Friday, December 27, 2013

Board Game: Hirelings: The Ascent

The Game: Hirelings: The Ascent
The Publisher: Prolific Games
Time: 20-30 minutes
Players: Me, Will, Al, +Sarah Dyer+Michelle Lyons-McFarland

So, the premise of the game is promising enough. The players are the henchman/hirelings of dungeon delvers, and we all made it to the lair of the dragon Rovert (which is "Trevor" spelled backwards, but if there's a reference I don't get it). The heroes got torched, so now we're all in a mad scramble back out of the dungeon. There are monsters in the way, and, in an interesting twist, a fireball chasing us.

Game Play: In practice, every turn you choose to draw a card (in game context, pull something out of your backpack). It'll either add to your move or help you evade a monster. You don't have to draw cards, though. Then you roll a d6 for your movement, and if you land on a space with a player, you steal something from their backpack. If you come across a monster square, you have to roll a d8 against a target number (listed on the board) to evade it, otherwise you stop and go again next turn. If you land on the monster square and evade it, you get to move again.

There are a few special areas on the board with some cute flavor text, but mostly it boils down to "make the d8 roll or stay here an extra turn or two."

Now, the fireball I mentioned. It starts after you four turns into the game, and moves a d6 per turn. If it catches you, you can spend a card to stay ahead of you, but that won't help long-term. If you get caught by the fireball and you can't spend a card, you're out. First one out of the dungeon wins!

All that extra stuff is the drawing and arty stuff Sarah and Will do while gaming.
Opinions: So, this is a kid's game, meant for ages 7 and up. Thing is, it's entirely random. You could argue that there's some strategy in when to spend cards, but not really, because you can't ever predict if the card is going to help you move or help you evade monsters, and that's all the cards do. Also, if the fireball catches you, you're done. In our game, Will made it out alive, but everyone else got torched.

This might be a kid's game, but it's on the same game strata as Candyland. That is, you don't really need any other players, because with one exception (landing on someone else), nothing you do affects other players, you have no control over what happens to you in game, and there's no strategy involved. The flavor text is cute, the artwork is neat, and the premise is awesome, but the execution really falls down.

Keep? I might play it with Teagan and Cael once, but after that, no.