Review – HeroCard: Orc Wars by Tablestar Games, designed by Nico Carroll
Please note that Tablestar Games provided a review copy of this game
If you have been following my reviews, you will certainly have gathered that I am a fan of fantasy themed games so here is another for me to have a look at.
HeroCard: OrcWars is another in Tablestar Games’ series of games with the HeroCard common combat rules which is card driven. This is a 2-player game for ages 13+. This time we are in a fantasy setting where you can be an Elf Paladin that takes on the might of the Orc King and his minions as you battle your way through a number of scenarios. There are expansion packs for Ranger and Sorceress characters which add more variety.
The components and artwork are very nice and evokes the theme very well. The elf characters have nicely sculpted plastic minis and the Orcs are very solid card figures with excellent artwork. I must say that I would have preferred plastic minis for the Orcs too but that is a small quibble. The game board is made of large hexagons with outdoor terrain on one side and cavern terrain on the other. This makes for a lot of opportunity to create your own scenarios which adds value for money to this game. The cards are very well done and are very clear and easy to use.
Orc Wars is a straight up hack and slash slugfest managed by the HeroCard combat system. I find the system works very well once you get the hang of it and can be played on its own for a quick bout of combat with a friend or as the heart of the Orc Wars and other HeroCard games. In this games the scenarios start simply and progress with difficulty in terms of taking on the enemy and accomplishing objectives. Each turn plays quickly and as and basically involves managing your card hand, and movement and combat actions.
A nice feature of the design is the size of the Orc horde is scaled upwards with more players so its very manageable. The Orcs operate with an individual Orc King and Clans of Orcs made up of smaller squads of Orcs which are each governed for combat by attribute levels for the whole squad rather than for an individual Orc. Squads can attack as a group if only one Orc is adjacent to an Elf which makes it tough work for the Elf. To balance that, the Elf only needs to win one combat per Orc where the Orcs have to score a number of hits to defeat an Elf. You can also collect treasures which help the Elf defeat the Orcs and also heal so the balancing is there.
It is a good idea to keep clans together for the Orc player to maximise attributes to be able to slug it out in battle.
this is not a roleplaying game although there is a bit of rpg element to it but for the most part, this is window dressing for a brutal combat skirmish game. As such the mechanics come together.
Did it work for me?
As a combat skirmish game it works very well. It is very straightforward and works well. The combat system is clean and crisp and is a pleasure to play. The physical aspects of Herocard: Orc Wars are tops. This is a well produced game and adds to the theme. If I want a short slugfest, this is certainly a fun game to play. On that level, I enjoy it. But having said that, I usually want more rpg and depth in my fantasy games so on that level it is limited but as long as I take it for what it is, this is a good game. The expandable aspect adds value as well with new scenarios on Boardgamegeek.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6 out of 10
Yes, I think younger the 13, say 10+ could work.
For more information about Tablestar Games go to – http://tablestargames.com/