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Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar Campaign Deck Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Ben Cichoski, Robert Dougherty, Darwin Kastle, and Daniel Mandel
Artist: Randy Delven, Vito Gesualdi, Adam Lachmanski, and Antonis Papantoniou
Publisher: White Wizard Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1 to 5
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 90 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com


Back in December of 2016 I had the pleasure of reviewing Hero Realms, the squeal to the very popular deck building game—Star Realms. I was very excited to see one of my favorite games get a fantasy theme added to it. In addition, Hero Realms introduced character packs which really enhanced game play and made it more asymmetric. You can see that review HERE.

As I mentioned in that review White Wizard Games was hinting at a cooperative campaign style follow up, well here it is, The Ruin of Thandar! In Ruin of Thandar players will be taking on the role of their favorite characters from Hero Realms, playing through a series of adventures in attempt to defeat the evil villains of the story. In between each adventure, players will be able level up their characters, grab great treasures and enhance their starting decks before meeting their next foe.

Set up is very similar to that of the base game. Each player receives a character and it's accompanying starting deck. They will then trade out their regular Inventory cards with those for the campaign. The market is created in the same way with five cards from the draw deck being laid out in the middle of the table and the Fire Gems being added as a sixth option. Where things differ in Ruins of Thandar is players will need to set up the Master as well. This is the bad guy/gal which players will be fighting against for the particular scenario they are playing. Each master comes with a main reference card which states it's health and attack abilities. The Master will need to be seated between any two players, the reason for this will become clear when I explain the game play. Players will then create the Master's deck which is a combination of setting cards, mastery cards, and encounter level cards.

Three player set up with Master at the top (between players two and three).

Once set up players are ready to begin. Each player on their turn will take the following actions. First they will activate the Master by drawing one or more cards (depending on the Master's level) from the Master's deck. On the card there is an orb with a color that matches one on the Master's abilities on it's reference card. That will tell the players the effect that will be taking place. Next players will resolve the actual card drawn (Minion, Action, etc...).

The Master's attacks go towards the current player's Guards, then Champions (unless the Hero can be knocked out), then the Hero themselves.

If a minion is drawn it will be placed in front of the current player and it's attack/effect will be added to that of the Masters. If an Elite Minion is drawn it is placed in front of the Master and will effect all players (on their turns) in the same manor as the regular minion. Minions in front of a player must be dealt with before players can directly attack the Master or any Elite Minions. Players can also attack minions that are in front of other directly adjacent players (on the left or right) as long as there is not one in front of themselves.

Once the Master's effects/attacks have been resolved the current player will now play cards from their hand. The process is exactly the same as in Hero Realms. Players will use coins to buy cards from the market and attacks to attack Minions, Elite Minions, and the Master. After the current player has ended their turn play passes to the player on the left.

Play continues like this until all players have been defeated or the Master has been defeated (health being taken down to zero). If the players win they will read in the campaign book to find out what their rewards are then move on to the next scenario. If not they get to start again, just like those old console games that didn't have the save function or undo!


As mentioned before, and probably too often, I love The Realms universe that White Wizard has created. Star Realms was an instant favorite the first time I played it and still is after hundreds of plays (both physically and online).

Hero Realms was a great addition, opening the system up to fantasy theme loving gamers. The addition of heroes in order to create asymmetric set ups was brilliant. Now they add on RPG style play, please just take my money! Oh wait, you already did.

So why do I love this as much as I do. For starters it is the game system—deck building streamlined—which is very simple and easy to teach as well as play. Now I will mention this later in my cons, but the Ruins of Thandar campaign can get a bit more difficult, in terms of game play, having to track everything that needs to be done. More about that later.

The Ruin of Thandar is also very well balanced for a cooperative game. Players aren't winning every time out of the gate. So don't think that it will be a walk in the park, because it won't. I found that we only won about 30 to 40% of the time. The game can be harsh! But if it was easy it wouldn't be fun.

Beating a foe feels like you have won the Super Bowl, well maybe not that big. But you do get to explore new story lines (similar to choose your own adventure) and create a stronger and more fierce character which can be very exciting.

The artwork is phenomenal* and really pulls you into this fantasy world. *See my con below. But really check out some of these cards:


The Good:
I absolutely love the Star and Hero Realms gaming system. A very easy to use deck building mechanism that sets itself up for fast easy play with players of all abilities. Add on cooperative play and a campaign and you have yourself a winner!

The story line behind Thandar is engaging and well written. Players are compelled to move forward to find out the mystery behind everything that is going on. Being able to make your character more powerful by leveling up and gaining treasures to face future foes is a blast.

The Bad:
This is not a condemning statement, but there is a lot of housekeeping that goes along with this game. Making sure that each turn players are doing everything for the Master then themselves and catching all the rules and effects can be daunting. Again not a deal breaker, just something to keep on your radar when you play.

The other thing I have an issue with, and one I had with Hero Realms, is some of the artwork is not PG. And since most of my gaming is done with my kids I have to doctor those cards. So if you play with young kids be aware there are cards with scary images, gore, and scantily dressed women, men, and creatures of all kinds.

Final Thoughts:
You guessed it, I love Ruins of Thandar. I also forgot to mention but I received the two Boss Decks: The Dragon and the Lich. Both of these add a new way to play as one player will control the boss to defeat our heroes.

Sooooo many ways to play and enjoy Hero Realms equals endless fun and long game nights.

Players Who Like:
If you are a fan of Star Realms, Hero Realms, or RPGs you owe it to yourself to check Ruin of Thandar out.

So where to next? White Wizard Games just wrapped up their Journeys Kickstarter campaign. This included the sequel to The Ruin of Thandar—The Lost Village—which picks up right where Thandar left off. The Journeys Kickstarter also included the following (taken from the Kickstarter page):
  • A 12-card Hunters and Travelers packs each featuring new Champions and Actions for your market deck. 
  • The Conquest and Discovery packs each contain 6 new quest cards and 6 new relic cards. You will get secret quests at the start of the game, each giving you a special objective. When you complete a quest, you immediately acquire a powerful relic as your reward. 
  • The 20-card Ancestry pack allows you to play Hero Realms as a Dwarf, Elf, Ogre, Orc, or Smallfolk. You may use any race with a generic starting deck, or combine them with any character pack. So you could play as an ogre wizard, an elven ranger, a dwarven fighter, or any one of the 30 new race/class combinations. 
  • A 4-card Kickstarter exclusive Half-Demon race AND all the Kickstarter exclusive promo cards we unlock! 

You can see our spotlight of that HERE and find more information from White Wizard HERE.

Check out Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar Campaign Deck on:


About the Author:

Dane Trimble - Owner

Dane is an Advertising Manager for a national magazine by day and a husband, father of four, and board gamer by night (and mornings). He has a passion for board games and believes board games help bring families closer together while providing kids a unique way to learn many diverse skills. And he thinks they are down right fun!!!

See Dane's reviews HERE.
Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar Campaign Deck Review  Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar Campaign Deck Review Reviewed by Dane Trimble on January 10, 2019 Rating: 5

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