Champions of Hara and Chaos on Hara – Greenbrier Games – Review

"Put your most tweetable line here"

Theme and What is it?

Champions of Hara is an adventure board game where the players are attempting to save a dying paradise.  In features a player versus player arena mode as well as a cooperative story driven mode.  It is recommended to play a choose your own adventure style story-arc.

In a story-arc, the players battle it out in versus mode and the winner is granted a powerful wish specific to the character.  Then all players must band together to play a cooperative story followup mission.  They must defeat the corrupted champion that rises up out of the unintended consequences of that wish.

Champions of Hara features three story missions for each character: one solo adventure and two (mostly) cooperative missions.  With 6 characters, this means there are 6 unique solo adventures and 12 cooperative ones. These can be played as standalone missions or part of a story-arc.  Overcoming a mission will unlock access to new character ability cards in future games.

Chaos on Hara introduces 4 new characters and three new corrupted champions.  Each new character has one solo adventure and two cooperative ones.  In addition, there are 4 challenges from the void that look to be epic missions for very experienced players.

Gameplay Mechanics

The modular board for Hara starts with 6 location tiles surrounding the central dojo.  Each location will churn out monsters and events at the start of each day in the game.  Each dusk, additional cards will be distributed randomly using world dice.  Once during the day and one at dusk, players will take a turn using 3 actions from those available to them.

Players start with 4 cards in hand but play them to the table sideways.  Then at the end of their turn, those cards will turn the rest of the way around and become on-board cards showing new powers available.  The next time a player uses that on-board card ability they turn it sideways again and at the end of the round turn it the rest of the way and pick it up to hand.

When a character collects enough energy they level-up and take a new card of that energy color to add to their hand of possible actions.  When a character reaches the top of a specific energy track, they unlock a powerful one time use ultimate card.

Initial Impressions

Hara was a little overwhelming to get unboxed and setup.  There are a lot of phases in a turn to get used to the overall flow.  Now that I have learned it, I think teaching it would be relatively quick for a game of this complexity since everything follows a step by step formula.  It just wouldn’t be worth trying to explain every element of the game before starting to dive in and explore the game during play.

Game Build Quality

There is no shortage of value in the box.  There are great miniatures for the characters and corrupted bosses.  The location boards are sturdy.  The variety of location cards give different experiences each play. The player energy trackers have wells for the tracking cubes to sit in without being bumped around.  It is a shame for an otherwise unnoticeable magnitude 2 cat-induced-earthquake to ruin a game state. I did end up taking the cardboard insert out of the box as it seemed incompatible with the height of the card sorting tray.

Artistic Direction

I was surprised the book recommending using the darker side of the location boards.  Which side you play on makes no changes to the gameplay and is purely cosmetic.  But when I was putting away after our latest game session I flipped one of them over and realized just how vibrant the art is on the other side.

Fun Factor

This game is a tactical wonderland.  Every movement needs to be getting you closer to your goal while not being in range of too many monster attacks while setting up your next chain of attacks while…. you get the picture.

Speaking of getting closer to your goal, savvy readers might have noticed a deck of cards called “world shift” in the images.  At the end of each full day/dusk cycle a world shift card is drawn.  It does exactly what it claims to do.  One location tile swaps places (without changing orientation) with another tile.

This along with scenario specific effects that also shift the world map keep players running around frantically all through the mission.  Chaos on Hara is an appropriate name for the expansion given the way scenarios keep players rolling with the punches.  Players who want full control over planning the next 4 turns will be miserable in this game.  But players who love needing to adapt and change to the fluid situation will be in heaven.

Age Range & Weight

14+ is a fair age rating.  There is enough going on that most children below this age are going to immediately glaze over or just want to play with the minis and monsters.  Even at 14, this is a bit of a thinking and rules heavy adventure game.  It is worth the time to learn and play but don’t expect to just throw it on the table without preparing before the session.

Conclusions

Champions of Hara offers many ways to play.  You can enjoy the solid solo play experience. Or you can only do player versus player arena combat.  Where it shines most is the cooperative story driven campaign missions.  The wide range of ways to experience the game is a definite selling point.  The depth of design to keep missions achievable but always on a knife edge is astounding.

Chaos on Hara brings in my favorite character, Icarus, and my favorite corrupted, the Witch King .  The gunslinging iron witch from the Forgotten West and the fire-breathing, raptor-like Witch King tumbled through the void to Hara locked in combat.  “Anyone who saw them fall claims the two were still smackin’ the crud outta’ each other when they hit the ground here in Hara.”  You get one guess which new scenario I wanted to played first!