If you’re a game company, what do you do if you designed a game based on a certain piece of intellectual property (IP) and then the company that owns that IP suddenly decides to not renew the license? In Fantasy Flight Games’ case, you fire up the lemonade stand and get to squeezing those lemons. Having your own adaptable IP in your back pocket helps too.
The IP in question is the Warhammer Fantasy universe and the original game in question is Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game (WQ:ACG). Heroes of Terrinoth, which is the subject of this review, is a direct re-implementation of WQ:ACG since Games Workshop decided not to renew the license with Fantasy Flight Games. The game development team in Roseville, MN then decided that the same universe as Descent: Journeys in the Dark could also stand to have Descent: The Adventure Card Game or Runebound: The Adventure Card Game on a game shelf.
In any case, Heroes of Terrinoth is the result. New art and 100% less Bright Wizards later, this game for 1-4 players is ready to hit the table of fantasy adventure gamers everywhere. It takes about 30-60 minutes to play, and it’s best with 2 or 3 players.
Each player in Heroes of Terrinoth is a member of an adventuring band undertaking a small bit o’ quest as part of a larger campaign (if they want). The party selects a quest sheet, prepares some decks of cards, sets up their hero cards, and is ready to engage in some light cooperative fantasy questing.
On a player’s turn, they will take one of four actions: Attack, Explore, Rest, or Aid. Each action is triggered by rotating one of four action cards in front of a player. The rotated card describes the rest of the steps needed to complete the action. For each character archetype, these cards are different such that a melee type of character gets different powers from a healer type of character. In addition, likely the strongest card for a melee character is going to be their Attack card while the Aid card could be strongest for a healer.
As each of these cards get used, they are not reset automatically. On their next turn, a player will decide whether to take a different action or RESET all their action cards by taking a Rest action. Play continues in a round until all players have taken an action, or 2 actions each in 2 player games. Once this happens, players proceed to the Enemy, Peril, and Travel phases successively.
The Enemy Phase proceeds with each player activating an enemy card in the play area. An enemy can either be “in the shadows” in the middle of the play area or engaged with a character. As enemies take actions, they can give wounds to heroes or hamper their ability to explore the current location card. This is used as an abstract status track for how much progress the team has made.
After the Enemy Phase, the Peril Phase increases a danger level track while the Travel Phase gives the party the moment to explore a new location if they have fully explored the current one. Once all location cards are fully explored, the game session can move to the final location with a probable end boss fight.
This is a solid implementation of an action-based system translated from dungeon crawl tropes. Since the format here lacks a map to explore, player choices based on resource management and the overall danger level from enemies is just the right amount of tension to place in a game. It can feel repetitive at times, and the abstract nature of the progress may seem trite, but the cooperative nature of actions is solid. This game hits it right on the money in this regard.
Gamers who own the Warhammer Quest previous iteration of this product may feel a bit cheated. The translation from Warhammer to Terrinoth is seamless and arguably, this is the better, simpler, more precisely implemented game. Even though the original game was developed on spec for the Warhammer IP, the use of Terrinoth feels natural. Everything about the new theme just works well.
If there is one negative, it’s that this is more of an advanced filler game between larger more epic diversions. The mechanisms are solid and players can certainly gather if time is short for just a wee bit o’ adventure offered by Heroes of Terrinoth. However, the abstract nature of play makes the quest feel a bit bland and the mechanics take center stage. Choosing when to activate cards just so you can flip the next location can feel a bit repetitive so playing less often is the right choice.
If you’re a group of adventurers who love consistent, challenging, cooperative battles and teamwork out the yin-yang, Heroes of Terrinoth works well. Those looking for bizarre fantasy themes need not apply. This is classic textbook fantasy tropes laid on top of an action-selection based card game with just the right amount of luck and required tactics. Even those new to fantasy card games can enjoy Heroes of Terrinoth, just so long as it’s taken sparingly.
Final Score: 4 stars – As a filler for a consistent adventuring party, Heroes of Terrinoth picks up the banner for a fallen IP with a solid grasp and fun gameplay.
• Can feel repetitive and abstract if played too often