At the start of 2017, Games Workshop announced another release in its Warhammer Quest range. Now, already (where is 2017 going?), the release of the set, subtitled Shadows over Hammerhal is upon us. In the video above, we take a look inside the box to see whether it was worth dropping the not inconsiderable box price of $150 (£90).
Dungeon-based miniatures games are hot stuff on Kickstarter right now. Millions of dollars are pledged for tons and tons of plastic. I can’t comment from personal experience, as I’m not solvent enough to shell out for them, but the general consensus of the people I’ve spoken to is that the minis are great, but the gameplay, not so much.
Which is pretty much the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version of my Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower review. The miniatures are some of Citadel’s finest. The box is stuffed full with some of the highest quality sculpts I’ve ever seen, and the game’s other components matched these production values.
The gameplay, however, was limited. For experienced roleplayers, the random mechanic made games feel arbitrary and aimless. What I said in my review is that it needed a Gamesmaster to provide agency. Someone to offer the players a reason to be where they are and to create a reactive playing experience.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Games Workshop listened to me, but that’s exactly what they’ve done with Shadows over Hammerhal.
Suddenly, I was excited about this game. I had initially thought it was to be a simple expansion of the Silver Tower, but no. Shadows over Hammerhal is a whole stand alone game. One that appears to offer a narrative and dynamic, familiar to RPG players. It’s still a dungeon crawl, but it offers opportunities for the characters to return to the surface, to the Cinderfall district of Hammerhal, where they can resupply, gamble, or have their fortune told. It’s proto-roleplaying, but for an avid fan of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for many years, it’s the most exciting development from Games Workshop in a very long time.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the company is about to make a return to RPGs—it is forever wedded to the miniature—but in light of the end of the GW’s deal with Fantasy Flight Games, I hope this means the return of more narrative style games. There is a narrative to Age of Sigmar, but it’s a bit arm-wavy and god-riddled for me. Cinderfall and Hammerhal are actual places, where actual (albeit fantasy ones) real people live. It’s the beginning of some proper world building. Further to that, there’s a sizeable story at the front of one of the books that sets our scene and, if we’re looking for over-reach, perhaps the title is a nod to the classic kicking-off point of The Enemy Within campaign, Shadows over Bogenhafen.
So, yes, I am excited about this game.
Once again, it’s made with excellent production values, with four new characters (the game is for 2-5 players, with a gamesmaster), and various flavors of bad guys from the three remaining chaos powers.
Inside the box you’ll find:
- 72-page guidebook
- 34-page adventure book
- 18 double sided board sections
- 18 skill cards
- 18 treasure cards
- 4 artefact cards
- 4 achievement cards
- 4 Red Yugol cards – find out what they are in the video!
- 1 torch card
- 1 compass card
- 5 hero cards
- 1 fate board
- 34 wound cards
- 18 gold counters
- 12 portal counters
- 1 Realmgate counter
- 12 dice
There are also 31 Citadel Miniatures:
- 1 Lord Castellant
- 1 Gryphound
- 1 Cogsmith
- 1 Black Ark Fleetmaster
- 1 Loremaster
- 1 Chaos Sorceror Lord
- 10 Bloodreavers
- 10 Kairic Acolytes
- 5 Putrid Blightkings
Looking at it without playing, the game does seem expensive, but then you do get an awful lot of top quality plastic in there. If you’re a citadel collector, there’s a huge variety of models to build and paint.
I can’t wait to see how Shadows over Hammerhal plays. Look out for a full review of the game in the next few weeks.
Disclaimer: Games Workshop sent me a copy of the game to review and preview.