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Advanced Heroquest, Where is the Love?

Topics related to Games Workshops Advanced HeroQuest.

Re: Advanced Heroquest, Where is the Love?

Postby lestodante » Saturday July 7th, 2018 6:58am

I can quote this answer by Bryan Ansell (founder of Citadel), it is taken from his comment at Steve Casey's blog in 2014: http://eldritchepistles.blogspot.com/20 ... otype.html
They were discussing about HQ and some metal unreleased miniatures.

Bryan Ansell wrote:Stephen Baker, Roger Ford, and Ben Rathbone had damn all to do with HQ's developement. SB had produced a poor derivative of D&D. GW had to be called in to perform a rescue mission and deliver an actual game. We did that: we were paid for delivering an actual game that actually worked. We used nothing from the SB version. Stephen Baker managed one of our shops. I have no idea who Ford and Rathbone are.

We always sculpted models in an open, casual, questing and experimental way: we were always looking for a better way forwards. That's all there is to it: we always did our absolute best in the time available. Moving forward fast and fearless always gives the best results. We never gave a toss about the thickness of a sword or any other petty detail: we just wanted every part of what we did to look as good as we could manage in the time that was available.


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Re: Advanced Heroquest, Where is the Love?

Postby Daedalus » Tuesday July 10th, 2018 5:16am

Wow, a response from Bryan Ansell! His strong tone sheds a bit more light on the acrimonious MB-GW split. Someone may be misrepresenting the past as another vestige of this contentious split.

Ansell claims that GW used absolutely nothing of Baker's (invented) version, which he also called a poor D&D derivative. A few elements at least appear attributable to Baker. The first seem to be the dice. He used a similar design with the same odds in both Battle Masters and Heroscape. The second would be the gameboard, which Baker specifically mentioned as as design choice in his interview. I suppose it's possible the gameboard was swapped in after GW's contributions, but that suit-approved design choice would likely have preceded a deal with GW. The last element mentioned by Baker as an up-front design choice was the game screen.

However, Baker also mentioned his prototype underwent simplification. Ansell's story that "Stephen Baker, Roger Ford, and Ben Rathbone had damn all to do with HQ's developement" fits here if by "working game" Ansell is referring to a rules set. It would then stand to reason Jervis Johnson was involved in Hero Quest development, as well. This is corroborated by the White Dwarf promo.

In his Kaos interview, Baker was straight-out asked: "Do you think HeroQuest is totally yours? After you were the creator, was the development entrusted to a team?" His answer: "I invented it and I personally participated in a large part of the development, with the help of Ben Rathbone . He still works in MB , in particular he worked on a lot of ideas from the expansions." So Baker admits he didn't work alone, but neglects to mention GW development. We know GW contributed card art and miniatures, though only minis help was previously mentioned by Baker. There is at least a partial untruth here due to omission.

If Ansell's words were intended to apply to rules development, I feel the rescue mission GW was called in for (cited by Ansell) came first and took priority over development of AHQ, a more complex game. Baker had stated AHQ came out 18 months after the initial licensing agreement. Wasn't Hero Quest released months in advance of AHQ? The name alone implies that. I can see a scenario where MB comes in with a Baker HQ prototype, Johnson revamps it while simultaneously developing AHQ ideas, then finishes AHQ after the MB collaboration is wrapped up.

Or was Ansell comment merely referring to the physical aspects of game production, such as the game cards featuring art? If Ansell was referring to only that, then both the Baker and Ansell stories basically check out.

Taken in the context of the blog discussion which Ansell goes on to discuss only their miniatures production, I think it's more likely GW only had a direct hand in the physical copy of Hero Quest, not the rules. Unless Ansell can be bothered to clarify his comment with specific GW rules-related design contributions and names involved, I'm likely not to be swayed by a lone, unspecific post. It more reflects the unhappy ending of the partnership than anything else.

But should he reveal more . . . whoa boy, this could get interesting.

For my part, there are a. couple of errors in my post quoted in the blog. It would have been better to call Ansell a GW founder than just an employee. Also, AHQ was released after the prototype of Hero Quest was brought to GW, not developed.
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Re: Advanced Heroquest, Where is the Love?

Postby Zenithfleet » Thursday October 29th, 2020 3:21pm

Daedalus wrote:However, Baker also mentioned his prototype underwent simplification. Ansell's story that "Stephen Baker, Roger Ford, and Ben Rathbone had damn all to do with HQ's developement" fits here if by "working game" Ansell is referring to a rules set. It would then stand to reason Jervis Johnson was involved in Hero Quest development, as well. This is corroborated by the White Dwarf promo.


Just dropping by to add that Jervis Johnson has long been known for designing games that are 'simple yet elegant', without too many fiddly bits / options / bling / chrome. It's something that has annoyed a lot of tabletop wargamers and hardcore Games Workshop fans who prefer lots of fiddly bits, thank you very much.

Seeing Jervis's name on that promotional flyer for HeroQuest, and reading that Baker's prototype had to be simplified, makes me wonder if Jervis's involvement might explain the curious differences between the European and North American editions.

I have absolutely no evidence for the following scenario, but I'm picturing something like this:

Baker designs his prototype for Milton Bradley, based on a very simplified 'lite' version of 80s D&D--hence the single-use Vancian spells and the heroes closely matching old-school Basic classes.

Games Workshop is then meant to give it a Warhammer coat of paint. Orcs, Fimir, Chaos and so on.

However, GW's designers feel Baker's prototype is still too blinged up and fiddly for the mass market--at least the British market. And because GW still makes actual games at the time, and is steadily moving away from open-ended RPGish products in favour of competitive games with win conditions that don't need gamesmasters or referees, it takes the view that HeroQuest is meant to be a game, not D&D with training wheels. Possibly one that will lead players into the miniatures collecting / tabletop wargaming hobby that GW is coming to dominate--whereas Baker's original idea was more to lead players into the pen-and-paper RPG hobby.

So Jervis at GW swoops in with his trademark 'elegance!' doctrine and strips some of the fiddliness and detail out, producing the very straightforward EU ruleset and its really quite impressively thin and concise rulebook. The EU edition has little in the way of 'RPG training' instructional text--it's a boardgame first and foremost. It also allows for plenty of competition between the Hero players. Shortly afterward a 2nd edition of the EU rules is released, making a few tweaks and adding The Trial.

Baker thinks, "Aw man, I liked all that cool bling, and wait a minute, wasn't the whole point of this project to make a lite version of D&D in disguise? This UK edition is going to pull kids in the wrong direction!" And in one way or another he manages to cram some of the cut content back into the game for the North American release. Thus the NA game has a rather denser, more D&D-ish rulebook with a lot of instruction on how to be a good Dungeon Master, more detailed rules for traps and things, extra artifact cards, extra body points for monsters (requiring basic bookkeeping) and so on. It winds up being suitable for a slightly older audience and more obviously 'my first RPG'.

And somewhere along the way, the name Morcar in the EU release--which sounds properly Tolkienesque but is perhaps too easily mixed up with Mentor--changes to Zargon in North America, which sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon villain (in my opinion) but at least can't lead to confusion... and also happens to be the name of a baddie from an old D&D module. Hmm.

Obviously the above is pure conjecture. Many people feel the NA ruleset was an improvement. (I'm on the fence.) But some things, like having three types of search instead of two in the NA edition,* don't feel like improvements so much as concepts from an earlier, complicated prototype that were stripped out as the game was refined... and then put back in because the original designer had a soft spot for them.

*I note that in Basic D&D at least, secret doors were treated separately to traps. The Elf was good at finding the former, the Dwarf good at finding the latter. So there's reason to suspect that Baker's prototype would have those two things as different searches, plus treasure as the third. Combining secret doors and traps into a single search feels like a logical refinement later in the design process, and I think it's telling that it reverted (if my hunch is right) to separate searches in the NA edition.
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Re: Advanced Heroquest, Where is the Love?

Postby Valnar Nightrunner » Tuesday November 10th, 2020 12:06pm

Zenithfleet wrote:
Daedalus wrote:However, Baker also mentioned his prototype underwent simplification. Ansell's story that "Stephen Baker, Roger Ford, and Ben Rathbone had damn all to do with HQ's developement" fits here if by "working game" Ansell is referring to a rules set. It would then stand to reason Jervis Johnson was involved in Hero Quest development, as well. This is corroborated by the White Dwarf promo.


Just dropping by to add that Jervis Johnson has long been known for designing games that are 'simple yet elegant', without too many fiddly bits / options / bling / chrome. It's something that has annoyed a lot of tabletop wargamers and hardcore Games Workshop fans who prefer lots of fiddly bits, thank you very much.

Seeing Jervis's name on that promotional flyer for HeroQuest, and reading that Baker's prototype had to be simplified, makes me wonder if Jervis's involvement might explain the curious differences between the European and North American editions.

I have absolutely no evidence for the following scenario, but I'm picturing something like this:

Baker designs his prototype for Milton Bradley, based on a very simplified 'lite' version of 80s D&D--hence the single-use Vancian spells and the heroes closely matching old-school Basic classes.

Games Workshop is then meant to give it a Warhammer coat of paint. Orcs, Fimir, Chaos and so on.

However, GW's designers feel Baker's prototype is still too blinged up and fiddly for the mass market--at least the British market. And because GW still makes actual games at the time, and is steadily moving away from open-ended RPGish products in favour of competitive games with win conditions that don't need gamesmasters or referees, it takes the view that HeroQuest is meant to be a game, not D&D with training wheels. Possibly one that will lead players into the miniatures collecting / tabletop wargaming hobby that GW is coming to dominate--whereas Baker's original idea was more to lead players into the pen-and-paper RPG hobby.

So Jervis at GW swoops in with his trademark 'elegance!' doctrine and strips some of the fiddliness and detail out, producing the very straightforward EU ruleset and its really quite impressively thin and concise rulebook. The EU edition has little in the way of 'RPG training' instructional text--it's a boardgame first and foremost. It also allows for plenty of competition between the Hero players. Shortly afterward a 2nd edition of the EU rules is released, making a few tweaks and adding The Trial.

Baker thinks, "Aw man, I liked all that cool bling, and wait a minute, wasn't the whole point of this project to make a lite version of D&D in disguise? This UK edition is going to pull kids in the wrong direction!" And in one way or another he manages to cram some of the cut content back into the game for the North American release. Thus the NA game has a rather denser, more D&D-ish rulebook with a lot of instruction on how to be a good Dungeon Master, more detailed rules for traps and things, extra artifact cards, extra body points for monsters (requiring basic bookkeeping) and so on. It winds up being suitable for a slightly older audience and more obviously 'my first RPG'.

And somewhere along the way, the name Morcar in the EU release--which sounds properly Tolkienesque but is perhaps too easily mixed up with Mentor--changes to Zargon in North America, which sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon villain (in my opinion) but at least can't lead to confusion... and also happens to be the name of a baddie from an old D&D module. Hmm.

Obviously the above is pure conjecture. Many people feel the NA ruleset was an improvement. (I'm on the fence.) But some things, like having three types of search instead of two in the NA edition,* don't feel like improvements so much as concepts from an earlier, complicated prototype that were stripped out as the game was refined... and then put back in because the original designer had a soft spot for them.

*I note that in Basic D&D at least, secret doors were treated separately to traps. The Elf was good at finding the former, the Dwarf good at finding the latter. So there's reason to suspect that Baker's prototype would have those two things as different searches, plus treasure as the third. Combining secret doors and traps into a single search feels like a logical refinement later in the design process, and I think it's telling that it reverted (if my hunch is right) to separate searches in the NA edition.


Very interesting analysis. But don't forget that, in the very same year of publication of the first Heroquest, Advanced Heroquest was born, and this one have rules inspired by the Warhammer RPG system. So I guess that the Heroquest rules system was not directly inspired by the D&D system (of course, the Heroes was certainly the basic party for all heroic fantasy games in 80' and Warhammer was, after all, inspired by the D&D universes).
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