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Dank Castles in the Dark
January 9, 2011 10:01 AM   Subscribe

In 1989, Milton Bradley debuted HeroQuest, a board game in the style of Dungeons and Dragons. Not to be bested at their own game, D&D's parent company TSR released Dragon Strike (reviewed here by Angry Video Game Nerd's James Rolfe.) Packaged with the board game was a low-budget fantasy short film meant to simultaneously set the mood, demonstrate a potential adventure and explain the rules.
posted by griphus (74 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
In 1989, Milton Bradley debuted HeroQuest

Well, they published it, but was deceloped by TSRs dread rival, Games Workshop, and set it in Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy setting.

It was a fun quick play, as was Space Crusade, and the GW published Advanced Heroquest and Advanced Space Crusade were a bit overcomplex and unfun by comparrison.

Still, no Space Hulk.
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That video is giving me similtaneous flashbacks to the awful DD&D cartoon and Knightmare.
posted by Artw at 10:21 AM on January 9, 2011


Dragon Strike came four or five years later, and was not (insofar as I can recall) not as a reaction to the other game. In 1989, TSR was still selling the original Dungeon board game, if my memory has not failed me.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:22 AM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man! I loved Heroquest!

But TSR should have just stuck with Dungeon, which gave me and my sister endless hours of play. "I got a +1 Sword! It's on!" "I got the ESP Medallion, no more wasting spells!" "Retreat and drop all my treasure?!?! ARRRGH!"
posted by yeloson at 10:23 AM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


But what if you wnat to play a game that;s more like a crazy-ass combination of Mad Max, George Romero and a 2000ad strip? Chainsaw Warrior!
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ahh, the fantasy board game.. two stand outs: Divine Right (TSR) and War of the Ring (SPI). I played these many times in the mid-80s.
posted by stbalbach at 10:32 AM on January 9, 2011


These days I'm just deeply envious of the people who have the time and the nerd-freinds to play Arkham Horrror - that looks awesome.

(My most recently played boardgames covered here)
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on January 9, 2011


For some reason I read that as Milton Friedman.
posted by erikgrande at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


i totally bought dragon strike.
posted by empath at 10:37 AM on January 9, 2011


You can't play Arkham Horror in a Brooklyn Apartment without automatically losing SAN by to having to shift the board into four-dimensional space.
posted by griphus at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have seen the Dragonstrike video more times than is healthy, due mainly to a friend who now works in the tabletop rpg business. Back when we were in college, it wasn't unusual for him to subject everyone at the table to it if anyone hadn't seen it before, and with a rotating and changing mix of players, many showings were necessary. For certain values of "necessary."

To this day when we game, one of us will occasionally launch into "Feeling brave tonight? How brave??" opening monologue before the dice start rolling. I also carry a copy of the video on my phone, but we usually don't make new players watch the entire thing anymore, lest perchance we become the next victim...of the Dragon Strike!
posted by Drastic at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Zargon is way, way cooler than the Dragon Master.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:53 AM on January 9, 2011


You can't play Arkham Horror in a Brooklyn Apartment without automatically losing SAN by to having to shift the board into four-dimensional space.

I know a couple who own more tables than they normally need specifically so they can set up all the expansion boards.

(Nerrrrrrds)
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:05 AM on January 9, 2011


The first time I ever stayed up until 2am I was playing Advanced Heroquest on the living room floor with my brother. Good times.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:09 AM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


We played the crap out of HeroQuest and Dragon Strike back when I was a kid. I agree with ricochet biscuit that Dragon Strike was released several years later and didn't seem like a direct reaction.

What I *do* remember are the cheesy HeroQuest commercials.

"I'll use my Broadsword!"
"Fire of Wrath!"

When we got bored of playing the base quests and expansions, we combined the sets and made up our own game, World Quest.

Fun Times
posted by johnstein at 11:10 AM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite video-board game is still Atmosfear The Harbringer . 5:10 onward is especially strange.

My friends and I thought it was especially odd that the video narrator kept using the phrase 'when the video starts, do x/x will happen' during the course of the video.
posted by TofuGolem at 11:18 AM on January 9, 2011


Man, I would love a slow, PBE type set up for these things. Each person logs a turn a day or so, no need to sit down and play for hours at a time.
posted by Canageek at 11:30 AM on January 9, 2011


I still consider the prototypical boardgame pseudo-RPG to be Search for the Emperor's Treasure, by Tom Wham. It was published in 1981, as the center pullout of Dragon magazine, then republished in 1990 as part of the Best of the Dragon boxed set. I've played that game dozens of times and had great fun every time.
posted by jiawen at 11:40 AM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


This brings back such harsh memories for me. What began as an idle aside became a squabble, which gave way to argument, anguish and at last a bitter, raging hatred powerful enough to pit nerd against fellow nerd.

The spark that began this conflagration:

"I really don't think a manscorpion would be susceptible to its own stinger venom."

That was a bad day in Badabaskor.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 12:01 PM on January 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, they published it, but was deceloped by TSRs dread rival, Games Workshop, and set it in Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy setting.

And the collaboration later produced Battle Masters — a fun simplification of the Games Workshop battle games with a giant vinyl map that was a pain in the ass.
posted by pokermonk at 12:06 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


we also played the crap out of Battle Masters too!

I'm getting all nostalgic now..
posted by johnstein at 12:18 PM on January 9, 2011


"I really don't think a manscorpion would be susceptible to its own stinger venom."

I am almost entirely sure that scene was in there just to do exactly what you described.
posted by griphus at 12:19 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, Dragon Strike. That was the one and only time I ever painted miniatures in my lifetime, and I seem to recall that the experiment ended in me leaving a large blob of blue paint on the carpet. ....don't think I ever actually played the game, though.
posted by whitneyarner at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2011


Playing arkham horror is like being in an abusive relationship. You don't really LIKE it, but you keep coming back for more.
posted by flaterik at 12:34 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Might as well mention The Awful Green Things From Outer Space. Forth, the Znutar!
posted by SPrintF at 12:43 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was in 4th grade or so, my dad bought a copy of DragonStrike. He'd usually DM, and my little sister, my stepmom and I would all play (though we did sometimes rotate DMing when one of us kids wanted to be "in charge.") I've got so many fond memories of that game.

While DMing, my dad would give the monsters different voices, and would totally ham all the lines up for us kids. I remember how excited I would get when I'd find a cool treasure, and how excited we all were the first time we managed to kill the dragon. I do remember that even as kids, we thought the video was awful, so we only watched it once. It did cause "Dunderhead" to become our comical insult of choice, though.

Fast-forward a dozen years or so, to when my sister and I are both in college. We run across DragonStrike packed away in a box, and decide that we absolutely have to play a game again, so we rope some friends into playing with us. We had just as much fun as we remembered it being. My sister was DMing, and she did the monster voices like dad, with a few additions of her own, like the Emo Bugbear.

When we were done, we realized that our mom still had a VCR, so we watched the tape for the laughs. And it was somehow even worse than we remembered. ("I was transformed into a coyote to learn the ways of nature!") But horrible video or not, we've still got so many great family memories from the game, and you can't really ask for more than that.
posted by Katrel at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


If people don't have the requisite group of friends/amount of time to play Arkham Horror, my wife and I have found Claustrophobia to be a pretty good dungeon-crawl type game that plays a lot like HeroQuest at its best.

(My friends and I used to make up our own rules and custom dungeons for HeroQuest, once we'd run out of the actual written adventures. I distinctly recall our elaborate setup in turning the whole board into a "ship" and making clay tentacles so we could fight a Kraken.)
posted by Scattercat at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


...my wife and I have found Claustrophobia to be a pretty good dungeon-crawl type game...

I had no idea they made two-player RP board games! Are there any other good ones?
posted by griphus at 12:58 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also apparently heroquest is worth about £80?

I'm off to my parent's loft. BRB.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 1:05 PM on January 9, 2011


Can somebody please tell me what exactly the evil white dude says at 5'00 in the video please? I've watched it over and over again and everytime he seems to be saying "As usual you masturbate your congressman". I'm pretty sure this can't be correct.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:05 PM on January 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think it's meant to be "As usual, you overestimate your accomplishment!"

But now I'm unable to hear it as anything other than masturbating your congressman.
posted by Drastic at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2011


Also apparently heroquest is worth about £80?

What? I've got three copies at home, next to three copies of Talisman 2E. One of each I bought new when they were in circulation, but the others I didn't pay more than a few bucks for. (One of the Talismans is mostly mint, with all the cards and counters still in their original sheets - $2 at Salvos.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:53 PM on January 9, 2011


We rarely played HeroQuest as kids and never owned Dragon Strike. But we did play Talisman! And Gammarauders.

I admit, I bought the Talisman re-release when it came out a few years ago.
posted by fiercekitten at 1:54 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just have to link to the commentary done by The Spoony One to the Dragon Strike video, it's quite well done and funny. He has also reviewed many old-school FMV games and the VHS tape games like Atmosfear - check out his other videos if you liked this one.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you Drastic, that does indeed make more sense.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:32 PM on January 9, 2011




I've watched it over and over again and everytime he seems to be saying "As usual you masturbate your congressman".

No, pretty sure that's it.
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on January 9, 2011


BTW Yog Radio have a great interview with Graham Lineham where they talk about RPGS (he's a Call of Cthulhu Fan) and that episode of the IT crowd. You have to skip forwards through some gumpf to get to it though.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh jesus, this has an owlbear in it...
posted by Artw at 3:09 PM on January 9, 2011


I had vague memories of this but could never remember the name of the game. Thanks for posting!
posted by simms2k at 3:15 PM on January 9, 2011


ArtW, if you're in Manchester (England) you're welcome to come play ARKHAM HORROR with us. We only played it once (got eaten very quickly).

Oooh, got to work out my Games Workshop Warhammer Fantasy Battle Lizardman army now!
posted by alasdair at 3:35 PM on January 9, 2011


Maybe it's the caffeine talking, but Dragon Strike comes across as sort of cool. It distills tropes down to their essences (settings: city, cavern, castle, valley; objectives: kill, escape, find, protect). I'm also a big fan of in-game concepts being represented by something physical (like a card representing a trap).

The warrior's hair... wow. Just, wow.
posted by Ritchie at 3:38 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, loved the video! It does look like a fun game *goes to search eBay*
posted by Calzephyr at 4:51 PM on January 9, 2011


I loved HeroQuest too. I had both the expansions as well. That game was the best.
posted by chunking express at 4:56 PM on January 9, 2011


Hate to break it to you, but across the world there were six expansions.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:21 PM on January 9, 2011


The warrior's hair... wow. Just, wow.

I could've sworn this guy was in fact Malibu from American Gladiators. But they may be different guys who just visit the same... hair reconceptualiser.

Much like Troll 2, this production cries out for a cast reunion convention and ensuing bittersweet documentary.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:32 PM on January 9, 2011


I could've sworn this guy was in fact Malibu from American Gladiators.

It is!
posted by griphus at 5:37 PM on January 9, 2011


What a blast from the past. I had this game (Dragon Strike) as a 12 year old, but didn't have a single friend to play with, so it sat in it the box. It actually reminds me of the single worst thing about my childhood. Maybe that's the dragon I have yet to conquer.
posted by yeti at 5:42 PM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I had the Barbarian Pack and the Elf Pack. Who knew I could have been playing even more.
posted by chunking express at 5:48 PM on January 9, 2011


We just picked up a copy of HeroQuest for my husband to play with our son. He vaguely remembers Dragon strike but never played it. Watching the video may have convinced us to hunt down a copy.
posted by anastasiav at 6:00 PM on January 9, 2011


What a weird coincidence. There's a HeroQuest game-in-progress set up on the floor of my master bedroom *right now*; we just started playing after I dug it out of my parents' garage last Thanksgiving. It's a game simple enough for my 6 year old niece to play and for my 12 year old niece to be Dungeon Master (excuse me, "Zargon"), it's about as close to D&D as you can get while having that statement be true, and we're all having lots of fun.

The only disappointments so far: finding out that it's long out of print and that the expansion packs (which I never bought originally) are going for over $100 a piece on eBay.
posted by roystgnr at 7:04 PM on January 9, 2011


I loved the shit out of Hero Quest, also liked the Dungeons and Dragons boxed set with the red dragon on the front. It think it came out a couple years after Hero Quest.
Arkham Horror is interesting but way complicated, I know we all lost SAN the first time we tried to play it in the board game room at GenCon at like 2AM. Like all fantasy flight games it has way too many little pieces.
Their Game of Thrones game is pretty fun, but we don't play it right because we always all gang up on who ever is playing Lanister before we will attack any of the others.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:52 PM on January 9, 2011


My brother and I were beyond obsessed with DnD as kids (er we still are...). When Hero Quest came out, we played all the time when we couldn't get enough people together for a proper DnD game. It was a really fun game to play, and we got a lot of people we knew into proper DnD through sessions of Hero Quest.

We were always looking for 2 player DnD substitutes. Our favorite DnD substitute of all time was Mertwig's Maze. It was a fantasy style board game, with great cartoon art, and lots of elements (treasure, weapons, classes) that would be familiar to any RPG player. It's a shame that copies are so expensive now, because I'd love to play it again.

The 1 on 1 Adventure books from TSR were also big favorites of ours as DnD substitutes. There were basically a pair of choose your own adventure novels, and each player got a different book that represented their character. The way they were constructed was clever. They had simple mechanics that let you play against each other, as well as the quest. There was a simple combat system involved as well.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 8:19 PM on January 9, 2011


For some reason, "Who Dares Disturb My Banquet"-Man reminds me of Hedonism Bot.
posted by Flunkie at 8:20 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hah, I was in that exact same situation, Yeti. Suffered that problem not just with the D&D box set, but also with Shadowrun.
posted by GoingToShopping at 8:56 PM on January 9, 2011


Elves are always such total dicks.
posted by Artw at 9:02 PM on January 9, 2011


But TSR should have just stuck with Dungeon, which gave me and my sister endless hours of play

I have not even thought of this game for over a decade. It was awesome... (though susceptible to the old sneeze-of-death, IIRC).
posted by pompomtom at 9:28 PM on January 9, 2011


This makes me really nostalgic for Hero Quest, but luckily I got Castle Ravenloft for Christmas...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:53 AM on January 10, 2011


I'll buy a beer for whomever can name this game that I had back in the early to mid 80s.

It had a bunch of plastic monocolored fantasy figures (ala army men) and was played on a vinyl mat. There were at least two expansions, as I had one with a forest theme and another with a volcano/mountain theme.

I never played the game, but I loved the figures that came with the game(s). There were blue soldiers, red lava men, assorted colors of cyclops/ogres, a goblin with a flail, and two dragons, one green and one red, matching up to the forest and lava mats. I think there were hero figures too. There certainly were wizards, who I remember because they were hollow beneath their robes and could therefore be worn as finger puppets.

I think I still have one of the dragons somewhere.

I've searched boardgame geek and could not find anything that matches my memory.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:57 AM on January 10, 2011


I would love to introduce my kids to Dungeon. I just wish I could find it! Maybe we'll try Castle Ravenloft eventually.
posted by Songdog at 9:46 AM on January 10, 2011


Cheers for the Claustrophobia recommendation, Scattercat. Ordered!

Castle Ravenloft is kinda fun, but it's a bit long in the setup to play department (lots of damn counters) and it's a touch complex in learning the rules; it's a bigger investment than say, carcassone or settlers of catarn.

I like the claustrophobia idea of allocating rolled dice to decide what you can pull off in a turn, and the way damage to the human side slowly restricts their options as they get worn down.

This great review/play through was the thing that got me to pull the trigger. Hopefully the wife will like it too, been trying to get some more two player board games and Ravenloft didn't really scratch the itch.

I do like space hulk, but it's kinda hard to play seriously once you've heard it called 'the game of count to 6'. Even if I do own all three versions.

I never owned heroquest, but I did used to play with my friend's copy with him - was kinda fun, but it was also my gateway (along with blood bowl) into much more hardcore games workshop stuff as a kid. Many years, and much moola later, I'm kinda of a recovering gameoholic. Seeing that Talisman has been re-released... not so good.

While we're on a nostalgia kick though, anyone remember Dungeonquest? Now there was an awesome game. Damn ard though! I still have my battered old copy, and me and the wife dust it off sometimes. Don't wake the dragon!

oh man, Fantasy Flight have *just* released a new version of that too...
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do like space hulk, but it's kinda hard to play seriously once you've heard it called 'the game of count to 6'.

I haven't heard this before, and it's been - Jesus, at least fifteen years since I last played - what does it mean?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:44 PM on January 10, 2011


I was wondering the same thing, but I googled it and from what I can tell it's because the geanstealer player spends ages figuring out where to move their genestealers (which can move 6 spaces each?), constantly re-counting 1-2-3-4-5-6 to figure out the best place to move to.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:19 PM on January 10, 2011


Well, there can be a lot of the buggers... On the other hand, a lot of them are hidden as "blips", and most of the action is in tight corridors so moving a column of them is easy to figure out once you've moved the first.

/re-enters OVERWATCH mode.
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on January 10, 2011


OVERWATCH mode

ohgodflashbackwhyamiplayingwithplasticspacemeninsteadoftalkingtothatcutegirl
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:51 PM on January 10, 2011


Obviously some kind of mutie xeno-filth after your precious geneseed. Praise the Emperor you remained pure!
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on January 10, 2011


Psst! There is an unreleased prototype NES version of HeroQuest which can be found on the internet....
posted by JHarris at 4:44 PM on January 10, 2011


Pretty sure I played an okay Amiga version of it at some point.
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on January 10, 2011


You made my decade - I searched and searched for this pre-youtube and could never find it. If I had a nickel for every time me or my friends said "You do not host this banquet. Death hosts this banquet!" in HS, I'd have a good 15-20 bucks... we loved the cheese factor of this video.
posted by mincus at 6:20 PM on January 10, 2011


robocop is bleeding: I'll buy a beer for whomever can name this game that I had back in the early to mid 80s.

I think they were talking about that game on one of the last D&D Podcasts (the end of year podcast). Link
posted by schwa at 10:38 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, schwa - I owe you a beer.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:29 AM on January 12, 2011


Oh. I was right? Fantastic.
posted by schwa at 10:49 AM on January 12, 2011


The Space Hulk card game actually sounds pretty good. The solitaire mode sounds almost Chainsaw Warriorish.
posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2011




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