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Heroica: Ilrion Review

06/14/2012
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It was exactly one year ago today that I reviewed Heroica: Fortaan. Oddly enough, when I ordered Ilrion a few days ago, my Lego.com order history showed I had purchased Fortaan the same day as last year. Weird…

Anyway, I was thrilled when Lego email me that Ilrion was available to purchase. I didn’t think it wasn’t going to be out until August, so it was a nice surprise. After a longer-than-necessary wait for it to be delivered, I finally got it in the mail on Tuesday. Of course, I had very little time to play it after building it – that’s one of the reasons my 100th post was so late, hehe.

So, what do I think? I’ve got mixed feelings. I love it but there are some missed opportunities that Lego really dropped the ball on. Lets start off with the premise and work from there. The game is set in the abandoned catacombs under Ilrion. Seems the undead have a taken a liking to the flooded caverns and are now causing havoc in the town above. Among the baddies this time are: Vampire bats, zombies, and a Vampire Lord. I may buy another set just for more microfig zombies, they are my favorite villain so far.

Oh, did I forget to mention that there’s GIANT cyclops/vampire bat? He’s so big that he actually comes with his own damage counter! Sadly, he’s also one of the “missed opportunities” I mentioned earlier. When I read the game play manual, and later re-read it, it totally glosses over it. I thought that, since it had it’s own life counter, it would have special rules. Nope. It just sits there, waiting to be attacked by the heroes.

I love that this game lets you customize the rules. We played the big bat similar to the minotaur in “Minotaurus.” At the end of the players turns, we rolled for the bat. We each took turns rolling the dice and moving it the number of spaces, same as a regular figure. If the bat passed over a player, that figure was carried back to the starting point of the game and the bat returned to it’s “perch” until the next move. This worked a lot better and added an extra challenge to the game. Try to get in close for a hit and you could end up back at the beginning again.

The map itself isn’t big, but it’a got a lot of great features. There’s a bridge spanning two points that we made destructible. If a player(s) was on the bridge more than one turn, it “collapsed” and anyone on it got washed back to the starting point. Then there was no choice but to take the long way around. One of the gimmicks of Ilrion is the treasure chests being replaced with coffins. Pass over a coffin and you have to stop and open it. There might be treasure, or a vampire bat, or nothing at all. I love that they added that little coffin detail to enhance the undead theme of the game.

Besides the new bad guys, we also get two new heroes: the Prince and the Sage. The Prince is a glorified version of the Knight from the previous games. The Sage is brand new with a brand new ability. According to the mini-comic, he can summon a “spirit bird” to fly off and collect treasure from a few spaces away.  It’s a nifty move and it really annoyed my friend when I would snatch a potion he was right next to before he could grab it.

There’s one more character included in the game: the King. Like the bat, he’s an underused piece in the game – he’s merely a hostage to be rescued. They designed a microfig for the game, painted him, even made him gold so he stands out and he does NOTHING! Boo, Lego, I thought you were better than that. He’s not even mentioned in the book. Not once. I was actually surprised to see him in the box when I started to build the map pieces. We ended up using him like the Prince/Knight and gave him one of (the many) extra Barbarian life counters.

MY SCORE: (C+) This game had soooo much missed potential by not playing up two pieces: the big bat and the King. It’s a fun expansion set and I love the new characters (good and bad) with some great new twists to keep the game fresh.

Oh, as a little PS to this post – I’m desperately seeking the Heroica: Ganrash polybag. Rumors are that it’s available for purchase, but may not come to the US. If anyone spots it and can buy me one, I’ll gladly  pay + shipping for one. Here it is below for reference:

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    01/05/2013 1:13 AM

    There are a whole bunch of these at my local TrU. 5 bucks Canadian. I picked up 2.
    My question for you is why does Ilrion have an extra defense potion in the store rack? How does one acquire it?

    • 01/05/2013 7:01 PM

      The great thing about the Heroica games – in fact ALL of the Lego games – is that they are completely customizable!

      I read back through the instructions, rules, and maps and you’re right – they don’t mention or use the other potion in any official way. UNofficially – I’ve placed it on the board wherever I thought it would be challenging to get to it, as a “dropped” item for whomever killed the giant bat, or as a purchasable item from the “shop.” This last one is my favorite. I’ve built huge maps and have LOTS of potions for sale at 2 gold a piece, which comes in handy pre-“boss battle.”

      Be creative, that’s what the games are about! I hope that this information helped.

      • Mike permalink
        01/06/2013 1:04 AM

        Thanks. Did you find your own Ganrash bag? I saw it in TRU before xmas and figured it might be gone, but when I went back the other day I saw a whole bunch of them still there. I have a feeling that I’ll be able to go back and pick up a few more to use with the game for some time to come, if only to add some new goblins. I’m playing it with my wife and kids and they really seem to like it. While the series is discontinued, I’m happy I was able to pick up all the modules on sale at various places last week. Thanks again for the response and ideas.

      • 01/06/2013 11:49 AM

        You’re very welcome! And no, I have not yet found a Ganrash of my own. And not for lack of trying!

      • Mike permalink
        01/06/2013 4:14 PM

        I’ll grab a Ganrash if you’d like. Do you have access to my email? Let me know how many bags you might want. My 6 y.o. Daughter wants to know why there’s no girl character. I told her the blue ranger is a girl in disguise, because no whiskers. Any suggestions on other Lego game sets that are a good match for expansions?

      • 01/06/2013 8:14 PM

        I’d be forever grateful if you could, and I did send a message to the email that is listed with your comments.
        Your daughter is right to be upset over the lack of female representation in the game – it’s very frustrating. (And as a note, we’ve used the Ranger as a “girl,” too.) If you’re looking for a good Lego Game set to get a bunch of great minis, try Lego Champion (3861). Among them are a pink Princess (who we swap out stats with the Prince) and female Barbarian (whom we give the same stats as the male version). Other good figures in the mix are a purple Skeleton we use a an undead boss, a white pirate we swap out for the Thief, a red Gladiator we used to replace the Knight, and an orange Merchant we use a hostage that gives a discount at the “shop.”
        As for other Lego Games outside of Heroica, try out the Hogwarts game – it’s lots of fun even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan. Or maybe Minotaurus, which is a great, challenging game. And I bet your kids will love Creationary as way to use their imagination and inventiveness in a competitive way.

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