Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 22 March 2016

A dungeon made of bricks:- Lego Heroica

Our boat crashed against the beachy shores of Draida, salty air filled our nostrils, joined with the unmistakable smell of goblin. It’s hard to mistake that unique blend of fecal matter, blood and sweat that is so characteristic of the green monsters. Before we could catch our bearings the barbarian charged off into the distance, the knight looked back and me, shrugged and then ran after them. I soon lost them both in the haze of battle, the map said we needed to pass through the forest, but I saw no evidence of 2 heavily armed warriors trampling the foliage. I did however find werewolves, and the less said about them the better. Eventually I found myself at the gates of the dark castle of Fortaan, I used my great magic to burn down the gates and stormed inside only to find a scene of carnage. The knight was lying on the floor, bleeding heavily, but surrounded by dead goblins in chainmail. I threw him a potion before following the blood trail deeper into the castle. In the throne room I saw him, the goblin king! Or at least part of him, rolling along the floor towards me after being decapitated by the barbarians axe.

Heroica is an expandable 2-4 player dungeon delving adventure game in which you take control of one of a handful of heroes and fight your way through to defeat a boss monster at the end of a dungeon. It’s probably worth noting that this is a Lego game, everything in the game, from your health points to the monsters, to the dice itself is made of Lego!

The game play is simplistic, you roll a dice and move up to the number shown, then if you encounter a monster you roll the dice again to see if you win. The dice combines numbers for movement and pictures of skulls/swords to represent los/victory in combat. There is also the shield face on the dice, which represents both a 4, victory, and the chance to use a special ability. Each character starts with 1 special ability which may be activated in either movement or combat rolls depending on the ability and they vary from ranged attacks to whirlwind melee attacks. You can get more abilities during the game if you pick up more weapons from the story or magical items from certain version of the game.
The suggested map for all 4 of the wave 1 games, there was only 1 wave 2 game released. You can, of course, arrange the game however you'd like.
 Heroica consists of 5 standalone games each of which contains different rooms, heroes, monsters and a different magical artefact. These games can be combined to create huge games where you’ll be fighting through beaches, forests, dungeons and castles on the way to victory. You win the game by killing the final boss monster, which only has the standard amount of health, so it’s no harder than any other monster except for the amount of damage it does to you. This is probably my biggest gripe, the game ends up being a race to the final room, the first person to get there tends to be the winner, especially if they have saved up a combat potion which lets you auto-win a fight.

The game is a family game, that’s for sure, but if you look into it there are some survive-like mechanics to slow down your fellow players. In particular the magical barriers you get in the forest expansion can be moved around to block passage and as there are 2 you can even block a player in 1 room! All obstacles can be broken through by rolling a shield, which is 1 in 6, but you’d be surprised how long that can take someone. A couple of the magical items also give similar abilities, one allows you to resurrect monsters you killed on the game board, another allows you to give a monster an extra health point to make them more difficult to fight.
4 of the heroes, knight, barbarian, druid and mage. The 4 red pips are your health while the rest of your character board has room for treasure, weapons and slain monsters. At the rear is the weapons shop which provides new abilities at a cost.
The modular nature of Heroica grants a lot of replayability, particularly when you have all expansions. However buying all the expansions will set you back a fair bit, if you don’t have kids and you aren’t a fan of Lego then you probably won’t want to put down the money to buy all five, especially since they are out of production now. Heroica is an enjoyable game for what it is, but you need to be prepared for the kind of game that dice almost entirely dictate, you won’t be making many real choices in the game. However you will be playing with Lego, and what’s not to like about that!?


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