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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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Heroes of Tenefyr

Game: Heroes of Tenefyr

Publisher: Broken Mill

Designer: Pepijn van Loon

Year: 2019

Heroes of Tenefyr is a cooperative deck-building game for 1 to 4 players. You represent one of the four, initially very inexperienced heroes, but as you fight your way through dungeons filled with evil creatures, you'll gain loot in the form of cards that are added to your starting deck. The game makes use of interesting push you luck mechanisms and multi-use cards to bring something slightly different to the deck-building genre.

Heroes of Tenefyr goes live on Kickstarter on 26th September 2018. It’s the first project for Broken Mill games and designer Pepijn van Loon, but one that has evidently been a labour of love. Huge effort has gone into building the world of Tenefyr with some great marketing and innovation too. I could try to tell you a story to introduce you to the world, but I think it’s better if I let the Bard from the game recite you a poem instead.


At the start of the game each player will be given a basic deck featuring 12 basic cards (6 0s and 6 1s) and 1 special card depending on their class. Each round 1 player will be the party leader and decide which of the 10 dungeons to raid. Each dungeon features different rewards when completed and has 1 of it's 4 enemies visible. Once a dungeon is picked the party leader will attempt to fight the monster inside by drawing the top 3 cards of their deck. Should these 3 cards provide enough strength to defeat the monster then they take that monster card, flip it over and add it to their discard. Defeated monsters all have a power when used in your deck, strengthening your deck for future dungeons.

However it's often the case that the party leader's hand is not good enough to take on the monster alone. In this case they have 2 options, they can discard and redraw from their deck as much as they like until they are happy with their hand. While this is powerful you only get to shuffle your discard pile back into your deck when you leave a dungeon, and you don't want to run out of cards! In addition you can call upon your allies to help you, in which case the next player may draw 3 cards, discard and redraw etc until they are happy. This can continue until the monster is defeated or the players fail. Failure means you are kicked out of the dungeon and lose 2 time. Success allows you to make a choice, either leave the dungeon to rest for 1 time, or continue fighting in the same dungeon with your reduced deck of cards. Should you reach the end of a dungeon then you get rewards, but you must be careful not to push yourself too far!

The game continues like this, with you getting stronger and stronger decks and being more able to take on the tougher dungeons until eventually time runs out. When this happens the boss attacks. Each boss has a deck of tough encounters that you will need to defeat and each boss has thier own unique flair. Should you run the boss deck dry then you win the game, failure against the boss means that evil wins.
`The ten dungeons, in five different levels of difficulty, depending how brave and prepared you're feeling.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Heroes of Tenefyr is a unique deckbuilding game with a huge focus on teamwork. No person can stand alone against the forces of darkness as you soon find out when the bard boosts the other player's abilities or the cleric brings peoples good card back from the "dead" of the discard pile. Further class specific powers are hidden amongst the monsters and these are often hugely powerful should you get them to their rightful owner. To help with the deckbuilding a lot of the end of dungeon powers allow you to trim your deck of less desirable cards, or to share cards about. There are even some powerful cards that are reliant on having your bad starting cards in your deck, giving room for one player to take on everyone else's bad card and turn them into something useful.

It can feel like you have relatively little choice in how to build your deck, and this feeling is exaggerated in a two player game. The powers you get are determined by the monsters you face and since you can only see the top monster of each dungeon you are often stuck taking what you can get. However there aren't any bad cards per say, the absolute worst might not work in your particular deck but they all have a place. The game is far from easy even on the "normal" difficulty. The only difference with the difficulty levels is how much time you have before the boss attack, but that extra 2 time can be all the difference if it lets you raid the level 5 dungeons for the most powerful cards!

If you are looking for a different deck building experience then Heroes of Tenefyr is certainly worth a look. The game strikes a good balance between deck building and push-your luck mechanics, with high risk-reward gameplay when you want to push yourself to defeat that one last monster to clear a dungeon. The different bosses and the fact that you only use ~ half the monsters in any given game keeps the replayability high.

The four heroes with their unique ability card for your deck. In a two player game, each player plays as two heroes, which is a neat variant.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Kickstarter games from unknown publishers and designers always make me nervous, but thankfully Heroes of Tenefyr was a great surprise. It’s a design that’s really grown on me as we’ve played it a few times in the run-up to the campaign. I love the box art, and way slightly disappointed to find a more cartoony style in the card art, but the gameplay mechanics feel really unique and the game is challenging and well balanced.

It’s not a traditional deck-building game, since you don’t have much choice over the cards you add to your deck – you’re just getting the cards you defeat in the dungeon and at best, you can see the top card you’ll face. However, what you do have is a discussion around the table on who would benefit most from any particular card. In addition, the game also concentrates on one of my favourite aspects in deck-building, which is thinning and honing your deck. I also enjoy the card combos that trigger to get you out of tight situations, even with only three cards in your hand for a turn.

There are three levels of difficulty available and, like with many cooperative games, luck will play a part in whether you win or lose, but it’s a combination of luck in the draw from your deck and the good or bad luck you make by pushing your luck through each dungeon. In addition, with four different boss decks – there’s a lot to learn about the different ways you can build your deck to take on their particular abilities. For example, it was a bad idea for us to thin our decks so heavily when taking on the Spider Queen!

The four different boss decks. Familiarity with the decks really helps you improve your in game strategy.
If you’re into deck-building games, but you’re bored of seeing the same thing, or if you’re looking for something a little more considered than the typical cooperative game where everyone piles in on a single enemy, then you should definitely take a look at Heroes of Tenefyr. It’s compact, good value and a really unique cooperative deck-building game.

You might like...
  • There’s a great sense of progression through the game as your decks get better and better.
  • There are lots of great cooperative moments; the specialised cards; group choices on whether to push for something hard; individual sacrifices for the benefit of the group; and great table talk.
  • The use of multi-use cards makes for a really compact game that still has variety and replayability.

You might not enjoy...
  • The art style on the box versus the style on the cards doesn’t match. We preferred the box art.
  • The game can be quite punishing if you get multiple bad card draws from your deck that result in failing a dungeon.

The Verdict
Heroes of Tenefyr does a great job of combining deck-building and a push-your-luck dungeon crawl. You need to work together and specialise your decks which is a very interesting cooperative experience. The multi-use cards that turn from enemy cards into hero cards are a really neat design choice and the game strikes a great balance in terms of its difficulty.

Heroes of Tenefyr was a review copy provided to the Board Game Exposure reviewer collective. It will be live on Kickstarter on September 26th 2018.

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