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Comparing the AHQ Variants

Topics related to Games Workshops Advanced HeroQuest.

Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Tuesday September 15th, 2020 1:00am

I’ve made several minor grammar corrections and wording changes to the text of the comparison; I've also clarified some descriptions that needed more context and explanation. Also, and most importantly, the latest updates to Reforged are now covered in the post. I hope it could be of some use.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby Stig » Saturday November 21st, 2020 3:11am

This is great, thanks so much. I'm really getting in to reading all of the variants.

I'm starting to be of the opinion is that what's holding Advanced Heroquest back is the random dungeon generation - in my opinion that should only be one way to play it, like an expansion pack/add-on, not the usual way of playing it. The distinctive nature of Heroquest is the map generation in advance, which allows for so much narrative. Imagine how much thinner the rulebooks would be if it just said there was a map of the dungeon, just like in Heroquest. All it does is generate the information the dungeon needs, so why not do it in advance? Playing should be for playing. It's like sitting down to play, then starting to paint the miniatures instead of playing - that can also be done in advance.

The different door solution variants to the surprise roll look cool too, I do like the roll-off system of Extreme Heroquest, where each are placed in a "deployment zone", mitigating the corridor issue. What are your thoughts on using the difference in surprise to determine how many figures go first? All of the others seem to have either ALL the Heroes or ALL the Monsters; but it might make the game a little more granular if a couple get activated, play shifts to the GM/Heroes, then the others get activated? Almost like a semi-surprise:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Starting Combat Suggestion (from reading only, not playtested!)

All doors are 2x2, and the players roll 2D6 to determine surprise. [it's less swingy than 1D12]

If the Heroes win the surprise roll: The GM places the Monsters in the room first, then the Heroes are placed in the 2x2 square area directly inside the door:
2020-11-21 image1.png


If the Monsters win the surprise roll: The deployment zone straddles the door. The Heroes are placed first, followed by the Monsters:
2020-11-21 image2.png


Either way, the Monsters need to leave at least 1 square between the Heroes' deployment zone and where they are placed.

The DIFFERENCE between the two rolls determines how many figures are moved by each side before play goes to the other.

For example, the Heroes roll 4,5; and the Monsters roll 3,4. The Heroes' score of 9 is two higher than the Monster's roll of 7. This means TWO Heroes can be activated. The Monster player then activates TWO Monsters. Play passes from one to the other in this manner until all the figures have been used. Another turn then begins by activating two figures each. This continues until the Combat phase ends - either the Heroes or Monsters are wiped out; or the Heroes flee.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Saturday November 28th, 2020 4:00am

Stig wrote:I'm really getting in to reading all of the variants.

Nice. They all have something good to offer; I don't think you'll regret it.

Stig wrote:I'm starting to be of the opinion is that what's holding Advanced Heroquest back is the random dungeon generation - in my opinion that should only be one way to play it, like an expansion pack/add-on, not the usual way of playing it. The distinctive nature of Heroquest is the map generation in advance, which allows for so much narrative.

I believe that such randomness is what makes AHQ stand out among other DCs out there. I don't know another one that delivers the same sense of tension and unpredictability while playing solo, which wouldn't be possible in HQ (it's clear that AHQ produces much more varied and interesting dungeons than HQ). I don't see how AHQ's random map generation could limit the narrative though; the system still allows you to design your own adventures if that's your thing. Anyway, as far as I remember, the original AHQ campaigns come generated in advance.

Stig wrote:The different door solution variants to the surprise roll look cool too, I do like the roll-off system of Extreme Heroquest, where each are placed in a "deployment zone", mitigating the corridor issue. What are your thoughts on using the difference in surprise to determine how many figures go first? All of the others seem to have either ALL the Heroes or ALL the Monsters; but it might make the game a little more granular if a couple get activated, play shifts to the GM/Heroes, then the others get activated? Almost like a semi-surprise:

Interesting. I'd need to test it, but at first glance it seems that all the encounters in rooms would play pretty much the same. Leaving Henchmen and Reinforcements aside (which you still need to factor in), if the Heroes are allowed to be placed freely within the deployment zone, then I predict that the same two characters will always be at the front, and they will activate first every time. On the other hand, why changing the original activation mechanic? I'm not a fan of random activation in AHQ, as I believe it may become even more luck dependent and, therefore, unnecessarily harder and less interesting (for much of the fun comes from planning and executing tactics as a team). It may also make encounters in rooms somewhat longer, and I don't think that increasing the duration and difficulty of encounters while reducing the Heroes' involvement is a good idea.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby Stig » Monday December 14th, 2020 2:25am

RECIVS wrote:I don't see how AHQ's random map generation could limit the narrative though; the system still allows you to design your own adventures if that's your thing. Anyway, as far as I remember, the original AHQ campaigns come generated in advance.


That’s what I was thinking, the original and Enhanced! consistently suggest making maps in advance like HQ. With random generation I was referring to quest notes eg “this treasure chest contains a key to the prisoner in room B”, teleport traps...ie the way sections of the map link together that’s easily constructed in HQ. Nothing stopping AHQ from having quest notes though. They’d just take a different form I imagine: “The first bookcase encountered contains a healing potion”, Monsters in the first Lair have +1 WS” etc. Instead of map locations with notes, it could be the order dungeon elements are found in. Basically space is swapped for time.

RECIVS wrote:
Stig wrote:The different door solution variants to the surprise roll look cool too, I do like the roll-off system of Extreme Heroquest, where each are placed in a "deployment zone", mitigating the corridor issue. What are your thoughts on using the difference in surprise to determine how many figures go first? All of the others seem to have either ALL the Heroes or ALL the Monsters; but it might make the game a little more granular if a couple get activated, play shifts to the GM/Heroes, then the others get activated? Almost like a semi-surprise:

Interesting. I'd need to test it, but at first glance it seems that all the encounters in rooms would play pretty much the same. Leaving Henchmen and Reinforcements aside (which you still need to factor in), if the Heroes are allowed to be placed freely within the deployment zone, then I predict that the same two characters will always be at the front, and they will activate first every time. On the other hand, why changing the original activation mechanic? I'm not a fan of random activation in AHQ, as I believe it may become even more luck dependent and, therefore, unnecessarily harder and less interesting (for much of the fun comes from planning and executing tactics as a team). It may also make encounters in rooms somewhat longer, and I don't think that increasing the duration and difficulty of encounters while reducing the Heroes' involvement is a good idea.


Sure thing, I was just thinking of a simple yet elegant design principle that’s widely used today in modern games, which is eschewing the IGOUGO principle of 90s era GW in favour of activating smaller portions of a force at once. This has proved very enjoyable as both players are always involved, and the Surprise roll might somehow be the way to do that. Activating every figure on one side whilst the others stand and watch seems a bit odd - does it make the success of encounters heavily reliant on winning surprise? If one side wins surprise, they weaken the other, making it harder to regain advantage?

I also haven’t understood how Extreme! is meaningfully any different: the two sides are placed in a described deployment zone and the winners move all their models first.


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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Monday December 14th, 2020 2:44pm

Stig wrote:That’s what I was thinking, the original and Enhanced! consistently suggest making maps in advance like HQ. With random generation I was referring to quest notes eg “this treasure chest contains a key to the prisoner in room B”, teleport traps...ie the way sections of the map link together that’s easily constructed in HQ. Nothing stopping AHQ from having quest notes though. They’d just take a different form I imagine: “The first bookcase encountered contains a healing potion”, Monsters in the first Lair have +1 WS” etc. Instead of map locations with notes, it could be the order dungeon elements are found in. Basically space is swapped for time.

That's correct. It's actually more varied and unpredictable that way, even for the GM!

Stig wrote:Sure thing, I was just thinking of a simple yet elegant design principle that’s widely used today in modern games, which is eschewing the IGOUGO principle of 90s era GW in favour of activating smaller portions of a force at once. This has proved very enjoyable as both players are always involved, and the Surprise roll might somehow be the way to do that.

Examples? I assume those modern games you're referring to were designed around such a mechanic. In this case you're trying to fit it into a system that wasn't designed for that (like adding dice rolls to chess). Perhaps it may work for encounters with wandering monsters (in which the number or monsters is similar to the number of adventurers and the deployment options are more varied), but I fail to see how it could do any good to room encounters in which the deployment options are limited and the monsters usually come in greater numbers than the adventurers. For example, when four adventurers face a group of twelve monsters in a room, how many deployment options do the adventurers and monsters really have in such a situation? do the adventurers and monsters get to choose their starting positions every time? what happens after all the adventurers have moved but more than half of the monsters have not? (that would be odd indeed). More interesting even: what happens after those same twelve monsters receive reinforcements? Perhaps I'm missing something, but, as I said, I think it'd simply make the game even more luck dependent, unnecessarily harder (it's hard enough as it is), and less interesting (as tactical planning, the heart of the game, is hindered). Also, I think you're forgetting about fumbles, which are there to keep both players involved in combat.

Stig wrote:Activating every figure on one side whilst the others stand and watch seems a bit odd - does it make the success of encounters heavily reliant on winning surprise? If one side wins surprise, they weaken the other, making it harder to regain advantage?

Odd how? No, success doesn't rely heavily on winning the surprise; it rather depends on how well trained and equipped your heroes are, the tactics, abilities, feats, and skills you use, how you combine them, and your luck with combat dice. Besides, you may see that my variant allows Fate Points to influence surprise rolls, which reduces randomness even more. Actually, I think the activation system you're proposing relies more on luck than the original.

Stig wrote:I also haven’t understood how Extreme! is meaningfully any different: the two sides are placed in a described deployment zone and the winners move all their models first.

It's indeed the same concept. Experience shows, however, that both sides (most likely) will place their models in the same positions every time (the strongest adventurers or "tanks" will go at the front, the monsters will be separated to avoid the effects of fireballs, etc.). The same happens when each side is allowed to place their opponent's models. In fact, the first version of my Doorway-Exploit Fix (released about eight years ago) was very similar to what you're proposing but without the "partial activations"; I abandoned it for its repetitive results after some weeks of playtesting.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby Stig » Thursday December 17th, 2020 5:06pm

Thanks for going through this - really appreciate the help with reading these ancient tomes!

RECIVS wrote: That's correct. It's actually more varied and unpredictable that way, even for the GM!

This is really growing on me - have you seen this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEE6aHqZyXE&t=17s

Seems like a great idea to speed up generation of new dungeon elements.

RECIVS wrote:
Stig wrote:Sure thing, I was just thinking of a simple yet elegant design principle that’s widely used today in modern games, which is eschewing the IGOUGO principle of 90s era GW in favour of activating smaller portions of a force at once. This has proved very enjoyable as both players are always involved, and the Surprise roll might somehow be the way to do that.

Examples? I assume those modern games you're referring to were designed around such a mechanic. In this case you're trying to fit it into a system that wasn't designed for that (like adding dice rolls to chess). Perhaps it may work for encounters with wandering monsters (in which the number or monsters is similar to the number of adventurers and the deployment options are more varied), but I fail to see how it could do any good to room encounters in which the deployment options are limited and the monsters usually come in greater numbers than the adventurers. For example, when four adventurers face a group of twelve monsters in a room, how many deployment options do the adventurers and monsters really have in such a situation? do the adventurers and monsters get to choose their starting positions every time? what happens after all the adventurers have moved but more than half of the monsters have not? (that would be odd indeed). More interesting even: what happens after those same twelve monsters receive reinforcements? Perhaps I'm missing something, but, as I said, I think it'd simply make the game even more luck dependent, unnecessarily harder (it's hard enough as it is), and less interesting (as tactical planning, the heart of the game, is hindered). Also, I think you're forgetting about fumbles, which are there to keep both players involved in combat.

The two I had in mind were Song of Blades and Heroes, and Mantic's Vanguard, both excellent games. The former has another characteristic with each troop type, and the gist is that each turn the players can activate their models to have either one, two, or three actions. They can attempt to roll either one, two, or three dice to get under their quality. Two failures = turnover, so rarely does the whole warband move. Playing safe = one attempt each, but little gets done. Two dice = possibility of two failures; three dice = let's go! Simple risk/reward, but can't imagine this being portable to AHQ. As you say the game was designed around this mechanic.

Vanguard has a "power phase" at the start of each turn, where "power dice" are rolled, giving each warband a certain number of actions in total to spend that turn. That way, only some of the warband is used before play passes. There is a neat mechanic where a model can go one action beyond its allowance, but it get's "fatigued" and needs an action to clear the fatigue counter in a later turn. "Major" actions can only be done by each model once (eg attacking), so this system prevents four actions being used as four Barbarian attacks. This could be used with Extreme!'s other attack modes, ie charge, push, and throw; and maybe drinking potions/spells/opening doors/eating food etc. The idea was to make AHQ less luck dependent, as whoever loses the surprise roll doesn't have to stand still and get battered - my thinking was to lessen the effect of losing the surprise roll. I also loved your solution for the doorway problem on the blog with the tables that incorporate how much the surprise roll was lost by - that's a really neat idea to make the experience so different. Man I can't wait to actually play this game.

RECIVS wrote:
Stig wrote:I also haven’t understood how Extreme! is meaningfully any different: the two sides are placed in a described deployment zone and the winners move all their models first.

It's indeed the same concept. Experience shows, however, that both sides (most likely) will place their models in the same positions every time (the strongest adventurers or "tanks" will go at the front, the monsters will be separated to avoid the effects of fireballs, etc.). The same happens when each side is allowed to place their opponent's models. In fact, the first version of my Doorway-Exploit Fix (released about eight years ago) was very similar to what you're proposing but without the "partial activations"; I abandoned it for its repetitive results after some weeks of playtesting.


So I guess all variants basically allow the Heroes to deploy however the want - as otherwise they'll just micromanage the exploration phase to line up before opening a door - and the point of doorway solutions is to provide variation in the deployment of heroes and monsters?


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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby Davane » Thursday December 17th, 2020 7:49pm

If you are using double doors and a card-based dungeon generation system, aren't you basically just playing WHQ?

I know that the key difference between AHQ dungeon generation and WHQ dungeon generation is the simple fact that each Dungeon card in WHQ represents a single Board, where as in AHQ, the dungeon tables create a variety of dungeon sections. But isn't the ultimate method of streamlining AHQ with a card-based dungeon-generation system going to be the point where each card represents a single dungeon section or combination?

The YouTube link provided creates a single deck for rooms, by putting the extra doors option on the card as well (since there's only three options). There's no furniture deck option for rooms, but you could easily work out the numbers for such a deck, and then combine those numbers with the Rooms deck to create a deck that creates a furnished room right from the moment it is flipped.

if I recall correctly, in AHQ, half the time there is no furnishings, and the rest of the time there's one of six pieces of furniture. You could convert that to a 20 card Furnishings deck simply by having 10 cards as nothing, 1 card for each furnishing, 1 shuffle card, and then choosing three furnishing cards to duplicate (Table, Bookcase, and Cupboard seem appropriate).

Of course, what you could also do is copy the Rooms deck out six times, each with a different furnishing for 120 cards, and then double that with no furnishings, for a total of 240 cards. A bit excessive, but that's basically every single combination of rooms and furnishings in a single deck, in ratios roughly preserved as seen in AHQ.

For passages, it gets a little more excessive, as you have three 20 card decks, but if you created 20 x 20 x 20 (or 8,000) cards, you would have every single combination of passages, features, and endings in cards. Of course, many would be duplicates, so proper number crunching could see you reduce the number of cards down significantly and still preserve the ratios somewhat.

What I am getting at is that any deck-based generation system seems to be designed at presenting as much information on a single card as possible, to the point that each card becomes unique. That's the strength of any deck-based system, especially when you add card manipulation into the generation system (as WHQ does).

When we look at WHQ, you basically get the passage deck for Endings (Features were basically nothing and all corridor lengths considered one section) reduced, plus the single rooms deck reduced (two types only - Normal and Quest), and then ultimately both decks combined and reduced to the point that you know the dungeon layout as soon as you turned over the next dungeon card.

My point is that you could either expand the WHQ dungeon generation system, or reduce the AHQ dungeon generation system, to get something in the middle that represents the ultimate in dungeon generation systems. There's a sweet spot where cards work better than tables, and it really depends upon how many cards you consider acceptable in a deck...
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby RECIVS » Friday December 18th, 2020 12:01pm

Stig wrote:Thanks for going through this - really appreciate the help with reading these ancient tomes!

No problem. Feel free to ask.

Stig wrote:This is really growing on me - have you seen this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEE6aHqZyXE&t=17s

Seems like a great idea to speed up generation of new dungeon elements.

Interesting video. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. However, I disagree with his statement that AHQ's dungeon generation system is not the most efficient. I believe it's a matter of preference, and I belong to the crew that thinks the original map generation mechanic is one of the most efficient ever created and considers rolling all those exploration dice a joy (as the guy in the video said). Objectively speaking though, I find hard to believe that handling several decks of cards could be more convenient than rolling some dice and looking up results on a table. That being said, perhaps you've seen my time-saving method for dealing with all the dice rolling required by the system.

Stig wrote:As you say the game was designed around this mechanic.

Correct, and my idea is to preserve the working parts of the original mechanics as much as possible, not modify them beyond recognition. Such an idea may be appealing to people who like everything about AHQ but not so much to the crowd that only likes its dungeon generation system.

Stig wrote:I also loved your solution for the doorway problem on the blog with the tables that incorporate how much the surprise roll was lost by - that's a really neat idea to make the experience so different.

Thanks. The options for placing the monsters in rooms are limited if we want to preserve the original rules, so I think that a good and effective solution should aim to make the encounters as varied as possible without messing with the original combat rules (my fix tries to do that).

Stig wrote:Man I can't wait to actually play this game.

May I ask what's holding you?

Stig wrote:and the point of doorway solutions is to provide variation in the deployment of heroes and monsters?

Yes, that's correct. You may see the original mechanic provides the same result every time, and, as I said, if you allow the Heroes and GM to choose their positions, they will most likely take the same spots repeatedly.

Davane wrote:There's a sweet spot where cards work better than tables

I'm not sure about that, for reasons already posted.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby Davane » Friday December 18th, 2020 5:50pm

RECIVS wrote:
Davane wrote:There's a sweet spot where cards work better than tables

I'm not sure about that, for reasons already posted.


Not disagreeing with you, and this is a YMMV issue.

I love the tables in AHQ, and my answer to making the tables more efficient is to roll more dice at once. The sheer amount of permutations that you get with multiple tables shouldn't be underestimated.

But, I've played WHQ and other card-based dungeon generation systems, and if you are presenting a lot of information on a single card, cards can be superior when there are fewer cards in the deck, and you can afford the effort to make them unique. Plus, card manipulation and deck building is easier done done with cards.

So, there's definitely a sweet spot where cards make more sense than tables, based on number of unique permutations and what you are looking to do with the deck.

A shuffled deck of cards is like a pre-generated list, and that's what gives cards their speed. You can generate a list in a few moments using shuffled cards, whereas it's more time consuming to generate that by rolling on multiple tables and recording the information down.

Cards are more predictable if you can count cards, because there's only a limited number of each card available in the deck. Rollable tables don't have this limitation. If there's only 5 Passages in the deck of 20 cards, then you will only get 5 Passages at most in your dungeon (excluding any sort of shuffle card mechanic). However, the same dungeon generated by rollable tables could see as many as 20 Passages in your dungeon over 20 rolls.

What I find interesting is that the card mechanics of WHQ allowed for an easy way to generate a dungeon where the Objective Room can be found between cards 7 - 13. AHQ already achieved this idea by having an incremental modifier based on the number of rooms already explored, making it increasingly likely that you will find the Quest Room.

Yet, the deck system for AHQ takes the predictability of decks, but then adds the "shuffle card" to increase the unreliability of the decks towards more of that seen with the original tables.

Both of these systems are approaching the same problem - dungeon generation and the balance between randomness and predictability - and are closing in towards the middle, to the sweet spot where both decks and tables can be considered almost interchangeable, to the point of being more flavour than mechanic.

Individual players and groups will have biases towards cards or tables, often based on their bias towards predictability or randomness. It's possible that some players and groups will shun one mechanic over the other entirely based on what they desire from a dungeon generation system.

As a generalisation, it's almost impossible to say that one system is inherently better than the other for dungeon generation, without also defining what you want for a dungeon generation system in the first place.

The AHQ table system appeals to those who favour chaotic dungeons that could be just as likely entirely closed off as they are sprawling mazes of passages or endless rooms. You just won't get the sheer variety or diversity of dungeon layouts with cards, and even if you did, most of the time, effort, and resources to do so would be redundant.

However, the WHQ card system makes small, compact, and predictable dungeons that are largely similar in size and layout. The variations are minimal, but the playability and enjoyment of the dungeons are fairly constant. So you know what to expect from each dungeon before it is generated.

As a personal preference, I enjoy both games because they both have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to dungeon generation. So, for me, the sweet spot would be roughly around the middle of the variety vs. predictability spectrum, where tables and cards are largely interchangeable and a matter of flavour over mechanics. That's how comes I know it exists - the point where the two systems converge.
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Re: Comparing the AHQ Variants

Postby Stig » Saturday December 19th, 2020 9:09am

RECIVS wrote:That being said, perhaps you've seen my time-saving method for dealing with all the dice rolling required by the system.

This looks great - I guess it's possible to roll 6xD12 for passages, in pairs of different shades of the same colour. For example
Passage length = 2D12 pale green
Passage features = 2D12 mid green
Passage length = 2D12 dark green

That way, one handful of dice explains all the passages, as the two same shades are matched up into 2D12. The rooms could be a different colour, so you could have for example green=passages and red=rooms or whatever. Lovely idea.

I guess I'm just scarred by playing another solo dungeon crawler which had a lot of rolling but was so badly organised - Four Against Darkness - that the fans had to try to make flowcharts, summary sheets etc, and it was still difficult to work out what to do. But despite this the game was brilliant. As mentioned everywhere, it's a matter of preference.

I had a look at your GM sheet on Boardgamegeek and I think the link is broken - is there a single page somewhere with all of the tables to generate the dungeon, like a GM summary sheet with everything to avoid having to leaf through the rulebook? There is one at the Enhanced! downloads section that seems to fit the bill:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Sxsgg94jNecjExa2lZLXh5TTg/view

RECIVS wrote:
Stig wrote:Man I can't wait to actually play this game.

May I ask what's holding you?


Just real life - I have a 3 month old, a 3 year old, work is busy, family far away etc.. I haven't painted anything in a long while and my hobby time is pretty much solely taken up by imagining and theorising! I think a solo AHQ session would go down a treat.


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