I’m a big fan of co-op games, particularly if they’re thematic and provide a sense of adventure. So when I heard about a new game from Fantasy Flight set in the Descent universe, I was immediately interested.
I then discovered it was a re-theme though. You see, a few years ago, Fantasy Flight signed a deal with Games Workshop to use the Warhammer licence. Since then, they have produced a significant number of Warhammer-themed games including Relic, Forbidden Stars and, crucially for us, the co-op card game Warhammer Quest.
However, Games Workshop ended the deal a couple of years ago, which left a significant chunk of the Fantasy Flight catalogue in limbo. What would happen to their Warhammer games? Some of them will just fall by the wayside, but some of them are being re-themed.
So Heroes of Terrinoth is a re-theme of Warhammer Quest, but they have improved a few things and addressed some of the criticisms of the original game. Let me tell you about it…
The first big difference is obviously the theme, but I have to say, I definitely prefer the Descent theme to the Warhammer one. I don’t dislike Warhammer, but it’s pretty dark. In terms of playing games with my son, the Descent theme is much more appropriate.
As always, Fantasy Flight have done a great job with the artwork and the flavour text throughout the game, which really helps to immerse you in the world.
Essentially, players each take on a hero and attempt a particular mission, which usually involves fighting through a deck of monsters, while attempting to make progress on the journey. It typically culminates in a boss showing up at the end.
The innovative mechanism is the card play. Each player only has four cards and on your turn you can only play one of them, which then becomes exhausted. Players usually have one card for attacking, one for making progress through the current location, one for aiding another player and one for resting, which allows you to refresh all your cards.
It’s very simple: each turn you just pick one card to play. However, the decisions can be remarkably tricky. Why? It all comes down to co-operation. Defeating even one monster by yourself is hard and will probably take you a couple of attacks. But remember, your attack card will exhaust after your first attack, which means you can’t use it again until you play your rest card.
What you really need are success tokens! You get these when someone plays their aid card to help you. Success tokens can be used to add to the power of any of your cards, but when attacking they allow you to deal extra damage. So if someone aids you first, and then you attack, you can probably kill a monster with one attack, which makes a big difference because then it’s not attacking you between turns!
The game requires a lot of co-operation between players, which I love. Teamwork is the name of the game, which means you’re not just thinking about which card you can play, you’re thinking about cards that other people can play at the same time.
If all you had to do was kill monsters, it be would be pretty easy (once you learn to co-operate!), but you have to get progress on the locations as well. The quest also adds a time-pressure element, which increases the difficulty if you take too long.
This provides lots of tension. You could kill this monster, but you’re probably better leaving it for a round, soaking up some damage and getting some progress on the location or you’ll run into trouble later.
There’s a fair amount of variety between the characters. There are four main classes (that play quite differently) and you can pick multiple characters within each class, who each have their own special abilities.
The biggest improvement compared with the original Warhammer Quest is with the difficulty of the quests. The original game (even the intro scenario) was hard. Punishingly so. Heroes of Terrinoth still contains some very challenging quests, but the difficulty increases gradually as you work through the included scenarios.
The only potential criticism I have is that it could be subject to an alpha-gamer situation, where one player takes over and tells everyone else what to do; there isn’t really any hidden information. I just avoid playing with people like that though, so it’s not an issue for me.
My favourite aspect is just how co-operative it is. Played in the right spirit, you constantly have to plan between you who will attack, who will aid, who will get progress on the quest, etc. It’s great!
Have you had a chance to play it? Or have you played the original Warhammer Quest? What do you think? And which theme do you prefer?