What is this game about?
Heroes of Terrinoth is an adventure card game published by Fantasy Flight and designed by Adam and Brady Sadler. It is largely a reskin of their previous design, Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game. In Heroes of Terrinoth, players will control adventurers who cooperate to defeat enemies and/or survive in a number of scenarios. Each scenario has its own little storyline and will play quite differently from any other one in the box.
Players will have plenty of options when planning to take on a challenge. There are four different character classes, each with three different heroes to choose from. No matter what, though, each player has only four cards, each representing a different type of action. You'll do some attacking, for sure, but you also need to explore in-game locations, aid other players, and rest/heal. On a given turn, each hero may activate only one card—and that card is "exhausted" until the player does something to unexhaust it. This means that the heart of the game is choosing which actions to take at which times, ensuring that it's all done in the most advantageous order possible. Players' cards can receive upgrades throughout the game to make them more powerful, which can help fine tune the actions that are available.
Even if you play the right card at the right time, however, success is not guaranteed. Actions are resolved by die rolls, and what's more, enemies that are engaged with you also roll dice to interfere with any action you take—not just attack actions! You can collect success tokens throughout the game that help you to overcome bad odds, but you'll have to budget them carefully and use them when it matters most.
How does it play solo?
Heroes of Terrinoth is a cooperative game, so a solo player just needs to choose two heroes and pilot both during the game. You could also play three or four heroes, if you are so inclined! It works very well this way, especially because the rules are so streamlined.
If you are like me, and you like to wring the most you possibly can out of a hand of cards, then Heroes of Terrinoth is going to be fun for you. There are a lot of scenario options in the base box, and each offers a unique challenge. The introductory scenario, "The Goblin Problem," is easy and straightforward. But the more difficult ones are no joke. You will face tough combinations of enemies, but also strange turns of events—such as getting caught in a time loop with a greedy dragon, or rushing back and forth between locations to keep them under control during a siege.
I was impressed with how far the Sadler brothers were able to push this game system, which is tight and streamlined. There is almost no more fat to trim in their design, to the point where you would think it would feel repetitive. In some ways, it does—you always work with the same four actions, and you have a limited set of upgrades to choose from. The first turns of each scenario can feel especially same-y. There are moments when your limited action set, even when upgraded and tweaked, feels a little constraining. But I like a good puzzle, and I found each quest to have a completely different feel to it, even though all of them used the same "ingredients." That level of variety also gets me excited about the possibility of expansions for this game, because I think this system has plenty of room to grow.
As of this moment, there is no campaign play in Heroes of Terrinoth. I would be interested to see what it would feel like to have a character who grew from game to game by getting and keeping better cards. In fact, I would like to see more thrilling upgrades to characters in general, especially for the Aid and Rest actions. Whenever you get a chance to upgrade a card, you will almost never start with an upgrade to your rest action—"rest" turns are pretty unexciting. If there are expansions to this game, I would especially like to see some better variations on taking the rest action, in particular.
While some gamers hate being at the mercy of a die roll, the use of dice in Heroes of Terrinoth worked for me. I, too, hate a bad roll that prevents me from carrying out my plans. But no die roll in Terrinoth is straight-up bad. At worst, you at least roll a shield, which protects you from a point of enemy damage during your activation. Also, carefully budgeting success tokens can help you overcome a bad roll when it really counts.
Do I recommend it?
If you want to carefully plan out and optimize card actions, I definitely recommend it. If you are looking for a big sprawling fantasy adventure, look elsewhere. I am personally enjoying this game quite a bit. I do, however, think that Heroes of Terrinoth will need expansions to reach its full potential.
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.