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Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

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Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby Kurgan » Sunday April 3rd, 2022 2:38am

This idea was inspired from playing Space Crusade (as we know, the source of several great HeroQuest mod ideas, from the makers of HeroQuest!). In that game when a good guy player moves one of his pieces into one of the four boards, the "chaos player" places his blip tokens and they move around and get revealed as you see them, etc. and there is a deck of bad guy event cards that get drawn as well. So I came up with a similar idea that is explained in the document with the idea being to preserve the surprises when you're playing solo (or with just heroes only) but without any need for a companion app (that has to be configured for the quests you're playing anyway).

Yes, I prefer to have Zargon as a human player and I enjoy taking the role myself, but this was a fun experiment to come up with a system that doesn't require a smart device (and rely upon those who maintain it to create the quests I get to use on it).

I picked a basic quest layout to serve as the skeleton... "The Maze" from the 1st EU edition HQ with the monsters removed and everything else put out right from the start (just as in Space Crusade you can see all the doors and rooms right away, just not the monsters since their true identity is hidden until they come into Line of Sight). The monsters (and furniture) are generated by playing the tiles which are revealed once they enter hero LOS.


Instead of earning points from killing the aliens (a la Space Crusade), these monster tokens carry gold values (inspired by the Japanese Game System that puts bounties on all monsters except wandering monsters). Some of the tiles aren't monsters but are furniture (no gold value), or opportunities to draw an Equipment, Potion or Spell Scroll card or it might be a harmless rat! There are enough monster distributions that you could make sure of one or both of Kellar's Keep and Return of the Witch Lord or just the game system. You could also make new tokens to correspond to the new monsters in other expansion but I haven't made any of those yet. Since I'm using the map tokens (like HeroScribe uses) they're very quick to make and instantly recognizable. You could make a set matching the style of the Remake easily enough but I prefer classic.

Shadows (all the unrevealed tiles) can each open doors and move up to 5 squares at a time. Once revealed, they have their normal movement (if any is left) and can attack any good guys within range. Furniture that appears in a corridor or in front of a door is instantly destroyed (removed from the board) and their position is adjusted if they need to make room for another figure (similar to how the big Dreadnought behaves in Space Crusade which there takes up 4 squares but is hidden under a blip that is only one square).

Monsters should go straight for the nearest Hero (similar to the dumb brute AI of the Companion App I suppose), though without this I guess a player could be decided by dice roll to move the monsters, and settle old grudges or something, but this is probably more "fair." In the case of more than one Hero being equidistant from a monster, roll a red die for each Hero. The lowest roll is the one attacked (in cases of a tie, re-roll until one has lower). I suppose if Mercenaries were added, they would be treated the same way as heroes for enemy targeting purposes. Someone told me that the Companion app now has monsters target the hero with the highest body points, if you are more in the mood for fairness (or to lower the difficulty) you could implement that behavior instead I suppose.

The Center Room is divided up by quadrant, so you can either put one tile in there or else leave it empty. The Spiral Staircase is seen from the beginning, so this can be your escape out of the quest. But quit early (before all the monsters have been cleared from all four quadrants including any Wandering Monsters) and no additional reward is given! (suggestion: 500 gold, although less or more depending upon the difficulty perhaps!)

The Wandering Monster is a random draw from the Monster card deck to determine it for the rest of the quest. Wandering Monsters don't give gold bounties like the others. To make it somewhat fair I first removed the Gargoyle card before drawing the Wandering Monster. :gargoyle:

The only thing missing is searching for secret doors! (I just placed them out at the start) Another thing you'll notice is that you run out of closed doors, but this is no problem since Shadows can open them anyway (but revealed monsters cannot) and doors can't be closed.

I printed out something like 112 Shadow Tiles (glued them to chipboard) and you can decide how many you want to place. I found that 16 "Shadow" tiles per board quadrant was pretty hard with basic heroes (I actually gave them a Battle Axe, Longsword, Crossbow and Staff and they still got TPK!). Using 8 tiles, cutting the total in half was not very hard at all. So probably 10-12 tiles per quad is the sweet spot for medium difficulty.

I used the Combat Cards, Evil Wizard Deck and a couple of extra cards in the Treasure Deck as well. See the attached file. Feedback is welcome! I did some live playtests on twitch also.

Watch my second attempt here (Introduction) and the longplay using the Remake (coming soon).

First attempt (using the classic set): here. "Hard" mode!

The file below contains images of all the tiles, ready to print (they will print out slightly smaller than the HeroQuest Tiles, which is on purpose, scale them up 10% or more if you want them larger) along with the rules and suggestions on how to use them to play solo quest (or HeroQuest with the physical game and no specific Zargon player).
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Last edited by Kurgan on Saturday April 9th, 2022 1:57pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Another option for HeroQuest Solo Play (Shadow Tiles)

Postby Kurgan » Thursday April 7th, 2022 1:49pm

Images at the bottom...

In actual play I tried using one of those gamer "dice bags" to house the tiles and drew them out like I was drawing out Scrabble tiles... I just had to make sure I saw a hint of green before I pulled them all the way out of the bag, to keep their contents a secret from myself since I was controlling a bunch of heroes all by myself (with no other players to be Zargon).

Too few tiles and there would be low chance of monsters and so not much action on the quest. Too many tiles and the number of monsters could be insane and the game would go very long (if not a total party kill)!

Now that the Remake icons are all out there, a similar set could be made using the Remake images fairly easily. I stuck with the map icons for the most part because they are so easily recognizable and only made minor variations to the colors for easier sorting/identification.

I kept Green for "greenskin" monsters, black for undead and gray for gray figures. I also made special tiles for "vermin" using a clipart rat I found online, scrolls inspired by images from heroscribe, the furniture of course, fireburst trap icons taken directly from Wizards of Morcar, Potions again using HeroScribe and Equipment as well. I put the text in as an additional descriptor to make it easier to figure out for the one drawing the tiles.

In theory this could be used with four people each controlling a hero, or even just one person playing by themselves (as I've done it on camera).

Not having enough doors is a little issue but I don't feel the need to print out two dozen closed doors just to make it "perfect" (which wouldn't work anyway for the Remake set with its all plastic furniture, the I'd have to 3d print it!). I've just been using the Maze so far, but other quests might work or a purely generic one perhaps.

The smaller size of the tiles wasn't a problem. When you print them I recommend getting a nice quality paper that's got a smooth surface and some good quality printing (toner, rather than inkjet) as they slide a little easier on the board's surface (the board I use is a custom one that has a matte finish that shows up better on camera vs. the standard that is more shiny whether classic or remake). You could varnish the tiles or coat them in clear tape to make them slide even easier (just not snag or stick).

I think you could do this whole process with round discs instead of square tiles as well, get a large set of cheap tidly winks and use the smaller discs to accomplish the same task, perhaps printing the stuff on sticky paper (peel off adhesive).

The hollow bases of the Remake figures aren't quite as big as the ones on the Space Crusade figures (GamesWorkShop round slotabases) so the idea of the tiles fitting completely underneath them and the plastic of the base "carrying them along" as you move the figure pushing it around the board doesn't quite work here, unless you made them quite a bit smaller or round to fit under the remake pieces. I think this worked fine.

The only issue I had was sometimes stacking skull tiles under the figure (for stronger monsters taking damage) caused them to be unsteady with the smaller size tile also under there. This was especially true for the Gargoyle with his wings making him unbalanced (classic set).

Images from the process... my scissors aren't as ergonomic as I'd like, so my poor hands were sore after all that cutting! So as you can see they're pretty utilitarian, nothing fancy.

If you choose to laminate your tiles, be sure there are no sharp edges that could mar the surface of your board as you push them along.
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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby Kurgan » Saturday April 9th, 2022 1:58pm

This may end up as our regular way to play HeroQuest on HeroQuestFans on twitch.tv!

I'll be trying 12 tiles per board quadrant (48 total) next.


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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby Kurgan » Sunday April 10th, 2022 10:14pm

I thought of a new tweak and this I will try the next time I play it...

I noticed the problem of almost never getting any furniture... it's because the tiles immediately start seeking the heroes, so they only way they'll ever get furniture is if they enter a room with the Shadows inside.

Instead, on the "Chaos" turn, I will roll a white combat die for each Shadow inside a room. When a Skull is rolled, the tile will move and seek out the nearest hero like normal. Any other result, it will stay put.

Exception: if it's the last room, they'll all move as if skulls were rolled. I was going to say if a Hero was already in the room, but once they come into a Hero's line of sight, they ceased to be Shadows and are revealed for whatever they are.

I think that should give a chance to get more options. And the Zargon deck will need to be tweaked (that will take more time), perhaps a card or two could be introduced that allow a couple more Shadows to be drawn (similar to the "reinforcements" from Space Crusade). Yes!

I haven't added it to the file yet.


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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby gaeryth » Sunday April 10th, 2022 11:28pm

Do furniture pieces do anything other than take up a token?

Maybe just replace the furniture tokens with blank tiles, or clue tiles (give the players a head's up on what the boss monster is in advance or similar)
I would leave treasure chests as tokens though, they only take up one square so can be placed anywhere (if you allow players to move through them freely)
The rest of the furniture I would just place randomly on the board when I place the doors.

The Sword and Sorcery board game uses a similar system to yours as its base gameplay for revealing monsters and traps, and clues, and random commoners lost in the dungeon, and quest points.
S&S doesn't use furniture like HQ does though, so it doesn't have a problem like yours.
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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby gaeryth » Sunday April 10th, 2022 11:49pm

in S&S chest tokens are placed at map set up, and you always resolve a trap card when opening one, begore getting any treasure inside. flipping the chest token over reveals how many treasure cards you draw or how much gold you find inside.
there are also search area tokens that are preset on the map at the beginning. flipping the search area token reveals the possible results of the search, based on a die roll.

Every closed door is also trapped, just like the chests.

Shadow tokens are also placed at the beginning, do not move, and are revealed when the come into LOS of a hero.
flipping the token reveals one of the following:
Male Citizen, Female Citizen (both representing a non enemy, could be a vendor or an ally, per the quest)
Enemy (draw an card from the enemy deck and place it's mini on the board)
2 Enemies (draw two cards from the enemy deck and place minis)
Champion (draw a card from the enemy deck and draw an enemy power card for it, and place the mini on the board)
Quest Enemy (an enemy set by the quest being played, mini-bosses, bosses, etc.)
Quest (this token represents a key moment in the quest)

S&S also uses spawn gates to increase the number of monsters that can show up, using quest specific rules to determine when they trigger.
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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby gaeryth » Sunday April 10th, 2022 11:53pm

S&S also has a decent AI for its monsters to determine how they attack, separate rules for each monster on their stat card telling the players who they attack, depending on range and other factors.
Bardsung uses a simpler AI for its monsters. It has a small number of categories of AI and each monster is assigned one. AI cards are set next to the playing area so they can be easily refernced.
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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby Kurgan » Monday April 11th, 2022 2:51am

Interesting. I'll have to look into this game, sounds like it has some ideas that might be useful!

The whole "one square tile but object is larger" was present in Space Crusade when the Dreadnought is revealed (takes up four squares but radar blip is only one square).


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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby gaeryth » Monday April 11th, 2022 4:52am

Both Sword and Sorcery and Bardsung are cooperative dungeon crawlers with a narrative heavy quest system. They are both way more complex than HQ though.
In Bardsung, each chapter is flowchart of quests that branch based on decisions made in earlier quests, inspired by the old Fighting Fantasy books (even getting Ian Livingstone to write a set of quests for the stretch goal box, amongst others)

I'm working my way through the rules of both games to see what kinds of things I can borrow for HQ. All the minis are pretty close in scale to HQ21 so I have lots of options for custom stuff.

Both games use dungeon room/corridor tiles with a small number of regions on them, rather than a grid based movement system like HQ, which makes using larger minis easier on movement. I love the simplicity of the HQ board, but sometimes I wish it had been designed after DnD 3rd edition came out instead of in '89; It makes it harder to use more than half of my mini collection.
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Re: Another way to play HeroQuest Solo (Shadow Tiles)

Postby Kurgan » Monday April 11th, 2022 10:51am

Yeah I'm generally not trying to add (much) complexity to HQ. Is this the game you're referring to: Sword & Sorcery (2017)? Bardsung.


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