Quite some time ago we gave Heroes of Amarii a playtest in the office and took it down to the SCGC and played a few rounds with the public. We were quick taken by Red Wizard Hat's first game but then promptly lost the review in the files while we lay the ground work for the Trove box. Heroes of Amarri however wasn't forgotten and now they have got the kickstarter up and running it's time to go back to that first play.
The first think you'll notice about Heroes of Amarii is the absolutely luscious artwork, Ivan Sevic's visuals create a rich backdrop that is instantly engaging and a beauty in their own right that really drags you in. Heck we have one of the posters sat on our office wall, saying that, the game is more than a pretty face. The establishing narrative is a comfortable one using familiar archetypes of fantasy. There are four races, Orcs, Dwarves, Elves and Humans, the first three of which lived in relative peace until humans turned up – yes, we're the baddies. the epic scale and setting give enough foundation to give the play perspective without being as daunting as some games which demand a new lexicon in enter, instantly barring many people from engaging.
The game is essentially a development on the classic War. In HoA four cards are drawn and placed face down in an order of your choosing and then each player reveals the their first card in unison, highest value/strength wins and the victory takes the cards into their victory pile later to be added to their stack. When all cards are equal a there is war and the next card from the stack is drawn and then revealed until there is a victor.What moves HoA away from being simply a pretty rendition of a classic is the addition of Heroes and abilities with a strong basis in “elements”. These come into play during wars and when a “call to arms” card is played. These Heroes change the dynamic of battles, adding in dice rolling and personal choice. Which hero will you play and how will you use them, the answer relies on your play style and the cards on the table.
Now most card games find themselves in one of two brackets, pick up and play games like Munchin and richer most expansive affairs like Legend of the Five rings. The former tends to act like a gateway for casual players or a warm up game ahead of a nights fun, the latter requires knowledge and investment, and unfortunately they tend to find themselves to dense for casual gamers to get behind.
Heroes of Amarii sits rather comfortably somewhere in the middle, a link between the two. It's core rules are quick and simple to pick up which the “Hero” elements and abilities provide for more complex play. It's this that gives HoA it's footing on the game shelf, tho it might not appeal to those seeking the complex gameplay of M:TG or Netrunner it ideal for playing with younger members of the family and with more casual friends, a quick game or two of HoA over a few drinks would be a great way to kick an evening off.
The only concern we have about the game is about it's ability to stretch it's complexity for different players and we'd like to see some official variants being developed. In our games we developed a simpler version without the abilities, quick fire play, but one that would act as a great gateway into card games and a more complex game where cards are placed face up where order of play is a tactical decision. It's a mark of a good game for me that I instantly want to tinker with it, making varients of play and establishing house rules and HoA definatly had me doing that. and considoring how passionate the RWH team are I suspect we'll see much more. So it's with that we reccomend you have a look at their kickstarter because in heroes of Amarii you'll find a quick paced, light-weight and dynamic game with a lot of potential, a beautiful and enjoyable game that can be brought out anywhere with almost no set up It's being made by a fantastic and passionate group who seem loaded with big plans, their Kickstarter is live now and you can get there by clicking here.