Heroes of Terrinoth Review

Heroes of Terrinoth Review

Jackwraith     
 
4.0
854   0

Heroes of Terrinoth is adventure that's both abstract and detailed.

First off, let's be clear: Heroes of Terrinoth is a reskin of FFG's Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game. WQACG designers, Adam and Brady Sadler, simply ported their design over, such that there are very few mechanical differences between the two games; aside from a couple tweaks made in the three years since WQACG was released and a slight redirection in terms of adventure focus. You're still a party of stalwart adventurers stepping into the world to solve a problem. The main difference, of course, is that of setting. While WQACG was set in GW's venerable Old World, Heroes is set in FFG's own Terrinoth; home of Descent, Runebound, Runewars, and Battlelore, 2nd Ed.

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For some, that's an instant non-starter, as Terrinoth is often simply reviled for being "generic fantasy", as opposed to the 35 years of depth and character that has been layered upon the Old World or similar IPs. While I sympathize with that perspective (I still have 8000+ points of fully-painted Skaven in my basement from my Fantasy Battles days), I don't think Heroes suffers from the change in setting in any way. Indeed, in some ways, it kind of patches a thematic flaw that some could see in WQACG. Terrinoth, being what it is, is generally unburdened by any of the trappings of setting. In WQACG, you could be prone to wonder why a Witch Hunter would ever spend time with an elf of any kind. There are no such behavioral burdens in Heroes. Also, one of the advantages of the lesser known background is that it's easier to simply plug in the variety of heroes present in games like Descent, 2nd Ed., from which the bulk of the characters in Heroes are derived, without a need to explain why they'd be associating, other than the typical (generic?) desire for glory and loot (and, yes, occasionally doing good things, too.)

One distinct advantage of being able to draw from FFG's game world is that there are many more characters in Heroes than there were in the prior game, each with a subtle skill or ability that makes playing Syndrael the warrior different from playing One Fist the warrior. To the Sadlers' credit, they still managed to retain the essence of those characters' inherent abilities from their origin game, such as Astarra's ability to move the party forward (via gates in Descent; via Exploration successes in Heroes.) Given the dozens of characters present in the other Terrinoth games, it's a firmly paved avenue for expansion, as well. Like the original game, each character type is differentiated by the variations in their respective action cards. A Scout exploring can be much more advantageous than a Mage doing so, while the latter attacking is often better than doing so with a Healer. Also, the advantage of the diversity in the character pool is that the designers were also able to draw on the class system present in Descent to give upgrade cards more of a thematic lean than in the Warhammer game. Now, instead of just being better at attacking as a Warrior when receiving an upgrade, you can decide whether you're going to do so as a more durable Knight or as a more bloodthirsty Berzerker.

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However, a counterpoint to that diversity in character and style is that the game is still very mechanically driven and the differences between the actions of two different characters aren't overwhelming. Much of the gameplay is based on calculation of how different die rolls are going to benefit the players or not. That's understandable in a stripped down approach that's attempting to be an adventure game played solely with cards and a few dice. But it does occasionally drain the game of the drama and excitement that is the hallmark of dungeon crawls and other games like Runebound. Still, RPGers and fantasy gamers from time out of mind have known the tension of having to make a key roll at a given moment and Heroes certainly does not lack for that. Gameplay is still quite engaging, keeping the players focused with basically no down time as the horde of creatures grows in front of you. Knowing how to work together is essential in the more difficult scenarios, which means that every player's turn will have an impact on everyone else.

An unusual departure from the typical design is that Heroes also does not have loot. You won't be finding any magic swords or staves to help you on your way because there aren't any. All of the magic items that can be discovered are single use that typically help with die rolls or do minor amounts of damage to the enemies. On the one hand, that's disappointing because one of the hallmarks of this style of game in any format is the discovery of cool weapons or amulets that let you do cool things. On the other hand, it also removes the game from what I've usually labeled "The Descent problem", which is a situation where a player discovers that epic weapon that then lays waste to all opponents and turns the game into either a rout or a situation where the GM/AI has to introduce monsters of such power that player and game end up exchanging one-shot kills with each other for an hour. As the increase in player power in Heroes is much more subtle and gradual, it does tend to be more defined by skillful play and proper teamwork, rather than finding the Destroyer of Worlds broadsword.

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Also, the way that similar games and, indeed, WQACG controlled the release of these legendary weapons was by introducing them in a campaign. One either started at the beginning of the campaign and played through it or figured out how to jerry rig the gear so that characters would be powerful enough to jump into a scenario in the middle of the quest chain. Heroes removes that problem entirely, in that there is no campaign. All eight quests are fully self-contained and simply labeled with a difficulty level so that players know what kind of challenge they're getting into. For a game with so many abstract elements, it's quite refreshing to simply decide that you're going to dive into the difficult Siege of Asthill one night, rather than having to start with The Goblin Problem and work your way up over a number of sessions. The diversity in quest beginnings and goals is also very welcome; while A Foul Ritual has you wandering into the town of Haverford like typical adventurers, Battle in the Mistlands has you leading an army to the border and The Cursed Codex has you waking up in a cell. So, even considering the more mechanical aspects of the game, there is plenty of story to support it.

And that's the final interesting contrast of this game: Despite there being more quests, more characters, more monsters, and generally more of everything than WQACG, it's very clear that this is a base set. There are many, many additions that could be made to this game for relatively little cost to the buyer and especially considering the dense web of lore and character that has been developed over the past dozen years for Terrinoth. Heroes already uses two of the more notable boss monsters from Descent 2nd Ed. in Splig and Valyndra, but introduces six new ones that may get ported over to that game. If you're eager to play a hero like Steelhorns from Runebound or square off against a boss like Bol'Goreth from Descent, the possibility is high that they'll make an appearance somewhere down the road. And maybe they'll even figure out a good way to introduce some loot...

Heroes of Terrinoth Review There Will Be Games

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Editor rating

(Updated: November 30, 2018)
Jackwraith
Rating 
 
4.0

Summary

Game Name
Heroes of Terrinoth

Heroes of Terrinoth is adventure that's both abstract and detailed.


Marc ReichardtFollow Marc Reichardt

Writer

Marc started gaming at the age of 5 by beating everyone at Monopoly, but soon decided that Marxism, science fiction, and wargames were more interesting than money, so he opted for writing (and more games) while building political parties, running a comic studio, and following Liverpool. You can find him on Twitter @Jackwraith and lurking in other corners of the Interwebs.

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Posted: 29 Nov 2018 07:46 by ubarose #287080
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This answers a lot of questions. I only played the Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game a couple of times, and didn't much care for it. However, after reading this review I'd like to try Heroes of Terrinoth.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 08:12 by Gary Sax #287084
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I'm... weirdly interested in this for solo play when I'm away for work. Kind of a surprise interest for me.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 08:14 by Jackwraith #287085
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I think if you like Talisman, you'll like Heroes. It doesn't have the fat lootz of Talisman but, when you think about it, Talisman never really had any of those "must have" magic items other than the Runesword. Most of it was common equipment (swords, bags, mules, horses), which is essentially what Heroes has in the Exploration deck.

One thing I forgot to mention is that the Exploration deck setup is a little clunky, in that the Base set always ends up on top of the smaller topical sets that you put in for the adventure in question. That means that you'll always have to dig through the Exploration deck with a Scout to get to new cards (Scouts can look at two and place one on the top or bottom of the deck.) So, you end up seeing a lot of the same cards in the early part of each adventure. It's not a huge thing, but I'd say it's something to consider if you want to house rule something (shuffling the whole Exploration deck, rather than stacking it.) The caveat is that most of the smaller, topical decks are events, rather than gear, which are often detrimental to the party, so shuffling the deck may ramp up the difficulty level a bit.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 08:16 by Jackwraith #287086
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Gary Sax wrote:
I'm... weirdly interested in this for solo play when I'm away for work. Kind of a surprise interest for me.

Totally feasible. They suggest two heroes for 1 player, but I know we've all maxed out squads in games like Death Angel when playing alone, so using all 4 is fine. It also gives you a much better experience for how the four classes work together.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 12:37 by Southernman #287100
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I only got it in the mail this week so have just read the rules so far but already I'm a bit disappointed - no Gear from quests and therefore the related Capacity is also gone, and no Settlement phase in between quests where you choose how you want to improve your character.
So not happy at the moment, the upgrade path for the heroes sounds interesting but it is just a variant to an existing mechanic from WQTACG and probably not enough to make up for what is missing. I do hope that small expansions do come out for this - well, it's not as if I haven't bought FFG small boxes previously - to both provide more quests but also expanded mechanics like Gear, Capacity and Settlement else I may need to look at ways of inserting those from WQTACQ.

Hopefully will get it to the table in a few weeks.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 13:13 by Jackwraith #287101
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I totally understand that. I was a bit put off at first by the lack of gear, too. But I realized that it was a difficult problem to resolve in what was meant to be, essentially, a skirmish game like TMNT: Shadows of the Past, rather than more of a campaign game like Descent. Most of what you're missing from the Settlement phase actually happens in the adventures this time.

That said, I think it would be fairly simple to release a kind of campaign expansion that returns things to the type of gameplay that WQACG used.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 14:06 by Gary Sax #287103
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Jackwraith wrote:
That said, I think it would be fairly simple to release a kind of campaign expansion that returns things to the type of gameplay that WQACG used.

I think this seems very likely. Probably a more blown out campaign system coming in its own box. It fits what FFG are doing these days.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 14:19 by Southernman #287104
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Gary Sax wrote:
Jackwraith wrote:
That said, I think it would be fairly simple to release a kind of campaign expansion that returns things to the type of gameplay that WQACG used.

I think this seems very likely. Probably a more blown out campaign system coming in its own box. It fits what FFG are doing these days.

And I'm usually their target customer :-))
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 14:29 by cfmcdonald #287105
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Jackwraith wrote:
One thing I forgot to mention is that the Exploration deck setup is a little clunky, in that the Base set always ends up on top of the smaller topical sets that you put in for the adventure in question.

This is not right, I think you misread the setup diagram. The different Exploration card types are shuffled together in the scenarios I've played.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 14:47 by Jackwraith #287108
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cfmcdonald wrote:
Jackwraith wrote:
One thing I forgot to mention is that the Exploration deck setup is a little clunky, in that the Base set always ends up on top of the smaller topical sets that you put in for the adventure in question.

This is not right, I think you misread the setup diagram. The different Exploration card types are shuffled together in the scenarios I've played.

Create Exploration Deck: Shuffle the
exploration cards into one or more stacks as
specified on the back of the quest sheet. After
shuffling each stack, place them on top of
each other in the order shown on the quest
sheet.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 14:59 by cfmcdonald #287110
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Jackwraith wrote:
cfmcdonald wrote:
Jackwraith wrote:
One thing I forgot to mention is that the Exploration deck setup is a little clunky, in that the Base set always ends up on top of the smaller topical sets that you put in for the adventure in question.

This is not right, I think you misread the setup diagram. The different Exploration card types are shuffled together in the scenarios I've played.

Create Exploration Deck: Shuffle the
exploration cards into one or more stacks as
specified on the back of the quest sheet. After
shuffling each stack, place them on top of
each other in the order shown on the quest
sheet.

All the exploration decks only have one stack. The stacks are separated by arrows.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 15:25 by Joebot #287112
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I actually find the lack of a campaign to be a feature, not a bug. Campaign systems in these sorts of dungeon crawls always feel half-assed and clunky (I'm thinking of the D&D Adventure Series games in particular). Why bother?? I think the lack of a campaign is refreshing, and as you noted in the review, lets you cherry-pick what adventure you want, in whatever order you want, based on how difficult of a challenge you feel like tackling. That's awesome. It makes the game a LOT more approachable.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 15:29 by DarthJoJo #287113
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I’m on board with Joebot. I’m unlikely to pick this up as I’m deep in the Arkham LCG and it scratches similar itches as the earlier Warhammer iteration did, but if I did, it would be for one-off scenarios. I have enough campaign games, but I wouldn’t mind a story in one night.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 15:43 by Jackwraith #287114
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cfmcdonald wrote:
Create Exploration Deck: Shuffle the
exploration cards into one or more stacks as
specified on the back of the quest sheet. After
shuffling each stack, place them on top of
each other in the order shown on the quest
sheet.

All the exploration decks only have one stack. The stacks are separated by arrows.[/quote]

Right. "one or more stacks." Each stack (i.e. each set) is shuffled independently and then placed, in order, on top of each other. Base is the top stack in each of the eight quests and the diagram even shows each individual stack being separate and placed on top of each other, rather than mixed together, in the same way that the Location and Enemy decks are created. It makes more sense from a varietal standpoint to do it the way you have been, since you won't always have to work your way through Base to get to Village or Wild or whathaveyou. But that's expressly not the way the rules are written nor the diagram presented.

images-cdn.fantasyflightgames.com/filer_...3/ter01_rulebook.pdf
Page 3 at the bottom, where it shows the same diagram and language used to describe the stacking of the other decks.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 15:44 by mtagge #287115
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cfmcdonald wrote:
All the exploration decks only have one stack. The stacks are separated by arrows.
Jackwraith has the same interpretation I have from the rules. "After shuffling each stack, place them on top of each other" is quite clear. However when I get it I might house-rule to not combine the stacks and go through the appropriate stack to to the location. Seems like a misfire to me.

Regarding the campaign mode/no campaign, one of WQACG's problems is that the exploration deck is far too swingy. One card could be spawn one enemy in the shadows (when you don't have actions left to respond and need to travel) with no loot, the next card could be gain two bonus tokens and a gear card. There was even a warpstone exploration card in one of the quests it made the hero sick, and to permanently discard it they had to tap actions to remove it from the deck otherwise it went back shuffled in the top four cards. BUT, it had a gear icon. It was worth leaving it in the deck sadly to increase the chances of pulling a legendary gear card from the deck. If there was a low percentage of gear and mostly negative exploration cards the game could be practically unwinnable which would snowball as you weren't geared properly for the next quest as well as made the rest of the campaign harder. All because of an unlucky shuffle on quest 2's exploration deck? Now that is bad design.

This looks to address that problem, which was the biggest in WQACG. I'm actually looking forward to single quests balanced appropriately. Gonna wait until I reach $100 for free shipping though. My cart is this, Villainous, and . . . (okay with suggestions for stuff currently available and playable with a 7 & 9 y.o.)
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 15:49 by Jackwraith #287116
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mtagge wrote:
My cart is this, Villainous, and . . . (okay with suggestions for stuff currently available and playable with a 7 & 9 y.o.)

Heh. If you heard the podcast, Fireball Island. I was tempted by it when I saw it in my FLGS before Thanksgiving and that will almost certainly put you over $100.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 16:09 by cfmcdonald #287117
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Jackwraith wrote:

Right. "one or more stacks." Each stack (i.e. each set) is shuffled independently and then placed, in order, on top of each other. Base is the top stack in each of the eight quests and the diagram even shows each individual stack being separate and placed on top of each other, rather than mixed together, in the same way that the Location and Enemy decks are created. It makes more sense from a varietal standpoint to do it the way you have been, since you won't always have to work your way through Base to get to Village or Wild or whathaveyou. But that's expressly not the way the rules are written nor the diagram presented.

Notice that the diagrams for the exploration deck and for the enemy deck are quite different. One shows 3 types of monsters being shuffled into a stack, and then another 3 types of monsters being shuffled into a stack, and then an arrow to show how they stack on top of each other. The exploration deck does not show that, it shows one stack that all 3 types go into.

Notice also that on the backs of the quest sheets the diagrams are quite different. The monsters and locations have large gold arrows between the different stacks that are shuffled independently. The exploration cards do not. They are one stack.

The language you are referring to is for future-proofing if/when future scenarios have multiple stacks of exploration cards.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 16:40 by Sevej #287118
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I agree with cfmcdonald, at least in the The Goblin Problem quest. Setup card clearly shows 1 stack with three types of exploration cards next to it.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 18:51 by mtagge #287124
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cfmcdonald wrote:
Notice that the diagrams for the exploration deck and for the enemy deck are quite different. One shows 3 types of monsters being shuffled into a stack, and then another 3 types of monsters being shuffled into a stack, and then an arrow to show how they stack on top of each other. The exploration deck does not show that, it shows one stack that all 3 types go into.

Notice also that on the backs of the quest sheets the diagrams are quite different. The monsters and locations have large gold arrows between the different stacks that are shuffled independently. The exploration cards do not. They are one stack.

The language you are referring to is for future-proofing if/when future scenarios have multiple stacks of exploration cards.
That is because it considers each monster type as a different stack, has you lump multiple monster types into an easy pile, lump multiple monster types into a medium pile, then lays the easy pile on the medium pile. Whereas for locations there is one less sort. That is why the diagram is different, you just have three piles stacked on top of each other. The language is crystal clear. However your misinterpretation is probably the better way to play.

PS Seriously considering Fireball Island. Thanks. Not a chance I'll listen to a podcast though.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 20:18 by Sevej #287134
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I think you're confusing something. There are three decks: Monsters, locations & explorations.



At least in the diagram above, clearly Base, Wild and Village cards are shuffled together. Don't know about other quests.
Posted: 29 Nov 2018 20:24 by Frohike #287135
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"Terrinoth, being what it is, is generally unburdened by any of the trappings of setting."

And this is a positive?
Posted: 30 Nov 2018 02:51 by mtagge #287143
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Sevej wrote:
I think you're confusing something. There are three decks: Monsters, locations & explorations.
At least in the diagram above, clearly Base, Wild and Village cards are shuffled together. Don't know about other quests.
I don't have the game yet, so no access to the quest cards. I would agree with your interpretation based on the quest card. Nice to note that the iconography on the quest card doesn't match that in the rule book.

I am curious now. Is there a single quest which has you stack the exploration decks as in the rulebook? This is typical of FFG though.
Posted: 30 Nov 2018 13:00 by Southernman #287181
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Joebot wrote:
I actually find the lack of a campaign to be a feature, not a bug. Campaign systems in these sorts of dungeon crawls always feel half-assed and clunky (I'm thinking of the D&D Adventure Series games in particular). Why bother?? I think the lack of a campaign is refreshing, and as you noted in the review, lets you cherry-pick what adventure you want, in whatever order you want, based on how difficult of a challenge you feel like tackling. That's awesome. It makes the game a LOT more approachable.

No one said it was a bug, rather making the game lesser than its predecessor - which is fine as it's still a game that will have an audience, I just prefer some more meat and intrigue in the game that the campaign mode in WQTACG provided. I'll wait for the, hopefully, inevitable expansions else just duplicate what is missing from WQTACG.