Heroica: Ilrion Review
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: