Dwarf King’s Hold 4 – Some Info

There have been a number of postings on this topic from people who were able to attend the last Mantic Open Day (and ask awkward questions) 😉

barbarianBarbarian. Because every dungeon should have at least one.

This is a sort of round up of where it’s at, and a place for you to ask about stuff if I miss anything. There’s a lot I still can’t tell you yet, not least because it’s not all been decided on. Still, it’s a start.

cover art

The cover art for DKH 4 was part of a rolling display at the Open Day. 


This will be the fourth DKH game I’ve designed, and those of you that have been around for the ride know that this step has been on my mind since the start. I’ve written about what I wanted to do with this a few times, but things invariably change when they actually happen, so it’s a touch different here and there. The basics are solid though.

Dwarf King’s Hold started out as a 2-player dungeon bash, with each player taking control of a small force of Dwarfs, Undead, Elves or Orcs. In Ancient Grudge I added stats for all sorts of stuff so that you could make up your own adventures. This fourth instalment is a new, stand-alone game that doesn’t require you to have played any of the previous adventures. However, if you have played then you may recognise the chief Bad Guy: Mortibris the Necromancer.

necro front necro side


This pose shows the great Necromancer Mortibris as a sort of puppeteer of the Undead. You just need to add the strings 😉


DKH 4 is a 2-5 player game with 2 sides: one is the dungeon full of dangerous beasties, and the other is a party of adventuring heroes. The dungeon is always played by one person, but the adventurers can be divided between different players to accommodate up to 5 players in total. During the game the heroes team up to tackle the dungeon and do heroic things. The player controlling the dungeon full of monsters does their best to stop them.

It is played on a map that is built out of tiles, as before, and like before the games follow a series of narratively linked scenarios or adventures.

undead troll shaman

The Zombie Troll Shaman – a sort of mini boss.

The rules build on the previous ones with a new layer of even harder characters on top of those we have met before: heroes. These come in several flavours, with some on each side. Note that “Hero” does not always mean “good guy”.

paladinThis hero actually is one of the goodies – he’s a Basilean paladin.

Depending on what I can get Ronnie to agree to, there will hopefully be some back-stabbing going on among the adventurers as well as co-operative play, simply because I find that more entertaining. Pure co-ops have a number of issues that have a habit of reducing my fun, so I’d like to avoid that.

The game will be launched as a Kickstarter some time at the end of July or August. At least, that’s Ronnie’s latest estimate. I don’t think a firm date has been set yet. They’re aiming at a $95-ish sweet spot pledge and the latest idea was to have an early bird that gained you an extra model rather than a small discount. This would be time-based rather than limited in quantity, so something like everyone who pledges on the first weekend gets a LE model. That sort of thing. To me, this sounds like a much better idea as I think that a few dollars off isn’t nearly as cool as an exclusive model. I wish more people did this (especially the projects I pledge for myself).


Two Games In One

Dwarf King’s Hold 4 is really two games in one. The first is a simple and fast game where you are given a story and a puzzle (in the form of a scenario), and the tools to unlock it (in the form of heroes). The miniatures will be pre-assembled or single piece, the dungeons planned out for you, the bad guys and heroes’ stats calculated, and each scenario balanced. This is much like DKH 1 and 2, with added heroes. As the story unfolds, both sides grow in strength and experience, with this all being pre-calculated and balanced. All you need to do is set up and play.

Zombie front

Zombie back

Zombie! I really like this guy. The translucent sword and shield are 3D prints of Basilean stuff, I think. Sadly their ghostly nature won’t be part of the final versions.

The second game is a sandbox. Or, as Ronnie keeps calling the rules, the Book of Depravity. This is where everything becomes an option. Instead of a specific, named individual Dwarf hero, you get the ability to design your own. When you gain experience, you get to choose how you improve. There will be stats for all the models in the Kings Of War range, stuff to do between adventures, items to buy (loot to buy them with), doors to unlock, more spells to conjure, traps to set and so on. You get the idea.

These games lead on from one another in terms of complexity, so you can play through the first game’s scenarios and learn how all the core rules work before worrying about any of the extra level of detail. In fact, you don’t ever need to delve into the options at all as the game is intended to work just fine as the first version. I’m just hoping that you’ll want to.

Misc DKH back

The backs of a Zombie Troll, Dwarf and Halfling adventurer.
I mainly took this just to show you guys the level of detail on these models.
Most of these pics are clickable for larger versions. 

So why the extra gubbins? Why not just add heroes and be done? Well personally, I don’t really feel like designing another, different dungeon game in 6 months. I’d like to get it all out of my system now. DKH is a set of rules that I’m quite fond of, which works well, and is robust enough to take all of the extra chrome a dungeon game could want. I don’t need to reinvent any wheels when this one does the job just fine, thanks. And, the best bit is if I give you guys a sandbox of adventuring to play with, then you can make new adventures for me to try 😉


Elf Hero(ine).

When DKH 4 is finished, you will be able to play a fun game with your kids, with people new to gaming, or some mates you used to role-play with back in the day. Or, if you’ve got a dedicated gaming group, dig deeper into the whole experience and make up your own adventures, heroes and bad guys to thwart them with. Speaking of making stuff up, I’m sure I heard mutterings about interesting possibilities for apps to help this along from those nice folks at Mantic Digital. Here’s hoping 😉

If all of this sounds exciting then stay tuned for more news of the Kickstart dates. I’ll pass it on as soon as I hear.

Now, did someone at the back have a question?

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171 Responses to Dwarf King’s Hold 4 – Some Info

  1. Lee says:

    Why, yes, I did have a question, thank you!

    Is the Book of Depravity related to the rumored KoW Skirmish game, or is it “completely different”? In other words, will it be the KoW analog to DeadZone, or not?

    Thanks for the update!

  2. Matt Price says:

    Great news to hear! Sounds like you don’t have a final name yet, eh? I’d love to post an entry at boardgamegeek.com, to get the discussion (and excitement) going there. DKH IV it is!

    Also, please ask about the possibility of making the LE, “early bird” figure available as an add-on that backers may also purchase. It’s nice to reward your fans for getting on the bandwagon early, but there are lots of cases of eager fans who might just miss the opening weekend (or whatever time window y’all allot) and I don’t think those folks should be punished. Too much.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ll mention your suggestion about the LE to Chris at Mantic.

      I know what I want to call it, but I haven’t been able to convince everyone else yet. We shall have to wait and see 😉

      • C says:

        I and many BGG’ers don’t like EB’s or exclusives at all. I prefer the EB “shipment waves”, in which early backers received their stuff first. However, Mantic has a large number of existing models, so why not a “bonus” model that advertises Mantic’s product line? This could be an un-assembled model on a sprue that’s an “upgrade” of one of the heroes or boss monsters or something.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I spoke to one of the mantic guys about this after I’d posted and he said that it was still not 100% settled. We’ll have to see what they decide. He’s read your comments though 🙂

        • C says:

          Thanks! Someone wanted a translucent figure. Maybe the LE model could be the ghost of the Dwarven King (or whoever) who was slain by the Necromancer Mortibris and appears in front of the heroes in one of the scenarios. This model would replace as bling a cardboard ghost token in the game, so wouldn’t have any actual gameplay effect. So the model would be shmexy enough for Mantic customers to jump in in weekend one, yet esoteric enough that casual gamers won’t really care for it. Or… something like that. (:

  3. Matt Price says:

    and DAMN those figures are nice. If the actual models approximate that level of detail, the folks at Mantic have come a long way.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Yup. Very nice figures. That’s why I left the pics big.

    • william says:

      Do not forget mantic always paints and shows pics of masters and renders. The final plastic models are always MUCH less in detailed and have much less quality. I have been burned many, many times by this. Sometimes whats on the box is not even the same minis you get in the box. Goblins are a great example.
      I am really excited for this project and will throw my money in. I will just ditch the poor quality plastics.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Everyone does this at the start of a project because that’s all they have. Companies want to get their products on the shelf and making a return as soon as possible (as any business would), so they use the masters or other pre-production castings to paint up in advance of the final ones being made. This means that the packaging can be completed in parallel with the models themselves. This is common to every game company I have dealt with and isn’t a secret.

        Many, including Mantic, also paint up productions castings when they become available, and I have to say that “MUCH less in detailed and have much less quality” simply does not apply to the latest Studio paint jobs I’ve seen for Mars Attacks. I’ll have to see if I can get some comparison photos when I’m in the office to show you what I mean.

  4. Those models look gorgeous! You can take my money now!

  5. Jeff Briggs says:

    Are we going to be able to use the 1-3 set along with 4 like the miniatures and maybe the tiles. The tiles aren’t as important as the minis but if your changing the tiles it would be cool to have a few connectors to use the tiles your loyal fans of DKH already own. Thanks for helping Mantic find a way to use up all my extra money.

    • Matt Price says:

      Also, I thought I heard tell of a fully coop version, where the adventurers all play against the game. Is this not also in the works? Or was this one of those “awkward questions”?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @ jeff – The miniatures are all the same scale and all from the KOW universe, so all will be compatible in that sense. Stats will be in the Book of Depravity 😉

      Last I heard, the tiles will be the same size square. However, the current plan is to have them on rather thicker card, so that may be an issue with compatibility. Art will be new, I think.

      @ Matt – Ronnie quite liked the idea of the game being AI as an option, however in the main game the dungeon beasties will be played by someone. The other side will be (usually) 4 adventurers. These can be played by one person, or up to 4 acting together, controlling one hero apiece. In that sense it will be co-op against the Bad Guy player. However, as I mentioned, pure co-op games are just not fun IMO, so I’ll put some wrinkles in there to spice things up. Assuming I can get them past Ronnie 🙂

      Does that answer your question?

      • Matt Price says:

        Fan-freakin-tastic. Really excited about the nicer quality tiles, the game quality of the first few DKH was rather… rough. I’m liking the newer Mantic games with sturdy boxes and nicer components!

        I also love the idea of (full) coop for this game. Though I can understand it might be a bit dull for you, I’d love to see this get implemented with good playtesting. Different audiences (e.g., playing with children) would probably appreciate this more. Having multiple game options built into the base set (vs., AI coop, “friendly” dungeon master) surely only increase the games appeal and potential audience, no? Though I do understand each comes with a playtesting cost…

        • Geoffrey Briggs says:

          I just hope their will be tons of tiles or the ability to double, maybe triple the total amount of tiles.

      • C says:

        If you want to sell more copies of DKH, add coop, or have someone on your design team add coop. Many boardgamers have wives, children, and casual gamer friends, who will never ever ever ever ever never ever ever play the Gamemaster, making the owner of the game stuck with this role in EVERY single game they play.

      • Chad C says:

        I am a huge fan of DKH1-3, I love the tactical aspects the game has and bought 2nd copies of each just so my signed copies don’t get ruined.

        With that said however, I have owned many dungeon hacks and the only ones that get constantly replayed are the ones in which all the players on the field. Now granted, they players aren’t always on the same team, but there is never a general ‘Overlord’ of the dungeon. Drakon, Warhammer Quest, the D&D board games, ect for example. Those games are the first ones that folks want to play when I suggest a game night.

        Games like Descent 1.0 (Haven’t played 2.0 yet), Super Dungeon Explore 1.0, and even Heroes Quest only get to be played every now and then. The systems can be rock solid, but the folks in my meta-group just don’t seem to like it. That ‘Overlord’ aspect tends to ward folks off, and I hear more complaints about that style of gameplay. Even your old school pen and paper RPGs are rarely played among the folks I know these days.

        With all that out, I do have some suggestions.

        I would love to see DKH4 carry on with what DKH3 added to the series. I would like to see the ability for not just a few heroes, but full on dungeon skirmishes to happen. 1-4+ Players controlling small warbands of Dwarves, Elves, Humans, and even demons fighting with or against each other depending on scenario. To *me*, this is what put DKH on the map in the first place. A fast paced dungeon Skirmish.

        Having a robust AI for a CO-OP mode so players can go at it without an Overlord is rather important. I have already given my personal reasoning above so won’t repeat again here. Still have secret hero agendas and whatnot, to make sure things keep interesting, but having all the players being the dungeoneers is an easier way to ease someone into a game (Children, wives, co-workers, ect).

        While there is an argument to be made for CO-OP, I would still like to have a list of potential objectives that players randomly rolls/draws a card for at the start of the game. these objectives should range from your Knightly ‘Kill the main villain’ all the way to ‘Who care who else dies, get the treasure and get out’. This way even in CO-OP there is always the chance you’re friends may not be your friends all the way through.

        Again, these are just my personal suggestions, take them for whatever they are worth. You and Mantic hasn’t left me disappointed yet so I am sure I will be happy with whatever comes out of DKH4.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Thanks Chad. The “dungeon skirmish” aspect is, in effect, what the bad guy player has. He’s got a lot more than one or two heroes on his side. This makes it quite a different experience depending on which hero you play and whether you are a hero or the “bad guy”. I like this variability as it equals replayability, which I think is important to give value for money.

          Sub-quests for heroes is the building block of this semi-co-op style. At the heart of the game are two sides, but within the adventurer’s side there are a number of tensions. I want to be able to have an individual winner as well as a side if the players choose that style of game.

          I expect a dungeon AI to be included eventually. This may be a stretch goal as it’s more components and more development cost all round. As you say, some people prefer this style of everyone holding hands among the flowers while they skip through the dungeon. Unfortunately this style of pure co-op has been thoroughly ruined for me by other players during a variety of different games. I have some friends who are very into this sort of non-competitive gaming, but none of them have been able to explain how to avoid the pitfalls. Designing games that only work with reasonable people seems sloppy to me. I think the basic structure needs to be more robust.

          All that aside, playing games with wives and children is not excluded here. It’s an unhelpfully fuzzy brief as “wives and children” covers far too much variety in interest and ability. However, working together is something the heroes will always have to do (to an extent). And if you think that children don’t understand rivalries and one-upmanships within a group then you need to play more games with kids. Some of the most underhand and downright devious players I’ve ever gone up against were youngsters. The bar to them playing as the dungeon is, in my view, simply one of their ability or interest in managing a large force of weaker models over a hero or two. Looking after one or two models will always be easier to explain and to do and I think appeals more to most kids.

        • C says:

          Okay, here’s the definition of “wives and children” (: two groups of players whom many boardgamers primarily play with, but will not read the rules, nor play the dungeonmaster. They often have a lower tolerance of game complexity than hobby boardgamers. Since DKH is also an entry-level dungeoncrawler, this target audience (or rather, the husbands and Dads who don’t want to be stuck as the dungeon master — or assemble miniatures, for that matter) become more important.

          It *is* difficult to make a coop game that doesn’t suffer alpha gamer syndrome, but games like Pandemic and Arkham Horror are still popular despite it. Some players, such as new unsure players or those sort of players who don’t play attention when playing a game are actually fine with this, and unreasonable players can disrupt non-coop games as well.

          Looking forward to the sub-quests! I really liked Warhammer Quest’s personal missions, and giving the heroes different personal objectives gives them more character. Arkham Horror did this with their Personal Stories in the Innsmouth expansion and this was well received by boardgamers.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Not quite sure what you mean by alpha gamer syndrome, but I can guess. I’ll post something separate about why I don’t find co-ops to be good games, but that’s different from being useful focal points for family get-togethers.

          Unreasonable players can disrupt anything. however, while the norm in my experience is quite low in normal games, it is almost 100% in co-ops. With the same players. It’s not the people, it’s the style of game and the behaviour it encourages. Anyway, that’s another article.

      • Vermonter says:

        I can only agree that playing “I have to be the evil dungeon master” dungeon games with my family has become a non-starter for me. They enjoy it, provided it’s not a 1-on-1 game. I don’t. If I’m going to play a co-op game, whether “pure” or “backstabbing,” I don’t want to be the guy fielding lots of weenie monsters against a party of players united against me. Dull and psychologically unrewarding.

        Frankly, I’d much rather play Talisman with my family than Descent. Yes, it’s a lot more random. But I actually enjoy playing it, whereas “I’m the bad guy, come and get me!” Descent is just a chore.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I have to say that if it’s “dull and psychologically unrewarding” then it just sounds like you’ve been playing a badly written and poorly balanced game. As far as I’m concerned this is not an exercise where the heroes get a free pass and are more likely to win than the bad guys. It should be balanced so that there is an equal chance of either heroes or monsters winning each scenario.

          Of course, the sides will work differently, with more and weaker models on the monsters side – but only as a general rule. The monsters have mini-bosses and other larger things as well. Zombie trolls, zombie troll shaman, undead Dwarf kings and the necromancer Mortibris himself all show up…

      • Pure co-op games are not fun?!? Bah! 🙂 Honestly though, without a co-op option, I may pass this up for Myth, Mice & Mystics, or the D&D dungeon crawler games.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          What is and isn’t fun is very much a personal thing. As it currently stands the Core game version for multiple Hero players will indeed be pure co-op.

  6. Bookawar says:

    Obviously it’s early in the process, and I assume stretch goals would change things, but do you have any idea how many minis would come in the box? Previous DKHs came with something like twenty, if I remember correctly, but also had a price point considerably smaller than the $95 KS buy-in. Should we expect more minis?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Can’t help you there, I’m afraid. Mantic do all the clever juggling of costs and margins and whatnot. I’ll only know exactly what I have to play with in terms of box contents once the KS is over. Obviously this means I can’t finish the balancing till then.

      I’m sure that you’ll get plenty for your money. You’ve seen other Mantic KS projects?

  7. TGM says:

    Very please to hear this. I will definitely be participating in the Kickstarter. The “book of depravity” is what separates this game from every other dungeon crawler where the campaign progression is flip your character card over for a 2nd set of improved stats.

    I’ve never liked lack of character customization of the Heroquest, the D&D board games (Wrath of Ashardalon, Ravenloft, etc) or Descent. In other titles your character was often pre-named and had few character building choices. Decision points are what make games interesting.

    I am hoping play will be scaleable, lost of beasties, and an AI deck for solo or co-op play. I also like the co-op play with individual character objectives while having a team goal ala Doomtroopers.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The first version, as described above, has a predetermined progression as you describe. Flipping stat cards is a mechanically and component-wise simple way to do this. That’s great when you want a simple game to play in an hour. DKH 1 was like this and proved very popular.

      However, I (and others) really wanted to include a lot more than this, so Ronnie let me have the Book of Depravity to play with as long as the first bit was cool. It will, in effect, be similar to DKH 1 and 2, but with heroes. In other words, the first game isn’t a throw-away, it’s a solid game in its own right, and one I will play with some people and as a filler at the end of a game session. It’s just that there’s another way to play too.

      For some people the choices during play are enough. For others, there needs to be a wealth of detail to get stuck into both in and out of the dungeon. I’m aiming to cater to both audiences 🙂

  8. Luke says:

    Generally not a big fan of the one vs many style dungeon crawlers, but the mini picks and faith in your rules writing is wearing me down on this one.

    One problem with these style games in my eyes(and it’s partly a player problem) is that they tend to get viewed as an rpg and the players expect to win and some of these games reinforce this idea by having the hero’s being more interesting/customizable. As the guy who tends to get stuck as the dungeon master, I hope you’ve found a good way to make that side a little more interesting! 🙂

    • Luke says:

      Also the potential for “player” character backstabbing sounds like an amazing mechanic to keep things interesting, so make sure Ronnie gives in to that demand. Maybe even some sort of BSG style traitor mechanic where a hero character could end up switching sides partway through the game, promoting distrust!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I actually prefer playing the Bad Guy myself, so the challenge might be the other way round 😉

      The mini-bosses and bosses of the dungeon are heroes themselves (in terms of rules), and so the bad guy player has quite a bit to play with.

      The times I played BSG were fairly disappointing. We found that the traitor was really easy to spot, had few options, and never got anywhere. I didn’t play it a lot, but that was why. I’ve been told that the expansion improved it. Unfortunately it had worn out its welcome by that stage.

  9. john says:

    I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. mattadlard says:

    You don’t really need a mechanic for betrayal, just natural player behavior. Must say always was a fan and massive player of Advanced Hero-Quest, it was this that started me really on the whole look at and work out where the mechanics could be refined and add to it attitude as the games became more expansive and campaigns more intricate.

    It was the lack of development that put me off the original KDW, as did at the time have the timer to expand one’s self when could just break out ADHQ.

    Still, this new one sounds fun. And can at least add to it with spare boards from other games.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Unfortunately you need to encourage the dark side. If it’s heroes against the dungeon then they all act together. Yawn. They need a nudge to make things interesting…

      • mattadlard says:

        When one used to run Advanced Hero Quest, the issue of multi-players co-op and ‘The Happy Adventurers bunch’ style of play. The old days of happy dayz and D&D are gone, which is why we see more darker realistic games these days.
        What one did was set-up the adventurers as player – Co-op’s, but as ‘Wizard+henchmen’ as one co-op, etc. It created tension as the players are after the same resources. I had instead of groups of wandering adventurers, they pitched for contracts, and had separate wants, deals, secretes and side adventures.

      • mattadlard says:

        This is where one used to make the ADHQ party more business like with separate wants, personal quests- That often compete with others etc. As xp was awarded by who did/killed what it meant that party often tried playing the kill as many monsters before others get a chance to.

  11. mattadlard says:

    ‘The Zombie Troll Shaman’ Finally a ranger of undead that are not just human……….

  12. crimsonsun says:

    What you describe with the extras book sounds truly fantastic, I guess it depends on how far you go with it but that mini game RPG crossover is something I love as it appeals to both the story focused players as well as the die hard gamers, while I love both aspects of gaming so that ticks my boxes.

    I am very interested to see how your going to go about approaching the evil player, will it be a true competitive game like decent or a more classic the bad guy is trying to kill you but the heroes are supposed to win style. I am hoping for the former as I would love the chance to really have a go at killing a party just for a change or break from the story telling experience I get from RPG’s, which while there is nothing wrong with is nothing i cannot already do.

    You cannot believe how pleased I am to see your not designing a straight co-op style system with automated bad guys as I find them so boring. If I want to play co-op I do it online or play an RPG as both do its miles better than any table top system can achieve simply because they have safe guards to keep it about the game,

    I will be investing in this though, I’ve been eyeing up something like this for years as I want a game I can pick up and play but retains depth of character but does not require the huge depth of investment to do so that playing an RPG does. In fact when you asked me what I was trying to achieve with my Sci-fi conversion the answer i was trying to say was this.

    Thanks crimsonsun

    • Quirkworthy says:

      While up to 5 people can play, it’s a game with 2 sides. The intention is to have the scenarios balanced so that each has an eve chance of winning (in the first version). balance will be tricker once you get into home made scenarios with dungeons, heroes and everything else being mutable. Still, balance is the aim.

      Playing the bad guy is fun, and not allowing that seems to me to be a real missed opportunity. I know people that like pure co-op, but I find it broken and not much fun. Got to go beyond that.

      • Bookawar says:

        For what it’s worth, I also like playing the bad guy. I’ve found that, in many ways, the person running the dungeon makes or breaks the game sessions. Not everyone can do it well, but those who can have the ability to make the experience.

        • mattadlard says:

          One issue one had with a lot of these styles of games is that the monsters are just part of the scenery. One way found to counter this was colour system that showed how monsters behaved in terms of attitude, so yellow stickered as were cowards who ganged up or picked lone targets or looked for weak options etc. This allows for a bit of monster complexity and counter rpg style.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Unless we get an AI system unlocked in the Kickstarter, the monsters will be controlled by one of the players.

  13. Will DKH have a terrain element akin to that of Deadzone? I reckon sprues of customizable dungeon would be a HUGE hit!
    In the words of Capt. Picard from Star Trek, “Make it so!”

    • Quirkworthy says:

      We’ve discussed all sorts of different terrain, tile, wall and furniture alternatives, and decided that for a number of practicality (getting in the way of my sausage fingers, mainly), cost and production, plastic walls aren’t the way to go. That will come in the KOW skirmish game. When you want to go 3D then it starts to be much more of a good idea. At least, that’s current thinking.

      Partly this is a question of what we’d rather have. When we asked ourselves if we’d rather have some plastic walls or some more miniatures, we always said miniatures. In this game walls don’t really add much, and more miniatures would. So, we’ve gone for think card tiles and nice art. We’re still looking at some dungeon furniture bits and bobs in plastic, but that’s a “would be nice” if the Kickstarter goes well, rather than a must have, I think.

      • vonjunk says:

        I see what you mean about a dungeon terrain sprue verses more models decision makes sense. Will you at least be using one of the cool mouse pad type boards to hold the dungeon tiles together? A sort of dark, green glowy background to DKH?
        Since we’re on the topic, what would the terrain for a Kings of War skirmish game consist of?

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Not sure about the gaming mat in DKH. Where would it go?

          The only thing I’ve heard from Ronnie about the KOW skirmish terrain is stuff to build a castle. We’re really focussing on getting DKH right first though. KOW Skirmish is down the line a way yet.

      • C says:

        I would REALLY like to see adventure setups compatible with the Dwarven Forge KickStarter tile sets. Ask around the office if anyone there backed the DF game tiles KS, if you didn’t do so yourself!

        • Quirkworthy says:

          DF tiles were interesting, but like many KS projects the fact that they only distributed from the US made them prohibitively costly in the UK. I know that’s why I didn’t pledge. I have spoken to, I think, 4 different people who independently came to the same conclusion. They look nice, but the sheer cost just wasn’t worth it.

      • mattadlard says:

        Having watched someone trying to set-up a 3d game board for a dungeon style adventure, they spent about 4+ hours setting up and it was nightmare moving stuff about.
        In practicality you just need doors to be 3d, odd terrain piece like throne, bookcase, alter, chest, etc; and flat boards that can be linked.

      • mattadlard says:

        Would like to see reversable tiles to expand range.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Reversible tiles don’t make much difference to the pieces because of their shapes. However, different art on the back is something we’ve discussed.

  14. TGM says:

    “DKH 4 is a 2-5 player game with 2 sides: one is the dungeon full of dangerous beasties, and the other is a party of adventuring heroes.”

    Our heroes are thus far based on the miniature sculpts and box art:

    1. Human, male Barbarian
    2. Human, male Basilian Paladin
    3. Elf, female Archer
    4. Dwarf, male Engineer
    5. Halfling, male thief?
    6. Human, male mage

    This would suggest to me 6 players vs. dungeon master or 2-7 players?

    No “AI” card deck for Solo or co-op play vs. monsters and or random events?

    Will there be plastic doorways and furniture like Warhammer Quest, Heroquest and MageKnight dungeons?

    Will all enemies be undead in the starter box? I see mean looking rats in the cover art.

    • Geoffrey Briggs says:

      Just be ready to add more females. Can believe how many projects get hounded with “No enough females” statement over and over.

      • Matt Price says:

        Yes please – good point! Jake, if you wouldn’t also mind bringing up with the Mantic folks: we’d like to see a better representation of female characters than just 1 out of every 6. Thanks!

        • Geoffrey Briggs says:

          I’m usually the odd man out when it come to this debate. To me it doesn’t matter how any of which gender is in the game. I want the game that you want to make. I have seen some creators been there vision to make a small percent of the people happy and it irritates me. I see it as “I don’t tell you how to do your job, don’t tell me how to do mine.” I really just want a fun game the brings about fun time with who ever I play it with. I am not say add or don’t add, just do what you vision of the game is.

        • Matt Price says:

          I don’t quite understand your point, Geoffrey. We’re not asking that he doesn’t make the game he wants to make. That’s what I want too. But by adding a few more female options for the heroes, you only increase your audience. Giving my daughter more choices allows me to introduce her to the hobby without forcing her to play a character she doesn’t associate with (that would ultimately turn her off to the hobby altogether).

          The folks at MegaCon Games with Myth (despite loads of other troubles) did this to great effect. Adding more females (perhaps going from 15% of heroes to maybe a third as the stretch goals are met – not a massive change) wont change the game and didn’t appear to frustrate Myth backers; in fact it was quite the opposite, the comments were very, very positive.

      • C says:

        If you want money, listen to your backers. One of the reasons why the Reaper KS got so much d*mn money was that their backers wanted females. And Myth included females in their “alternate sculpts” stretch goals, so that’s another way to get money. KS is also unusual in that various crowdfunding projects get funded because they were “pro-female”. The “IAmElemental Action Figures for Girls” has made 300% of its funding, and still has two weeks to go. As Matt implies, Dads have money and want to play with their daughters. Why waste over four years of product development and a $95+ pledge because you don’t have a gender-specific miniature?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’m not fussed either way, on the whole. My main interest is in them making sense in context, within the game world.

      Most of the time I’ve not got a lot of input on figure detail. This does vary though – Mortibris as a puppeteer was entirely my idea, and I commented on early versions of the sculpt. Most of the others were just done to fit particular adventuring types (eg barbarian), without the gender or pose being specified by me. Mantic know what they want in their Kings of War universe so I just let them get on with it. And they’ve been doing a pretty good job of these figures so far.

      The halfling you can see from behind (above) is a female, and I have a feeling that there were others as well which haven’t been shown (perhaps not yet finished). I will mention this to the guys and we shall see what they do with it.

      Of course, the flip side if this “more female” argument is the cheesecake sculpts we see so much of, which periodically come in for a lot of criticism for being sexist. It’s a hard balance to strike.

      • Bookawar says:

        I know my daughters would be excited to have more female characters. I can see fights over who gets to be the elf.

      • C says:

        Oh, right. “More female” definitely doesn’t mean cheesecake. The fully-clad Elf Heroine is what’s considered a “female” model, and it’s not sexist at all. HeroQuest actually introduced two female versions of their male heroes (female Barbarian and female Elf) in their expansions. Neither were cheesecake or even (gasp) showed their midriff. Sadly, while the Elven Mage could proxy for a female wizard, no female Dwarf was introduced. (:

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Female models do not have to be cheesecake at all. Absolutely. Getting that to actually happen is quite another question, plus different people have differing ideas on what constitutes “sexist”. Luckily it’s not my job to commission the sculpts 😉

        • mattadlard says:

          1. Human, male Barbarian
          2. Human, male Basilian Paladin
          3. Elf, female Archer
          4. Dwarf, male Engineer
          5. Halfling, male thief?
          6. Human, male mage

          This covers most games basic option rather would like to see:

          1. Human, male/female Barbarian
          2. Human, male/female Basilian Paladin
          3. Elf, male/female Archer
          4. Dwarf, male/female Engineer
          5. Halfling, male/female thief?
          6. Human, male/female mage
          And as has been said here and has been a point of huge contention over on the Warlords Forum ‘Gates of Antares’ with the majority of us asking for female characters that do not have the stereo heaving cleavage look….

          What games like this do do though is give Mantic a excellent opportunity to produce ‘character figures’ for the add-ons that can then be brought out later for the other games.

      • I did an impassioned post in favour of alternate female hero sculpts on the forums so I won’t rehash it here, but suffice to say that I am extremely in favour of this concept. Shadows of Brimstone was another wildly successful kickstarter that included women heroes as stretch goals and it was very well received by the backers – many of whom I would imagine would be the market for this game too… ^_^

  15. Kai says:

    You’re well aware of how I feel about all of this. So excited, I’m commenting as me, not the job : )
    I still get the giggles at the “book of depravity” and I will repeat, I want it yesterday 😛
    I know, I know…patience.
    I’ll get this all shared around then, and thank you. I’m so happy this is one of the first big projects I’m on the fringe of, kinda sorta. 🙂

  16. C says:

    I would like to see a tile system similar to the “same size” tiles in Castle Ravenloft and other D&D Adventure System boardgames. It is a PAIN to store these 2D tiles of different sizes in different baggies. With a “same size” tile system, you can create random dungeons MUCH easier than with different sized tiles. For the premade adventures, you can, of course, use tiles of other sizes with the “same size” tiles.

    The “second game” should also have some scenarios. Myth feedback from some backers was that they didn’t like the DIY options of creating their own scenarios.

    I dislike pre-assembled figures, but that’s what the boardgamers want. Since the sandbox rules include stats for existing Mantic figures, how about “grab bags” of Mantic models as an add-on? I liked this feature during the various Mantic sales I’ve seen. Heck, I’d like to see future Mantic sales have “generic fantasy figure” grab-bags suitable for DKH.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I disagree. In fact, geometry disagrees with the notion that multiple square, same size tiles allow for more variation than a selection of different sizes and shapes. If you have a fixed amount of components to work with (which we obviously do), then multiple boards of varying size and shape offers by far the greatest flexibility and replayability. Massively more so than any approach that uses single size and shape boards, whatever that shape may be (unless they are 1 square big). I store my tiles for DKH in one bag for counters, one for small dungeon tiles and leave the really big rooms loose in the box. That makes it easy enough to find what I need to. I’ve seen plenty of people just leave it all loose.

      Scenarios for the “depraved” game are something I’ve been thinking about and would like to include. Naturally they may be a little more free-form than the first ones, but there will be something. “Designing your own scenarios” is also a variable task for gamers and can be made easier or harder depending on how it’s implemented. I wasn’t taken with Myth when I saw the game play video on KS, so I didn’t buy it. I’ll have to see if the scenario builder is online so I can see what you mean.

      The last I heard about figures was that the main box (and eventual trade release) would come pre-assembled. I think this is absolutely the right choice. However, for painters and collectors, Mantic are looking at offering resin versions of the models.

      The book of depravity includes stats for everything, so I would be surprised if Mantic didn’t offer some themed collections of KOW miniatures to populate homebrew dungeons with Orcs, Basileans, or whatever.

      • mattadlard says:

        Making your own scenarios is part of the fun and opens the massive potential for gamer created scenarios that can be traded or have Competitions over. It also opens the way for Mantic to look over and both cherry pick the best and look to print follow-up scenario booklets. Like DB extensions.

      • mattadlard says:

        The book of depravity includes stats for everything, so I would be surprised if Mantic didn’t offer some themed collections of KOW miniatures to populate homebrew dungeons with Orcs, Basileans, or whatever.

        This would be like those vile overlords the dwarfs who seek to engage in racial genicide of the poor ork race.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Poor old orcs. Nobody understands them 😦

  17. Ealabhan says:

    That’s what I call good news! I remember we talked about this idea to make a “classic” Dungeon Crawler out of DKH. It was about one year ago (maybe more). As a big fan of HeroQuest and the DKH franchise, I can’t help feeling impatient about this announcement!
    And as always, if you need a French translator for the rules… I translated Dwarf Kings Hold 1, 2, 3 and Project Pandora for a French distributor (France Miniatures Distribution), but we never could reach an arrangement with Mantic to publish them… Maybe things will be different this time!

  18. Tony Hooper says:

    I seriously hope those clear shields and swords get made. Even say, clear coloured plastic ones too.

  19. Hi, will the book of depravity be sold separatly? Would be awesome if one could aquire the rules and use existing miniatures and dungeon terrain.

  20. Jason Murray says:

    I love the idea of the translucent weapons and armor for the undead. Just a thought as you are planning on it being a kickstarter why not make the translucent weapons and armor a pledge reward if you are unable to get them into the game 🙂 Im a big fan of dungeon crawlers like Heroquest and Warhammer quest so I will be following DKH 4 with much anticipation 🙂

  21. Rich Hawkins says:

    I’d agree with this – I was really excited at the thought of a co-op adventure against an Ai deck, like dare I say it, Warhammer Quest. Having one player be the baddie will limit the times I would get to play it to the point of it probably not being worth me pledging. Miniatures do look awesome though.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      For me, this is a question of how interesting it is to play the baddy. Some games want the heroes to win, so playing the bad guy is setting yourself up to lose, which is never any fun. I’m wanting a 50/50 split so that playing wither side is equally (but differently) challenging and with an equal chance of winning.

      Of course, this won’t suit everyone, no matter what game play modes are included. And that’s fine. There are so many games around to play that you can’t play them all anyway 😉

      • mattadlard says:

        One also thinks its about the issue of choice, having an A.I. deck or system allows for those games with rainy days where you want to kill a couple of hours and feel like a game, or being able to set up a co-op with you v’s Players.

      • devachris says:

        Hmm, good point. I find Descent stacked far too much in favor of the heroes, making it a dull and unrewarding experience when I’m stuck being the DM, which is always. A truly balanced game where the heroes really have to work to win, and just as often lose, does sound more interesting. I wish you every success with making the baddy side interesting.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I think this skewed experience with Descent is part of what’s making people uncomfortable with playing the monsters. They assume I will do as poor a job of making the bad guy fun to play, and I’m assuming I won’t 😉

      • C says:

        Well, with DKH potentially being one of the few “entry level dungeoncrawls” on the market, I think the wider an audience you go for, the better. That way, Mantic can introduce casual gamers to their range of miniatures and hobby games. Fantasy Flight Games is finally adding coop expansions by another designer to their “DM vs. Party” Descent game. I like bringing a game to a gaming group and know it will be played, regardless of who shows up. If Mantic’s asking for almost a **hundred** dollars for a game, it has to be a game that’s going to hit the table.

        Right now, WotC’s D&D Adventure System is the only other entry-level dungeoncrawl, and there’s no sign of WotC providing any further support for the system since the release of its 2011 Wrath of Ashardalon. (HeroQuest 25th Anniversay Edition is being worked on, but GameZone hasn’t produced a statement from Hasbro that Hasbro will not perform legal action on them.)

        • Quirkworthy says:

          A good point. I expect there to be a difference between what goes out to Kickstart backers and how it is divided up for a trade release afterwards. Whilst there is obvious overlap between the two audiences, there is probably a more important set of differences.

  22. Phil Atherton says:

    Our small group loves DKH 1-2 (haven’t played too much 3 as of yet as we’re painting up the miniatures before delving back in) so the news of DKH 4 is great. As much as the basic game will be great for quick sessions etc it is The Book Of Depravity we’re really looking forward to. Building your own dungeons, heroes and scenarios is just great.

    I take it as all the KOW stats are included with this that you could potentially create a large dungeon that is occupied by various enemies (orcs, skeletons, twilight kin, etc) all controlled by the ‘dungeon master’ who faces a band of heroes you’ve created yourself?

  23. Paboook says:

    Sounds as really exiting project! I like the idea of flat tiles without walls (walls don’t add much to the game actually). Unique miniatures and additional 3D items like tables, statues and treasure hoards are splendid idea!

    The only thing that worries me is this: “Many boardgamers have wives, children, and casual gamer friends, who will never ever ever ever ever never ever ever play the Gamemaster, making the owner of the game stuck with this role in EVERY single game they play.” I second this.

    It would be also nice to make the tiles less crazy than the previous editions of DHK. More dark dungeon, less crazy colours.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I think I answered this question above. There will (probably) be an AI version to control the dungeon. However, I have “never ever ever ever ever never ever ever” seen one of these that is as good a game or as much fun to play as one where it was controlled by a real person.

      I’ve not yet seen any art for the new tiles. I quite like dark dungeon myself, though I do appreciate the argument that this can look drab. It’s a matter of taste.

      • TGM says:

        Great news! Finally a sporting game where the DM is a equal adversary and not just along for the ride. Relegated to placing doors and moving bad guys in for the inevitable slaughter by the heroes.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Minions will get slaughtered – that’s their job. But the bad guy has a lot more than mere minions to work with. Did I mention the Zombie Troll Shaman?

      • PikaRapH says:

        Gears Of War does this really neatly I think.

  24. Danny says:

    Hey Quirkworthy, thanks for all this fantastic info, very much appreciated! I’ll definitely be buying this game when it hits Kickstarter. I have to disagree with you in regards to CO-OPs not being fun though. Certainly this is based on personal taste, however I think you’d find it is one of the more eagerly hoped for assets in dungeon crawl type games and is a very marketable option. CO-OP is a lot of fun for both parents playing with their children and groups of adults playing together. I sincerely hope that you have the option available for CO-OP play in the game.

    • TGM says:

      I agree with Jake. He didn’t say Co-Op vs. AI wasn’t fun. He said it wasn’t as much fun as playing against a real life opponent.

      • Danny says:

        Hi TGM, he said this;

        “However, as I mentioned, pure co-op games are just not fun IMO”

        • TGM says:

          Hi Danny here is what I was refering to:

          “However, I have “never ever ever ever ever never ever ever” seen one of these that is as good a game or as much fun to play as one where it was controlled by a real person.”

          I think there is room for both. 🙂

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I’m writing another article to discuss my thoughts on co-op gaming in detail People don’t often read things this far down in the comments, so it’s best to start with a clean page, as it were. Suffice to say that co-op gaming will be in DKH4 It is, in fact, the core difference between this and DKH1-3: several people can play on the same side.

        • C says:

          “several people can play on the same side”

          Does that include the bad guys? 🙂 I wouldn’t mind seeing DKH support multiple factions, such as some orcs fighting off undead when the pesky heroes enter the dungeon. Or an invasion by elves and dwarves as uneasy allies (eg. conflicting final objectives) against a stronhold of orcs and goblins (who would otherwise be fighting each other).

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Not entirely sure about that. We’ll have to see how we get on with some of the more core stuff first, I think.

  25. Chris says:

    Will DKH4 use the Classic DKH/PP opposing dice roll mechanic or the DB/DZ ‘number of successes’ dice roll mechanic or something else or is it too early to tell?

    To be honest this might be a deal breaker for me. I love the DB/DZ dice mechanics, but I find DKH/PP dice mechanics a clunky mess.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Classic DKH. We experimented with the DB system and found it to be slower.

      A “clunky mess” is a somewhat emotive and insulting comment. Care to explain?

      • Chris says:

        I apologize if you found that insulting. It was not my intent.

        I am very surprised you are finding DKH/PP dice mechanics faster than the DB/DZ success-based dice mechanics. Every person I know that played both reported the opposite.

        I found that lining up dice in rows and figuring out pairs every single time either player makes an attack slows the game up to a crawl and throws the dynamic nature of skirmish combat out the window. The way armor works introduces a second calculation that further slows everything down since I now have to go over each individual pair of dice twice with two different sets of parameters.

        The armour mechanic is also very counter-intuitive in the sense that I always need to roll higher than the armour stat, not equal to or higher as is the convention in virtually every other modern game.

        I also couldn’t fathom why armour was a numerical value and not a success threshold, but that’s a bit more of a number formatting pet peeve – if you formatted it as ‘Armour 5+, that’s what you need to beat it’ instead of ‘Armour 4, you need to go higher than that’ it’s mechanically the same thing but much clearer and quicker to understand and implement.
        It’s the same peeve I have with every new edition of 40k still has the same Ballistic Skill To Hit on which I need to look up that my BS4 guy needs 3+ to hit, because no one in the last 20 years thought of writing ‘3+’ in the BS column of his stat block…

        Each individual race taking hits differently, while thematic, was also a nightmare to remember all the possibilities. Hitting elves was the chief nuisance here with a bunch of different possible outcomes depending on the amount of hits and the positioning of the guy on the board.

        In DKH I roll my dice, the opponent rolls his, we then fool around with the dice lining them up somewhere where there’s space available (of which there usually isn’t much), then we go over the pairs checking the hits, then we go over the pairs checking the armour threshold, then we total up the succesful hits and then to figure out what happens we double check who actually hit whom and where.

        DB/DZ is much quicker. I roll my dice, the opponent rolls his, I say ‘I got five’, he says ‘I got three’ and we’re done with the roll.

        While we’re at it, the facing rules in DKH never really made sense to me either. Since the two spaces to the side of each guy counted as his front, the most beneficial way a dwarf could move in a tight hallway was sideways. Which always looked pretty silly.

        • mattadlard says:

          For a moment there was thinking we were looking for a duel of Dicebags at dawn. ;D

        • Quirkworthy says:

          If I lined up every set of dice then it might slow things down, and to start with being methodical helps. However, the people I’ve played with and watched all quickly learn to read most dice combinations without physically lining things up. When teaching younger children the lining up gives them a clear and simple visual key for the result. Armour isn’t a calculation – you simply ignore any dice that fails to roll high enough. There’s no need to compare it to anything.

          Your description of DZ dice rolls ignores the fact that there are more stages to do afterwards to get to the same point as a single DKH roll does. Including armour within the initial roll allows DKH to process several steps at once. Resolving a whole attack is therefore faster with DKH than with DZ. The speed at which individual sub-elements can be done isn’t as important.

          In reality, DKH rolls can be resolved very quickly. You roll the dice, the attacker ignores any that fail to beat the defender’s armour. Typically that does not leave many, and without lining them up it is apparent whether you have beaten the best of your opponent’s dice. Physically finding a space and lining them up is unnecessary for most people most of the time. Also, DKH damage results are far simpler than DZ ones, and can be more easily memorised. This is even more noticeable in play because you usually have a smaller number of different model types in use at once, so there is less to remember there too.

          Character is important to games with multiple factions, and that’s not going to disappear. Wherever these differences are placed they will have to be remembered. That won’t disappear either. I’m not sure what you’re suggesting as an alternative. In most situations the fact that different races have different rules is not an issue as most of them won’t be on the table at the same time. Typically, each side has only one of these rules to remember in each game.

          The facing rules allow a model to fight with their back to the wall. This was important to allow outnumbered sides to have a chance against hordes. You’re right that it can be a bit abstract in places, however the alternatives are outnumbered factions getting easily massacred or additional rules complexity, neither of which are desirable.

        • Chris says:

          Ignoring failed armour results before checking for parry is all well and good, but that’s not what the rules say. If the rules are supposed to be quick and clear, they have to be spelled out that way in the rulebook – “it’s quicker if you ignore some of the stuff in the rules” isn’t the best argument a designer can make. To be honest many of the peeves I have with the DKH ruleset could be sorted by just re-writing and re-formatting existing rules.

          I still stand by what I said: counting up the successes I rolled against a fixed number takes me less time than seeing what I rolled, discarding some of the dice, then looking over the table at what the opponent rolled and checking if mine are higher.

          Having different race/species/faction flavour is great. Unfortunetly, the fact that most of the time the flavour in DKH/PP was tied to the damage and dice roll mechanics to me made a messy section of the rules even worse. If you need me to give you an alternative, consider your own games – again, Dreadball and Deadzone. Every team in Dreadball and every faction in Deadzone has completely different flavour, tactics and unique character. However, all the characterful bits function within the basic parameters of the game – player positions, stat differences, mission decks, bonii/penalties to certain actions in the form of universal special rules etc. For example, one of the unique characteristics of the Plague in Deadzone is their ability to mutate during the game. That ability is incorporated into their battle card deck. Imagine instead of that you gave them (just spitballing) a special ability to completely ignore the armour and damage rules and instead draw a mutation counter for each damage point suffered, with some mutations in the counter set beneficial, some ’empty’ and some varying amounts of wounds. That’s cool and characterful. But it is also cumbersome and clunky in the sense that it is a complete re-write of a core mechanic of the game. And you can only do so many of those before the ruleset becomes bloated and needs a 200 page rulebook and a dozen 100 page army supplements to make each faction characterful.

          It’s true I don’t have to remember all the faction-specific rules all the time. But I really prefer to not have to remember any faction-specific rules any of the time, and instead have faction differences rolled up into the basic framework of the rules. If a game has a dozen, or eight, or even six different factions, I find that checking how an individual paragraph of special rules interacts with another one in that particular matchup becomes a pre-game chore and actually hard to remember during play unless you play one or two factions religiously, which I don’t like to do.

          This is especially crucial in a game like DKH4 is shaping up to be – every single one out of half a dozen heroes (and probably a dozen more as stretch goals during the kickstarter) and dozens of different monster/enemy types in the Book Of Loads Of Different Cool Stuff From KoW will have to have unique characteristics and different playstyles. Having every one of those as a page of exceptions to how basic rules work… That’ll get old pretty fast.

          Saying that I can memorize DKH tables and that makes it better than Deadzone is a bit of moot point. I can memorize Deadzone action resolution just as fine. And I did a while ago. It’s pretty easy to do with DZ since the different outcomes are dependant on the action taken, not on the individual model taking the action, and there are some generic guidelines like ‘doubling gets you something, usually an extra action’. Possibly my brain handles that kind of categorization better. But to be honest Deadzone isn’t a good baseline here in my opinion. Dreadball action resolution is much simpler, with fewer action types, less intrusive special rules and less radical additions and exceptions to the general outcome guidelines of ‘you win if you win, you get an extra thing if you double’.

          I think all in all you are trying to convince me the rules are not hard and since even young children get it so there has to be something wrong with me. It’s not that the rules are hard and I’m having problems understanding or remembering them. The thing is that I just don’t want to have to do as much to operate the ruleset during play. As a parallel (albeit an extreme) example, I prefer Kings of War to Warhammer, or Dreadball to Blood Bowl, because KoW/DB are easier and simpler. But that does not mean that I’m a doofus that cannot comprehend the rules of Warhammer or Blood Bowl. It means I don’t want to bother with an overcomplicated and clunky ruleset that has tables to roll, diagrams, exceptions to rules, exceptions to exceptions and tables for rolling for diagrams and exceptions every other page. I prefer to instead focus on other stuff, like outwitting my opponent on the board or just plain having a good time.

          To be completely honest I’m finding it very surprising that the Dreadball/Deadzone/Mars Attacks dice mechanics used to be billed as ‘innovative, simple, dynamic, fast, intuitive etc’, but you are now considering an older and (from what I gather) less successful project faster, more intuitive and generally superior.

          Regarding facing rules, to be honest I don’t recall any other modern dungeoncrawl game that still uses facing rules instead of a 360 arc of vision. Most of the time the tight space of a dungeon is enough to provide an edge for the outnumbered force. And even if it’s not, that can be remedied by balancing and adjusting individual scenarios or even figure statblocks if it comes to that. If you keep facing rules in the game, at least please convince Mantic to include figure bases that support those rules. Either some cool new ones (like a circular base with notches to the sides) or just plain old rectangles. With loads of different figure poses, denoting and figuring out facing in DKH or DB (without the hex bases) with only the tiny circular integral bases was frustratingly fiddly.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          The DKH rules were squashed into a very small space, and could be improved by having more room for examples and suchlike. I agree entirely. This was simply a function of where Mantic were at that point. It will be different this time round.

          It is quite common for people to streamline and change the way in which they implement rules in most games. This can be done without changing the actual rule, simply rolling dice together, separating things out, and so on. The way you need to explain rules and they way you use them once you are familiar with them are two different things.

          Overall I think we should agree to disagree. I have personally timed people playing both systems and found the DKH one to be faster. Your experiences clearly tell you something different. Similarly, I don’t think you will convince me that memorising a larger set is easier or quicker than memorising a smaller set, whether you can do it yourself or not. “Better” is a different discussion.

          DKH, DB, DZ or any other game could have been designed in a myriad different ways. Design is all about choosing which compromises and abstractions you want to use, and how to implement them. Character is by definition variance on the norm, and there are a number of classic ways to achieve this. Most games use a number of systems in parallel. DKH 4 heroes will use additional methods as they need more detail to keep them interesting when they are the only model you have to play with. Changing DKH to work with the DB/DZ dice mechanic means discarding all the previous work including any old stats or scenarios and requires a completely new design from scratch – at least an extra 3 months work. And would the game be vastly improved for this? Some might think so, others would think it worse, still more think it different but neither better nor worse. I can’t see a major benefit to everyone from the large investment of time and effort here.

          Finally, are you using “bonii” as a plural of bonuses? Very inventive 😉

  26. jack says:

    are there any planned expansions that can be unlocked as stretch goals?

  27. maledrakh says:

    just to weigh in on the female figure discussion;
    Damn the cheescake, there is more than enough of that everywhere else.

    The female elf is a very good example of making a great figure that is distinctly female without being cheesecake in the least. Look also at the dreadball females mantic make. Excellent figures.
    The barbarian female is no problem as long at the cheesecake is no worse than the male. How about making her a Xena-like bodybuilder type, not a porny glamorbabetype? Problem avoided.
    Paladin? Look to Brienne of Tarth.
    Dwarf? Cheery / Cherie Littlebottom. Does Mantic have any stance of whether dwarf women are beardy? if so, they looks just the same as a male one. At least for everyone that isnt a Dwarf..
    Wizard? How about a witch-archetype like Granny Weatherwax, or Tiffany Aching if she need to be young?
    None of these female archetypes are cheesecake.

    I know that I probably will ble playing this game with my daughter, and as I have seen the disappointment in her eyes several times when she says “Where is the girl?” and all the heroes are men, I have grown somewhat sensitive to this subject.
    Not making females -or only making sexist male-fantasy female depictions, excludes half the world. It may not seem a big deal on the surface, but it actually is when you think about it. Just do it in the name of balance if nothing else. I for one think you as the designer should make the case to Mantic, as you probaly have some influence there than I would have posting on blogs about it.

    Think about this: One of the reasons Star Trek became the monster franchise it is, is the many positive cast members that were other than white males. In its time, that was a really big thing.

  28. mattadlard says:

    If we are seeing the opportunity to upgrade the characters does the proposed rules also allow the same for the GM to do this with the Monsters???

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Absolutely. even if the heroes are divided between several players, SKH is a game of two sides, so both need to be able to upgrade and refine their forces equally.

      • mattadlard says:

        Will this just be the four adventurers V’s the GM or will it include accompanying henchmen. Reason one asked is that from previous mods to ADHQ having players act as separate co-op’s who bid for adventuring contracts which means that they can end up with situations where they need to grab more gold than the others to afford to pay the henchmen, as they left if not. It created tension and having the henchmen also allowed for tailoring of bands of adventures with mercs and such.

        Just curious..

      • mattadlard says:

        Was also thinking along the lines of campaign improvements with antagonists getting xp as well?

  29. Matt Price says:

    Looking forward, Jake, to hearing your specifics about why you don’t care so much for Coop games. I’ve not had those experiences with these types of games (Our group has had a great time with BSG, for example. I’m a big fan of Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror as well), and can’t figure out what your dislike stems from. Thanks!

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  31. EvilOvenBaked says:

    Sorry if I’m asking an obvious question, but how will this be different from other big dungeon crawlers out there, specifically descent, aside from far nicer miniatures. GG btw 🙂

    Oh, and +1 for co-op (full or otherwise)

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It’s a good question, and one that’s oddly difficult to answer in detail. Mainly that’s because I haven’t played the latest versions of all the other games within this genre, so I don’t have that reference point. I think the overall difference will be one of feel, and that’s a combination of story, style and other details rather than one big thing. I’m not sure how many of the others are playable in an hour, or are as mutable as we plan, so they’re probably differences as well. And there are those miniatures 🙂

      You’ll definitely be seeing co-op in DKH4. You don’t have to persuade me there. More discussion of that to follow.

    • C says:

      The current DKH is a skirmish miniatures game on a grid, where each player plays a difference force (eg. orcs vs. skeletons). No dungeoncrawlers do this, although the Song of Blades and Heroes (miniatures skirmish game) dungeoncrawl expansion has rules for such gameplay. Rules are simpler than Descent and Myth. Some reviews mention the deeper level of strategy. Descent will have an expansion that allows coop. Myth is coop-only. Both Descent and DKH has “adversarial DM vs. players” gameplay, as opposed to HeroQuest and D&D RPG’s “benevolent DM” who isn’t trying to defeat the players. BoardGameGeek has several reviews for “DKH: Dead Rising”, and I’ve found others on the internet. My guess about the upcoming DKH is that it’s not only an adversarial dungeoncrawl, but will have coop rules and can still (?) be played like the original game. Its simpler ruleset will make it easier for casual and new gamers to play.

  32. Danny says:

    Having a closer look at the mini’s. they’re pretty nice so far, except for the Barbarian…too many skulls makes it look dumb…I’ll be subbing this guy out with another Barbarian mini. On another note, does his face remind anyone else of Khal Drogo from the TV series Game of Thrones?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’m not a big fan of skulls on figures either, and if it was anyone but the barbarisn I’d probably agree. Many indigenous peoples wear bits of animals as part of their rituals and the Celts were famed for their cult of the head. Don’t see why this shouldn’t be the case in the KOW universe. It’s also a fantasy trope and is sort of expected.

      You’re welcome to replace it with whatever you like. There’s no shortage of barbarians in the world. Some nice models too 😉

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  34. heretic30k says:

    Really loving Deadzone so will be interested in your plans for DKH 4 – I really liked the old GW Warhammer Quest/Advanced Heroquest and more recently FF Descent 2nd Ed. Will be interesting to see some backstabbing mechanics as I always felt that was missing from these games.

  35. Cypher says:


    I can’t wait to see the progress of this – I’ve been waiting for a “classic” dungeoncrawler for years and I am absolutely happy with DeadZone – so You have my full trust 🙂

    I would like to add thought about 3D-Terrain?

    Do You know how ADIKEN did their Nin-Ghonost stuff?

    It was basically magnetized gaming tiles and some 3D walls (just as eye-candy) that could be pulled away easily. What about adding some CARDBOARD WALLS and CORNERS that could be sold separated or added as a stretch goal?

    Best Regards,

    • mattadlard says:

      The problem you get is scope, and would prefer more board pieces and 3d bits than walls.
      One has played dungeon crawls with walls and it’s not both that easy or much fun when you keep knocking bits over.

    • Matt Price says:

      I’d rather have more monsters, more loot, more spells, more content, and no 3D walls or floors (though tables, chairs, chests, armory racks… That would be nice!).

      Mantic is planning their Kings of War skirmish game (as Deadzone is to Warpath, so likely will this be to Kings of War) and there we’ll see the 3D terrain. I’d prefer to wait for that. Cardboard tiles are better!

      • Cypher says:

        You and mattadlard are probably right, but it’s just that I love the Eye-Candy aspect of a miniatures boardgame. Torture-racks, bookshelves with candles, doors, and…. Walls 🙂 All this stuff is in the way of Your hands when You play, that’s right – but it looks great!

        Let’s see what this game will become, and it’s not a big deal to get some walls or furniture to my gaming table if they are not planned for DKH4.

      • mattadlard says:

        Exactly as above.

    • C says:

      fwiw, Terraclips has some high-end 3D cardboard terrain, and Fat Dragon inexpensive papercraft terrain. Dwarven Forge has its plastic and resin terrain I highly recommend, and many ‘net sellers sell inexpensive Hirst Arts terrain. No need to wait over a year if you want terrain!

  36. Jesus says:

    Will it be available in other languages? (Spanish, French …)

    • mattadlard says:

      Knowing gamers and bad dice roll’s suspect the game will be available in ‘Bad Languages’ as well…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Probably. I don’t think there have been any final decisions made yet, but I would expect it to get translated. This may be something that happens when it is released as a product to buy in the shop rather than on the Kickstarter.

  37. Mattias says:

    I haven’t plowed through all the comments, so maybe this have been covered – but regarding backstabbing and coniving I think the old Mutant Chronicles Siege of The Citadel did it fairly well with the rotating bad guy role. It meant the outcome of each scenario had to be weighed in to the next scenario, as the guy playing the bad guy in one scenario would be a good guy in the next – and one of the good guys would play the bad guy and if higher level than everybody else would get to play with really tough monsters. Thus, the players sometimes had to cull their own ranks to get rid of run-away leaders which lead to some hilarious backstabbing. =)

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  39. Paboook says:

    Jake, thank you so much for all the information, it is really appreciated. I am looking forward to your article on cooperation games.

  40. Just one Question : Estimated release date ? 😀

    A $100 sweet spot is perfect for me and i like even more the exclusive hero rather than 10 bucks discount.

    Also : Book of Depravity :3 love that. The fact that you decide to give us the power rather than making a line of expansions is a very noble thing to do, since we all love to make our own games and extra bits ( i want to make a few extra skills for my dreadball’s teams… don’t know if my friends will allow me to use them… but hey! ).

    About apps, i like what Mantic Digital does, but it will be great if we had some kind of basic API for accessing stats and skills, a simple JSON/XML data store will be more than welcome so that we will be able to make free apps for the community using the latest updates for the game. For example Battlescribe’s Army Builder has a great module for Deadzone and for Kings of War that i can use on my PC and Android phone.

    Lastly i have to thank you for adding that stabbing bit the game, i been playing Descent and i have to say that is a really cool game but is freaking annoying because people tend to tell you what to do every time and games that should take less than 45 mins end up being 2.5 hours ! Is just silly how things escalate when everyone tends to max/min everything rather than playing your role and have fun, i almost quit at that game because of that. Please make it so in a way that everyone can fend for themselves and avoid that “do as say” stuff that leave us with no fun and a lot of frustrations -.-


    • Quirkworthy says:

      Estimated release date? Not sure. I’d guess 1st or 2nd quarter next year. 2nd to be safe. That is a guess though. It’ll be on the KS and Mantic are pretty good at hitting them.

      With Mantic Digital already in place, I expect that DKH will see some support from them. Exactly what would be most useful will come out in playtesting.

      …and that’s exactly what I don’t like about that style of co-op.

  41. vonjunk says:


    Hello. The minis look great, but I am quite curious why the Elf (ranger?) is such a different take on Elves than all my other Mantic Elves? Are they moving the line in a different direction? She looks nothing like the tall, spindly Elves which kicked off Mantic’s first miniatures.
    Also, on the Elves, would they still jump/bounce around like they did in DKH: The Green Menace?

    • Matt Price says:

      A good comment! This speaks volumes about their previous “version” of elves, but since I just threw those sprues out (couldn’t even give them away, I tried!) I’d totally forgotten about how awful looking those older models were. I’m glad their elf doesn’t look like pee wee herman in a tight corset.

      • vonjunk says:


        Yes. I have seen a couple decent looking models made from Mantic’s Elves, but they are without a doubt, THE most polarizing choice of Mantic’s models. The details were nice, but they’re just too skinny and the pointy helmets didn’t help with their looks at all. Perhaps with DKH4, and KoW Skirmish they will reboot their Elves line? I’d be in favor of the new, classic looking Elf presented to us here.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Mantic’s Elves are, as you say, polarising. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a range of Elves from any company that are as I would design them myself. Most are just humans with pointy ears, and I find that a bit lame. I actually rather like certain aspects of Mantic’s plastic Elves, though I don’t think they quite come off as a whole. I know that they’re not generally well-liked.

          The elf you see here is more likely to be the sort of thing they make going forward.

  42. JonnyG says:

    Some of my issues with Decent 2.0 are:
    1) that the treasure gained during the game is mostly potions with only one option (in later games) to get access to a treasure but only by luck of the draw. Potions are not interesting to me and yes I know they can be converted to gold but I would rather have the chance to draw a weapon, armor or even a new spell as well as potions. These automatic increases in power would make it more of make sure the heroes dont acquire too many weapons etc as it would mean the villain would get his arse handed to him much quicker. It would also be great if the villains could also find the treasure and use it as well.
    2) That most of the missions are a race and that usually there is only one main objective, unless you count the heroes wiping out the villains all together. I also feel that in many of the early missions in any of the campaigns that the villain only had to use a Huge monster (spaces base or more) to block the heroes from their objective. That usually meant that the OL (me) had to make it easier less the heroes get slaughtered time and time again and quit. I also wish that the villain could choose what enemies he wanted to bring but was mainly restricted by a point system on what he could bring into play or what abilities he/she could use.
    3) I feel like the weak monsters in Act 1 are easy enough for the heroes to roll through but when you have to use them in Act 2 they are not even speed bumps. It would be nice if even the weaker creatures would be able to still be a thorn in the heroes side either through new abilities or greater numbers. In DKH4 will there be more than one Big boss? Will there be a boss behind the necromancer?
    4) I like the DZ 8 sides dice and I would like the same to be in DkH4 or even better d10 or d12:)
    5) Last one for now…..I would like the monsters to have more abilities to chose from and for them not to just be melee or range based. I really like the fact that in Dust you can use as many abilities as are printed on the card as long as your are either adjacent to the heroes or within range. I also like that there are several limited abilities (i.e grenades) on many of the units which helps with the varies attacks as well.
    Any thoughts? Also when will we get a bigger reveal from Mantic :)?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Jonny.

      I played Descent when it first came out, and haven’t played the 2nd ed. I’ll be doing that next week.

      1) DKH will handle loot/treasure differently in the core and expanded/depraved/whatever versions. The core game is pre-defined, so the treasure needs to be controlled as it’s part of the balance of the scenarios. That won’t be as exciting for you, perhaps, but then you will probably be wanting to be playing in the sandbox option anyway 😉

      2) When you start writing scenarios, you realise how few genuinely different options there are. That said, there is more than one…

      3) Mortibris the Necromancer is the biggest boss. He has a number of underlings that act as mini bosses, and quite a lot of smaller beasties to swarm the heroes. Getting this all to balance nicely is part of the fun of designing it.

      4) I don’t think I need more than 6 sides for DKH. The only point in using D8, 10, 12 or 17 is that it provides a design function I can’t do in another way, and at present I’m fine with D6s here.

      5) The hero monsters will have lots of options, just like the “good guys”. If you’ve played through the earlier naughtiness of Mortibris in Dead Rising then you’ll already be familiar with some of the undead. I think giving grenades to Mortibris might be a little unsettling for a humble barbarian. Mind you…

      A bigger reveal? We’ll be building stuff up as we get closer to the KS. It’s all still in development and we’re meeting (and playing) regularly to get the last conceptual things ironed out. Stuff is still changing. I’d just say watch this space 😉

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  45. Danny says:

    I’ve just noticed in the second pic of this blog entry (the pic with the cover art screen shot), there is a single mounted miniature on the top shelf of the acrylic showcase, it looks like a goblin riding a giant lizard…perhaps some sort of wall and ceiling climbing subterranean gecko that the goblins have trained to become mounts…which they feed with the fresh meat of DKH 4 adventurers…

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