Interviews

Crazy Eights: Todd Rowland on Thunderstone Quest

If you’ve played Thunderstone or Thunderstone Advanced, then you know that they are deck building games with a heavy fantasy dungeon crawling theme.  It became the second deck building game that I was aware of after Dominion.  While it did have a clunky setup and a take a while to get the deck going, Thunderstone was a rewarding experience with expansions that brought more to the table.  Thunderstone Advance corrected some of the early gameplay issues and became an even greater success.  However, there haven’t been any recent expansions for either version and both are long out of print.  Late last year AEG made rumblings of a new version of Thunderstone, and a Kickstarter campaign to publish a new version began a couple of weeks ago.  I was able to get Todd Rowland, Director at AEG, to answer eight questions about Thunderstone Quest.

I’m assuming that work on Thunderstone started before the release of Dominion. How did you come up with the original Thunderstone and Thunderstone Advance?

The original Thunderstone was brought to us by Mike Elliot after Dominion had been released. It was a project he had been working on, and fit perfectly into our desire to release a fantasy focused deckbuilding game that allowed players to experience an adventure while playing. The market was still wide open for deckbuilding at the time and we felt a fantasy deckbuilder would be well received, and it was! Years later we decided to refine the system with Thunderstone Advance, and how we are doing the same with Thunderstone Quest.

The original Thunderstone and Thunderstone Advance are still hits and seem to be hard to get a hold of. Why not just reprint the previous games?

They have been out of print for a while, that’s true. We wanted to broaden the scope of what you’re doing in Thunderstone, add more strategic choices while still improving systems that may seem somewhat out of date to modern game design, so that’s why we are introducing new systems for wounds, dungeons, monsters and more with Thunderstone Quest.

Why not make a game with similar mechanics to Thunderstone but give it a different theme, like space aliens?

We believe there is a strong audience that really enjoys Thunderstone, and we wanted to cater to them. Plus a fantasy setting often has broad appeal, making it an easy choice to continue.

How will you make this game accessible to those who never had the opportunity to play Thunderstone before?

The game itself comes with an introductory adventure, and each Quest (expansion) comes pre-set with new heroes, monsters, dungeons, items, and more. You can play through each preset, introducing yourself to new mechanics, then mix those cards in with prior sets to create custom games each time you play. The possibility for replay and new combinations is enormous.

Since this will be called Thunderstone Quest, I’m assuming that some kind of campaign mode will be included. Does that mean that players will go through a specific progression of dungeons that get progressively more difficult?

Rather than more difficult, each Quest will introduce a new strategy or mechanical challenge. In one Quest monsters may just be tough with difficult HP to overcome. In another they may damage the player via forcing discards or greater wounds. In other Quests the interaction of multiple hero classes as opposed to a focused deck may be more advantageous.

You level up the heroes within the gameplay. Will there be some kind of mechanic that keeps your leveled up heroes throughout the campaign?

No. It is not a “legacy” game per se, but it does introduce new heroes with each quest, native to the setting of the quest. Of course once you’ve enjoyed quest, you’re free to explore mixing them to create all new combos of your own.

Will there be some kind of rule change to prevent stalling of the Thunderstone capture to end the game?

The end of the game is impossible to stall! We’ve created a new end-of-game condition involving Dungeon Keys that are revealed as you kill monsters, which advances the attack on the boss and the end of the game naturally. It’s best to move ahead towards winning rather than stalling, as the game could end any time (though it is not rushed, you still have time to explore and build fun deck engines).

Will the Kickstarter be a complete set, or will we see other expansions come out later?

Both! The Kickstarter will come with several expansions at this point (thanks to unlocked stretch goals) and we hope to produce even more in the future. We have tons of ideas!

The Kickstarter campaign was funded in fifteen minutes and has earned over $350K since the beginning of the campaign.  If you’ve played Thunderstone or Thunderstone Advance, then backing this is a no brainer.  If you’ve have heard of Thunderstone but wondered what the buzz is about, then be sure to check it out now.  With a ton of extra stretch goals unlocked, it’s a great value with all the hours of gameplay it will provide.  You have about ten days left at this time.

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