Monday, May 16, 2016

REVIEW: Warhammer Quest - Silver Tower

I was lucky enough to get an advance review copy of the new Warhammer Quest game from Games Workshop this past week. I've only had it for a few days so I haven't had time to paint anything or get a game in yet, but I have been able to pour through everything that came in the box, and man is there a lot!

Like I already said, I haven't gotten a game in yet, so I will have a separate review for the gameplay just like I did with the Betrayal at Calth box. This review is just focusing on the contents of the box and all of the rule books I have been able to read.

To start things off, the box itself is super high quality. You may not think this is a big deal, and for stuff like starter sets it doesn't really matter. Since this is a board game you are most likely going to store it in the box it's important that it can stand up to the tests of time. It's a nice super thick cardboard with a high gloss sheen. The artwork on the front is fantastic as well, which I'm sure everyone has seen by now. It really evokes the older style that we know from GW. While I like all of their new artwork and the varied styles that brings in, there is something just infinitely cool about how super detailed this cover image is.

Once I crack the box open it is just jam packed with sprues, cards, books, and game tiles. There are two books, the Guidebook and the Adventure Book, one deck of cards that has all of the Skill and Treasure cards, one deck with all of the Character cards, one with all of the Exploration cards, the game tiles, the dice, and all of the sprues.

The game tiles are a super thick glossy cardboard, just like in the Space Hulk game, that you need to pop out of the cardboard sheets. Each one is double sided to give you double the options of rooms. There are also all of your various tokens on these sheets ranging from wound counters, to portals and the pieces of the amulet that you are searching for.

All of the dice are color coded, the purple ones are the Destiny dice, and all of the other ones are divided up into different colors, four dice a color, to make sure you don't mix up your dice with another one of the players. It's a small touch, but greatly appreciated. I'll get to the cards in a second when I go over the gameplay.

Now on to the sprues, which I'm sure everyone is looking forward to. There are 51 models total, with six of them being the heroes. The denizens of the Silver Tower are all on one sprue, which you then get two of. So you get six Tzaangors, but there are only three different variations of them, which isn't a huge deal with how great they look. One thing that is cool is that each sprue comes with all four of the familiars, so you actually get eight familiars, two of each one!

The models are cut up in the typical fashion we have come to expect from GW, meaning, in a way you would never have though to cut a model. This is what allows them to get such dynamic poses in though. Having put together the starter set for AoS I will say that the models from Silver Tower are not cut up into as many small pieces and in such a strange manner. For the most part the majority of the models, excluding the heroes, are only in two or three pieces. The Skaven for example is just the body, his left arm, and his head and that's all. A few of the Tzaangors have some horns as separate pieces and the one with a sword and shield is in quite a few, but for the most part everything looks simple and intuitive to put together.

All of the hero models, including the Gaunt Summoner and the Ogroid Thaumaturge, are on individual sprues like you would see in a clam pack. I can only imagine this means all of these will be sold individually at some point in the future. Some of these, like the Stormcast, are cut up fairly simply, while others like the Tenebrael Shard is in a crazy amount of pieces. For example, his face is a separate piece, not his head, his face. Again, this is what let's us have such awesome poses, so I'm not complaining, but I would definitely recommend following the assembly instructions to the T for these guys. One cool thing that I noticed is that the Darkoath Chieftain has an alternate left hand. Instead of giving him his ax you can give him a hand holding a severed Tzaangor head, I'm pretty sure this is the option I will be going with.

The Guidebook is labeled "Read this First", and theres a good reason for it. This is where you have your instructions of how the game is actually played. It goes over all of the individual cards and parts of the game first so you know what they're referencing. After this it asks you to start the first adventure but then flip back to the Guidebook so it can walk you through each phase. The game is divided up into rounds and each round is divided up into four phases, the Destiny, Hero, Adversary, and End Phase.

In the Destiny Phase you roll the destiny dice, which you can use later in the hero phase. Any doubles rolled though are set to the side and can have negative consequences for you later. The Hero Phase is when you get to move your hero. Each hero has four dice which you roll and then set on your hero card. These are what you use for your actions like moving and attacking. Each action has a cost such as 2+ or 4+. If an action requires a 4+ then you need to use one of your dice which is a four or higher. Once used you just discard the dice for now. This can result in you having dice leftover that you can't use because they aren't high enough for what you want to do, in which case you would just discard them. You can use the destiny dice as well to supplement your own, but once you use them they are gone for that round, so you're denying the other people playing there use. The tiles are divided up into squares for movement, so that's pretty simple. Attacking is also pretty simple, with each enemy having a vigor value and once you have done as much or more damage as their vigor then they are killed. If your hero is killed they don't stay dead unless all of the heroes are dead at the same time.

It's kind of hard to go over all of the gameplay mechanics here without just repeating everything from the rulebooks, so I'll cut it a little short until I do my gameplay walkthrough. The next phase, the Adversary Phase is when all of the monsters and such get to move and attack. One player controls them, switching which player each turn. Each adversary has a chart you roll on to see what they do each turn. It's a pretty creative way to give the adversaries a kind of AI. The End Phase is pretty self explanatory.

The way the game unfolds is super unique. Once you enter a new room, that new room is generated from the Exploration Deck, ensuring you'll never know what's coming. Each event asks you to read aloud a numbered passage from the Adventure book which has a small bit of story and then tells you what happens. Some of these require you to make a decision and then go to passage X or passage Y. It reminds me a ton of a pick your own adventure book, but playing it out in a game. This pretty much means that you will never play through the same adventure in the same way again.

There can also be random encounters which have you roll on a chart to determine how many enemies appear and what type. These charts, as well as a few other important bits of information are located on the backs of the books for easy reference. Another cool factor of this game is that all of the skills and treasure you acquire during your adventure carry over into the next adventure, giving it a true RPG feel.

Games Workshop has already done a pretty good video briefly going over how the game works that explains a lot of what I talked about above.

There are eight different adventures, one for each realm, that you need to complete to "win". Like I said before, it would be almost impossible for you to repeat the same series of circumstances for the same adventure so there is almost unlimited play through value for the game. I highly recommend that you don't read through the adventure book until prompted to in your games. This way you will be surprised as the story and game unfolds. You also get rules for including Screamers, Flamers, and Heralds of Tzeentch in your games as well as four more heroes, a Knight-Venator, Slaughterpriest, Chaos Sorcerer, and an Auric Runemaster.

With the promise of more content to come in the form of more heroes and a possible hero creator I can definitely see the replay ability only going up. I would not be surprised to see more versions of this game coming out in the future as well, focusing on different dungeons and different adversaries. I'm already thinking about how I could tweak this to make a fun Tomb King themed adventure since it practically lends itself to exploring an ancient necropolis or something.

The amount of content you get in this for $150 is pretty staggering and I think this will help bring a lot more people into the world of AoS. I really like how they seem to be using this as a launch point to start expanding the Tzeentch faction as well as giving us a sneak peak at the upcoming Aelf factions. It seems like both of these models are from the aelfs living in Ulgu, the Realm of Shadow, but their aesthetic is pretty cool looking. I am also pretty excited about possible Tzaangor and Kharic Acolytes boxes.

I would highly recommend picking up Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower if you are interested in Age of Sigmar. If you've been on the fence about it, this would be a great place to start and also gives you a small starting force for the main game with the Tzeentch models. Age of Sigmar rules for every model in this game are being printed in White Dwarf, and I assume they will be on the App at some point soon. This allows you to use everything in this box in both AoS and Warhammer Quest, essentially doubling the value. I know I plan on using a few of the heroes in my own force, especially the Knight Questor, who I may decide to paint as a different Stormhost since they are pretty independent from the rest of the Stormcast. I may even start a small Tzeentch force, who knows.

Final Score - 5/5

This is a home run by Games Workshop. I really don't know what else they could have done to improve it at all. It would be cool if they release more adventures for free in White Dwarf, or at a low price through the App. Oh yeah, and there is a Warhammer Quest App coming out this weekend with even more content! GW has a bunch of cool content on their Warhammer Quest page here where you can also pre-order the game.

Expect a play through report soon where I will go into more detail on the gameplay mechanics as well as a painting tutorial on one of the adversary models, most likely a Tzaangor or an Acolyte. I plan on painting all of them though and will do a detailed step by step tutorial with pictures for each one as I go.

Happy questing!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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