Hello fellow Mordheim enthusiasts! Last week I spoke a bit about using Mordheim to play other games. So I want to delve a bit deeper into my favorite of the beer and pretzels genre of Dungeon Delvers (see what I did there?). A bit of history, a bit of nostalgia, and a bit of venom.
I feel that dungeon delvers exist in a unique position in our hobby, and many related hobbies. In that way I find that Dungeon Delvers are more important then my beloved starter sets. Seriously. Dungeon Delvers are a gateway. To put it another way, Dungeon Delvers are the the building blocks of three very disparate types of games; Advanced Board Games, RPGs, and War Games.
A Dungeon Delver is typically something that is given as a gift to a person of the ages 12-14 who is either very interested in it, or by someone who doesn't know that kid very well. Also typically it falls into the gift category of 'Kid already has Monopoly, Risk, and Operation, oh, wait this one comes with cute little knights!' by matron aunts everywhere. So the Dungeon Delver becomes the first of a step towards other games. Allow me to elaborate.
So let me talk about those three different things and how Dungeon Delvers work as a bridge.
Advanced Board Games: Dungeon Delvers are typically the first advanced board game that someone receives. Much like regular board games, it has dice and a board and playing pieces. That's about where the similarity ends. Then you look at Advanced Board Games, as I like to call them. Axis and Allies, Settlers of Catan, Formula De, are some of the 'advanced' board games that are more alike the Dungeon Delver then their more direct cousins like Monopoly or Risk. First off, the amount of rules and second is cost. The thing is that the Dungeon Delver typically straddles the line between regular board games and advanced board games. Sometimes the cost is more, but typically the rules are less. The Dungeon Delver gives the neophyte a taste for a more in depth board game, where strategy is more important then mere luck (although luck plays a part). Then they can more easily make the jump into the advanced board game where there is so much more thinking then just smacking the ass of the Hungry, Hungry Hippos!
RPGs: Ah, here the similarities are so much easier to draw the comparison. Most Dungeon Delvers are in a Sword and Sorcery Genre (with the exception of Space Hulk and Space Crusade), as are most RPGs. Then a great deal of the game revolves around going around in a dungeon and collecting treasure...which can be used in later dungeons. Then of course, if you use up all the premade Dungeons in the rules, often it leads to creating more dungeons. Those things are key to most RPGS, like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. All it takes is for someone to say 'What do we do between dungeons', and you are off like hotcakes. A few rulebooks later, and you've got someone rolling up their first Mary Sue Elf Ranger.
Wargames: Oh, right. That's what you guys are really here for isn't it? The granddaddy of everything. Without wargames, there would be no RPGs (TSR stood for Tacitical Simulation Rules, you know), there would be no advanced board games (Advanced Squad Leader anyone?), and well, no Dungeon Delvers. At one time the Dungeon Delvers were the most reliable source of new wargamers, especially to GW. Space Hulk, Space Crusade, Battle Master, and Hero Quest were what a whole generation of gamers thrived on. With those games, we got bunches of cheap minis that we could easily sublimate into another game like War Hammer or 40K. I can't count the amount of guys who were still using the Chaos Sorcerer from Hero Quest as their WHFB heroes, even ten years after the game ceased production.
Now, the history and the nostalgia is over, and here comes the venom. GW has let us down, hell, the entire war-game industry has let us down. Back in the day GW/Citadel made a couple games with Milton Bradley, and they SOLD! Everyone I knew that played games had one or more of those games. Almost everyone I talk to nowadays in their late twenties to mid-thirties who are playing games now cut their teeth on those games. They were easy, fun, and accessible. You could get them at any toystore in town. There was no special trip to a FLGS, no online order, just a quick trip to Toys R Us. The last great game that worked as an intro game was Heroscape, which was by Hasbro. Side note of history, it uses the game mechanics of Hero Quest because MB is owned by Hasbro now. This is a huge shame. First off, it used the GW rules watered down, and secondly it didn't lead anywhere. After awhile they did have a Dungeons & Dragons expansion, which was a bit too little too late. Right now, the closest we have to a Dungeon Delver is that Kings of War game with the undead. The problem with that is it isn't in main line stores. I can buy freaking Settlers of Catan at WalMart, but not a wargame thing!
Right now, you know what I'm stuck with? FUCKING STARTER BOXES THAT DON'T TEACH THE GAME! Come on GW! You re-released Space Hulk, and the followed it up with Dreadfleet! What the hell? You had a slam dunk, something that could have been put into stores and BROUGHT PEOPLE INTO THE GAME! Then you go and release a game that is getting scathing reviews and isn't going to be supported. At least with Space Hulk I could use the models in my 40K game. Bring me a Dungeon Delver, something mass produced, something in a Toy Store, something that makes sense and has a bit of balance to it. I'm out of luck here.
Where does that leave me? Why, with Mordheim. Mordheim is a classic Dungeon Delver. It could be twitched and changed to be the game that leads people to the FLGS to get more stuff. Lets do a comparison (Oh boy! A numbered list!);
Dungeon Delvers Have:
1. A board- granted Mordheim doesn't typically have a board, but if you make it 'The Sewers of Mordheim' you instantly do.
2. Dice- dur.
3. Getting Treasure- A resounding yes! Get some treasure, and add in the experience tables to encourage even more!
4. Monsters- Heck, if Skaven weren't enough, you add in zombies, and orcs, and elves (elves are monsters aren't they?).
So there's four reasons right there. The thing is that if you include a few of each as a base, there's a core there that you can use to build another army. A friend of mine started his Skaven army with the Gutter Runners that came with my Mordheim. It isn't a hard jump, and I have my reasons for doing such a long post with barely mentioning Mordheim at all. Mainly, because I will be working on a Dungeon Delving version of Mordheim soon. Which hopefully, I'll get started on next week. Why? Because I can. And I figured out that Open Office has a drawing program, and that should work out nicely.