Dale Yu: Review of Inheritors

  • Inheritors
  • Designers: Jeffrey CCH and Kenneth YWN
  • Publisher: North Star Game Studio
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by North Star Games

Per the publisher: In the dark of the night, whispers spread throughout the court: “The King is dead!”  Inheritors is a 2-4 player open drafting, hand management card game. As one of the King’s Inheritors, you will seek influence among five clans, spy on your competitors, and tip the courts in your favor to win your rightful place on the throne.

  • Build Influence in the 5 Realms.
  • Gain the support of Clan leaders – each with unique abilities.
  • Use Advocates to outthink your opponents.
  • Race to claim Honors.
  • Journey on Quests to prove yourself to the Realms.

Inheritors provides a big game experience in a small box you can take with you anywhere.
Let the games begin!

In this very small box, you’ll find just over 100 cards and 25 boards.  To set up, randomly select 5 of the Quest boards and 5 Honors boards and place them on the table.  One clan of each color is placed beneath these.  All of the small cards are shuffled to form a deck and each player gets a starting hand of 10 cards.  Finally, a market of three cards is dealt face up to the table to form the Market.

A start player is determined, and then turns will be taken clockwise until either the deck is exhausted or all the Quests and Honors are taken.  On a turn, you must take one of five possible actions, and optionally take a Clan or Honor.  The action options:

1] Play an Influence Card – must be played in order from 1 to 6, thus your initial play must be a 1 in any of the five colors.  You can only have one stack for each of the five colors in your play area.  You can’t skip numbers.  If you play the last card in your hand, draw a card from the deck at the end of the turn.

2] Discard a card, draw 2 from the deck – when you discard, you can place on any of the 3 rows in the Market. Be nice and make sure everyone can see all the cards in each row.

3] Discard a card, take all the cards from a different row – one catch, the topmost card of the row you choose must be the same color as the card you discarded (Tomes and Epics count as all colors).  

4] Discard 3 cards of the same color, take a Quest and draw a card – cards are discarded one at a time onto any rows.  Quests provide 1 or 2 VP at the end of the game based on what cards you have in your hand at the end.

5] Play an Advocate – Advocates are cards with words at the top.  Place it in a trash pile when you play it.  You can always look in the trash pile to see what Advocates have already been played.

  • Spy – pick a player and announce a color/number combination that you could legally play. If that player holds said card, he must play it in your area
  • Advisor – Take any 2 cards from the market, in any row, in any position in that row
  • Conspirator – Allows you to play a card into your area and skip a number to do so – however, at least one opponent must have a higher number played in that color than you currently do

At any point in your turn, you can also claim a Clan or an Honor.  In order to choose a Clan, you must have played a number card 3 or higher in that color.  Once you take the Clan card, you cannot change for the rest of the game (and therefore, no other player can ever have that particular clan).  Each clan comes with a special ability which comes into effect when you take the Clan card.  Honors are one time bonuses that can be claimed at any point where you meet the criteria mentioned on the Honor card.  They are each worth 1 VP.

The game continues until one of the two ending criteria is met: either the deck is exhausted or all the Honors and Quests are taken.  At that point, play to the end of the round so that all players have the same number of turns.  The game now is scored:

  • Influence cards:  sum the highest card played in each of the five colors
  • Tomes/Epics:  3VP to player with post in their hand, 1VP to second place – friendly ties
  • Relics: if you played the highest number in the color of a Relic you played, score 1VP. If not, lose 1VP
  • Quests: score 1 or 2 VP based on text on the card
  • Honors: score 1VP each 

The player with the most points wins. Ties to the player with the most Tomes in hand.

My thoughts on the game

So I’ve played a few times now, and my thoughts have oscillated a bit.  I was admittedly a little unimpressed on the first play, but I had read so many other positive things about it that I tried it again – thinking that I must have missed something in that game. The second play was much better, probably due to the fact that I knew what to expect. 

First – there is definitely a race to the Honors and Quests.  Each is worth 1VP for the card, and possibly an extra VP for the Quest.  That being said, when the winning score is often around 20, those cards – while possibly important – are not critical.  I had really raced to get some Quests early in the first game, and I think I ended up with a small hand as a result without a great payoff for it.  Additionally, I probably gave away a couple of cards which could have been more useful if I had held onto them.  There is only one copy each of the Relics, 5s and 6s, and if you are dealt these cards from the start, it’s a pretty good opening strategy to figure out how to keep and play these.  If you can get a color to 6 and have the Relic, that’s a 7 point scoring play there at a minimum, about a third of our usual winning total…

Second – the Clan powers are diverse and quite strong; but you need to tailor your play to match the benefit of your power.  In this case, I’m not sure I necessarily need to try to race to get a particular Clan color, but once I’ve taken one, I do try to play into the strengths of whatever ability is granted from it.  That being said, I think getting one sooner than later is better for me as it gives me more time to try to play towards the goal given by the Clan card.

Third – the game can end unexpectedly, and once you are aware of it, it actually increases the tension in the endgame a bit as you have to watch the depletion of both the board as well as the deck.  This is higher for me because I have a habit of trying to hold onto Relic cards; sometimes to try to score them myself and sometimes to just keep them away from other people.  Of course, if I get stuck with them at the end of the game and I don’t have the highest number in that color, I’ll take a penalty – so trying to figure out when I need to discard them can be tricky when you don’t know exactly when the game is going to end.

Fourth – hand management is pretty important, and you have to keep your options open to maximize your chance to get the cards you want.  The most efficient play is discarding a single card to get a large stack filled with cards you need.  But you’ll need to make sure that you have a card of matching attribute (or a wild Tome) handy to pick up the stack you want.  So, part of you wants to race to play cards down – but the other half wants you to hold back to be able to build your hand and fill it with cards, and then continually play them down once you have collected them all.  One of my opponents commented that his strategy kind of felt like Ticket to Ride where he spends the first two thirds of the game just collecting cards, and then transitions to nothing but playing cards out of his hand to the end.

The artwork is solid, and I personally like the landscapes and artwork shown on the Influence cards.  The rules are in a compact book, and we had only one question we couldn’t definitively answer from the rules; namely, can 3 Advocates be discarded together to get a Quest?  They have a white color for the discard pile, so we figured they counted as white also for a Quest.  Other than that, the rules felt complete, and the two sided player aid card really does a nice job at summarizing the order of play on one side and the scoring on the other side.

Despite the small box, there is definitely the feeling of a “larger’ game.  Some of this is probably visual/mental as you make a 15 card display on the table with the three growing discard piles.  But, more than that, the gameplay is deceivingly complex.  There are a number of different things to consider each turn, and you’ll be fairly involved during the 30-40 minutes that the game will take.  There is some variability each game due to random draw of the Clans, but even if that weren’t part of the game, I think there is enough going on from just the regular shuffling of the deck to keep things interesting/different.  Definitely worth a try, and I’d definitely recommend playing it a few times before you make up your mind on it. This one took more than one play to show what it could do.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale 
  • Neutral. Steph H
  • Not for me…

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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