Mar 4, 2015

[Games] Seventh Hero

As much as our game choices are typically driven by research and careful scrutiny of the various entries on sites like Board Game Geek, there are still those moments when a game surprises us when we encounter it in a store and we take the gamble and just pick it up.

We first saw Seventh Hero on the shelves of Paradigm Infinitum. The store was pushing it a little hard at the time - I guess it had just arrived or something like that. And since it was an AEG-published game, it felt like something that we had to look into given they've been publishing some interesting games as of late.

It was hard to tell what this one was going to be about, but clearly it was another card game. But what rather intrigued me was the rather dramatic box text talking about the need to gather seven heroes and such. We eventually got the game and it has proven to be a fun little bridge game between heavier games during game nights. It's really easy to learn and the strategy is pretty savvy.

Synopsis: Seventh Hero is a card game created by Kuro and published in English by the Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG). Surprisingly it supports 3-5 players, and a card game that can support 5 players is a somewhat rare thing.

The goal of the game is to gather six different heroes into your party - the seventh hero is actually the player himself. Each hero has abilities that can be triggered once per hero, although some card effects may allow you to refresh a hero. Everyone starts with two distinct heroes. But the way a hero is recruited is the tricky part and where all the strategies are.

Turn order is simple enough. During a player's turn, he draws a hero card to act as the quest for the round based on the text at the bottom of the hero card. This could mean playing a card with a value of 1-3 or an odd-numbered card. The starting player then chooses a card from his hand if possible and plays it face-down - this becomes the Wandering hero. The Wandering Hero then goes to the next player and he has a choice of whether or not to take the card. If he chooses to take it, he flips it over and compares it to his face-up heroes in his party. A unique hero is added to his party. A duplicate hero is an evil shapeshifter and the two cards die in mortal combat.

Thus the strategy becomes choosing which card may potentially eliminate other player's heroes or eventually have a card come back to you. If no one takes the Wandering Hero, then it goes all the way back to the starting player and the same rules apply. Thus if it was a duplicate of the starting player's heroes, then it will also get eliminated. The other caveat is that if the starting player did not have a hero card in his hand that matched the quest criteria, then one of his face-up heroes in his party will have to go out as the Wandering Hero, which can be pretty bad for the hero.

The other interesting game mechanic involved the heroes themselves. The heroes in your party all have different abilities that can be used to affect other player actions. For example, the Oracle allows you to peek at the Wandering Hero, thus giving you key information before deciding whether or not to take the card. The Forest Strider allows you to draw two extra cards while the Shield Maiden blocks another player's attempt to interrupt with a hero ability. They're all pretty powerful, but of course their limited use is what maintains game balance.

It's hard to tell how these games might play out since every round feels like a new play experience. It's a complex balance of being able to interpret the actions of players based on the open quest, keeping watch of everyone's recruited heroes and of course making sure that you have a little flexibility with your own hand of cards.

Seventh Hero is a fun little game with nice flavor to it and good gameplay. We've found it to be interesting for newer players who aren't too deep into the hobby just yet or you just need a break from a massively long game of Caverna or something. The game gets 3.5 noble heroes out of a possible 5.

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