Dale Yu: Review of Heroes Wanted and Champions and Masterminds Expansion

 

 

Heroes Wanted

  • Designers: Travis R. Chance and Nick Little
  • Publisher: Action Phase Games
  • Players: 1-5
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times played: 4 with review copy provided by Action Phase Games

heroes wanted box

Heroes Wanted drops you into the Zeta City, USA – a city who is celebrating the retirement of one of their local Champions (i.e. superheroes).  The remaining Champions of Zeta City are looking for a replacement member to fill out their numbers, and the players in the game battle to see who is the most worthy superhero-to-be.  In each game, a scenario is set up, and the players take on the roles of different superheroes and compete against each other to prove their worthiness to join the team.

 

There are two double sided boards included in the game, and each side shows a different scenario.  Players are free to choose any of these to play.  There is space for the main Villain on the board, and cards are drawn from the Villain decks to decide who you are fighting.  There are different abilities on each of the Villain cards, so you will end up with many different possible identities and powers to fight off.  A number of hitpoint markers are placed under the villain, the base value is 15HP per superhero in the game, though each specific scenario has its own rules.  Additionally, certain Villain cards will have additional HP values on them.  The board is set up by filling up most of the hexes with henchmen and underlings (based on the markings on the board).  Finally, newspaper headlines are drawn at random to fill up the display next to the villain.

One of the four boards

One of the four boards

At the same time, each player gets to invent himself as a superhero.  Players are dealt 3 top-halves and 3 bottom-halves of heroes, and they choose one of each to determine who they will be in this game.  As with the villains, each hero-half has different abilities and characteristics, so the number of different possible crime fighters is also astronomical.  The newly minted superhero is placed on the player’s mat along with a card of special abilities that matches the type of hero.  Finally, each superhero is randomly given a Quirk card which is placed on their player board as well.

Five superheroes

Five superheroes

Finally, each hero is given a deck of action cards – to start the game, each of the players generally gets one of each of the four basic actions.  They additionally get a “Superpower” card which triggers the action(s) on the top half of their hero.  Each player also gets an additional Special Action card determined by their superhero class.  Finally, each player also takes an Epic Action card, again determined by their superhero class, and this is placed under their player mat.  Later in the game, this card could be added to their hand.

Filled up player board

Filled up player board

Once this setup is complete, it’s time to play the game.  In short, the superheroes in the game are collectively fighting against the villain (and his/her underlings and henchmen) but they are also competing against each other because only the most worthy hero will win the game and get a chance to join the Champions of Zeta City.  In each turn, the Superheroes all get to take their actions and then the Villain gets a turn to hit back.

Some of the possible villains

Some of the possible villains

In the hero phase, play goes clockwise from whoever is holding the “First Hero” marker.  On each player’s turn, they either take an action or they rest.  When you take an action, you play a card from your hand onto the table, and then follow the directions written on the card.  The card may allow you to move and/or attack other characters on the board.

 

For example, the Strike card says: “Become the First Hero.  Deal 5 Damage to a character within Range 1”.  The Charge card says: “Move 1 and deal 4 Damage to a character within Range 1.  If you are the First Hero, Charge has +1 Move”.

 

When you deal damage, you can hit anything within range of your figure – the Villain, henchmen, underlings, or even other superheroes!  If you hit the Villain, you collect HP tokens equal to the damage dealt.  It takes 5 damage to defeat a Henchman and 4 damage to defeat an Underling.  If you are unable to meet the target number (and thus Knockout the Henchman/Underling), there is no effect.  You will immediately score victory points for defeating Henchmen and Underlings.  (Damage dealt to Heroes needs to be blocked immediately – but you can read about this just below in the Villain phase)

 

When your action is complete, you then check the roster of Newspaper headlines to see if you have achieved any of them.  If so, you move a marker from your Bonus card on your player mat onto the highest valued space on that headline.  At the end of the game, you will score points for all occupied headline spots.  Furthermore, if you remove the final marker from any line on your Bonus card, you immediately get to take the action written on that line (which is usually a one-time action, but could also be adding a new card to your deck).

 

If you choose to rest for your turn, you don’t do anything other than taking all the cards that are currently in your discard pile and adding them back into your hand.

 

Play goes around the table clockwise, and each gets the chance to take an action or rest.  Once all the heroes have had their turn, then you move to the Villain phase.  The directions for the Villain phase are outlined on each board under the Villain.  First, you move the Threat token down one space.  This acts as a timer for the scenario – if the Threat token ever makes it to the bottom, generally the Villain wins.  Additionally, there could be other actions or effects triggered by the specific space that the Threat token lands on.

 

Next, the Villain and all of its minions get to attack.  Each hero (again going clockwise from the First Hero) calculates the total damage dealt to him:

  • Underlings within range 1 deal 1 Damage point
  • Henchmen within range 1 deal 2 Damage points
  • The Villain deals damage per the rules on the top Villain card

 

You total up all the damage dealt to you, and then you have to block it.  The main way to deal with it is to discard cards from your hand.  Each action card has a large number in the upper left (ranging from 2-7) – and the value on the card equals the number of damage points that it negates.  You must discard cards until you have met the total damage dealt to you.  If you cannot do so (i.e. you have no more cards left), then you are hit and you must pick up an injury marker.

 

On the very right of your player board is a column with room for 5 injury markers.  If you have picked up your fifth marker, any further injuries cost you 2 VPs.  Injuries also affect you for the rest of the game.  Once you have an injury marker, any time that you are dealt damage, you must add one additional point for EACH injury marker you have on your board!  Furthermore, each injury marker is worth -2 VP at the end of the game.

 

The game continues until either the heroes win (by doing enough damage to the Villain to remove all of the Hitpoint markers) or when the Villain wins when the Threat token gets to the bottom of the track.

 

At the end of the game, Victory points are tallied up.  Points were scored along the way for knocking people out (Henchmen, Underlings, the Villain and even other superheroes!).  Then, at the end, you score points for any headlines that you may have completed as well as receiving a VPs for dealing damage to the Villain and being the best at knocking out Henchmen and Underlings.  The totals are added up, and the player with the most VPs wins the game.

End game scoring

End game scoring

My thoughts on the game

 

Heroes Wanted is at heart a pretty simple game.  Play a card, follow the instructions with the goal being to beat up all the bad guys.  Repeat until someone wins.   However, there is much more to the game than that. A lot of work has been put into this game to make it a fun and replayable experience.   I’ve played the base game 4 times now, and the variable powers of both the heroes and the villains combined with the different scenarios have given new challenges with each game.

 

Obviously there is a lot of strategy in choosing which cards to play and when to play them.   The majority of times, you’re just trying to bash your way through the many Henchmen and Underlings on the board – but sometimes the timing will matter.  You score more points for completing headlines before other players, and this might cause you to move and attack certain bad guys in order to beat the other heroes to a superhero.  Or, even if you’re not going to be the earliest one to finish a headline, you might be motivated to complete one in order to free up one of the actions on your Bonus card.

 

When you’re deciding what to play, you not only have to look at what benefits you would get from the particular action, but you also have to think about what would be left in your hand afterwards (as you will need those cards in your hand to help your defense).  As it takes an entire turn to replenish your hand from the discard pile, you’ll also want to be mindful of how quickly you are playing your cards and making sure that you have the ability to take actions at crucial moments in the game.  For instance, in some of the scenarios, the Villain teleports around the board according to a pre-determined pattern.  If you know that the Villain is going to be right next to you on the next turn, you’d like to be ready with a big attack action so that you can do the most damage to the Villain when he comes close.  It would be a sad turn if you had to pass with the Villain being so close!

 

There is a nice balance here between cooperation and competition.  In some of the scenarios, in order for the heroes to do well, they do need to cooperate to clear out areas of the board together so that they don’t take huge amounts of damage in the villain phase.  However, superheroes should always be wary of their teammates because the 4VP bonus for knocking out another player is a huge payday!  There’s nothing like a surprise knockout of another player to spice up the game…

 

The game plays fairly quickly, and most of our scenarios have finished in under an hour (once we were familiar with the mechanics of the game).  The Villain has yet to win, but has come close in at least one game.  I think that the written rules include everything you need to play the game, though there were a few areas where some improved organization may have helped us learn things a bit quicker.  The rules do include a link to a nice video which you could watch to learn the game as well.

 

The artwork is comic-y in style, and I think it is very well done.  The graphic design of the boards – making the board look like a newspaper front page – is a great idea, and it really helps with the overall theme of the game.  The Heroes and Villains are also well illustrated and it’s always amusing to see what sort of mashed-up hero you end up with once you choose your two halves.

 

While the four scenarios stay the same, I think this game will provide a lot of replayability due to the variable hero and villain abilities and cards.  The four games that I’ve played thus far have all felt different, and I still would like to go back for more to see some of the other hero abilities that haven’t yet come into play.

 

Rating thus far: I like it.

 

 

 

First Impression of the Heroes Wanted : Champions and Masterminds Expansion

  • Designers: Travis R. Chance and Nick Little
  • Publisher: Action Phase Games
  • Players: 1-5
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times played: 2 with review copy provided by Action Phase Games

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The most recent expansion to Heroes Wanted is an interesting twist – it is a new set of cards that turns the competitive game of Heroes Wanted into a cooperative game.  The expansion itself only consists of 8 cards – the bulk of the components from the base game are used.  The new cards are 5 Champion cards (used by the players) and 3 Evil Mastermind cards that take the place of the villains in the game.

 

In this expansion, you don’t get to mix and match your own heroes (and villains) but instead play with a fixed identity on one of the cards.  The heroes together work to defeat the Mastermind before he/she can escape (by getting to the end of the Threat track).  The heroes can also lose if any single Champion ends up with 5 or more injury tokens. There are no extra headlines used in the scenarios, and the scoring track is also not used.

The 5 Champions

The 5 Champions

Play each round follows the same Hero actions then Villian actions format.  The heroes each start with a similar starting hand of cards, though they are not strictly identical as some of the Champions specify a slightly different setup.  Furthermore, the players do not use the Hero Bonus cards (the cards with special abilities that were triggered by filling in the headlines).  Instead, each Champion’s card lists multiple superpowers, and when you play your Superpower card, you now get to choose from amongst the varied options.

The 3 Masterminds

The 3 Masterminds

My thoughts on the expansion

 

Honestly, I think that this expansion really broadens the game.  With the addition of 8 simple cards, you have an entirely new way to approach the game, and this significantly increases the replayability of the game.  There obviously isn’t as much variability in the setup as in the standard game – both the Champions and the Masterminds are fixed in nature, so you won’t get the same varied abilities of the standard game.  However, you do get three different Masterminds, and you only use one in each game.  Furthermore, the co-op expansion works on three of the four scenario boards provided, so there is at least a bit of mix-and-match that you can still do.

 

The game plays surprisingly well in cooperative mode – and I use the term surprisingly here because the game appears to have been developed strictly as a competitive-style game and this cooperative expansion was added in later.  In the two games that I have played, the team of Champions had to work together to beat up a ever-growing group of minions (reminiscent of the old video game, Gauntlet) while trying to work together to get someone close enough to the Boss Mastermind to do damage to it.

 

Overall, I think that I prefer the standard game to the cooperative version, but much of that is probably due to my gaming tastes.  I still am not a huge fan of cooperative games, and rarely do I seek them out.  That being said, Heroes Wanted: Champions and Masterminds works well, and it is a game in this genre that I would not mind playing from time to time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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