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Heroes of Graxia - A review by Nigel Buckle

This card game is marketed as a deck building game – I think this is a little misleading, but it certainly has elements that should appeal to players of trading card games (in particular Magic the Gathering).

I won’t repeat the rules or go into too many game play specifics; you can read the manual here:

You each play a hero (6 different, all with unique abilities) but everyone shares a common card pool to obtain cards for your playdeck as the game progresses. Unlike other deckbuilding games you do not randomise the available cards in stacks with a subset available for each game. Rather you divide the cards into 4 types – monsters, units, spells, equipment and randomise those, then during the game 4 cards of each type are always available and you select from just those. This makes setup and put away a breeze, unlike other games of this type where you have to sort the cards into individual stacks.

In Heroes of Graxia you have 2 actions in a turn, and during your turn you can buy as many cards as you can afford (into your discard pile), then discard any remaining cards, and then draw a new hand.

You win by having the most victory points – these are gained from defeating monsters and also from killing your opponents units.

Unlike other deck building games, this feels more like a Rochester draft, you have not got unlimited access to all the card types, rather you can pick from the ones available at the start of your turn. This means you have to adapt your game as you play, rather than work out how you are going to build your deck for this game and then do it.

This game has significant player interaction – the game actively encourages you to attack your opponents through the way victory points are collected and the bonuses to player vs player combat many items and spells give.

There is a definite learning curve, the temptation is to buy as many cards as you can afford each turn, but I suspect this is sub-optimal play, unless they are all cards that give you victory points. There is currently no way to remove cards from your deck – defeated units go to your discard pile, but there is one spell that allows you to steal a spell from your opponent as they cast it.

I like it, but the game is not perfect. You will find yourself adding up attack and defence numbers all the time, are you strong enough to kill that monster, how much damage will it do to you, what values your opponents have, how the spells and mercenaries in your hand will alter combat. This can get bit tiresome, especially as the values get large in the mid to end game, and asking your opponent what their values are is a signal you are considering attacking sometime soon. Possibly this can be overcome with a player aid tracking the values for each player and updated each turn. Multiplayer can be vicious, and players need to be careful they are not setting up an opponent to win, for example you attack one opponent leaving yourself damaged and weak to an attack from a 3rd. To stop ganging up each player can only be attacked once per round, once you have your turn you are then eligible to be attacked again – this means if you are badly damaged by an attack you may not have enough cards/actions to fully recover leaving you vulnerable to another attack by a different player. The game requires the players to ensure they don’t help another player too much.

The game is very portable and the art work although not spectacular is perfectly servicable and helps the theme. You get 6 plastic figures, each representing one of the heroes in the game, but they are totally superflous to the game.

Overall, it is a game that will stay in my collection and I expect to see being played regularly. If your gaming tastes include Magic the Gathering or similar CCGs, and are looking for a non-collectable card game with a strong drafting mechanic and don’t mind adding up values repeatedly during a game I’d recommend this one.

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