Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Epic Heroica

This past weekend I played in a massive, six-player game of LEGO Heroica that combined three different sets into a single playing area. Three of the players were children and three adults.
I wasn't sure how well the game would work with so many people and so large a set-up, but it went just fine, if slowly. The biggest "flaw" in Heroica is that its gameplay is very random, heavily dependent on what you roll on the dice. For example, most of the characters' unique special abilities only come into play 1 out of every 6 rolls, which is a shame, because those abilities are rather neat.

Mind you, it's a kids' game, so randomness is to be expected. Still, every time I play this game I keep thinking how easy it'd be to create an "advanced" version that is just a step or two removed from a real RPG. In my opinion, if WotC's serious about improving the lot of D&D in the mass market, they ought to be looking at games like Heroica to lay the foundation. Seriously. There's every other kind of LEGO these days. Why not Dungeons & Dragons?

23 comments:

  1. every time I play this game I keep thinking how easy it'd be to create
    an "advanced" version that is just a step or two removed from a real
    RPG.


    It's already been done. They call it 4E. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've wondered why Lego and Hasbro haven't teamed up for WotC properties too!  I understand you were talking about analogue games, but the possibilities don't seem limited to that.  DnD seems perfect for video games.  Duals of the Planeswalkers has been wildly successful for Magic, why not try to leverage a lego version too?  Seems obvious to me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've very much enjoyed the Dungeons & Dragons boardgames that Hasbro has released over the past few years.  They are wonderful gateway games.   They are also rooted enough in the d20 mechanic that it makes teaching 4e or Pathfinder to experienced D&D Boardgame players pretty easy.

    I agree that a D&D Lego set would be awesome...especially if it included Warduke and Strongheart.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Actually, when it comes to boardgames, Wizards is a brand to be trusted. The three D&D Adventure Game boardgames (Drizzt, Ravenloft and Ashardalon) are easily amongst the best dungeoncrawlers out there and the newest addition–"Lords of Waterdeep"–is the best combination of US thematic and EURO gaming I've seen.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Doesn't Hasbro have a Lego clone brand they're pushing?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I imagine James sees that potential progression and is just pulling our legs. Surely Heroica serves only to remind us of the joys of the early Lego experience?

    Joking aside, what's the definition of a 'real RPG'?

    ReplyDelete
  7. The tendency is to think of games like this and HeroQuest as RPGs with training wheels, but I tend to think they teach bad RPG habits and misconceptions about what roleplaying is and kids versed in this sort of thing have some unlearning to do. I'd go as far as to say they are a mistep between playing with action figures and roleplaying. Toys=you can do anyhing! Boardgame=roll a die, move that many squares...

    ReplyDelete
  8. LEGO+D&D! Yes! I've thought the same thing. With Lego Starwars, Indiana Jones, Ninjago, Pirates, Castles, etc, etc. Why not Lego Dungeons and Dragons? For Lego it's just another property, for D&D it adds another option for grid-based dungeon crawling and combat that doesn't require their crappy looking and expensive plastic minis (that they never could quite market correctly anyway).

    ReplyDelete
  9. I bought my daughter (age 3) the main Heroica set a while back. She totally loves it and I've been able to teach her about saving money, too. We put her money in a cup until we have enough, then we go and buy an expansion set.

    Also, yes, the game begs for house rules. We've made a 2d6 table for the game, written on an index card, so she gets to learn a bit of arithmetic in the process as well.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agree it would be an awesome combination, but as to WOTC's 'expensive' minis - have you seen how much the Lego store charges for minifigs of licensed characters?  Not exactly a cheap alternative.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Heroica and rpgkids are two excellent intros to gaming for the young folks.  My 7 year old is almost ready to make the leap to a "real" rpg and I have a 1.5 year old that will be entering the queue in a few short years.

    Also, Heroica is a Lego game so it doesn't carry the same stigma as "Dungeons & Dragons" with the other neighborhood parents (after all these years, still lots of residual distrust of D&D in the deep South).  This allows me to spread gaming to a wider group of children without having my own child blackballed.

    ReplyDelete
  12. At my house, we use Playmobil. They're customizable. How cool would it be if you could snap your D&D character together with custom weapons, armor, cloak?

    Photo at:

    http://blueboxerrebellion.blogspot.com/2012/04/slaymobil-aka-preskool-renaissance.html

    ReplyDelete
  13. There's the unofficial game BrikQuest. Obviously it requires a lot of putting together, but then people who like Lego presumably enjoy putting stuff together.

    PS Lego has a Lord of the Rings' line coming out this year.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Captain Rufus LandaleApril 25, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    You know, these are the kinds of stupid incorrect fanboy comments that make Something Awful's Grognards.txt thread make fun of people for.

    4e is NOTHING like Heroica.  NOTHING.  Is 4e akin to stuff like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea?  Sure.  Hell, its a lot like modern videogames like Splatterhouse or any other 3d action game where the design is effectively about going into a setpiece arena then killing everything there, healing up/using supplies then moving on to the next.

    But it isnt a damned thing like Heroica which is more or less a very simple boardgame with very light RPG elements.  Lighter than Dragon Strike.  Lighter than Hero Quest.  Waaay lighter than Descent or Warhammer Quest.

    4e is an RPG.  Its just more of a STRATEGY RPG with some modern videogame enhancements than the older styles of D&D were.  Its more about the combat than anything else.  Not that D&D is really about anything other than combat honestly.  Its just 4e like every version of D&D did some things right (class balance, combat codified but not massively complex, removed randomization in Chargen), and it did other things WRONG.  (Kind of soulless, Skill Challenges suck ass, fights tend to take an age to resolve, too much emphasis on combat encounters to the near exclusion of all else, cosmology screwed up.)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have yet to play Heroica, but I've played a lot of BrickQuest.

    I love D&D and I love Legos, so when I heard about it, I had to go ahead and do it. It's an investment of time (designing and building dungeons) as well as money (Legos are not cheap), but it's totally worth it, IMHO. I've played with some hardened role-players, and with their children, and it's always a lot of fun.

    I've only played a little bit of 4E, but BrickQuest seems to be in the same vein. There's a grid based combat system, spells (which end up being very powerful), potions, treasure, and even a rudimentary skills system. As a GM who's played mostly 1E, I've really had to beef up my grid based tactics when playing against those with a lot of 4E experience.

    There's actually been a lot of discussion in the group I play with as to whether BrickQuest counts as an RPG or not. I can see it going either way. But according to its creator, it's a boardgame, and I have to agree with him. You can certainly play it like an RPG, but there's nothing in the rules that really supports it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow... there's a real paroxysm of nerd rage, right there.

    ReplyDelete
  17. heck, my kids just take my minis and add them to their Heroica game.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Although I haven't gotten to it yet, I think Tunnels & Trolls would make a great system for Heroica.  

    ReplyDelete
  19. And, thanks for the new commenting system!  I'm able to comment without a problem now.

    ReplyDelete
  20. That was exactly my thinking - Hasbro's had TWO competing clone lines in the last decade. The first one was pretty nasty and died fast, but the current KRE-O seems to be doing acceptably for the moment. 

    ReplyDelete
  21. Those lego people have no arms . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  22.  Yeah, they do.  Look closer.  They have little ridges.  They all just have their hands in their pockets.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Most of the LEGO games don't just beg for house rules, the manuals actively encourage rules customization.  I don't know if the Heroica "sub line" has that element, though.

    Since even the dice are assembled from LEGO plates, though, it seems an obvious next step.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.