Essen Preview #33: HEROICA Ilrion and The Hobbit (LEGO Games)

I’m continuing in this previews of games that will be released at Essen or close to Essen. I’m not sure if LEGO will attend the spiel this year but I’m sure there are two new LEGO Games in the market: HEROICA Ilrion and The Hobbit: an unexpected journey.

As most of you already know LEGO is releasing sets related to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit licenses and one of this set is a new LEGO Game.

HEROICA: Ilrion, on the other hand, is the 5th chapter, in the HEROICA saga.

Since I’m working as consultant from LEGO Italia from September 2010 I have got both games as soon as it was possible and here is my impressions. For Italian speaking people there are already the two video tutorials available on http://www.youtube.com/LEGOGamesItalia

HEROICA: Ilrion

Designer: Nicolas Assenbrunner, Cephas Howard
Publisher: LEGO
Players: 2-3
Age: 8+
Time: 20 minutes

Review by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

After the conquest of Castle Fortaan and the liberation of the Kingdom of Ennon, the Wizard and the Barbarian discovered that the King of Ennon was not there: the Vampire Lord kidnapped him and imprisoned in his dungeon. While the Barbarian travel to the North toward the Barresh Settlements, the Wizard with the help of the young Prince and the Sage rush into the dungeon to free the King!

HEROICA Ilrion has the same base rules of all the HEROICA sets. During your turn you roll the LEGO Dice and move. If you enter a space close to a monster you have to stop and fight, rolling again the LEGO Dice. If you end on a space with a special object you triggers something. The simplest Dungeon Crawling in the market: the first step in the world of adventures for kids.

In this new set there are two new characters: the Sage and the Prince. Both with special ability related to movement: the Prince getting the HEROICA Shield can move two spaces and kill a monster adiacent to him. The Sage rolling the Shield instead of moving can take an object 4 or less spaces away. The 3rd character is the dear old Wizard.

The new enemies are The Vampire Lord (strenght 3), the Zombies (strenght 2) and the Giant Bats (strenght 1). The bats will not start in the map but could appear exploring the coffins in the map, getting the skull with the dice.

But the real great novelties is the Giant Vampire Bat, a huge monster with 4 life points like the Heroes. A formidable foe you need to hit 4 times before killing. The idea of Big Guys with several hit points is great and I’m sure gamers will find the way to introduce in their HEROICA adventures new enemies like the Minotaurus or the Lava Dragon.

Of course HEROICA: Ilrion can be combined with the other sets (how to combine with Castle Fortaan is suggested in the scenarios’ poster in the box): it is a simple roll-and-move game for kids but with the 6-10 target it is really nice. Compared to other HEROICA set I find Ilrion one of the most funning, expecially in the scenario with the Giant Vampire Bat.

The Hobbit: an unexpected journey

Designer: Cephas Howard
Publisher: LEGO
Players: 2-4
Age: 7+
Time: 20 minutes

Review by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

Gandalf and Thorin with the 12 dwarves arrived in Hobbitbville asking Bilbo Baggins to join their group. Unluckily ten of the 13 dwarves lost in Hobbitville and Gandalf, Kili, Fili and Dwalin has to find them.

The Hobbit is the LEGO reinterpretation of the classical memory. The map is made of 16 Hobbit’s dungeons (a 4×4 grid) each with two hidden tiles inside. You have to roll and move your characters to a dungeon and then explore it. If you find a dwarf you can keep it but if you find something else you have to look for a paired object on one of the other dungeons.

What make The Hobbit different from the classical memory is that every pair (Hobbit. Runes or Food) will activate a special action and also, having the dungeon two levels, actually it is a 4×4 memory over another 4×4 memory. Four of the ten dwarves are in the bottom tiles so you have really to explore the surface before the end of the game when the player with most dwarves in will be the winner.

Another nice thing of this game is the possibility, using LEGO hinges, to change the shape of the Hobbit Village during the game making much more difficult to remember the position of the dwarves and special tiles.

Of course we are in front again a kid’s game (and kids really like memories). There will be somewhen a LEGO Games for real gamers ? Who knows ? But the new generation, for sure, will have the possibility to play LEGOs and boardgames in the same time … something I was sure I’ll be really happy when I was a kid.

About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
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