Here to Slay (@UnstbleUnicrns) – The strategic RPG card game that’s beautifully illustrated & quick-to-play but difficult to read

I DON’T EXACTLY REMEMBER WHY I ORDERED HERE TO SLAY. I think I saw a review around the time the Kickstarter campaign started. I pledged for the $39 Kickstater Exclusive + Expansions level. I’m glad I did because this quick-play RPG-based card game is fun to play and makes a good addition to the family game collection even while it can be challenging on the eyes.

Here to Slay is a “strategic RPG card game” for 1-6 players. Basically, each player has a Party Leader with a special power. On your turn, you can play up to three Action Points to Draw cards, play a Hero, Item, or Magic card, Attack a Monster, or Discard your hand. The quick game (30-60 minutes) ends when one player has either slayed three monsters or has built a party with at least six different Classes of Heroes.

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Courtesy Here to Slay Kickstarter

By far the most appealing aspect of Here to Slay is the artwork on the cards. Fun and whimsical but also dark and foreboding when necessary. The artwork keeps Here to Slay from devolving into a depressing game as the key features of play are plenty of ‘take that” between players and slaying monsters (which aren’t slayed as much as they are recruited into your party to use their special power). The other strength of the game is the quick play; rules are very light and uncomplicated. Our first game of three players took, with rules explanation, just under one hour. We all agreed that future games will surely go much faster, maybe as short as 30 minutes even for three players.

Here to Slay is not a perfect game. First, you need to make sure you play this game understanding that ‘take that’ is the rule, not the exception. Here to Slay is built upon Challenging other players and stealing or destroying Heroes or Items. In a three-player game it’s very easy for one player to feel beat upon by the others. This is not to say the ‘take that’ element of Here to Slay is necessarily a negative; instead it must be recognized for what is is – an essential element of the game design that not all may enjoy.

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My second quibble with Here to Slay may be more from my age but I don’t think even the youngsters these days would disagree. While the artwork in Here to Slay is incredible, the layout of the cards creates challenges in play. Specifically, the size and font used of the cards. It appears to me that in their quest to show off the art, Unstable Unicorns reduced text size to the point the thin font used is difficult to read unless you have the card literally in front of you. Reading a card across the table becomes challenging if not outright impossible. Although there is some graphical symbology used, it too is smaller in size and helpful, but not helpful at the same time.

Here to Slay will take its place in the RockyMountainNavy Family Game Collection alongside where Quarriors (WizKids) sits. Both games are light fantasy with cards and plenty of ‘take that.’ Both are relatively quick playing (less than 60 minutes) and can be ‘long fillers’ or part of a multi-play game night. Of the two, Here to Slay is far more portable so maybe it will be a travel game too.


Feature image courtesy Here to Slay Kickstarter campaign

Old Lore – #BattleLore (Days of Wonder, 2006)

The RockyMountainNavy Family Game Night game this week was BattleLore (Days of Wonder, 2006). This is the first edition of the game and not the more recent Fantasy Flight Games second edition. Our game this week was generally good although I made a few errors during the evening. Playing BattleLore has rekindled my interest in the game and it deserves more table time.

In the RMN family, we usually end up playing a 3-player event. This makes it harder than it should to find a good game because many games are either 2-player or a multiple thereof (i.e. 4-players, etc.).  The Birth of America-series from Academy Games (1754 -Conquest: The French & Indian War, 1775 – Rebellion: The American Revolution, 1812: The Invasion of America) work well because they are 4-player games that also work at 2-players or – best for us – 3-players.

I own BattleLore: Epic BattleLore (DoW, 2007) that I thought would give me a scenario using the multiple boards that is suitable for 3-players. Using the extra board, it is possible to make a layout that is six-sectors wide that allows multiple commanders to play one side. But when I looked for an adventure (scenario) that used this map configuration there was none in the booklet. As the RMN Boys were already at the table and itching to play, I went ahead and laid out an adventure from the booklet that used a single army and an epic-scale 3-sector map. I asked the Boys to share command and they (reluctantly) agreed.

Wrong choice on my part.

Asking the Boys to “share” command of a single army spread over three sectors did not work. I thought about using a variation of the 4-player Reluctant Allies in Epic BattleLore but decided it would be unfair in a 3-player set-up. The Boys ended up bickering a fair bit (more than their usual friendly banter) and I could see the frustration growing in Middle RMN as his younger brother outright refused at times to work together. The Boys ended up winning, 7 banners to 5, but it was not a really fun game.

I apologized to Middle RMN about my choices going into the game and he was a good sport. I think he and I are OK but I don’t want to be his brother on the other side of a future battle because I sense there will be no mercy given!

All that said, the game night was not a total disaster. Having not played BattleLore in a long time (my last previously recorded play was in 2010!) and putting aside the command issues we enjoyed it. The addition of Lore and Creatures and the Goblin or Dwarf units – each with advantages and disadvantages – makes for an interesting game. The game is not without its challenges; soft sculpts and lack of good player aids detract a bit, but should not be showstoppers to enjoyment. I also think that the Boys are much more able to handle all that BattleLore brings to the table now that they are more experienced gamers. The last time we played Youngest RMN was a wee 6-years old and Middle RMN, my Austism Spectrum hero, was 12.

In addition to the core set and the previously mentioned Epic BattleLore expansion, I also own Call to Arms, the Dwarven Battalion Specialist Pack, and the Goblin Skirmishers Specialist Pack. Between all these expansions I “should” be able to come up with good adventures for 3-players, especially using the Call to Arms system. Although fantasy is not my go-to genre for gaming, I sense that BattleLore may actually fit many of our Family Game Night needs. BattleLore will find itself on the gaming table again, but not before I thoroughly reread the rules and make considered decisions on adventure design and balance.