Tuesday, 11 December 2012

HeroQuestion?

I think that the following question is a bit of fun really, but one that can tell us something about each and every person, perhaps something deep and profound, perhaps not. In any case, I think that this question can be used to separate the entire population of the world into four broad groupings, who in my experience tend towards similar preferences when it comes to the hobby of wargaming, as well as other things.

The question is this: Barbarian, Elf, Dwarf or Wizard?

Now it may be that the answer to this daft question might seem straight forward, but I don't think that it is quite that straight forward at all when we think about what the answer says about a person. Deciding the answer that best suits you is simple enough, but I think that the answer that you give could be saying quite a bit about the type of gamer and the type of person you are, the way you might think about things, or might respond to a situation.

The answer you give, the draw you feel towards a particluar character type, or army type in the wider wargaming hobby, is instinctive, and I think it can almost be seen as an extension of your personality. Another interpretation could be the 'fight or flight?' question, which might also tell you a lot about a person, but as you never know what the answer to that question is until you are faced with it in the heat of the moment, I prefer my alternative! Plus, HeroQuest is immeasurably cool.

A person could simply have chosen a character at random, or feel that they have no affinity with any character in particular, but I think that if we looked at the choice a person makes between the various characters can be seen echoing through their life, and more obviously in the choices they make as a wargamer. One other thing to consider though is that the instinctive choice a person makes might change as they age and experience the world, because the person they are is changing as well, influenced by the life events that they live through. As a persons attitude to life changes, so can their choice of character.

Anyway, on to the meat of the subject. I think that the four characters from the HeroQuest game each represent an archetypal personality type. Each represents partly what a person is like, and partly what they want to be like, and it is the combination of these two elements that makes a person that chooses their character instinctively go for the one they do. The same principle could possibly be applied to Monopoly playing pieces, but I have to admit to not having spent much time considering what selecting the Iron or the Top Hat might mean...

Here is what I think that the choice of character tells us about a person, based on my own experience - this is just my opinion, so make of it what you will. Maybe decide for yourself what my opinion tells you about me?

Barbarian

A player that chooses this character likes it up close and brutal, simple hack and slash through and through. They like the classic hero, staring their enemy in the face and defeating them through strength of arms. They respect physical prowess. This player might like armies that are equally martial and melee orientated, and quite likely ones that include large heavily built troop types like Ogres, Trolls and other monsters, but also human warriors like Chaos Warriors, because part of the appeal of the Barbarian is that he is a man (however bear-like he may be), not a beast. They are the hammer, rather than the anvil. I was a Barbarian in my time playing HeroQuest, Warhammer Quest and D & D, and would say based on this that a Barbarian player is direct and honest, but also sometimes throws caution to the wind, and they would like to be strong and daring.

Elf

A player that opts for the Elf character is a player that respects skill over strength, but also likes a bit of flair and panache. A brains over brawn player, an Elf player likes to strike from a position of safety, but is not above employing their speed and skill in melee if necessary, though only when the odds are in their favour. An Elf player is almost certain to play an Elf-like army on other games, so Elves, Eldar and other high skilled high dexterity but low resilience armies. The appeal of the Elf might be that they are typically taken to be highly intelligent, and so might draw a player that considers themselves to also be intelligent.

They value civility and wit, and believe that it is possible to think their way out of a problem rather than just bashing it over the head. May see other more dedicated melee fighters as a tool to be used to achieve their own ends. I would like to take the opportunity to quote from the Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook regarding the Eldar (space Elves for anyone unfamiliar): You may as well try to catch starlight as bring the Eldar to battle. This is Elf players all over for me.

Dwarf

The Dwarf is tough, and stubborn beyond measure. In my experience this can reflect players of the character in Hero Quest, and players of Dwarf armies in general. Stubborn is the term more likely to be used by non Dwarfs, where as Dwarf players (which I am in Warhammer, though only one of five completely different armies) prefer to use the word stoic, or resolute. Based on the character of Dwarfs and the fact that some people are drawn to them, I would expect to find that players with an affinity for the stature challenged ironclad warriors would tend to place great store in loyalty, quality above quantity and loud noises. Probably caused by some form of black powder weaponry.

Dedicated Dwarf players tend to like the opposite to dedicated Elf players in my opinion, and though I am sure there must be some out there, I have not yet come across a player of Warhammer that plays both Dwarfs and Elves. The draw of the two armies are very different, though both have a tendancy towards elitism, because, well, they tend to be better (more skilled/intelligent) than other races. I would think that the difference between Dwarf players and Elf players is one of dirt. Dwarfs don't mind dirt, what with mining, gunpowder, tavern floors and all that, but Elves take pride in being able to slaughter their enemies without getting a single splash of foul blood in their damned expensive tailoring. After all, when you can live for millenia, you buy stuff that you intend to last...

Wizards

Ah, now Wizard players. Closet Megalomaniacs for sure. The character of the Wizard in any game can often wield the most destructive powers of all the warriors, but they also tend to be more frail in body. Wizard players in my experience tend to be academically competent people (brighter than me at any rate), and are confident in their abilities. They also like to be an integral part of the group, which Wizards are of course. I think that they are similar to Elf players, only more extreme in the desire to avoid physical confrontation, much prefering to unleash devastation from the opposite end of a very long corridor, or even better, from the other side of a wall made of the other warriors in the party.

Wizards are often great leaders of their race, wise and stern. The vulnerabilities of Wizards in HeroQuest mirror those of the Barbarian. One excels in the physical, the other in the mental, but both destructive in their own right. The vulnerability of the Barbarian is that he has to get up close and personal to kill, the Wizards, that he is generally in trouble if he or his fellows allow any frothing axe wielding loonies to get within dismembering diatance. I think that when it comes to other games, Wizard players tend towards similar armies to Elf players, but with powerful sorcerors at the helm. Now as some armies have such leaders but are different to Elf armies, like Vampire Counts, Warriors of Chaos, Daemons and Lizardmen, the options available to a Wizard player are many (especially when some of those leaders are also skilled warriors), but all involve immolating/transmuting/turning inside out their enemies with powerful magic.

It may be fair to say that, whether they are sending Zombies to eat your brain, compelling trees to throttle you, or turning you into a frog, spell casters are arguably the real powerhouses of fantasy tabletop wargames. Though they also occasionally managage to blow themselves into tiny teeny scraps of bloodied flesh (along with everyone within several yards), which makes me do a little dance inside. When they are my opponents spellcaster at any rate.

So these are my warped insights into what I consider to be 'the big question'. As I said at the beginning, a bit of fun. Some people harp on about other questions, like how to solve world hunger, how to prevent wars, and how to keep our toddler from emptying the fridge, and all are important questions, but the HeroQuestion is my personal favourite. The reason it is important is because, when you think about it, games like Hero Quest, and life in general for that matter, work out best when we pool our respective skills and work together. Otherwise we are all just alone in the darkness.

If we can set aside our superficial differences and come to realise that we have important common goals and interests, we can achieve anything. If we act seprately or selfishly, eventually our vulnerabilities will be laid bare and our enemies will close in and destroy us. If we get the answers to the silly questions right, it can lay the foundations for answering the really important questions about war, poverty and hunger.

Thanks for reading.