End of term at school means two things, Assemblies and 3 hours stuck in a class room with your form group. My group are year 7's which means they are 11 or 12. By the time I got to the room this morning the crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks were already being consumed. They were going to be high as kites till break time. The kids in my form split into three groups, lovely girls, nerdy boys and pain in the back side little grotty boys. I had to keep as many of the boys entertained as I could (especially a little tub of lard with a voice like a high pitched fog horn that we shall call Derek) in order for there not to be a riot of boredom.
So I pulled out my copy of Advanced Heroquest plus some of the old dungeon floorplans sets and braved my newly painted figures and went dungeon crawling with a whole heap of noobs!
At first I managed to attract about half a dozen of the boys to play. They each chose a figure to play and they were given quick and simple instructions. They could move 6 squares at a time and open doors and then we'd see what was in the room. I wanted them to get into the action quickly so that I could hook them.
So they swiftly came up against some Zombies in the first rooms. All they had to do was roll a 4+ to hit and a 4+ to kill. All the basic monsters had one wound and all the heroes had three.
I wrote the order they were to move down on the paper that the game was being played on and any wounds that the Heroes received were written down too. Simple paperwork for the kids.
The excitement level of some of the kids was mental! Screeching, cheering, shouting encouragement, screaming for help. Derek got his hero killed by the Minotaur (Oh my god! It's Flipping Minotaur! I wanna kill it!!) but let him pick another figure and enter from the start. With perfect timing they killed the last figure just before the bell.
The first game was such a success that after the break I had about a dozen boys wanting to play. This time I used bigger rooms and threw Orcs, Hobgoblins, Beastmen, Ogres, Zombies and an undead Wizard into the mix. One kid got mugged by 3 zombies and killed of in one round. "Don't go into a corridor on your own!" was suddenly the latest advice screamed around the room.
The great thing for me was seeing the excitement on the faces of the kids (well, boys, the girls were sticking to type and doing each other's hair and trying to surreptitiously take selfies although a brutal game of monopoly was going on in one corner). They totally bought it. They were hooked. They wanted to play again immediately. They wanted to know where they could buy the game and how much it cost. They want to play it every lunch time. They wanted me to start a club after school.
It was a triumph of indoctrination.
Was this us all those years ago? Was it that much of an instant hit with us? What was the thing that made it stick so fast to our souls?
To be honest it was great fun. Apart from me cringing at my precious figures being manhandled so roughly (I'm going to have to inspect them for damage, just because....well we all would, wouldn't we! Filthy hobbitses!) I had a riot leading them into the underworld. The belief was suspended and at no point did any of them request a computer version. They worked as a team and beat up the baddies. They killed the evil undead wizard in the nick of time with the last roll of dice and the shit-bags shared victory with the nerds.
And it kept Derek out of trouble for a whole 3 hours.