Hero: Tales of the Tome is a fast paced, deck-building game, which pitches 2-5 players against each other in a battle to see who will be the last Hero standing. But when the dust settled and the victor was crowned, was Hero: Tales of the Tomes a ballad for the ages? Or a text that was going to gather dust on our shelf?
Tome As Old As Time…
Hero: Tales of the Tome has one of the most unique storage boxes that we own. The cards and all the game components store neatly in a beautiful, thematic box, which is modelled around an old style, leather bound book. I also loved that the box has a magnetic closure, meaning your cards are stored safely, without the worry of them falling out when you lift the game out to play. A slightly deeper box would have made the storage perfect, as it is a snug fit for sleeved cards, however the consideration given to how this game looks on the shelf given it a touch of timeless beauty.
I am a magpie. No, I’m not talking about football teams, I mean my love for shiny things - glitter, sparkle, anything that catches my eye. The Hero cards in this game have a beautiful, holographic appearance on the back which really is stunning. Your Hero is the main component to this game as it structures how you build your deck in order to win and I feel that the shiny, holographic backs to the Hero cards really make them the centerpiece of your game board. That being said, make sure to use a card holder if you have one, to really be able to show it off!
Luck Of The Draw
Some deck building games can be expensive. You build a deck, but need to spend money optimising and upgrading it. Before you know it, you have an incredible, playable deck, but you’re also heavily out of pocket. Hero: Tales of the Tomes is a welcome exception. All the cards that you need are contained within the box, meaning you can save your hard earned cash for other things (more games perhaps?!). The game deck is shared amongst players, meaning everyone has an equal chance to build a great deck and win with their Hero. Of course, this means that some draws may not benefit you or your Hero’s play style/win condition, however, it does then stop your opponents from having those cards in their hands, thwarting their Hero’s path to victory mwahahaha!
Companions Be Crazy
Companions are cards which help your Hero in their path to victory by attacking the other Heroes and their companions, or by defending your Hero from your rivals. Any companion can attack, but then those same companions can also go on to defend your Hero at the end of your turn, even if they attacked… This was a mechanic which had us all questioning the need for the “select defenders” step during our games. If all attacking companions can also defend, well then surely all companions would then be selected by a player to defend their Hero at the end of their turn? This rule/phase didn’t really make sense to us as players, making this part of a player’s turn feel obsolete. Whilst it didn’t affect overall gameplay, it was hard not to ruminate on this annoyance during the rounds.
As with any good game, your Hero gets to level up - every round! This unlocks additional abilities for your Hero and improves things like their strength, armour and mana value (which is needed to cast better and more game changing spells). I felt that this mechanic was a great way to give the game balance and made it harder for players to completely outpace each other during rounds. I also loved how this added to the variety of play styles offered by the individual Heroes. On even levels, players had the choice between two fantastic abilities for their Hero, giving them a way to tailor their Hero’s strengths towards the cards they had in hand. For me, this was a great way for players to positively affect their game, regardless of the random draws from the shared deck.
My House, My Rules?
In the game rules, the game designer allows (and encourages) the use of “House Rules” for improved gameplay and player enjoyment. I really liked this touch as it made us as players feel empowered to optimise the game for the group, for example, changing the difficulty when we became more familiar with the game or ironing out a rule which was maybe unclear. Our “House Rule” - we opted to prevent companions who had attacked on a turn from also being allowed to defend a player’s Hero, making the “select defenders” step feel more necessary and making combat decisions more impactful.
Hero: Tales of the Tomes is a brilliant, quick fire, deck building game with beautiful artwork and a storage box to match. Whilst the shared deck makes player draws and subsequently the building of your deck random, once per round level ups allowed all players an even chance to improve their Hero and swing in for victory! Although some of the game rules raised our eyebrows when it came to their validity, the ability to make slight adjustments to these ourselves in the form of “House Rules” has kept Hero: Tales of the Tomes a favourite in our house for a quick, out of the box, winner takes all game!