Header AD

Hero's Crossing Review



Designers: Brian Sowers
Publisher: One Method Monkey
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 90 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Review:



Every good hero needs a good town where they can stock up on weapons, armor, potions, and other essentials items. If a town can keep attracting heroes, there will be no shortage of business, and there will be much rejoicing (yayyyy). Hero’s Crossing puts you in charge of one such town, and it’s your job to produce resources the local heroes need. Attract the attention of the various heroes passing by, and your town may end up being the only place to shop when questing.

Hero’s Crossing is a city building, dice rolling (and stealing), fantasy-themed board game for 2-4 players. Well, that’s the player count it gives on the box. Inside, I found a rules sheet for a solo variant, which I will discuss later on. 

Initial Impressions
Let’s start things off by saying, right off the bat, that I don’t call this game by its official name. Instead, I lovingly refer to it as “Kakariko Village.” If that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, then I suggest you play more Legend of Zelda. Anyway, this game looks great with its pixel art, and the theme is very intriguing. I never realized I wanted to actually run the town heroes shop at until I saw this game. That’s when I knew my life had purpose—to equip heroes so they can save the world.

Reading through the rule book was rather confusing at first, I’m afraid. But, with the game laid out in front of me, the learning process sped up nicely. I love having a solo variant to learn the game on, and I was quite happy with my first run-through. After that, I was eager to play again.

My Experience



Every game has a certain balance in which it needs to fall to be competitive, simple, and engaging. The rules for Kakariko Village—er, Hero’s Crossing—are relatively simple, once you understand them. Which, admittedly, should only take a round or two of game play to grasp sufficiently. 

I found the use of dice to correlate with actions to be an interesting mechanic, and modifiers helped ease some of the randomness brought on by the dice. That said, dice are dice, and randomness can only be sated so much. Because each die corresponds to a certain resource type, only those dice can be used in regards to those resources. So, in order to produce weapons (red dice), I must use my red die. Likewise, if I want to move my newly produced weapons to from the forge to the weapon shop, I need to use my red die. And, if there’s a hero passing by that’s looking for weapons, I need to use my red die to attract him/her/it to my town. Because I only get one die of each color, you can see where the problem arises. Fortunately, there is dice stealing involved, where I can give another player one of my dice, along with a modifier, and steal one of their dice. That makes it more plausible for me to be able to accomplish my designs in a given round. But, as was quickly discovered, dice can be stolen back. Depending on if your opponent needed that color of die or not, you might still end up with only one die of your much-needed color. I say this not because it’s a concern, but to show some of the player interaction. It can be good, or it might not work out in your favor. Only time will tell. However it turns out, I like this aspect of the game.

It’s not often a game plays faster with more players, but in Hero’s Crossing, it does (from what I’ve found, at least). This is due in part to more players being able to cycle through the tiles faster, thereby revealing more, shall we say, “useful” tiles for a player’s village. Because players are not allowed to have two buildings of the same name in their village, this can make for a stagnant row of tiles. We scoured the rule book, trying to find a workaround, or some way to clear a row of tiles, but didn’t find anything (if there is and I just missed it, please let me know!). I definitely recommend instituting some sort of house rule—especially in games with lower player counts—that allows for you to clear a row of tiles. Discard a certain amount of modifiers, discard a die, discard resources, or a combination of the above. Whatever you decide, this is a house rule that can really benefit (and speed up) the game at lower player counts. I don’t normally like house rules, but I think this is an exception.

Another interesting aspect was the zoning die. This die is rolled at the beginning of each round, and the result dictates the direction tiles can be placed in your town. If the result is north, then tiles may only be played on the northern boarder of the town. Because buildings can’t be placed adjacent to another building (at least one landscape tile must separate two buildings), this can sometimes limit which buildings can be built, and adds a unique aspect to the game. Because of this mechanic, towns can spread far and wide in any direction. There are some results that let the player choose which die face to use, as well as one that gives no restrictions at all. Just make sure you have adequate table space when you start playing, especially with four players.

I really enjoyed the various heroes that can be recruited to your town. Each hero has a special ability that can be used to make running the town easier. Some heroes allow a certain color of die to be used as any die, which is awesome. Others allow the player who owns the hero to steal a resource from another player, or to alter the value of a die. It’s things like these that add meat to the game, and help alleviate some of the randomness inherent with dice.

In all, Hero’s Crossing is a fun game. We laughed our way through our games, and found the hero abilities to be invaluable. I’ll discuss more about my final thoughts further down, but for now, let’s get into the technical stuff.

Setup:


An example of a starting layout.
Setup is pretty simple, which is always a plus. Randomly select four level 1 heroes, four level 2 heroes, and four level 3 heroes. Place the four level 1 heroes along the top row of the board, face-up. Off to the side, place the four level 3 heroes face-down, with the four level 2 heroes face-down on top of the level 3 heroes. Fill in the level 1 tile row, and place each stack of tiles (levels 1, 2, and 3) on their appropriate space on the board, face-up (level 1 and 2 tiles only become available when a hero of the corresponding level arrives in the hero row). The land tiles are placed off to the side nearby the board.

Each player gets one die of each color (white, red, blue, and green), along with one modifier token and all the workers in their chosen player color. One of these workers goes on the “zero” space of the scoreboard, and will be used to track points throughout the game for each player.

Each player now draws four level 1 building tiles, chooses one, and passes the rest to the left. This continues until there are no more tiles in a player’s hand, meaning each player should have four building tiles. They also receive two land tiles. Players then set up their towns buy arranging their tiles how they like, remembering that no buildings can be next to each other, but must be separated by at least one land tile.

Gameplay:


Your town expands as the game progresses,

Gameplay is sorted into six steps, as follows:

1. Draw Action Card
The action card determines which actions pair with what during this round. The dual action system allows players to take two actions each turn. Basically, whichever actions are side-by-side to each other are the two actions that are paired together. So, if Bid and Spy are next to each other, and I choose that action pair, I would do a Spy action as well as a Bid action. These pairings change each round, which makes for some interesting choices throughout the game. 

2. Roll Zoning Restriction Die
Roll the zoning restriction die. The direction shown dictates in which direction tiles can be placed for this round. 

3. Roll Resource Dice
Each player rolls their four resource dice (red, blue, white, and green). These dice are kept by the individual player, and not to be shared amongst other players (unless a die is stolen, but that’s not really sharing, its it?). We were confused our first game, as we thought we were supposed to roll our dice into one common pool from which we all draft, but this is not the case. Each player pulls dice from their own dice pool. 

4. Draft Dice
The name of this step is one of the things that gave us confusion, as just mentioned. Of course, had we been more observant as to the first sentence under the heading, we would have known to have taken the dice from our personal pool. I don’t really consider this drafting, but what do you do. In this step, each player takes turns choosing a die from their personal pool and using it to take actions, according to the pairings on the action card. The color and number of the die both matter (well, most of the time). The various actions players can use their dice for are:

  • Bid on buildings.
  • Attract heroes.
  • Move resources from the warehouse to the shop.
  • Produce resources.
  • Spy on your opponent. Or, more specifically, make it more difficult for them to move and produce goods.
  • Expel an enemy spy from your town.
  • Gain modifiers.
  • Get land and place the land according to the zoning die restrictions. 

I won’t go into detail about the various actions, but if you want a more detailed look, check out the rule book online.

5. Resolve Hero Attraction
If you used the Attract action, this is where you sell your goods. You get one point per good from your level 1 shops, two points per good from your level 2 shops, and (you guessed it) three points per good from your level 3 shops. If there are multiple players trying to attract the same hero, the player with the highest die result used to attract goes first. Once a hero has acquired all the resources required on its card, the player who placed the last resource claims the hero to their own town and can then use that hero’s ability throughout the game.

Solo Mode


The Phantom player has two workers bidding on buildings and two workers attracting heroes.
While I won’t explain the rule changes for this variant, I would still like to say a few things about it. The solo variant plays really well. The only problem I ran into was being able to clear out a row of tiles. Since there is only one of me, there were times when I couldn’t really do anything without house ruling it to clear out some tiles for some fresh ones. Other than that, I found the mechanics to be smooth. One of the key differences in this variant is that the Phantom player always has two heroes they are trying to attract, and uses resources from the bank (so to speak) to recruit them. Likewise, there are also a couple building tiles the Phantom player is bidding on, which makes using modifiers necessary in order to get what you want. The Phantom player also has dice you can steal, as well as a mechanic that, at the beginning of each round, it loses a resource die for each modifier it has. So, if you steal lots of dice, the next round won’t have as many dice to steal. In all, I really enjoy the solo mode.

Theme and Mechanics:


As the heroes level up, so does the pixel art, starting at 8 bit, then going to 16 bit, and finally to 32 bit.
The theme is a solid, pixilated look at what a town in any adventure/RPG game might look like. I really love the theme.

The mechanics are hit and miss for me. I really, really like the dual-action system. I think it’s super neat, and it spices things up quite nicely. The use of dice, however, is both wonderful and not. I’m just fine with dice in games, and a lot of my favorite games utilize dice. However, the way dice are used in Hero’s Crossing can make it difficult to accomplish what you need to do in order to acquire heroes and produce resources. Of course, everyone else is in the same struggle, so it’s not like any one person has the advantage. The use of dice stealing is wonderful, and really helps with the relatively low availability of resource dice available to use. It’s a great help to the game. 

The way tiles are acquired is probably my least favorite thing about Kakariko Village. Sorry, Hero’s Crossing. I mean, I like the bidding aspect, but not being able to clear out a row can really slow down the game. But, as I mentioned earlier, a simple house rule can fix this issue quickly, and you’re on your way.

Artwork and Components:



I love the artwork. It’s wonderful pixel art. The box art is also quite lovely. I dig it.

The components are great; no complaints there. The tiles are good quality, the workers actually look pixelated, and the cards look like they’ll hold up nicely. A+.

The Good:



I love the theme. The hero abilities are solid. I dig the pixel meeples. The solo variant is super solid. The dice are tiny and oh-so-cute.

The Bad:



I wish there was an official way to clear out a row of tiles. The use of dice is a double-sided sword, but can be countered through hero abilities and modifiers (you just have to make sure to attract the right heroes). There needed to be a large bag or some sort of insert included for the tiles. Without one, all the tiles ad tokens kind of just get strewn around, making it a bit more difficult for setup.

Final Thoughts:
Even though there are some quirks and minor irritants, I really do like Hero’s Crossing. It’s fun, it’s mid-weight in complexity (although I’d say it leans on the lighter side of things, but still within that mid-range), and has some neat mechanics to go with it. At a gathering of hero towns, it would get along well with Kakariko Village, but I don’t think it would attract as many heroes, if you will. While I enjoy Hero’s Crossing enough, I don’t think it’s one I’ll bring out too frequently, unless I want to play a solo game (which I do like to do more than one might think). It’s fun, but it’s a tad too fiddly for me, with enough dicy-ness to make it hit-and-miss.

Players Who Like:
Players who like city-builders, resource management, and a good dose of video-game theme may want to check out Hero’s Crossing. There’s bidding and dice, too, so if you like those, this one may also be a good choice for you.

Check out Hero's Crossing on:

                  




Benjamin Kocher - Editor and Reviewer

Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He's a certified copyeditor through UC San Diego's Copyediting Extension program. He's a freelance writer and editor, and covers everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Kocherb, and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.

See Benjamin's reviews HERE.
Hero's Crossing Review Hero's Crossing Review Reviewed by Benjamin Kocher on January 14, 2019 Rating: 5

No comments

Sponsor

Ultimate Rush