Last week someone on Hacker News linked a site dedicated to HeroQuest. This quickly resulted in me buying Warhammer Quest: Shadows over Hammerhal to play with my kids. I've not dabbled in fantasy miniatures for 20 years, but Hammerhal looked like a self-contained dungeon crawler in the same style as HQ, and indeed that's what it is: a gamemaster arranges a dungeon for a party of 2-5 adventurers, who then proceed to clear 8 levels full of bad guys.
The box includes 31 miniatures; one will need some decent glue, a sharp boxcutter, and a few hours to assemble them... but it's worth it. The kids loved it so much, we're now playing it every day before bedtime - it's a great incentive to get them to do homework, clean up their rooms, and brush their teeth quickly and without fuss.
The game requiring a gamemaster is good in the sense that I can tweak the game and keep the fun flowing. My son is 5 and doesn't really enjoy complex rules, so we started with a simplified set: one move+attack turn for each character, all characters moving 6 spaces, no hero dice or destiny dice, rolling only to hit, and rolling for unexpected events only when they enter a room. I used the Gryph-hound character as an NPC to show them these mechanics, and I'm slowly replacing introducing a few real rules every couple of sessions. So it's all great, right? Well, kinda.
Being a classic dungeon master inevitably involves some dice-rolling. Hammerhal is not too bad in that regard, leaving most of the rolling to adventurers, but one notable exception is ambushes. *Every* turn an adversary is not on the board, the gamemaster is supposed to roll for ambush; if the ambush happens (1 in 6 chances), he has to then roll further for character quantity and behaviour, which means between 2 and 7 throws depending on level and results. That can significantly slow down proceedings, and I found myself "forgetting" to roll quite a few times to keep things going.
So I did what any geek would do: I automated it away. The result was Ambushwhack, a simple and mostly self-contained webpage that does all the rolling for you. I made buttons big enough to be usable on phones and tablets, added a few pics of my unpainted miniatures (since Games Workshop are infamous for aggressively defending their IP, they would likely come after me if I used their own pics), and now I use it every day.
I posted it to a few Warhammer Quest forums (boardgamegeek etc) and people asked to support Silver Tower, the other version of Warhammer Quest currently available, which has a similar (but different) set of ambush rules. A kind soul sent me most of the necessary details, so here it is. It lacks pictures and action titles but it's usable, at least until I can justify splurging on another big box of toys :)
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