Power Rangers: heroes of the Grid is a one to five player cooperative game. You play as a ‘teenager with attitude’, granted spandex suits and super powers to combat the forces of evil. Players must display spectacular teamwork to defeat the evil Rita Repulsa and her monster army. Suffer too many defeats and the city of Angel Grove will become overrun and panicked. Is this a flash of 90’s nostalgia, or is there a fantastic game waiting to be explored? Only one way to find out, IT’S MORPHIN TIME!
Setup & Gameplay
Players begin the game by selecting one of the rangers to represent them. Each ranger has their own combat deck of ten cards. These act as both their health and the type of attacks the ranger can use during combat. The ranger will become exhausted when no cards remain in their deck (for any reason). Becoming exhausted too many times will cause the players to lose the game.
Enemy spawn through use of a separate deployment deck. Deal five cards from this, which will show which areas the foot soldiers, monsters and boss will spawn in. Any area with too many enemies will become panicked, moving any remaining spawns to the next area. The rangers will lose immediately if all four locations become panicked.
Players can take one of three possible actions, and may take their actions in any order. ‘Move’ allows a ranger to teleport to any location on the map. Moving to the Command Centre will also allow the player to recover cards back into their deck. Moving to an outer location will allow players to enter combat. Taking an ‘Attack’ action allows the player and any allies in the area to enter combat with a group of enemies.
Combat relies on a series of attack decks. Players deal one card at a time for each foot soldier in the area, up to a maximum of four cards. Enemy cards may also have abilities. Fast cards dictate whether the enemy or rangers will get the first turn, and push to the front of the combat line. Passive cards often provide a static effect on the board that augments the way combat works. Finally, Guard cards stop the rangers from combating adjacent cards with their attacks. Then, deal four cards for any monster in the area in the same manner. The enemy team will take the first turn of combat if any Fast cards appeared. Otherwise, the rangers take the first turn.
In an enemy turn, rotate the first card in the combat line and then activate its effect. Damage is dealt to any ranger of the player's choice in the combat, unless specified by the card. Each ranger card also has a number of shields icons on it. When damaged, a ranger flips cards from their deck until they flip enough shields to stop the attack. If they cannot and their deck runs out, they return to the Command Centre and take no further part in that attack. A player may also take the final action, ‘Recover’; to put up to six shield’s worth of cards back into their decks.
Each enemy card also has its own health value. If the power rangers deal damage equal to or greater than its health, the enemy card flips over. This enemy card no longer has an effect, and gives the rangers a small reprieve. Defeat enough enemy cards, and you can remove that many figures from the area. Monsters and Bosses are harder to defeat. You must defeat four of a Monster's cards to remove it from play, and six cards for the final Boss.
The rangers will take a turn between every enemy card, with any ranger playing a card from their hand. Attack cards allow the rangers to deal damage to their adversaries. Maneuver cards grant energy to pay for later cards, as well as providing useful abilities. Finally, Reaction cards activate when a certain trigger is met, such as when taking damage. Card play alternates between the rangers and enemies, resolving one card at a time. Combat ends once all rangers in the combat are incapacitated, or all enemy cards are defeated.
The rangers win once they defeat six of the Boss’s combat cards. The power rangers will lose if all four locations become panicked, or if any of the rangers' decks empty when there are no energy tokens in the Command Centre.
Heroes of the Grid offers a good dose of nostalgia for those who grew up with the Power Rangers franchise. There are a lot of familiar faces drawn from the source material, as well are the more recent comic books. The blend of bright colours and over-sized miniatures makes the game pop. This is especially true if you include the optional Megazord and Cyclopsis minis.
Gameplay offers a co-operative puzzle that works best at the full five player count, but is workable at three and four players. The combat system feels fresh, and the combat line gives you a great way to anticipate danger. Guard cards are a suitable nuisance, and Fast cards keep you on your toes. You'll never know 100% where you stand, which keeps you from the doldrums of an expected and clean finish.
The rangers also offer their own unique mechanics, making them diverse in how they play. The blue power ranger focuses on defence, with cards that trigger when he takes damage. Pink has cards that ignore the Guard keyword, letting them snipe off a pesky card before it resolves. Even the 'DPS' style yellow and black rangers have different methods of dealing damage. Finally, red's ties the whole team together by adding combat dice and re-rolling to the mix.
Each Ranger also shares a single card that has the potential to wipe out entire combat lines if set up. This is fantastic from a victory perspective, though I felt that this pulled me away from the rangers’ uniqueness somewhat. Sometimes decisions boiled down to amassing lots of energy and then playing one card, instead of using the rangers' traits. A small nitpick, but one that hasn't persisted in other ranger teams such as those in Shattered Grid.
Components are of a relatively high standard. The Power rangers miniatures are each cast in a different colour of plastic, in a departure from the drab greys of most miniature games. They’re so easy to differentiate on the tabletop already that painting isn't required. The monsters could use some paint, but even a shade coat will have a massive impact. The casting is a little shallow in places, but the effect the minis give off is ideal for their purpose. The location boards are thick and durable, and the cards show no shuffle wear after several plays.
If the game has a weakness, then it would be in its delivery. The retail version does feel a little stripped out. With only six combinations of monsters and a single boss, I don’t see a lot of replay-ability in the box. For an £85 RRP game, that can be devastating. Fortunately, there are plenty of expansions to improve replay-ability, especially the Villain Pack. This is an inexpensive way to add more to your game, but then you really need to justify the £100+ cost.
Power Rangers is a fun nostalgia romp, and the gameplay holds up with multiple ways to change up the gameplay if you’re willing to invest. I don’t think this is one that will replace my Co-operative mainstays like Spirit Island or Aeon’s End. However, it’s by no means a bad title. Fans of the series will love the call backs and attention to detail in the design. Fans of Co-operative games will appreciate the thrill of the puzzle. If you see this on a game table I’d suggest giving it a try. Unless you’re funding the Kickstarter Edition of the game, prepare to invest in expansions down the road.