The village of Tenefyr is situated in a valley. The valley is surrounded by darkness and a host of evil creatures and monsters. Tenefyr is a shining light in an otherwise dark place. The mountains are riddled with caves and dungeons which play host to “the evil”. But something is stirring, something dark and evil is planning an attack. Will you rise and be the heroes that save Tenefyr?
Heroes of Tenefyr is a one to four-player cooperative deck-building game designed by Pepijn van Loon and published by Broken Mill. You take on the role of a Hero delving into a dungeon. You start rather inexperienced with a weak deck. As you dig deeper and deeper into the dungeon you will face and overcome monsters. The monsters you defeat become part of your deck making you stronger and ultimately taking down the big bad.
As players enter a dungeon they will face off against various enemies. Combat is a push your luck mechanism with you drawing three cards from your deck. The cards drawn will do a set amount of damage and your hand can be discarded to draw another set of three cards. Your deck also represents your health, so when you run out of cards you become exhausted and must leave the dungeon returning to the village to rest. If you are successful in defeating an enemy, you rotate them 180 degrees and place them in your discard pile. You can stay in the dungeon and take on another enemy until you either pull out to rest or are exhausted and forced to rest. If you defeat all the enemies in a dungeon, then you gain a dungeon reward.
Every time you rest (either voluntary or forced) time advances one or two spaces. When the boss reaches the end of the track you have to fight it. There are four boss "levels" that you will need to defeat to win the game. Each of these boss levels will have a different amount of hit points and a special ability that triggers. Defeat all four boss levels and you win.
When I think of deck builders I think of a hand of cards, a market and using these cards to purchase things from the market. Cards can then be used to perform actions, deal damage to an enemy etc, etc. Heroes of Tenefyr turns the deck-building mechanism on its head. There is no central market to purchase cards from, instead the enemies you defeat become part of your deck. This creates some interesting gameplay elements that I really enjoy.
Combat in itself is a fun mechanism that creates tension and tough choices. When you draw your first three cards you need to weigh up if they are going to deal enough damage (in combination with your fellow heroes) or if you need to discard them and draw another set. But the more you discard the more you are burning through your deck/health. I really love the double use of your deck as your damage and your health and pushing your luck for just one more draw, again and again, is a tough choice, especially if you need just one more damage. Before long you have burned through most of your deck, and you are almost exhausted. But you have defeated that one great enemy that you really want to add to your deck.
Who Deals The Killing Blow
The other interesting aspect of combat is the hero who deals with the killing blow is the one that adds the card to their discard pile. Some of the cards have abilities that trigger if they are in a certain deck (e.g. Bard or Thief) so not only are you trying to juggle your damage output and your health but there is a timing element to the combat as well. If there is a particularly juicy ability that triggers if you are the Bard, you want to make sure the Bard deals the final blow.
On top of the push your luck goodness with the actual combat, there is the additional factor of do you stay in the dungeon and try to defeat another enemy or retreat, rest, shuffle your deck and go back in. You are incentivised to stay in as every time you rest the boss advances closer and closer. You need to be efficient and effective with your time but if you push your luck too much and are forced to rest then the boss advances two spaces, further hastening your doom.
Push, Push And Push
Everything about Heroes of Tenefyr pushes you towards taking risks, risks with additional card draws and risks with staying in the dungeon. These risks can sometimes pay off but take them too often and push your luck too far and you are, eventually, going to run into trouble. But the really exciting part of the game is how far can you push your luck and how much are you going to play safe or take those calculated risks. It really is a wonderful system.
Overall, everything about the Heroes of Tenefyr appeals to me. It is great as a coop game, works just as well as a solo game (controlling multiple characters) and plays relatively quickly. There are some tense moments and interesting choices to make. I like the multi-use cards for the enemies that you then add to your deck. It is also a challenge. The game can be tough and more often than not I make it to the big bad boss at the end, but ultimately end up being defeated. Despite this, I still want to delve back in and pick up the fight again. I will one day defeat you Dark Lord.