Hero Mages Review

I would never have heard of this game if one of the creators hadn’t been in line behind me at the Magic party at PAX. That would be a shame. I’m already addicted to this turn-based fantasy combat game.

Hero Mages is a digital board game available on iOS and Android, as well as playable in-browser on any computer that can run a modern browser.  Each player chooses three characters to be their team for the match. One Mage and two Guardians, with no duplicates allowed. Gameplay takes place on a grid with characters moving and attacking much like Dungeons and Dragons.

Characters have a move action and an attack action, with some having other actions that may take the attack slot. Combat is resolved by rolling a number of d20s equal to the character’s strength stat and comparing the results to the defender’s armor score. Each die over the armor deal one wound.

Now, the Warmachine-esque part of the game is that the goal is to kill the opponent’s mage, who functions much like the Warcaster in Warmachine. They have the standard move and attack actions, but they can also cast spells, as many spells as they have mana to cast with. These spells range from the standard area damage to magical barricades and summoning more units to the field. Spells currently available are represented by a hand of cards that are drawn from a deck determined by which units you take into battle. That’s the Magic: the Gathering-esque aspect of the game.

Games tend to be quick, but no less tactical for the short amount of turns they may take. It was designed to play quick and lethal and it shows. Maneuvering is key to set up those big turns to finish off the enemy mage. It’s quite a bit of fun. I almost wish there was a tabletop version of this. Well, ok, I do wish there was a table top version because it feels like it would be at home on my kitchen table, and I want a tabletop version of pretty much everything.

At this point I would like to point out that Heromages does take advantage of being a turn-based game in the digital medium. It’s free to play with additional unit packs available for purchase. I’ve played against the expansion packs units and I can say that they aren’t Pay to Win. They seem on par with the free units — different, not better. The game also allows for asynchronous play across multiple platforms. That means that you could start a game while checking your email at home, continue the game on your iphone-enabled bus ride to work, and claim victory over your lunch break.

As of this writing I am waiting on my opponent’s moves in three games, and thinking I’ll start another. Anyone interested? I’m ggodo, and I’d love to play a game.