Rent A Hero is a simple bluffing and strategy game in which players are competing to recruit six very unique heroes. It is pretty much a revamp of 7th Hero with Disney-esque illustrations. If you enjoy games such as; Hoax, Coup and even Sushi Go! then you’ll want to add this game to your collection.
The deck has a total of 77 cards of which contents are 11 sets of numbered heroes through 1 - 7. This is great as you only need 6 in your Band of Heroes to win, making gameplay a bit more diverse as you’re not all scrambling for the same six heroes.
Each player starts Rent a Hero (designed by Yasushi Kuroda) with two heroes ready in their band, if a player has two of the same hero then they need to discard one and keep drawing a new one until they have two unique heroes in their Band of Heroes. Players then get five cards from the deck and put the remaining on the side to draw.
Good to know: During an active player’s turn, the hero that they play face-down is known as the vagabond for the duration of the round, card abilities refer the vagabond in their text.
Gameplay is very simple, the acting player will turn the top card of the deck over onto the discard pile. They then need to look at the requirement for the vagabond they will play in the bottom right corner of the discarded card, look at their hand and play a vagabond card face-down that meets this requirement, this then gets passed to the next player. In the image below you can see that the requirement is equal to the number of players (three in this example) or lower.
The acting player must play a vagabond from their hand face-down that has the number one, two or three in the top left corner. At times you will find that you don’t have a card that meets the requirement. If this is the case for you then you will need to discard a card, draw a card from the deck, look at it and pass it on to the player to the left.
Amy’s Top Tip: It is so important to keep track of what everyone has in front of them. You really don’t want to help your opponents by giving them a vagabond that they haven’t recruited yet, although, this can’t be helped in most cases.
The receiving player will then choose one of the following:
Recruit the vagabond and put it face up in their Band of Heroes
The player flips the hero face-up and if they do not have the Hero currently, it becomes part of their Band of Heroes. However, if they already had that Hero then both get discarded in the eliminated heroes pile.
Pass it on to the next player
Without looking at the vagabond, the player can weigh up the options of whether it’s a card they need or one they currently have. They can then pass this on to the player to the left if they don’t want to risk it or know it’s a card they don’t need.
Ask for a clue
By putting a card face-down and sliding it to the active player asking “Is it this card”. They then get a yes or no answer. This must remain secret from other players. You can use as many cards as clues, so long as you have at least two cards in your hand - you cannot use your last card.
Activate a card's ability
Activating a card's ability can be done outside of your turn, which is helpful to know! You may only use abilities from cards in your Band of Heroes in front of you. You may want to use a card's ability. For example you could activate the Sergeant to look at the vagabond if you don’t want to use your cards for clues. By activating a card you must exhaust it by rotating it 90 degrees. These do not refresh, you may activate the Witch to refresh a card, this does not refresh the Witch also.
Amy’s Top Tip: Always look at other players' Band of Heroes before deciding on recruiting. It will be a telling sign as to whether the vagabond is something the acting player wants to come back to them to recruit or, a vagabond they want you to recruit to clash with one you currently have which eliminates both of those heroes.
If the vagabond makes it around the table back to the active player, then they must recruit the vagabond. If it is a hero they do not have, add it to their Band of Heroes. If they already have this hero then both must be eliminated. Once the vagabond is recruited, the active player is now the next player to the left. This continues until a player has recruited their sixth Hero, the game immediately ends and victory shall be claimed!
At times the draw pile can run out before a sixth hero has been recruited, in this case the player with the most heroes wins the game. If there is a tie, the player with the least amount of eliminated heroes wins the game.
Thoughts on Rent a Hero
Rent A Hero was illustrated by Biboun, a well-known artist (especially to you Dice Forge fans!). Absolutely hands down, this game has stunning artwork which really adds to the theme of fantasy and heroic quests. I had some nostalgic feelings flood back to me as they look similar to animated films I grew up watching. The array of colours really help distinguish cards from another which helps massively when you’re new to the game! The rulebook is also laid out well, it’s small and has illustrations throughout which breaks the read up a bit.
Rent A Hero is unique, due to the fact that your hand of cards may not necessarily help you in your quest of recruiting. There is no guarantee that the Wizard or Witch in your hand you so desperately need will end up in your Band of Heroes!
At first the rules were slightly difficult to understand, this may be because I haven’t played many games with the same mechanics.… the only similar one I can think of that I personally have played, is Sushi Go! A game which you pass cards to the next player, taking one for yourself and building up your Sushi plate. After a few turns, the whole group got into a flow and were strategising as if their life depended on it.
Rent A Hero is best played with four or more players, we have played with three players but felt the attacks from card abilities were far more personal. Regarding ages, we played with our 10-year-old (at the time of playing) step-son Owain - he got the hang of the game after a few turns and he enjoyed it thoroughly. This game is pretty accessible for families and is a good gateway to the bluffing mechanic! Owain rates Rent A Hero 7 out of 10!
If you’re after a game with depth then this is not the game to satisfy that need. I personally prefer games that have a lot of depth. However, I found that Rent A Hero is a great “starter” for game night. If you’re looking for a game that is quick, easy to play, has replay-ability and gorgeous artwork then you may want to put this on your wishlist at Zatu!