Publisher: Designer: Artist:
White Wizard Games Mike Dougherty, Darwin Kastle Randy Delven, Vito Gesualdi, Antonis Papantoniou 2016
Theme and What is it?
Hero Realms is a fast and fun fantasy-themed deck-building game. It is the successor to the 2014 hit, Star Realms, and sibling to the 2015 release, Cthulhu Realms. This game is almost more fun to lose at because you want to reshuffle and try to win.
Can you be the surviving hero of Thandar in Hero Realms?
It plays very similar to its predecessors. Everyone starts with the same 10-card deck. The center holds a five card market plus a pile of special fire jems which are available for everyone to buy until they run out. On the first turn, the first player draws three cards and plays them. Subsequent players, and the first player in subsequent rounds, all draw five cards to play. When your draw pile runs out, in traditional deck-building fashion, shuffle your discard pile and continue drawing up to five cards.
There are three types of point pools represented on cards: Gold, Combat and Health. You use Gold to buy new Champions and Actions from the market. Combat points will lower your foes health and Health points will raise yours.
Most cards belong to one of four factions which have special ally abilities if they are played together. Champions stay in front of you and have ongoing abilities until they are stunned and returned to your discard pile.
The first thing you notice when you open Hero Realms is a continuation of the lovely art from the box to the cards. Unlike many deck-builders, you get 4 unique starting cards. This gives the game a little less predictability out of the gate. Also, there are hit point counter-cards which keep the box size down compared to Ascension, for instance, with its' victory point jems.
Quality of Components and Insert
Not a lot to examine in this game, but the box is solid, and the cards are high quality. The only knock is the insert that divides the deck two is flimsy and a little short.
The illustration and graphic design in this game are superb. The cards are illustrated by a few different artists but they all feel cohesive. The symbols are obvious and easy to see. The style is what I would call realistic medieval fantasy.
Hero Realms packs exhilaration into a 20 minute game. When your health starts getting low, or you play a chain of cards for a lot of damage your heart rate rises. The head-to-head combat makes it engaging.
Difficulty and age range suggestion
The box suggests the game is for ages 12+, but a patient and attentive child slightly younger could handle Hero Realms. Boardgamegeek.com's community poll has the base age at 10.
The game starts very simple, and as you build your deck, the game elevates slightly, but never to a brain seizing difficulty.
If it couldn't be inferred by my previous sections, I love this game. It can be played solo with a variant found here. With a character booster back or a second copy of the game, six players can play. If you aren't a fan of the fantasy theme, stick with Star or Cthulhu Realms. Otherwise, this is a game you should try.
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