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Heroica: Fortaan Review

06/14/2011

Well, it’s finally here – Lego Games Heroica. Or at least they are finally available on the Lego website. Waaaaay back around November when I had first heard that Lego Games was going to be making a dungeon-crawler game I knew I had to have it. Given my vast collection of Legos and the fall of Heroscape, it was only inevitable that I would try and merge the two into a game of my own. But now Lego has done all of the work for me and I have to say – it’s not bad.

Like any of the other Lego Games, this one is fully customizable. I was almost expecting instructions on building a single map (or maybe two) from the pieces included. You actually build “rooms” and “hallways” that connect and rearrange to form a variety of maps. Fortaan (what I am calling the Master Set) comes with 11 rooms – including a throne room, kitchen, and dungeon – as well as 11 various “hallways” of different lengths to connect them. Included is a “map” book with directions to build the various dungeons, but its more fun to mix it up on your own.

The rules are fairly simple: 1. Roll to move, picking up any items you pass on the way. 2. If you land next to a monster – in this case goblins – roll to attack it. There are 4 results to the roll Sword (kill monster), Skull (wound based on monster strength), Skull/Sword (kill monster, but take a hit), and Shield (kill monster or use special ability). Easy right? Maybe too easy…

One of my favorite things is the items. There are four potions (Life, Luck, Speed, and Strength) as well as the treasure chests which, depending on the luck of your die, could be booby trapped. The best has to be the weapons available for purchase at the shop. They are all new sculpts, even familiar items like the sword and dagger, but you get totally new items like the wand and staff. Each weapons gives the character a new ability to use, however there is one downside to this which I will explain shortly.

In Fortaan you can choose from four (of six) characters: Barbarian, Knight, Druid, and Wizard. Each character has it’s own special ability classified as either Ranged or Melee: The Wizard, for example, can attack a monster four spaces away – even around a corner. The downside I mentioned earlier comes into play when giving them weapons. An obvious choice for the Wizard is the wand, however, according the manual, the wand has a weakened version of the Wizard’s ability. There is also no “detrimental trait” to the characters, like the Barbarian slipping into a rage when his life is low or the Druid having low movement.

Again, the great thing about this game is the customization factor. To solve the weapon problem, I’ve been adding one to the range of attack if the character already has that ability. Anyway, it’s quick to build a map (once assembled), play a scenario, and clean-up – 30 min top – for a good time with the kids or a group of lighthearted gamers. I’ll be picking up the rest of the Heroica games if only to get more dungeon space and the Ranger/Thief characters.

MY SCORE: (B+) It’s fun to build and quick to play as is, especially as a family, but the hardcore, serious gamer may need to do a lot of customizing to the rules for a good time.

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