NOTE: The pictures shown here have more enemies that what come in the box. I bought two sets, so I added some from the second box to make it more challenging.
The next expansion to Lego Games’ Heroica line is finally out in the United Stated. For many of us, it has been a long wait, and many were not expecting it to be released until August. Thankfully, given the neglect the U.S. has been given by LEGO when it comes to the 2012 games released elsewhere in the world, this is a nice toss our way.
Obviously, I am a huge Heroica fan. I have always thoroughly enjoyed the games as they are, even though I have done significant expansions not only in the area of customization of my own boards, but also in the rules. So, how does the addition of Ilrion stack up to the other releases?
Quite well actually for the most part, though some of the rules are a bit fuzzier than usual.
There are quite a few nice pieces in this collection. Especially the microfigs. Per usual, the design on these things are very nice. The King, Prince, and the Sage are all very well done. The Vampire Lord is also quite nice in style and detail. The Zombies are nice as well, but they come off a bit too much like lighter shade goblins.
Many of the parts, such as the trans-clear antenna and the modified 2×2 plates are nice to have on hand for other uses, so buying a few boxes of this set is probably a good idea. The “throne room” for the Vampire Lord contains some nice pieces as well, such as the arch piece. There are two chrome looking microfigure pieces that operate as part of the build that are very nice indeed, and much better than the statue microfigure that is used in Waldurk.
The configuration of the game board that is used for attaching it to the rest of the expansion sets (see picture) is the best layout. Compared to Nathuz and Waldurk, the feel of the board is more sprawling and not quite as redundant in the way it is set up. What this means is that, unless killing everything in the game is the goal, this board actually encourages for all of it to be explored during gameplay. I think this map is superior to Nathuz and Waldurk.
The addition of the Giant Vampire Bat is great, but the rules don’t give much by way of incorporating it and how it can attack the heroes. The rules for combat against it are very well done though. It has its own “monster bar” with four strength, like the heroes “Hero Pack”, and attacking it lasts until all the strength are removed. Winning a round of combat removes a strength from the monster bar, and the hero keeps fighting, but losing a round inflicts damage to the heroes health equal to the number of strength it has at the time it wins a round. If a hero loses the first round, that single combat round can wipe a hero out since its damage would be four.
The Coffins operate as the “trap” for the game. When a hero comes upon a coffin, the hero must roll to see what happens. Certain rolls remove the coffin, or find Gold, but a roll of 2/Skull results in a Vampire Bat in the coffin that must be fought. The official rule makes little sense because normally, when you come upon a trap, you stop and deal with it, here, you must end a move landing on top of it. On the 2/skull roll, you are supposed to place the bat on top of the coffin to fight it, but on the same 2/Skull roll that brings out the bat also has in the rules where the hero is to move back one space. This seemed inconsistent and not well thought out. So the bring out the bat to fight bit is good, but the land on the coffin and then move back one space to fight a bat if it, comes to that, needs to be ignored. The hero should have to end the move in the space before the trap like all the other games, rather than ending the move on it. .
There is a new potion in the game that allows the hero to not receive any damage in a combat round. This is a good potion, and probably most useful against the Vampire Lord or the Giant Vampire Bat. The new relic in the game is the Fang of Fury, but it is not that interesting. It restores 1 health and defeats the monster in combat, but this is weaker than the Staff weapon.
The game as it is officially is a bit easier than Waldurk and Nathuz simply because there are less enemies to fight, mainly because the Vampire Bats can be avoided with the right rolls, and the Giant Vampire Bat has no clear way in the rules to actually be involved in the game, other than simply placing it on the board wherever one wants.
There are two new proper heroes in the game. This is one of the highlights, because whereas Nathuz and Waldurk only introduced one new hero in each of the sets while offering two redundant ones, there is only the Wizard in this set that is redundant from the other games. The new heroes are the Prince and the Sage, with new skills that can be used on Shield rolls. The Prince’s skill is a bit of a reverse from the Knight’s skill. The Knight’s skill is where the Knight could advance two spaces and defeat a monster, whereas the Prince can defeat a monster and then move two spaces. This isn’t all that original or new in the proper sense, so it is a bit of a let down. This is made up for by the Sage’s skill, which is a ranged skill unrelated to combat. His skill is the ability to pick up objects up to four spaces away. This is a nice change. Sadly though, still no female heroes.
There is also the King introduced in this game. One of the points of this game is to free the King (and the internet is a buzz wondering if this means LEGO is done releasing Heroica games…my guess is NO, so settle down and be patient…lol). This is a nice touch, but there are no skills listed for the King, which is unfortunate, and there are no rules for what to do with him or how to move him about once he is rescued. Granted, LEGO tries to be minimalist about rules and encourages inventing your own, but still, some help might be warranted here.
The new enemies such as the Vampire Lord, Zombies, and the Giant Vampire Bat are great additions to the game, but the Vampire Bats for the coffins has that “seen it” feel from Nathuz, and since they are not necessarily involved in the game unless one makes an unfortunate roll, a couple more Zombies would have been nice, or some of those LEGO rats would have been great as well. This is similar to how some variation between the Goblins at Draida and the ones at Fortaan would have been better had they been a bit different. When Lego released the concept art for Heroica a while back, it is not as if they are short on design ideas. But the redundancy of the bats is still a more than a fair trade-off for all the new and varied microfigs introduced in this set. So, one can’t complain too much here, even though it sounds as if I have.
In any case, there seems to have been a lot of criticism here, but overall, this games adds quite a bit that is good to the Heroica Line, and is necessary for the person like me who wants everything Heroica related for the sake of completion. I am very pleased with the game and think it stacks up to the others quite nicely.
The game board!
The design and concept of this expansion!
The Giant Vampire Bat, monster bar and more interesting combat!
The fuzzy rules…
The King’s lack of involvement (and skill) besides being rescued…
The Fang of Fury is a bit underwhelming…
Still no female heroes…