more info on the them for fewer lookups and speedier play).

If you want a fantasy adventure game without going the RPG route, Magic Realm is where it is at. I used the 3rd edition rulebook and RealmSpeak program to knock off the rust. New players can use it to learn the game at their own pace. It's a time investment to get up the learning curve, but it is well rewarded.
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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One game that has not been mentioned is the English version of a Czech game. It is called Prophecy and should soon be available at Boards and Bits. It sounds similar to Talisman with a 3 hour playing time (perhaps too short for some on this thread).
 
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Steve Noneyobusiness
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MrSkeletor wrote:
WarhammerQuest may be a dicefest, but HeroQuest is the KING of rolling dice. You even roll dice to MOVE for goodness sake!
You hardly make any meaningfull decisions in the game. Its just roll roll roll.


There are meaningful choices in HQ. If you split up, rather than working together, some of the heroes WILL die. Apart from working as a team, the other main area of strategy comes in the use of spells.

In WHQ, you have to roll every round to see if you will be able to cast any spells. In HQ, you had a set number of spells that you knew you would have to use sparingly in a quest.

MrSkeletor wrote:
No, your not the only one, but what I suspect you and the others are looking for really is a time machine to transport you back to when you were 12. The 'dungeon crawls' of today EASILY beat those of yesteryear, to me it seems what really changed is the audience, who grew up to become way more fussy than they use to be.


As I already pointed out, I kicked to the curb the fantasy game that I had played from childhood past college for HeroQuest (which I had never even heard of until relatively recently). There was absolutely NO nostaliga involved in my decision. The fact is, I am just not satisfied with current fantasy games, and apparently I am not the only one.
 
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j b Goodwin

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Wiz-War. It isn't Dungeons and Dragons, but it is the most satisfying fantasy boardgame I've played over the last twenty-five years.

Unfortunately, it may never be released again. Check out Chessex's web site. It's been "in final production" for several years. Those bums.

*sigh*
 
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Mike Siggins
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No, not alone. But it would be useful to know what you think is missing?
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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I am not a heavy fantasy gamer, but find it an appealing niche as I move towards experience gaming (Old Town, Lost Valley, etc.).

Return of the Heroes:

Pros - Nice systems and interrelationships between systems (cubes/gold/base skill improvements), game length, board modularity, base system of combat with some reservations

Cons - Feels like playing a system, counterintuitive to want to roll low, not much variability in quests/creatures, lack of defense/damage variables

Runebound:

Pros: lots of variability in challenges, nice ramping up in difficulty once you get a feel for challenge color differences, modularity of system

Cons: length of turns, fiddliness of movement dice, long game start before it ramps up, fiddly cards beyond allies/weapons & hero makes game fussy - seems like someone said "this game needs more player interaction" and they chucked those cards in when it makes no thematic sense to affect someone halfway across the board.

I've never played Talisman, Wiz-war or any of the others being discussed on this thread.
 
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Steve Noneyobusiness
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To address a couple of posters at the same time, what I find lacking in fantasy games is the simplicity/choice ratio. A good fantasy game IMHO ought to be simple & intuitive (to learn & to play) while maximizing the amount of meaningful choices/variety/strategy available.

Existing fantasy games tend to fall into two basic categories: 1. simple ones that provide few real choices (choices that actually affect outcomes) and 2. overly complex games (that may or may not provide many choices).

I think HQ has around the ideal amount of simplicity and intuitiveness, but its weakness is in a lack of strategy and decision-making. I believe it is possible to make a slight increase in HQ's complexity in order to achieve a large gain in available strategy, and this would be my ideal fantasy game.

I will create another post with a game that I am working on to give you an idea of what I mean. I would also be interested if it would fill the niche for those who aren't satisfied with today's fantasy games.
 
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Steve Noneyobusiness
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The goal of my game is to take what works from games such as HQ, WHQ, Dungeoneer, & (the original) Legend of Zelda, and to fix/minimize their problems in order to create the next generation in fantasy boardgame design.

The Dungeon: The big problem with games like HQ is that virtually every room is just a plain ol' square or rectangle. In my game, the dungeon would be created by arranging square dungeon tiles, each representing a room (much like a LoZ room). Each room is a square, allowing many different dungeons to be built with just a few tiles by turning them around and rearranging them. However, the terrain in each room would be different.

Parts of some rooms will be wide, others will be narrow. There will be walls, pillars, pits, traps, and water areas that create a different combat environment in every room. This will mean there will be changes in strategy with each room.

Monsters: Typically, some monsters have more hit points, defense, and attack, but they are basically all the same. You don't need a large number of monsters, but you do need variety. The base game may only have 10 kinds of monsters, but each monster would require a change in strategy.

For example, every monster might have a special ability unique to them. All Goblins could have the sneak attack ability enabling them to do extra damage when they hit from behind. Orcs could have a formation ability that allows them to have extra defense for every adjacent Orc, and so on. Each monster is differentiated from each other (besides just more hit points, etc.), and the possibilities multiply if you have different kinds of monsters who are all fighting you at the same time.

An ogre would have the "knock-back" ability, where every time he lands a hit, he knocks you back a space. This is important, because it will affect how you approach the ogre when you attack, to avoid being knocked backwards into that spiked pit, for example.

Since my game is aimed to be a cooperative vs. the game system, the fighting of the monsters will be standardized. Whereas WHQ has every monster fight the same, my game would have, say, 3 different "automated" fighting styles for monsters. In the monster description, there would be a slot for their fighting style. These would be easy to learn, because there would only be a few, and they would have intuitive labels.

For example, the "Standard" fighting style means these monsters divide as evenly as possible among the heroes, starting with the closest hero to the farthest. Other monsters could have the "Savage" fighting style. They would all gang up on the lowest hit point/armored hero in the group.

Different monsters have different abilities and use different tactics. An amazing amount of variety can be created merely by rearranging a few different special abilities and basic tactics.

In Summary: Using a Gamemaster, my game system would be only slightly more complex than HQ, but it would provide more opportunities for real strategy. Now obviously, creating a game engine that doesn't require a Gamemaster will make things more complex, but my dungeon generating/monster fighting system is about on par with WHQ's complexity while providing far more options.

Slight increases to complexity are OK if it results in significant increases in choices/strategy and if the complexity is largely offset by being intuitive/using mechanics common in other fantasy games.
 
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Am I the only one in the world that ever bought Advanced Heroquest?

It was doing the Descent etc. thing a loooong time ago.

With that game I was able to create games that were either very light and fast, sometimes funny all the way to very deep and stressful and dark and really any combination of those.
It was a wonderful RPG board game kit that allowed you to make whatever you wanted out of it very easily.

It's just very strange with all of the topics about dungeon crawls nobody ever mentions it ever.

I must be the only one.

Anyway, having said all that it doesn't really help you since it's probably hard to find now.

I will chime in and say that it sounds like you might want to check out some fantasy RPG book games. I can't think of any that you couldn't use minitures with to get the board game feel and they truly are almost infinitely flexible.

I would reccomend the big one D&D 3.5 as a great place to start since the support is so obviously not going anywhere and it's huge. Not to mention they have the largest miniatures tie in. Very easy to get into the game quickly and relatively cheaply (look for used books.. they're everywhere).
 
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John Walborn
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All,

I am sorry if this message offends, because it could be construed as advertisement... But it is directly on topic, so I felt compelled to post it.

I run a small gaming company called Dungeon Dwellers' Guild Games and ran into the exact same problem you guys were talking about here. Every fantasy boardgame I ever played was disappointing. So we created our own d20 based boardgame and released it right about a week ago.

It's in PDF form and needs printing out and such, but I think you'll find it's worth your time... And very much worth the purchase price... All of our playtesters have provided rave reviews and I have found, personally, this is very close to the game I've been waiting for for a long time.

So... If you're interested, it's available here:

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If you have questions or comments, I invite you to be candid by emailing me at: john@ddggames.com

Thanks for listening. I really think this product fills a big need in the market and that you guys could really enjoy it.
 
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