Heritage games: Wizards & Heroes

Back in about 1980 or ’81, Heritage Models USA was releasing a lot of rules to go with their miniatures.  The “Paint ‘n’ Play” sets (Crypt of the sorcerer, Cavern of Doom) even made it into Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs*.

They also released a much more ambitious system, Knights & Magick, which I’ve only seen in bits — getting a used copy of the boxed rules booklets will cost you something between treasure type G and H.  My brother got one of the “Paint ‘n’ Play” sets associated with it (Knights of King Arthur, which pitted Arthur and some knights vs. Mordred and his) so we probably saw a brief explanation of the rules there, but for some reason never tried them out — come to think of it, I think we had an incomplete set, lacking the rules, based on some stuff that I’ve seen online.  There was also a Merlin game with some simple magic rules for a game dueling wizards: Morgana La Fey and Merlin could cast spells at each other, and summon various servitors, to duke it out.  The rules of both of these have been scanned here or there online, and I guess you could reconstruct the core mechanics from those two samples (authored by Arnold Hendricks and Greg Sanford) although apparently the Knights & Magick  boxed set was stuffed full of awesome, and sounds like exactly the sort of game I’d like to run some time.  But those rules are are in a sort of limbo; no-one seems to know who owns the rights to them any more.

A pair of knights from the Knights & Magick line; the axeman's axe is a replacement. I love the simple but dramatic poses of the figures in this line.

They also released a series of mini-games,  some of which included plastic miniatures (!).  These included Woman Warrior and Cleric’s Quest; I’m not sure if there were others. The rules for these may have been based on their Swordbearer RPG.  The rules were credited to B. Dennis Sustare.

Another set of rules Heritage released was much less ambitious — Wizards & Heroes.  Coming in at just four pages, I was able to find the complete rules at a Yahoo group.  They are numbered “8210” and priced 25 cents … I am pretty sure they either came with a catalog, or could be ordered for $.25 and a SASE.  The rules are extremely simple and designed to run fast skirmish-sized battles — perhaps a dozen minis to a side, although in principle you could also rune mass battles with the rules, if you come up with some rules for units moving in groups.

Each figure has three stats — fighting, armor, and missiles.  These are rated 1-5, and you hit (or save in the case of armor) by rolling equal to or under the stat’s number.  The turn has four phases:

  1. player one moves, player two shoots;
  2. both sides melee;
  3. player two moves, player one shoots;
  4. both sides melee

You roll at at the start of the game for who will be player one and two (high roll is player one).  Some figures might be Heroes or Wizards, and these have some extra powers — Heroes get two attacks in melee, and wizards can cast spells instead of taking another action in any phase.  Wizards can be level 1-4, and can cast one spell per level per turn (a level 4 wizard would have to forgo moving, missiles, and both both melee phases to cast four spells).  A neat idea in the rules is that wizards gain levels only by surviving battles, and start as level one, so you have to keep your wizard alive three battles in a row to make it to fourth level!  The spell list is very similar to the ones in the Paint ‘n’ Play games. There is also a rudimentary points system to buy troops, and optional rules for morale, parrying & wounds (so a hero might take more than one hit) and monsters (which basically use spell-like powers and are statted out like regular troops).  The rules, like most of the miniatures rules from Heritage, were designed by Arnold Hendrick, and they certainly resemble the presentation and ideas of the other sets. They were published in 1980, and remind me of the ‘free’ simple rules you’d find in Prince August catalogs and the Ral Partha “Rules According to Ral” — there is no question the rules exist mainly to sell miniatures, but they are so rules-light that I am tempted to use them the next time my gaming group gets together but for whatever reason we don’t play D&D.  The only problem is that the version I found is a pretty poor scan and in jpeg format to I’d really need to retype them for reference.

Given their simplicity, and expandability, they might be a good basis for the Dark Tower game I’ve been thinking about — begin with a hero, who builds up a band of followers, searches tombs and ruins for gold and relics, and eventually besiege the Dark Tower, ideally all on one table with maybe a side table for the dungeon crawls, Crypt of the Sorcerer style.  That could a day or two of epic gaming…

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*I am not sure if the “Famous Monsters“** and Superhero sets made it into the catalogs too but I think they must have, since they were an even more mainstream theme.  Unfortunately neither of those sets is very well documented online.  The two fantasy sets are available as scans at the Heritage Reference Yahoo group (my “Dungeon Delvers” rules are based on them too) — and of course Scottsz is still hard at work creating what I think of as an “Advanced” version, Sorcerers of Doom, which from what I’ve seen is a really awesome sort of combination of the original rules, plus a well thought out system to keep it DM-less while running more complex adventures than the random-table-driven originals…one could even run an old TSR module solo using these rules with a few tweaks.

**Apparently there was once an effort to re-publish this game, with Reaper minis back when they were recasting some Heritage minis, but the announcement page (link goes to Wayback machine capture) seems to have come & gone in a flash. Copyright/trademark issues?

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Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “I guess you could reconstruct the core mechanics from those two samples.”

    Actually the K&M mechanics were a lot crunchier, the paint and play rules ran a lot more like Heritage’s rules lite Warlord by Max Carr (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/25502/warlord). I actually greatly preferred those rules and you can see some of their inspiration in my own By this Axe rules.

    Combat in K&M revolved around a weapons vs. armor chart in which you rolled both a d10 and a d6 for a range from 1-15. What a pain in the ass to roll a combo like that for each individual figure on the table (and these were supposed to be much bigger actions than the skirmish rules of Warlord).

    Still all kinds of wonderful bits to that old warhorse, reminds me that I need to do a full write-up on them some day.

  2. I honestly don’t remember the Famous Monsters or the Superheroes ones in the larger department stores. (Possible licensing/trademark issues?)

    Looking back, I’m somewhat surprised, given the ‘small part’ issue (particularly metal!) of seeing *any* miniatures in regular retail stores.

    I think there is something significant in how few rules there were and players being able to memorize them. These (and a lot of microgames) didn’t require any rule lookups…

  3. I own both K&M and Warlord. K&M was mostly interesting (IMHO) for its extensive campaign rules that were fully integrated with the combat rules. I never played them but I used bits and pieces for other games.
    Warlord was a short and (again IMHO) a very good skirmish set, being easy to play and simple whilst including all I think that is needed in a fantasy skirmish. My group did play a few games last year and I still have the rules in iPad.

    • Wow, jealous.

  4. Apparently “Warlord” is in fact an expansion of “Wizards & Heroes” (with more rules for monsters and a changed magic system, as well as siege rules). Max Carr has updated “Warlord” and released part of the rules as “Baron Wars” (the fantasy, siege, and an apparently all-new naval expansion are all separate, but will be free; only the naval rules are up on the site). You can get “Baron Wars” at the Barony Miniatures web site, http://www.baronyminiatures.com

    Nice minis too, and some free downloads.

  5. I have some old heritage stuff on my web site.
    Some of the paint and play and the nice playing ww2 rules “Panzertroops”.
    http://ns1.argontech.net/~kaptain1/Games%20and%20Games%20Links.htm

  6. Faustus,

    Thanks for having those scans available!

  7. Currently scanning in Knights and Magick rules set.


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