Jamie Noble Frier, also known as The Noble Artist, is a digital artist hailing from Sussex and is now turning his hand to board game design, with his first major foray: Hero Master. I met Jamie at UK Games Expo and he very kindly offered to give me a personal tour through the game as it stood, using Tabletop Simulator. After much time wrangling between the two of us, we finally got it scheduled in and I asked Nathan to join us digitally. The result of this is over two hours of video taken from that playthrough that we need to condense, do a voiceover for and release on our YouTube channel. Video aside, Jamie’s Kickstarter is now up and running and we thought it would be a great time to do a little overview of the game, which in my opinion is well worth buying.
- Number of Players: 2-4
- Approx Playtime: 45-60 mins
- Age advisory: 14+
- Price: £29
- Kickstarter end date: 17th October 2018
- Estimated Delivery: June 2019
- Board Game Geek
- Kickstarter link
You’ve always been picked last for adventuring parties. Maybe your reputation precedes you, or your habit of forgetting which end of the sword is the pointy one. But fortune has smiled upon you! A dragon has nested nearby… This is the perfect opportunity to make some gold and become a respected adventurer!
But as you stir from your daydream, the dust settles in the tavern and you realise that the parties have all left without you again. All that is left are the same vacant faces looking back at you: the flat-footed Rogue who can’t even chew quietly, the Barbarian with less spatial awareness than a short-sighted rhino and the Halfling, well, the Halfling is asleep.
As a party of adventurers, you actually can’t stand each other and as much as you will use each other for support, you will take every opportunity you can to backstab each other, so that you can have all the gold and glory for yourself.
Currently, the game supports four players, each person taking a random race form the selection of Elf, Human, Dwarf and Halfling and a randomised class chosen from Barbarian, Wizard, Priest and Rogue. These get their own set of cards that relate to the race and class, which are then shuffled together to form the individual players’ deck. These decks are made up of Attack and Bungle cards that relate to the relevant race and class. From there the game is played out in this order:
- Pick a location
- Fill the location with monsters, gold and treasure (depicted by the location)
- Party leader picks a monster to fight
- Lay out your attack or bungle another players attack
- Keep playing cards until you all decide you are ready to attack the monster
- Resolve the attacks (Party Leader goes first then clockwise)
- The person who kills the monster gets the gold (if any) and to pick from the treasure
You repeat this until the dragon, (the big end of dungeon boss,) turns up. This declares the final dungeon of the game but it’s a big battle, so prepare yourself.
Attacking, Bungles & Being attacked
When preparing to attack a monster, you need to aim to beat one of their defences with your attack and then get past their armour. You can choose any of the four regular types; regular, fire, ice and spirit but beware as your fellow players may
“accidentally” get in your way by playing one of their bungle cards. If your attack is not equal to or higher than the monsters, then the attack automatically fails but you receive no penalty. However, if your attack is good then roll two D20’s, one for your armour class and one for the monsters. Should you beat the monsters armour class then the monster dies and you get to help yourself to the loot. If the monster hits you then you indeed take damage from the encounter, as listed by the numbers on the card. Should your attack miss at this stage, then you have a chance of being hit by the ambusher if there is one. So you could sustain yet more damage and if you’re not playing a Barbarian, then the damage is not your friend.
One of the other elements pulled in from D&D is the concept of a critical fail. Playing certain attacks or bungles may increase your chances of hitting a critical fail and Hero Master has a bunch of cards dedicated to the critical fail. These can be a hindrance or helpful if you manage to activate one. They add another random element to the game and can cause a pretty critical turning point.
Beating a designer at their own game is something special, but I want to put it out there and say that this did not sway my decision to invest in the game. My mind was actually made up during play. It was the minute that I realised that I can seriously begin to lean into my characters traits. I was playing a Human Barbarian and as soon as I learned to be a bit more reckless and run in there, screaming with an axe as my friend that is where the fun really began. Then the delicious moments of being able to bungle the other players’ plans, watching those bungles come to fruition and see their plan foiled, so that you can step in and grab the loot. It was equally joyful to see Jamie and Nathan play their relevant ploys and witness just how powerful being the party leader can be.
All in all, Hero Master is a great card-based game. Jamie has done a fantastic job; not only is the artwork fantastic, but the theme of the game is strong throughout. The cards provide a lovely tongue-in-cheek humour and sarcastic prods at traditional D&D.
We would like to extend our thanks again to Jamie for letting us play a preview of the game. We wish him all the luck with the Kickstarter. If you want any more information you can check out the Hero Master Facebook page. Send us any feedback on the game, this review, or anything else. Alternatively if you know of a Kickstarter project that we should look at, get in touch via our comments section or contact us over Facebook and Twitter.