Comparing the AHQ Variants

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Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Thursday March 29th, 2018 11:02pm

Advanced HeroQuest was a unique dungeon crawler ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the original version came with some design flaws (like monotonous characters and combat) that may render its gameplay bland and repetitive; therefore, it may require some modifications to be playable at all. However, the system offers great potential as a dungeon toolkit that can be easily adjusted and redesigned, and this is where house rules and variants come into play.

There are several AHQ variants available out there, and they can be sorted into two major groups: Revisions and Fixes. Revisions are complete redesigns of the classic rules while Fixes are intended to correct the major flaws in the game but preserve the original rules as much as possible. To the best of my knowledge, the following are the variants in existence:

Revisions

Advanced HeroQuest: Reforged (Reforged)

Advanced HeroQuest Second Edition (2nd Edition)

Advanced HeroQuest 2 (AHQ2)

Extreme HeroQuest (Extreme)

Fixes

Advanced HeroQuest 3.0 (AHQ3)

Allied HeroQuest (Allied)

Enhanced-Advanced HeroQuest (Enhanced)

Reforged, 2nd Edition, AHQ2, and Extreme are complete revisions of the original game, as they introduce new RPG-like elements such as Actions, Classes, Feats, Skills, etc.

AHQ3 and Enhanced preserve most of the original rules and mechanics, but they add some new features intended to address the main flaws in the original game.

Allied is a mix of HeroQuest combat (including the skull dice) with the random dungeons of AHQ plus more options for the GameMaster. We cannot say Allied is a major revision of AHQ in the same way the other revisions are; therefore, it is considered a Fix for the purposes of this comparison.

The objective here is to put forward an overview of each variant focusing on certain categories I consider essential and comparing them to highlight their basic differences. After going through the Revisions and Fixes I believe we can sort out their main features and make the following comparisons:

Character Creation & Advancement

Reforged introduces a new customization system through a series of Paths (classes) that are selected during the character-creation process. Players may select Race and Path for their Heroes. Paths are permanent and determine the core Abilities accessible to each Hero during the game. Most of the Abilities are fixed to a Path; therefore, the Heroes may not acquire new ones after the character-creation process, with some exceptions. Core Characteristics may only be increased two points by Training; however, there are Heroic Skills and Heroic Feats that may be purchased between Expeditions by any Hero in exchange for Gold Coins. Reforged offers more than 70 Abilities (most of them fixed to a Path), 16 Heroic Feats (Mastery and Proficiency), and 22 Heroic Skills. There are no levels of development but a record of Experience that increases after completing a quest, making the game progressively harder by raising the Points Value of Enemies. Reforged offers the weakest starting Heroes and Enemies when compared to AHQ and its other variants. It is also the most restrictive about training Core Characteristics.

2nd Edition also allows the players to choose the Race and Class of their characters. Class determines certain bonuses and starting Equipment; it also determines the group of Skills accessible to the Hero throughout the game. There are four groups of Skills (Academic, Combat, Magic, and Prowess), and all of them are available for purchase between Expeditions. 2nd Edition offers 32 Skills and 11 Traits (fixed to a Race or Class) for character customization. Heroes may purchase Skills of a different Class (cross-classing) at a higher price. Heroes may increase Experience levels by spending Experience Points (gained for killing monsters) and Gold Coins on Characteristics, Skills, Spells, etc.

AHQ2 also offers the possibility to choose Race and Profession (class). Each Race provides a certain number of Proficiency Points which may be used to purchase Proficiency Skills during the character-creation process, in any combination up to the total allowed. There are 42 Proficiency Skills for character customization. There are also new Attributes (Characteristics in AHQ) such as Reputation (charisma), which is a modifier that affects the result of the character’s interactions with NPCs. Characters may also choose a Religion, which may affect their magical abilities. They may also choose a Hometown based on the quest’s storyline (mentioned below). Characters may also choose a Career, which grants additional Proficiency Skills and Equipment. Once a character has been created, it may not acquire new Proficiency Skills during the game unless the GameMaster grants them. Characters may increase their Attributes by training in cities between Expeditions.

Extreme also introduces its own character-development system through a series of Archetypes (classes) that are also selected by the players during the character-creation process. Players are not allowed to choose Race, as it is already determined by the Archetype. Each Archetype determines the starting Abilities (Characteristics in AHQ) of the character; they also determine starting Equipment and the group of Skills accessible to each Hero in the game. Each Archetype includes a Skill Tree that indicates the Skills accessible to the corresponding character, divided in three different branches that form groups. There are also common Skills accessible to all Archetypes. Each Archetype offers a variety of approximately 15 (or more) Skills that may be combined with other Skills for character customization. As in 2nd Edition, there are (five) levels to advance. Heroes may increase levels by spending Experience Points (gained for killing monsters) and Gold Coins on Characteristics and Skills.

AHQ3 allows the players to select the Race and Class of their characters. Race provides some Special Traits while Class determines starting Skills (Characteristics in AHQ) as well as bonuses and Equipment. Characters may be developed between Expeditions by increasing their Skills (Characteristics) through (limited) training and by purchasing a maximum of three Skill Cards between Expeditions, but some of them are exclusive to certain Classes. There are 23 Skill Cards (with some additional variations) for character customization. Heroical Cards are also included as optional; these grant (some) Special Powers and Feats.

Allied maintains the same characters and advancement system from AHQ.

Enhanced also maintains the original system for character creation. The players may choose Race and Class; the latter determines the group of Skill Cards accessible to the character throughout the game. There are 23 different Skill Cards (some repeated) for character customization. There are only three levels of development, and each one gives access to a certain number of Skill Cards, which are discarded upon use and may be purchased again between Expeditions.

Actions, Movement & Combat

Reforged allows diagonal movement and diagonal attacks, but it introduces broader Death Zones (every square around the model when using melee weapons plus every square adjacent to that smaller zone when using long melee weapons like spears and halberds) and a slightly altered turn sequence. Reforged also introduces a new standardized system of Actions for Exploration and Combat. Slev’s variant maintains the bottleneck conception; therefore, most of the combat is conducted through doorways. Powder weapons are included in the variant.

2nd Edition also allows diagonal movement, but it maintains the original Death Zone rules. However, a Speed Test is now required to leave an opponent’s Death Zone. Diagonal attacks are possible only with long melee weapons (like spears and halberds) as in AHQ. 2nd Edition also introduces some useful maneuvers like Push, Withdraw, and Change Places as standard Actions for all models. It also offers a simple arithmetic formula to resolve combat without using To-Hit tables. As in Reforged, most of the combat is conducted through doorways. Powder weapons are also included.

AHQ2 does not allow diagonal movement (except Halflings), and it retains the original Death Zone rules with Facing as a slight variation. This variant does not add more standard Actions besides the ones given by Proficiency Skills. Combat works mostly in the same manner as in the original game. As in Reforged and 2nd Edition, most of the combat is conducted through doorways.

Extreme also allows diagonal movement. It uses a system of Actions very similar to the original, but it includes new combat Actions like knockdowns and pushes. It also includes detailed rules for prone combat, darkness, impaired vision, and combat at different heights. Likewise, It includes some types of special damage like catching fire and asphyxia. Also, Death Zones are not focused as in the original game; a model must stop upon entering an opponent's Death Zone regardless of how many friendly models are already there. Death Zones no longer hinder movement, only if the opponent becomes engaged in combat. Extreme offers a simple yet clever solution for the bottleneck issue: if the Heroes win the Surprise, the monsters are placed and attacked first, otherwise the opposite happens.

AHQ3 does not allow diagonal movement, and it also retains the original Death Zone rules with some clarifications. It does not add more standard Actions besides the ones given by Skills and/or Heroical Cards, mentioned above. AHQ3 deals with the bottleneck issue (in rooms) simply by leaving two empty squares between the adventurers and the monsters.

Allied uses the original HeroQuest rules for Movement and Combat; therefore, it does not allow diagonal movement. Combat is resolved using the original HeroQuest rules, including the skull dice.

Enhanced also allows diagonal movement, but it retains the original Actions and Death Zone rules from AHQ. Diagonal attacks are also possible only with long melee weapons (like spears and halberds) as in the original game. As in Reforged, 2nd Edition, and AHQ2, most of the combat is conducted through doorways. Enhanced also includes Powder weapons.

Dungeons

Reforged introduces two new Passage Features: Revealed Pits and Revealed Portcullises. All the doors in the game are double doors; locked doors may only be found inside the corresponding Hazard Room (Locked Room). Traps and Hazards are mostly the same ones from the original AHQ. Reforged also includes optional rules for Environments (flooded sections, low ceilings, heat, etc.) in every section. Optional rules for using HeroQuest furniture are also included. Dungeons in Reforged tend to be more compact than in the original game. The Points Value of Enemies is progressively higher depending on: Experience gained by the party, Dungeon Level, Expedition, Heroes, and a Random Factor. Dungeon level is also relevant when rolling for Traps. The difficulty-scaling mechanic implemented in Reforged is ingenious and simple to use.

2nd Edition implements even more Special Features for passages and doors (crumbled ceilings, energy barriers, dead adventurers, etc.), but they are included in a separate table- Special Features are not optional like in Reforged. I have to say that I like this approach more, as it is more varied than finding the same features all the time (from the same Passage Features Table) or having an Environment in every section as in Reforged. All the doors are one space wide, but double doors are also available as Special Doors, which are rarely found as passage features or ends. Traps and Hazards are almost the same ones from the original AHQ. Special Doors may also be trapped, locked, heavy, false, riddled, etc. Levers are introduced to open certain locked doors, and they may be found in the next Lair after discovering the corresponding locked door. Some additional pieces of furniture like pillars (which block LOS) are included along with stairs leading two levels up or down. I believe it is reasonable to say that 2nd Edition offers the most interesting and varied dungeons.

AHQ2 maintains, with slight changes, the original dungeon features from AHQ. Dungeons do not have new features to mention.

Extreme also implements its own difficulty-scaling mechanic based on Experience gained by the adventurers. It also adds new dungeon features like X-shaped intersections and collapsed corridors. New Hazards are also included. Traps have secondary effects (like dismemberment). Also, it introduces Dungeon Clues, which are limited random opportunities to change dungeon features in favor of the adventurers.

AHQ3 implements a card driven dungeon-generation mechanic; therefore, there are different decks and types of cards like Furniture, Objectives, Passages, Rooms, Traps, etc. Dungeons are generated by drawing cards from a pre-built pile according to the quest's objectives. Rooms and dungeon features are almost the same as the ones used in the original AHQ, but they are randomly added to the dungeon (with some variances like Special Features in rooms and furniture). AHQ3 also includes Ambience Cards (which work pretty much like Environments in Reforged or Special Features in 2nd Edition) that may be used to add more features to specific dungeon sections. AHQ3 also comes with an optional dungeon-building mode for competitive play, mentioned below.

Allied also preserves the original dungeon features from AHQ, though it adds Spawnpoints, which are used to generate Wandering Monsters and Escape points for them.

Enhanced sticks to the original mechanics; dungeons do not have new features to mention.

Equipment & Treasure

Reforged is by far the most developed of the variants. It includes pages upon pages of new Equipment and Treasures.

2nd Edition is notably poor in offering new Equipment and Treasures.

AHQ2 maintains the original Equipment and Treasures with slight changes.

Extreme also offers a slightly tweaked variety of the original Equipment and Treasures.

AHQ3 likewise maintains the original Equipment and Treasures with slight changes.

Allied maintains the original Equipment and Treasures without change.

Enhanced also maintains the original Equipment and Treasures with slight changes.

GameMaster

Reforged maintains the original mechanics and options for the GameMaster, with some tweaks.

2nd Edition maintains the mechanics from the original game.

AHQ2 also maintains the original mechanics for the GameMaster, with additional options for Overland and City Adventures (mentioned below).

Extreme likewise maintains the original mechanics, but it adds new Dungeon Tokens (Dungeon Counters).

AHQ3 introduces more powerful versions of the Dungeon Cards (Dungeon Counters) when collecting four of the same type.

Allied includes Major Threats, which are more powerful versions of the Threat Tokens (Dungeon Counters), also available to the GameMaster when collecting four of the same type.

Enhanced also maintains the original options for the GameMaster without change.

Campaigns

Reforged maintains the original focus on Exploration and Combat; there are no towns to visit nor a world map to explore. However, it comes with several pregenerated campaigns. They are (mostly) adapted campaigns from White Dwarf, originally designed for AHQ.

2nd Edition also maintains the focus on Exploration and Combat, but it does not come with pregenerated campaigns or a quest generator, though it is not difficult to create your own quests.

AHQ2 does not focus solely on Exploration and Combat; it goes one step beyond and implements a new Overland map with different locations and cities to visit between Expeditions. The adventurers now have to deal with encounters and random events when moving between locations.

Extreme also maintains the focus on Exploration and Combat, but it includes several different places to visit between Expeditions (like Guilds and even a Coliseum).

AHQ3 introduces Guilds or groups of Heroes that may be expanded during the campaign, and they may even battle against each other on Vassal or by playing one in front of the other until both dungeons connect, very interesting idea by the way. Traveling to other cities between Expeditions is also possible as optional.

Allied is designed for stand-alone quests, but they may be linked together relatively easy. There is only one town to visit between Expeditions.

Enhanced comes with an improved version of the Shattered Amulet quest. It maintains AHQ rules with slight changes.

Solo Play

Reforged maintains the original solo-play mechanics from AHQ with slight modifications.

2nd Edition does not include a specific section for solo-play rules, though it is not difficult to play solo using the variant.

AHQ2 does not include a specific section for solo-play rules.

Extreme also does not include a specific section for solo-play rules.

AHQ3 also maintains the original solo-play mechanics from AHQ with slight changes.

Allied does not seem to be designed for solo play. It seems that the idea is to make the game more interesting for a human GameMaster.

Enhanced sticks to the original formula; AHQ solo-play rules are used with slight changes.

Final Comments

If you are looking for a complete redesign of Advanced HeroQuest (it would be my recommendation), Reforged is, in my opinion, one of the most ingenious and well-developed revisions in existence. It significantly improves the original game while preserving most of its essence, thereby boosting the system’s potential even further. However, I believe some of the changes to the classic rules may be unnecessary and even counterproductive (as the expanded Death Zones, the limited training of Core Characteristics, the modified To-Hit table, and the modified turn sequence). Also, from my point of view, the options it offers for character development may be rather limited.

2nd Edition offers, on the other hand, one of the most versatile character-development systems among the other variants, but I find its Experience Points-counting mechanic somewhat out of place and clunky. I also believe it may need more variety of Monsters, Skills, Treasures, and Weapons.

AHQ2 is unique among the other variants, but I believe it does not entirely fix the flaws in the original game. The Characters could be more varied; it could also offer more options for their development. Although it may be interesting to add a world map with different locations to visit, that is clearly not the focus of the original game. In essence, AHQ is not a dungeon crawler focused on what happens outside the dungeons. There are other fantasy games out there with mechanics for traveling between towns and different locations, not AHQ.

Extreme offers its own character-development system with an Experience Points-counting mechanic similar to the one implemented in 2nd Edition, but Extreme comes with a more varied and polished set of Skills. However, I find its development system more restrictive, as the possible combinations of Core Skills for each Archetype (class) are limited and relatively predetermined.

AHQ3 is a very interesting offer, with the possibility of online play. Although an improvement, I believe (as with AHQ2) it does not entirely fix the flaws in the original game. It may need more variety of Characters, Monsters, Skills, Treasures, and Weapons. Personally, I do not support the idea of turning AHQ into a card-driven game, as cards are not necessarily more convenient than tables and dice (cards tend to be more predictable and require shuffling to maintain the odds). AHQ requires (a lot of) dice rolling; it is a part of its essence. There are other fantasy games out there based on card-driven mechanics, not AHQ.

Allied may be simple and fun to play, but it is not the type of variant I am personally interested in. I want something more along the lines of Reforged, which I believe preserves (most of) the original essence.

Enhanced is also an interesting improvement, but (as with AHQ2 and AHQ3) I believe it does not entirely fix the flaws in the original game. It may need more variety of Characters, Monsters, Skills, Treasures, and Weapons.

I believe there is no such thing as the “best” variant, simply because it all boils down to taste and preference. Although Reforged is my favorite, each variant offers several mechanics that I like and some others that I do not. The idea of combining the elements that I like into one set of variant rules (originally intended for my personal use) then came naturally to me.

AHQ-Revamping Squad’s Workshop
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby mitchiemasha » Friday March 30th, 2018 1:50am

You missed off mine. It combines both sets but only a small amount of AHQ, mainly the modular boards (A quest pack i reedited) and the Chaos Tokens, with a mild inbetween quest addition, in the form of a deck shuffled at the INN. The deck includes some negatives, like a Thief stealing, Traps illness, Witches curse, a gambler to utalise the Higher and Lower game using the HQ Monster deck and mercenaries that one might choose to hire. Most of the rules remain HQ, as AHQ wasn't very good at all. I've yet to do the Skaven Quests, utilising the models. Also in the pipes was Mighty Warriors featuring an Undead team, Orc team.

A huge part of the game is creating your character, putting together a group, a player may choose to create a new character half way through, that might more suit, playing it as his original has temporarily departed. Instead of the system being locked to classes/races, predecided, the various skills can be interchanged to make unique Heroes. Some combinations quite lethal. it's up to the players to figure that out and see what works best. Or, doesn't!

Character improvement is done purely via artifacts and purchasing weapons, the true HQ way.


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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Friday March 30th, 2018 2:01am

It is not included because I haven't seen it. However, it sounds interesting, more along the lines of Allied HeroQuest I think.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby mitchiemasha » Friday March 30th, 2018 2:12am

Having a quick scroll through "Revamping Squads workshop" there's a lot of tables that need to be kept at hand. Lot's of paper at the table. Which i suppose is very AHQ but why we love HQ. I much prefer decks, like the weapon rack search, pick a random card from the weapons deck.

Also, i'm a dedicated supporter of the roll to move mechanic and the combat dice. I find a lack of the move roll too predictable. The only time it works well with out it is ditching squares altogether and going for zones. Counting the little squares is pointless with out a roll.


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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Friday March 30th, 2018 2:35am

mitchiemasha wrote:Having a quick scroll through "Revamping Squads workshop" there's a lot of tables that need to be kept at hand. Lot's of paper at the table. Which i suppose is very AHQ but why we love HQ. I much prefer decks, like the weapon rack search, pick a random card from the weapons deck.

Personally, I prefer the tables (one ends up memorizing them after a while), as I believe cards are more predictable and not necessarily more convenient to use. I like to see my D12s roll as some kind of "runes of destiny", deciding the fate of my Heroes.

mitchiemasha wrote:Also, i'm a dedicated supporter of the roll to move mechanic and the combat dice. I find a lack of the move roll too predictable. The only time it works well with out it is ditching squares altogether and going for zones. Counting the little squares is pointless with out a roll.

AHQ and its variants do not use roll to move. I find it more tactical that way, as the moves may be planned ahead.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby mitchiemasha » Friday March 30th, 2018 3:02am

RECIVS wrote:AHQ and its variant use roll to move.

Ahh, i know allied does but I was referring to the 'revamping squads' it's wrote, "up to 12 spaces" in the basic rules.


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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby mitchiemasha » Friday March 30th, 2018 3:20am

RECIVS wrote: Also, I like to see my D12s roll as some kind of "runes of destiny", deciding the fate of my Heroes and sometimes behaving like animated objects.


Yes i like that too. Perhaps you could make a more games table friendly version of the furniture, a 1 sheets that simply has the tables, possibly a few abbreviated notes, if needed. The furniture specifics are going to feature on the back of my EW screen but that's yet to be done. The original EU HQ screen has plenty of space next to each for the details.

I still prefer to utilise as much from both sets, hence the weapons deck for weapons rack rolls. The sorcerers table, 'Inscribe a spell scroll with a known spell', the wizard simply spends their action, no table roll needed. However, later on, the Sorcerers table is cursed and a Wizard inscribing a scroll would have to roll a Cd6 as a check to succeed or even lose 1 Mind, this would be noted in the quest notes. Kind of an unexpected trap unleashed on the wizard, once used to the standard table. The quest notes would mildly hint to the dangers too.

The torture rack can also be used to torture a Goblin to reveal secret doors, traps. A hero would have to catch one with the NET first and utalise 'Drag', a bonus action acquired when buying a NET, sacrifice 1 Md6. To catch a monster you simply have to win an attack with 1 Cd6.

Each room is limited to 1 treasure search plus the amount of furniture in it. Now the deck takes control of it been trapped or what is in it, on it, under it, near it etc. I like to keep a game as simple as possible, combining as much extras into the same core, this helps to add a lot, with out adding a lot, as in bloat, complexity, rules etc!!!
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Friday March 30th, 2018 3:22am

mitchiemasha wrote:
RECIVS wrote:AHQ and its variant use roll to move.

Ahh, i know allied does but I was referring to the 'revamping squads' it's wrote, "up to 12 spaces" in the basic rules.

You are right. I meant differently; I don't know what I was thinking. That post has been edited.

mitchiemasha wrote:Yes i like that too. Perhaps you could make a more games table friendly version of the furniture, a 1 sheets that simply has the tables, possibly a few abbreviated notes, if needed.

I'll see into that, thanks for the feedback.

mitchiemasha wrote:The furniture specifics are going to feature on the back of my EW screen but that's yet to be done. The original EU HQ screen has plenty of space next to each for the details.

I still prefer to utilise as much from both sets, hence the weapons deck for weapons rack rolls. The sorcerers table, 'Inscribe a spell scroll with a known spell', the wizard simply spends their action, no table roll needed. However, later on, the Sorcerers table is cursed and a Wizard inscribing a scroll would have to roll a Cd6 as a check to succeed or even lose 1 Mind, this would be noted in the quest notes. Kind of an unexpected trap unleashed on the wizard, once used to the standard table. The quest notes would mildly hint to the dangers too.

The torture rack can also be used to torture a Goblin to reveal secret doors, traps. A hero would have to catch one with the NET first and utalise 'Drag', a bonus action acquired when buying a NET, sacrifice 1 Md6. To catch a monster you simply have to win an attack with 1 Cd6.

Each room is limited to 1 treasure search plus the amount of furniture in it. Now the deck takes control of it been trapped or what is in it, on it, under it, near it etc. I like to keep a game as simple as possible, combining as much extras into the same core, this helps to add a lot, with out adding a lot, as in bloat, complexity, rules etc!!!

That's why I love AHQ. As I said, it has great potential as a dungeon toolkit. Have fun!
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby mitchiemasha » Friday March 30th, 2018 3:36am

RECIVS wrote:AHQ and its variants do not use roll to move. I find it more tactical that way, more like a swat team storming rooms.

Yeah and it's simply not as fun. We always know who can reach, catch who. It's been 1 of the highest debated topics about HQ over the years. That's why i'm 100% on roll to move stays, all games, unless ditching squares all together and moving to zones or action points like space Hulk.

In the words of the Bardic. "Will I trip on a flag stone or leap heroically in to battle". Yes the junior set would be more fun. At our table most of the best moments have come about via good or bad movement rolls. Dwarfs chasing deadly goblin archers that have Move Action Move, not quite rolling enough. The uncertainty is the SPICE! Not forgetting making double 1 a hazard. “You stumble on a loose stone!” “Rocks fall from above!” “In your desperate attempt to escape, the floor greets your face!” now every roll is a threat. Improving 1 of the main mechanics experienced players will take advantage of, reducing it's benefit via adding the risk.


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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Friday March 30th, 2018 3:48am

mitchiemasha wrote:Yeah and it's simply not as fun.

I have come to learn that the concept of "fun" is a subjective matter.

mitchiemasha wrote:In the words of the Bardic. "Will I trip on a flag stone or leap heroically in to battle". Yes the junior set would be more fun. At our table most of the best moments have come about via good or bad movement rolls. Dwarfs chasing deadly goblin archers that have Move Action Move, not quite rolling enough. The uncertainty is the SPICE! Not forgetting making double 1 a hazard. “You stumble on a loose stone!” “Rocks fall from above!” “In your desperate attempt to escape, the floor greets your face!” now every roll is a threat. Improving 1 of the main mechanics experienced players will take advantage of, reducing it's benefit via adding the risk.

Thanks for the advice; it sounds like you are having a good time with the game. I play mostly solo; my variants are solo-play oriented. I haven't yet found another tabletop tactical dungeon crawler that delivers the same level of unpredictability and tension playing solo.
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