Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Adam Kwapinski

Lion Games / Rebel.pl

No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Year after year new publishing houses appear, while other disappear again after just one or two years. Since Kickstarter started the successful crowdfunding boom, it becomes more and more difficult to keep track and find the real game gems, especially because a lot of the games are distributed by various companies again, sometimes even with different names. But sometimes there are also other reasons for establishing a new publishing label...

LION GAMES was founded as an offshoot of HISTORICAL GAMES FACTORY, because the Polish publisher came to the conclusion that it would be interesting to create games without a historical background, too. As this does not fit to the publisher's original focus, they simply set up a new company. Basically it is more like a new brand, because there are the same people behind both labels. In 2015 Heroes is the first game under the new label, a game that was already announced for SPIEL 2014, but wasn't released until spring 2015. It is a co-production with REBEL.PL who took over the exclusive distribution, and they were also involved in the final game development.


Heroes is a real-time fantasy strategy game. The objective is simply to kill all other players, so that there is only one hero left in play. Each hero starts the game with 30 hit points and an army of different creatures that try to protect the hero. Both, the hero and the creatures, come in form of cards that are placed on a personal player board with two rows (front- and back-line) and four spaces for the cards each. This is the battle ground from which you can attack other players and protect your hero. In contrast to Mage Wars and Summoner Wars the cards do not confront other players' creatures directly as they do not leave the players' board. But they show the players which cards can be attacked and which cards are protected by other cards. Basically heroes and creatures in the back line are safer, if another creature of the player is standing right in front of them. Creatures (and heroes) in the front-line are more exposed and can be hit more easily, and so it is not wise to place a hero in the front-line, especially because a hero has no powers of his own, but can only control the other creatures and take hits.

Next to the creatures on the battle field we are equipped with spells in form of hand cards. Each player starts with five basic spell cards and three more spells that are taken clockwise from four available cards from the table. In a full game the army of creatures is build up in the next phase. Each hero comes with his individual set of creature cards and every player may take creatures with a value up to 10 points into his army. But you can also play with preselected decks, a quick-start variant which can be strongly recommend especially for new players. I made the experience that these preselected decks are well balanced, but they lack the certain something, and so - after one or two games - it is time to build up your army by yourself. This also brings much more variety into the game and you can be surprised by the choices of your opponents.

After all players have placed the creatures on their player boards, the chosen spell cards are shuffled together with the basic spell cards and five of these cards are drawn to your hand. The rest of the cards form the individual drawing piles. During the game, new spell cards can be obtained and whenever a drawing pile of a player runs out of card, the discard pile is shuffled to create the new drawing pile. So this element is well known from deck-building games and works pretty well for Heroes, too.


Then the game can begin. At this moment there was usually a big surprise for a lot of players to whom I introduced in the game. Aftre all these preparations, it comes quite unexpected that Heroes is a real-time dice rolling game. To be honest, I was deeply confused by this fact after having read the rules for the first time since I coulnd't quiote imaging how deckbuilding and real-time playing might fit together. In this phase, at a command all players begin rolling their own set of six dice simultaneously. Re-rolls are allowed until one of the players thinks his current result is good enough and stops the game. With his result he may then take an action, but (as pride comes before the fall) first of all it is checked if he must suffer any wounds, because every hero has also a weak point. Whenever a symbol of the hero's weakness is rolled, the player's hero must suffer a wound. Luckily enough this only happens to the heroe of the player who has stopped the dice rolling, since otherwise death would be coming early in the game. This handicap of the heroes is optional, so it can be ignored by new players - another variant which can be recommend for use with new players because there is already enough to remember.


Depending on the rolled symbols, the player who stopped the game may then choose between casting spells from his hand or some basic actions that allow him to randomly draw new spell cards, learn spells from an outlay or dispel permanent spells cast by his or her opponents. If a spell card has been played, the player may additionally order his creatures to attack, use special abilities of the creatures or move the beings to other places. For all of these options he needs dice with a leadership symbol. All creatures have their own attacking rules. Most of them can only attack other creatures on an opponent's board in a column directly in front of them or in the column to the right or left. If no creature is in the front line, an exposed creature in the back-line that corresponds to the attacking rules may be targeted instead. But there exist also some mighty creatures that can attack in more than one way and which even may attack any of the exposed beings of an opponent. What counts for the creatures also counts for the hero, and so it is important not to expose him, so that he only can be attacked directly by a narrow choice of attack spells. Creatures have attacking values and life points, and when they are hit, they take wounds up to their life points, and after that they leave the game. Although there are healing spells, with progressing time the battlefield gets more and more empty and the heroes become exposed because they are robbed of the defensive line.

Heroes is an unusual game for the fantasy genre, especially because of the real-time roll-of-the-dice element. I personally fell in love with the game from the first moment. Great fantasy graphics that will thrill every RPG-player, easy rules and a fast-paced gameplay. The different special abilities of the creatures and the amount of different spells will ensure a high replaybility. Heroes can be played by 3 or 4 players, but I liked the two player variant most. Although you must be fast the game forgives you smaller mistakes. There is always at least something useful you can do, and even if you are slower than your opponent you can take your action and if you don't have the right symbols on your dice, you can pass and start the next round with an advantage. The players actually can choose to take only those dice back to their hand which they want to re-roll in the next round, and so there is a good chance to get a really good dice roll in the next round. A quite charming mechanism for balancing both luck and the advantage of players who are used to games based on quickness!

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Copyright © 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany