Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of Heroes Welcome by Monkey Jump Games & Pencil First Games

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of Heroes Welcome by Monkey Jump Games & Pencil First Games
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Title: Heroes Welcome
Designed by: Marc LeBlanc, Eduardo Baraf
Publisher: Monkey Jump Games & Pencil First Games
Year Published: 2019
MSRP: $50
2-5p | 60-90 min | 10+

Heroes Welcome is a worker placement game with a couple of unique twists.  Mechanically, it's worker placement, however everyone controls the same worker!  Thematically, it's a great twist on a traditional dungeon crawler.  I've seen tons of games where you are the hero fighting monsters to collect treasure, quite a few where you're monsters fighting off the heroes, and even a few where you're the heroes bragging about your adventures.  But in Heroes Welcome you are the merchants in the town, buying and trading for the treasures the heroes bring back from their adventures, selling them new supplies, and crafting magical weapons that you'll supply the dungeon dwelling monsters with!  Yup, you're working both sides of the war.

Blooms are the game's highlights and features.  Elements that are exceptional.
  • The theme is outstanding!  I love the thought of merchants playing both sides and profiting from the ongoing war between the monsters and heroes.
  • Gameplay is super smooth.  Turns are fast and the game just clips along.
  • The worker placement mechanic where all players share one worker is pretty interesting.  Essentially it's the same as everyone having their own workers and each location having only one worker slot, but the mechanic of moving the heroes around town and having to travel along the roads adds some great decisions.
  • The thematic flavor added by the way weapons are named was quite fun!
  • I really love the round-end mechanic, where anyone can declare the round over and then other players can bribe the round-ender to let the round continue.
Buds are interesting parts of the game I would like to explore more. 
  • The crafting mechanic was very basic, good for keeping the game moving efficiently, but it felt like it simplified the thematic immersion.
  • There is a small expansion available that adds some variety to the monsters you'll meet and the interesting kickbacks.
  • The game is pretty tight in everything from managing resources, to action choices later in the round, to scoring points.  Efficiency is highly rewarded. 
Thorns are a game's shortcomings and any issues I feel are noteworthy.
  • Without the expansion the game could get somewhat repetitive.
  • The last round feels a bit anticlimactic since it can go for another turn or two after the last item is crafted.  There aren't really many ways to add any additional points, but acquiring resources adds a little, so people don't want to end the game until they squeeze out those last couple of points.  They're not enough to make up for missing out on the last few items to craft though.
Final Thoughts:
Heroes Welcome made the number 8 spot on my Top New-To-Me Games of 2019 list last year.  I liked just about everything about the game, except the very end, which felt a little anticlimactic.  A couple of additional ways to score some points after the final items have been crafted or secret goals could go a long way toward making the end of the game a little more exciting.   Overall though, this is a very fun game with a great theme and some interesting player interactions.  I'm looking forward to more plays of this!

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Rating:
Bloom!  This game is great and worth
adding to your collection!  It should be
on just about every gamer's shelf. 


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GJJ Games Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some were provided by a publisher or designer for my honest feedback and evaluation.  I make every attempt to be both honest and constructively critical in my reviews, and they are all my opinions.  There are four types of reviews on GJJ Games: Full Reviews feature critical reviews based on a rubric and games receive a rating from 0 to 100.  Quick Reviews and Kickstarter Previews are either shorter reviews of published games or detailed preview reviews of crowdfunding games that will receive a rating from 0 to 10 based on my impressions of the game.  Buds, Blooms,and Thorns reviews are shorter reviews of either published or upcoming games that highlight three aspects of a game: Buds are parts of a game I look forward to exploring more, Blooms are outstanding features of a game, and Thorns are shortcomings of a game.  Each BBT review game will receive an overall rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.

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