Review – The Outcast Heroes from Historical Games Factory
Thanks to Historical Games Factory for providing a review copy of this game.
One of the really cool things that I love about playing historical games is when I learn about a piece of history that I knew little or nothing about. The Outcast Heroes is a case in point. This game is based on the story about the members of the Polish Home Army who refused to put down their arms after World War 2 when the Soviets installed a Communist government. These “Outcast Heroes” fought against the illegal government for a free Poland. I had never heard of this piece of history and was fascinated to play this game as a result.
From the rules –
In The Outcast Heroes 2-4 players take the roles of the leaders of units fighting against the illegal communist government. Their goal is to combat the occupying forces by carrying out missions aimed against the People’s Government and to realize their secret goals. Players’ actions are rewarded with glory points – whoever scores the most glory points wins. So this is a Semi-Cooperative game in which the players need to work together to win the missions and yet, only one player will gain the most glory.
- 32 Cursed Soldiers cards – representing the actual Outcast Heroes with Leadership value, Strength and Name
- 20 Order cards – with orders that are assigned to the heroes on each mission with Name, Effect and Strength modifier
- 8 Government Actions cards – these increase the level of difficulty to complete the mission
- 15 Mission cards – 3 phases of 5 Missions, 3 of which are randomly chosen for the mission
- 20 Glory Points cards
- 8 Secret Goals cards – 6 for the Heroes, 2 are traitors
- 4 Glory Counter cards
- 1 special mission card “Free the prisoners” – your heroes will get caught!
- 1 Commander-in-chief card
- 1 Nomination card
- 4 wooden cubes for marking the number of points
The card quality is good as is the art which is very evocative and really gives you a strong thematic feel for the historical events. The only small issue is that the art on the backs of the cards should have been a little more easy to distinguish from each other as it took a little while to figure out. Otherwise, the images are excellent.
The game is divided into 3 stages. Each stage is divided into 4 rounds. The players begin each stage with a randomly chosen secret goals card.
Each round follows these steps
Place the top Mission card for the Stage on the table (except for the 4th round)
Players take 2 Actions each from –
Mobilise Heroes – Heroes are placed in your hand
Deployment – Heroes are deployed to a Mission with a particular role (Liaison, Recon, Commander or Strike Force. Each role has a different effect on the mission
Taking over – You swap one of your heroes with another belonging to a different player if your hero has a higher leadership value
Starting a mission
The player with a hero in the commander position of a mission can decide at any time to start the mission. And then the Mission is resolved immediately.
Missions are resolved by assigning Glory Points that will be earned if successful, assigning a Government Action card which effects the difficulty of the mission, assigning orders to the heroes and lastly, checking the results of the mission and take the end of mission actions..
The process is very interesting and full of thematic elements which really gives you a sense of the historical events and challenges. The Missions themselves are based on actual historical events. And because your heroes actually are real people, you really feel for their loss when they are killed or sent to prison. There is an additional Free the Prisoners mission that you will need to attempt at times to get heroes back into the game. Its jus all so interesting and cool.
Once you go through the 4 rounds, you complete the stage and you add glory points if you win the Mission, apply the glory point card effects and check hidden stage goals. Once you go through the 3 stages, the game is over and you check the final glory point scores.
The process takes a turn or 2 to feel comfortable and then it moves along nicely. It is structured well, makes sense and has a nice level of tension.
Did I enjoy The Outcast Heroes?
This is an excellent game. The game turn process works really well, the historical events and tension are palpable as you strive to beat the missions which is by no means easy. You have a number of tough decisions to make. And you quickly realise that the lives of your heroes are on the line as they face the dastardly communists.
Outcast Heroes brings to life a hidden aspect of the struggle for Poland’s freedom and its very interesting. The game is challenging, but not so hard that you want to throw in the towel. The game certainly has a good pace BUT I do not, repeat, do not, recommend playing this game with friends who suffer from analysis paralysis. This is the one danger and downside of the game for me. The choices are so crucial that players can be stuck figuring out the very best hero placement and order assignments. With 2 players this is tolerable but with 4 payers, it makes the game too long and tiresome.
So make it a rule that everyone needs to make their decisions quickly and you should be fine.
Added to this is the artwork which is very attractive, very evocative and adds do much to the theme. Simply brilliant.
My instant reaction to Outcast Heroes is that it is a fun, well designed, intriguing gem. If you enjoy military history, especially obscure heroic stories, this is a great little game that I can highly recommend.
Essen 2013 news!
The Historical Games Factory Team (Fabryka Gier Historycznych, Poland) is currently working on launching a new, English-language website of the company. However, in order not to keep the fans waiting, the HGF decided to start the Essen preorders today despite technical problems.
Sigismundus Augustus 30 Euro (37 at booth 2-B130)
Theomachie (German edition) 40 Euro
Teomachia (Polish edition) 18 Euro
W Zakładzie (Polish edition) 20 Euro
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/125585/w-zakladzie-lubelski-lipiec-80As a limited number of copies of non-international releases will be available, the prices in preorder and at the booth are the same for these games. Please note that the special lower prices are valid only for Essen pick-up, the company doesn’t send games abroad at these prices.