Tabletop Tuesday: ‘Heroes Wanted’
Let me start with a story. About a year ago I joined a local gaming collective called WABA (Western Australian Boardgaming Association) in order to meet like minded board gaming enthusiasts and try some new challenges. It’s a fantastic group of people and I always have a good time at the meets. But the first time I went there was something…disconcerting. I was happily involved in a game of Battlestar Galactica (as Adama, so say we all) when, a couple of tables over, one of the organisers of the meet stood up and announced loudly that ‘Deadly Bolt has KO’d six underlings!’ This was confusing to say the least. This giant of a man, substantially taller than my meagre 6’4″, had made this strange proclamation. Was this normal practise for this group, or was he simply very enthusiastic about his game? He did it again later, declaring that ‘Turbo Dude’ has disposed of a piece of litter. It continued like this for quite a while. It wasn’t until weeks later that I learned he was playing ‘Heroes Wanted’, a Kickstarter backed board game, and was acting out his characters ‘quirk’ to avoid losing points. I didn’t get playing ‘Heroes Wanted’ that day but it had piqued my interest. When the Kickstarter for the expansion pack ‘The Stuff Of Legend’ opened with the option to buy the base game and existing four expansions I got on board. And we’re happy to say that was worth the investment. The game goes like this: a member of the superhero squad The Champions of Zeta City has retired and they’re advertising for new heroes to join the team. As a new, up and coming champion you hit the streets with the intention of making a name for yourself. You pick one of four scenarios (six with ‘Stuff of Legends’) starting with rounding up super-villain loiterers and jaywalkers and work up to asylum break-outs and booby-trapped fun houses and work to earn the most Fame Points to become the winner. What strikes people initially is the mind-boggling number of superhero combinations you can have. You combine a Hero A card with a Hero B card (literally the top and bottom of the character) to create your unique character and with all the expansion packs there are hundreds of cards. The odds of winding up with the same character is beyond possibility. Every top half marks you as a Vigilante, Mutant, Cosmic, Tech, Magical or rare Mystic type of hero, determining their play style, and each top and bottom half gives you abilities and superpowers to use during the game. Although 4-6 scenarios may not sound like many the variations in hero types and powers keeps the replay-ability high. That’s not even counting the randomly chosen Headlines (unlockable goals for the play through), randomly selected Quirks that change player behaviour and huge variation in villains you will encounter. SO MANY. Once every player has their character and picked a Quirk – an action you have to perform at set points to score points such as saying ‘hashtag’ before every attack or giving the losing player a pep talk – and the scenario is set up you start the play. On each turn you play a card from you hand that represents your action from moving to attacking enemies to activating your superpower. You’ll fight your way through underlings and henchmen and take shots at the stronger super-villain while aiming to complete Headlines (random side goals) that unlock new abilities for your hero. After you’ve been round the table the villain makes a move, activates scenario specific events like setting off explosions, and then all enemies in range of heroes will strike. If you can’t defend, you get knocked out for the round. Gameplay is easy to pick up, layered enough for strategy to play an integral role and moves quickly round the table. It’s well balanced and the bright, fun approach to the material makes it easy for everyone to enjoy playing up their role. The game also looks great, having a newspaper aesthetic and design that is both creative and unique. The dramatic looking villain meeple is automatically one of our favourite playing pieces. The only quibble we have with the game is the set up time. It takes a while to sort out the piles of cards, place all the meeples on the board and sort out each player’s hero card. From opening the box to starting the game it takes just as long to put together as other RPG’s in a box like Firefly and Fortune and Glory, but with a much shorter play time. This isn’t the sort of quibble that will get in the way of enjoying the game though. In between the bright and colourful design, the goofy sense of humour, the involving game design, variation of play and the superhero theme this is already proving to be a household favourite. When you want something with a bit of role playing to it that won’t chew up the entire afternoon you won’t do much better than ‘Heroes Wanted’. Here’s looking forward to more scenarios in the future. Oh yeah – Action Phase Games, who created ‘Heroes Wanted’ – have two more games in the works. We’ve backed ‘Scoundrel Society’, which has already finished, but it’s not to late to get on board with ‘Ninja Camp’. Based on the premise and how much we’re liking ‘Heroes Wanted’ and the customer service (one of our boards arrived damaged and they immediately responded with a replacement), we’ve backed that one as well.