Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Champions of Hara Kickstarter Preview

Image courtesy of Greenbrier Games Inc. 

Quick Look:

Designer: Leafpile Media
Artist: Hannah Kennedy, Jason Piperberg
Publisher: Greenbrier Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-6
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 90-180 min.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Champions of Hara. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Review:

Rules and Setup:
With such rich and variable game play, the rules for Champions of Hara are quite complex. Although the rulebook is twenty-six pages long, a careful read-through of pages five to eighteen gives players an understanding of all basic rules. Setup is also rather complicated because of the many game pieces, so how to prepare for game play is also covered carefully in the same section of the rulebook.

Photo of Champions of Hara by Sarah Johnson

Theme and Mechanics:
Fantasy is the underlying theme of the game, with champions battling monsters and corrupted characters to have a single wish granted. The flavor text, character bios, and even card effects help to convey not only the theme of fantasy but also each character's underlying wish. With many different scenarios to choose from, players can truly experience a new story with each play through.

Main mechanics for game play focus on hand management, as players choose the cards they play with each of their three Activation points during their turn, and the ability to switch between co-op and versus style game play. Another interesting mechanic is the modular map that serves as the game board. Players interact with the board through various cards and effects, and they often shift many different modules during game play.

Game Play:
With elements of deck building, versus battles, and co-op story arcs, Champions of Hara has something for every player. Each of the champions have distinct fighting styles and abilities, making game play highly diverse after switching characters. With so many different choices of story arcs and scenarios, the game can be marathoned for hours without players losing interest. While the rules and setup seem quite complex, for a game with so many pieces and thematic elements, they are easy for an experienced tabletop player to pick up after a few turns.

Photo of Champions of Hara by Sarah Johnson

Versus game play has the simplest rules and the least character and narrative development. It is an ideal place to learn the basic game rules and come up with game play strategies for characters. While the games can take quite a bit of time, they are the best way for players to get familiar with the game mechanics. This is especially important for larger play groups, as turns can become long and confusing if all players aren't familiar with the rules or their characters.

Co-op game play is more complex, but provides much richer and more varied game play. The corrupted characters come into play during the many different scenarios, and the board and many mechanics shift throughout the game. While these games were by far the most interesting for my play test groups, I do not suggest starting out with a co-op scenario before playing at least one (several would be even better) versus games. Scenarios warp the board, rules, and card mechanics, so it is vital for players to have a good understanding of the basics before tackling these changes.

Artwork and Components:
The artwork in Champions of Hara is mesmerizing, and it truly sets the scenes for the many adventures and battles the game provides. With so many different game pieces and elements, it is quite the feat to have so much original artwork. Each of the board pieces create unique settings and exude different moods, each character has original card artwork and flavor text, and the monster cards are extremely detailed. All of these artistic elements help to provide players with an immersive gaming experience, and they help the game remain enjoyable during the long turns by providing plenty to read and look at.

Image courtesy of Greenbrier Games Inc. 

While the artwork was phenomenal, it would have been wasted entirely on a more simple board. Champions of Hara, however, pulled out all the stops with a modular game board that is taken apart and rebuilt during game play. The tokens, player pieces, markers, and other cards the game provides are also high quality and create an unusually unique feel to even the most basic of the game's elements.

The Good:
Game play was interesting and provides the potential for many variations due to the number of characters and scenarios. The artwork was beautiful and helped to convey the theme of fantasy throughout all elements of the components and game play. Elements such as rebuilding the board during game play and monsters with the ability to jump across the board made Champions of Hara unique to other fictional narrative games focused on defeating monsters.

The Bad:
I wouldn't suggest this game for inexperienced tabletop players. The rules, mechanics, and sheer number of pieces can be overwhelming for new players.


Final Thoughts:
Champions of Hara provides unique game play with a huge amount of variety, and because of this, it can be played again and again. It's well worth any experienced tabletop player's time.

Players Who Like:
Fans of Arkham Horror and Betrayal at House on the Hill will enjoy the aspects of adventure, co-cooperative and versus game play, while enthusiasts of Catan will enjoy the modular setup of the game board.

I am giving Champions of Hara 9 out of 10 super meeples.

9  10

Check out Champions of Hara on:

      

Champions of Hara is on KICKSTARTER now through September 28, 2017

About the Author:


Sarah Johnson is a freelance writer and board game enthusiast. When she’s not playing games or writing reviews, she enjoys writing articles for food and wine magazines. Sarah lives in rainy Corvallis, Oregon where she studies writing, English, and communications.

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