The original HeroQuest (no, I don’t know why the ‘Q’ is capitalised either) was released in 1989 by MB, who were working with GW at the time. This is good, because the game is based in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, and I like Warhammer Fantasy. It was released in the US in 1990, and in 1992, HeroQuest won the Origins Award for “Best Graphic Presentation of a Boardgame of 1991”. So, it should be good!
Although it does indeed exist within the WHFB universe, it is the WHFB of 3rd ed/1989, and so can seem a little dated. For a start, the O&G worship (or at least work for) Chaos, Fimir are still in the game (although, Storm of Magic reintroduced them, and Warhammer Forge will be realising them as a playable unit next year), and, despite spending a lot of time underground, the Skaven do not appear at all during the game (although, I will be writing a campaign called Rise of the Skaven next year).
I originally thought that HeroQuest would be like a mini-D&D meets WHFB. I was wrong. HeroQuest is a game solely based around combat. There is no communication or any action outside of dungeons/castles/caves. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the rules are very easy to pick up, but the drawback is that gameplay can get rather repetitive.
Another problem is the rulebook itself. It is often unclear or hard to understand, and doesn’t mention mind points (a character attribute. If anyone does know what mind points do, please comment). It also gains to identify and difference between ‘traps’ and things that are trap-like or act like traps, and whether or not they affect monsters (we said not, as the monsters live there, why would they fall down a hole?).
Missions & Storyline
The repetitive gameplay is made up for by interesting missions. Some are purely escape, some involve bringing something back, or are bounty hunts, and in Kellar’s Keep, some involve moving all the way through the dungeon/cave to reach a door on the far side.
Playing as DM (who is known as Morcar, although there is a different name in the US version) is also surprisingly rewarding. You are fully aware of all the crazy things that can happen, and it is always oddly pleasant for a player to cut through a sea of Orcs unscathed, only to fall down a hole and hurt himself.
The storyline fits very nicely in with the missions and characters. Often, you are tasked by the Emperor or some other important Imperial person to do something to help the war effort against Chaos, and sometimes you simply go off looking for treasure, as you are not technically Imperial citizens. The story often still makes sense in the grand scheme of the Warhammer world, and missions could well be written to affect a larger game of WHFB.
I strongly recommend playing this game, despite the clear drawbacks and problems.