Fantasy Board Game Frenzy

Fantastic Game Play
September 14, 2009
Fantasy, Swords and Sorcery, Magic, Dungeons, Castles, and Monsters galore await in these board games.

Fantasy Forest 1982 manufactured by TSR the same company that produced Dungeons and Dragons. This was one of my first board games and one that I still own to this day. You have to travel through the Fantasy Forest to get to the good wizard Morley's castle on top of Magic Mountain to win, avoiding monsters along the way. Each player uses cards for movement and for player duels, secret passages and for ambush spots fighting to get free of monsters.

I still remember fondly each monster card. The highest card value won in duels or fighting monsters on ambush spots to move ahead or get sent back. You could also use each monster card to take a secret shortcut on certain points of the board. Cross the spider's web, take the giant's mountain pass, cross over troll bridges, through the goblin grotto and kobold caves, fly over the vampire valley, sneak past the minotaur maze and through the mummy's pyramid.

In 1990 the game was re-released with a slightly new look for the monsters and a slightly redesigned board. Instead of just plastic pawns there were now cardboard upright pawns of children. The big change of course was a new rule that some of the short cuts were only available if you had a hero card corresponding to the hero face at the start of the short cut.

The heroes also had a PVC figure included that traveled with you as long as you had their hero card. The heroes were from the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon:

Presto, the Magician

Uni, the Unicorn

Sheila, the Thief

Hank, the Ranger

Quest for the Dungeon Master in 1984 TSR came out with another game based on the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon even based on a specific episode "In Search of the Dungeon Master" where the Dungeon Master is kidnapped by the evil fighter Warduke. Strongheart the good paladin is seen on the box but nowhere else in the game.

Movement is done by using cards and there are character specific short cuts also just as in Fantasy Forest. You can be any of the six human heroes from the cartoon (you cannot be Uni). The cards are:

1 Uni the Unicorn
2 Bobby, the Barbarian
3 Sheila, the Thief
4 Presto, the Magician
5 Diana, the Acrobat
6 Eric, the Cavalier
7 Hank, the Ranger
Bullywog: move another player forward 10 spaces
Tiamat: trade all cards with another player
Venger: move another player back 5 spaces
Dungeon Master: Player in last place takes the lead

Along the way players pass a Troll, Tiamat the five headed dragon, Venger the force of evil, Kelek the evil sorcerer with a wolf, Lolth demon queen of spiders and finally Warduke the evil fighter with two Bullywogs none of which affect the game play of the cards in the race to the finish.

If there was a game that could have been pretty cool with the PVC characters it was this one but they were not used. They did exist however made in two positions from either Spain or Portugal.

There was even a Venger one made.

Dragon Strike in 1993 TSR made this board game that was unique because it had four boards. It came with two boards that were double sided. Unfortunately it also came with a lame 30 minute video of scenes to play that had the Dungeon Master and the various characters Thief, Warrior, Wizard, Dwarf and Elf (that for some reason has green eyeshadow on). I think we played it maybe four times before all of the pieces got recycled into my brothers Warhammer armies.

Dark World 1992 first of three Dark World games. This great little game had the Barbarian, Ranger, Dwarf and Knight traveling through Dark World to battle Korak the snake lord. There was a little mace of chaos that randomly selected the order of play for monsters coming after the heroes that fit in the castle like some weird obelisk made from sixlet candy. The castle was cool and had stairs leading to the throne and a cavern underneath. The coolest thing about this game was that parts moved. The treasure chests actually opened and had magic potions, flaming hand grenades (think bombs from the video game Gauntlet), magic boots or magical golden weapons inside to replace the gray ones you start with. The weapons actually could be changed out of the characters hands. The doors swung open on hinges and there were revolving secret passages behind paintings, bookshelves and mirrors. My favorite monster was the Haunter that if I remember right swooped down and stole your treasures.

HeroQuest 1989 was probably my favorite fantasy board game of all time. Made by Games Workshop and Milton Bradley. One player plays the game master Zargon and selects quests and controls monsters from behind the screen. The other players select the Barbarian, Elf, Dwarf and Magician on various quests to defeat the monsters and gain artifacts and treasure.

There were several quests and the board could be set up differently using various traps (pit trap, rock fall or spear trap) and the movable furniture and doors for a new game each time. The map unfolds as players advance and discover each room. The rooms are left empty until a player can see it in his line of sight. Each quest had a different objective find a specific treasure, escape a dungeon, defeat the evil Chaos Warlock, etc. You could also design your own quests.

Each turn the heroes could move, combat monsters, cast spells, search for treasure (drawing from the treasure card deck or artifact deck as directed) if all monsters in the room are defeated, or search for traps and hidden doors.

Spell cards for heroes are from the four elements earth, water, wind and fire. The wizard gets three of the element card decks while the elf can also cast spells from the remaining element card deck.

The Evil Wizard Zargon the game master can also cast spells using specific characters on a quest (lich, Chaos wizard, powerful mummy, etc.) using the chaos spells card deck.

Along the way heroes will fight various monsters like goblins, orcs and fimirs. They will also encounter undead armies of skeletons, zombies and mummies.
The battle is usually controlled by the dominant character of the quest usually the Chaos Warlock and his Chaos warriors. They can even fight a living gargoyle.

HeroQuest Quest Packs

HeroQuest was expanded by various quest packs each with multiple new quests, new characters and monsters, and new game pieces and tiles. They were not stand alone games but just new adventures if you already had HeroQuest.

Kellar's Keep 1991 ten new quests set in the dwarvish stronghold of Karak Varn in the World's Edge Mountains. Your task is to rescue the Emperor and his army trapped in Kellar's Keep besieged by orcs and goblins. Along the way find pieces of a map inscribed on a stone tablet scattered in the Halls of Belorn.

Return of the Witch Lord 1991 heroes must stop the Witch Lord (he was one of the original quest bosses in HeroQuest) who has returned to the destroyed city of Kalos, and who is attempting to raise an army of the undead. Stop him before Skulmar captain of the undead legion and Kessandria the Witch queen join his forces of living skeletons, shambling zombies and decrepit mummies.

Barbarian Quest Pack 1992 return to the homeland of the Barbarian to fight an ancient evil the Frozen Horror that is threatening the Northlands once more. This pack included a female barbarian character, the Yeti, ice gremlins, polar warbears, the Frozen Horror and a troop of mercenaries.

Elf Quest Pack 1992 the elven queen's daughter has been kidnapped by the Archmage Sinestra. This pack included a female elf figure, an elven warrior, elvish archer, the Archmage, giant wolves and ogres.

Advanced HeroQuest 1989 expanded the rules of the basic set to include many more spells and types of spells and expanded the type of character the heroes could be to be more of a role playing game. The board was now modular and the set included a Human Warrior, a Human Bright Wizard, Dwarf and Elf, 12 Henchmen (hirelings), and 20 Skaven Warriors. Skaven are a race of humanoid rat creatures.

Terror in the Dark 1991 is the expansion to Advanced HeroQuest. It came with five new quests and new board pieces, tiles and traps. New treasures, artifacts, spells and a ton of new rules. It was a total disappointment however for me, not a single new figure in the box. After that cool artwork on the box you would think it would at least have something. My brother always stored his Warhammer undead army in the box.

Battle Masters 1992 this game featured a huge vinyl mat battle terrain to pit the valiant army of the noble Empire versus the evil forces of the Chaos Warband joined by orcs, goblins, minotaurs and even a giant ogre. It is from the same folks that brought you HeroQuest.

Charge your Imperial Knights and Lord Knights mounted cavalry against the Champions of Chaos. Maneuver your Men-at-arms infantry troops to counter Orcs and Minotaurs. Outrace the Imperial Archers arrows with your Goblin Wolf Riders. Beware the powerful Ogre as he destroys all in his path. Use the Mighty Cannon to destroy the enemy.

There were tiles you could set on the mat improving defenses with pit entrenchments, allowing river crossings at a ford and showing marshes and impassable roads obstacles. There were also plastic hedges that could obstruct movement.

The Imperial Army has a Mighty Cannon that used tiles to show range. You placed a target tile on the unit that you wanted to destroy. Then shuffled up the rest of the nine cannon tiles and placed them out in the line of fire. You might end up completely missing, inflicting damage on units in the way with a bounce, or obliterating them with a huge explosion. Wherever the explosion lands the cannon fire terminated regardless of remaining range to target.

Battle and movement of army units is determined by turning over battle cards randomly allowing the Empire or Chaos forces to move, fight or charge. Victory in battle between units is decided by the roll of dice. Roll for skulls to inflict damage vs shields to defend on the dice just as in HeroQuest. Each battle is determined by luck and the number of hit points each unit has.

The Chaos Army has a Giant Ogre that can move or fight depending on the ogre cards and can suffer an incredible amount of damage.

There is an abandoned keep in the center of the field and the first army to occupy it with unmounted forces (usually archers or crossbow men) gains the tactical advantage of high ground. The tower can also be reduced to a pile of rubble with successive hits from the cannon. The first army to completely annihilate the enemies forces wins. Me and my brother played this game endlessly with huge scale battles encompassing the entire living room floor.

War Hammer 1982 by Games Workshop is the actual world where HeroQuest and Battle Masters is supposed to be taking place. It is a role playing game using miniatures (usually sold separately at high cost) with complex rules for spells, range, movement, battles, giants, dragons, etc. This is actually the 4th edition from 1992 but it is the first boxed game edition with armies and is the one we had. It came with an army of High Elves vs Orcs and Goblins. The races of armies you could command is staggering in variety: humans (The Empire, Bretonnia, Kislev), Elves, Dwarfs, Undead skeletons, Mummies, Vampires, Orcs and Goblins, Lizardmen, Skaven ratmen, Chaos Armies and Demons.

This is the game that produces hordes of zit faced teenagers and bearded fat guys with body odor problems painting little men in their parents' basement and taking over the hobby shops from the scale railroad enthusiasts to buy up terrain, grass, rocks, trees, mountains, foam, etc to make rivers, forests, dungeons, villages, castles, ruins, graveyards, and whatever else they can imagine or design for battlegrounds. I guarantee that far more time is spent painting, sculpting and setting up than actually playing. When the computer gaming craze started they moved out of the basement to the den to play World of Warcraft online.

Space Hulk 1989 basically warhammer in space. This is basically the HeroQuest of the Warhammer 40,000 world with simplified rules. The premise was pretty cool though space marines versus aliens called Genestealers. The board is modular and represents the space hulk an abandoned space ship infested with aliens.

Dark Tower 1981 gather your army and travel the plains and frontiers in search of the bronze, silver and gold keys to unlock the tower for the final battle. You may get lost in tombs and purchase supplies in bazaars along the way. As you travel your army may face plagues and famine. You will need to buy food so save your gold. Pit your army against brigands and dragons before taking on the Tower for victory. This game had a little computer in it that randomly selected obstacles and locations of the keys and spun around during a players turn to display challenges and played music at the same time.

Shadowlord! 1983 I don't understand it the box art looks cool. Much to my chagrin as I open the board and am staring at planets and lines connecting them. Cool figures? Nope. Interesting artwork to look at? Other than the box nope. Travel the galaxy trying to find power cards with your spaceship from the air, water, earth or fire alliance. Take over bad guys in duels. Man I was disappointed as a kid when I opened this. I was probably too young to appreciated it at 6 when the recommended age was 10+.

Clash of the Titans 1981 I loved the movie and still do (love those Ray Harryhausen stop motion animated monsters). Each player as Perseus must search for the magical sword, helmet, shield, bubo the owl, the magic eye of the Stygian Witches to finally gain the head of Medusa to slay the Kraken and save Andromeda. The winged horse Pegasus will help you on your way as you encounter Calibos lord of the marsh, giant scorpions, giant vultures, Dioskilos the two headed wolf, Medusa herself and finally the Kraken.

Dark Crystal 1982 another favorite fantasy movie turned board game. Race against time to restore the shard to the dark crystal. Avoid the beetle like Garthim, batbirds and Skeksis along the way while you try and save Podlings with the fuzzy Fizzgig, landstriders, the four armed urRu, and the wise yet insane Aughra to help along the way.

Willow 1988 continuing the awesome fantasy movie theme. Pick either good or evil and play the characters from the movie. The good guys must keep Elora Danan safe and journey to Tir Asleen. The evil forces of Bavmorda try to find the baby and bring her for sacrifice at Nockmaar Castle. The trick is the bad guys do not know which good guy has the baby and must seek them all out in battle to capture her. Just like the movie Sorsha can switch sides during the game. As you gather treasures from places of power to make yourself and your armies more powerful you fight encounters along the way. Good guys either defeat Bavmorda or free Tir Asleen with the baby and the scepter to win. All the bad guys have to do is get the baby to Nockmaar.

Dragon's Lair 1983 the board game based on my favorite fantasy arcade game by Don Bluth. The board has shifting spaces for chance encounters with fire ropes, crypt creeps, black knights, the Grim Reaper, wizard's potions, tentacles, snakes, cauldron ghosts, bats, mudmen, the Lizard King, and finally the Dragon to rescue the Princess Daphne.

Crossbows and Catapults 1983 the game that was more like a cool toy than anything. This is the Lakeside version that I owned. It came with little plastic vikings versus the barbarian orcs. You set up your defenses to protect your hidden treasure. True to its namesake battle is done with rubber band powered crossbows (ballista) and catapults (trebuchet) that launch little plastic discs (carroms). I was almost always the vikings and my brother was the barbarians.

Both sides have castles complete with moats. The barbarians get the gray castle and are guarding a jeweled goblet. The vikings have the cream castle and guard the magic sword. You place a tower over the treasure and build your walls around it. The first to destroy the enemy fortifications and kill all of the pieces wins. Alternately you could play for the first to land a carrom onto the hidden treasure wins. Or first to knock the tower down wins. Or even the first to capture the viking king or barbarian chief wins (there were separate carroms to distinguish them). If you land a carrom inside the enemy base in the courtyard it becomes a spy. Four spies wins. Land inside the castle or moat and they are captured and taken prisoner inside the tower. Knock over the enemy flag to rescue prisoners. Most kids just flung carroms at each other until nothing was left standing throwing the rules right out the window.

Crossbows and Catapults Castle Outposts 1983 (Lakeside) there were so many cool add-ons you could buy to supplement your forces. The castle outposts added fortresses with catapults on top with a couple extra guys and carroms.

Crossbows and Catapults Dragon 1983 (Lakeside) The dragon was spring powered and flung carrom discs from his mouth. There was a wizard carrom that comes with the dragon that if landed in your opponents' courtyard could free prisoners, become a spy, etc.

Crossbows and Catapults Battering Ram 1983 (Lakeside) the battering ram when added is launched back and forth by launchers and was spring powered to punch through walls. It came with two launchers, one ram and extra wall pieces.

Crossbows and Catapults Battling Giant Minotaur 1984 (Lakeside) this giant minotaur (the one I always picked by the way) picked up carroms in his horns and launched them at the enemy with spring action. It also came with extra guys.

Crossbows and Catapults Battling Giant Cyclops 1984 (Lakeside) the spring powered giant Cyclops (the one my brother always got) reminded me of a fat one-eyed monk or something. Anyways he picked up carroms in his arms raised them above his head and hurled them at the enemy. It also came with extra guys.

Crossbows and Catapults Trojan Horse and Battle Shield 1984 (Lakeside) The horse can launch carroms with its tail (spring powered) and can guard warriors in its belly until hit in the head dropping them to the ground. The battle shield also launches carroms (spring powered) and can hide guys until the face is hit and it flings them to the ground. You can try to get spies into the courtyard with them. It came with extra guys and carroms.

Crossbows and Catapults Grand Battle Set 1983 This is the Grand Battle set produced by Base toys. It included the regular crossbows and catapults plus the castle outposts.

Crossbows and Catapults Chariots Battleset 1986 (Base Toys) basically the standard set plus tents and chariots. The chariots could transport men and acted like the battering ram rolling across the floor to smash or run over victims.

Crossbows and Catapults Master Battle Set 1983 essentially the same as the grand battle set with tents and new circles of destruction and magic tiles repackaged by the Tomy company.

Crossbows and Catapults Dragon Battle Set 1983 (Tomy) Now there are two dragons one for each side the green for the vikings and the red for the barbarians. A basic set plus the dragons, new magic and dragon cards, tents and dragon master figures.

Crossbows and Catapults Sea Battle Set 1986 (Tomy) this set had new sea battle rules and ships that could launch carroms right off of the deck. Each ship had shields along the gunwales and if all the shields were knocked off the ship was sunk. For some reason all the Tomy sets have different carrom designs and changed the name of the vikings to Impalers of the Clannic Shelf and the barbarians to the Doomlords of Gulch.

Here is my twin brother setting up his defenses in 1985, somehow Monkian from the Thundercats came into play. I cannot stress enough the many hours of fun I had with this game.

Until next time.

The majority of the photos in this article come from an awesome nearly comprehensive site for board game lovers. If you want to know more about these games, or if a game you remember was not featured, I highly recommend it. You can also upload pictures and descriptions of games if your favorite is not on there.
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