Turn Your Family Into NPCs With Hirelings: The Ascent

Geek Culture Kickstarter

Last August I spotlighted a Kickstarter from Minneapolis-based independent design studio Prolific Games. Prolific was looking for a little community support to help print a second edition of their lighthearted tabletop title Flapjacks & Sasquatches. The internet stepped up, and the new and improved Flapjacks & Sasquatches with a Side of Bacon is now a reality.

I enjoyed the original version, and this updated second-generation game does not disappoint. Thus, when John Harris – Prolific Games’ self-described Lord of All He Surveys (Mid-West Division) – contacted me about another Kickstarter, I was more than willing to check it out.

Hirelings: The Ascent is a different kind of family gaming experience. Rather than focus on the brave and steadfast heroes of traditional fantasy lore, Hirelings picks up where those other tales leaves off; after these brave adventurers suffer a grisly, crispy death at the hands of a great dragon, players find themselves in the roles of the remaining hapless lackeys. Less a bold grab for fortune or glory and more a frantic race back to the cave’s entrance, Hirelings: The Ascent is an enchanting mash-up of Dungeons & Dragons and Candy Land.

Rather than combat, the game focuses exclusively on movement. From the starting point (the dragon’s lair), players roll a single D6 in turn and proceed the appropriate number of spaces. Rolls can be supplemented by buffs played from a blind deck of eight cards, but this deck is difficult to supplement so these options are both random and sorely limited. In addition to movement cards the deck also contains evade buffs which come into play when players happen across a waiting monster. Evasion encounters are settled with the roll of a D8 plus by any relevant in-play card bonus.

There are additional minor mechanics – such as the ability to steal an opponent’s cards and an optional rule concerning a pursuing fireball – but the true beauty of Hirelings is in its simplicity. If your geeklings can do basic addition and understand the concept of taking a longer but safer route versus a shorter but more challenging one, Hirelings: The Ascent is truly a game for the entire family.

You too can get in on this epic dungeon crawl escape by contributing to Prolific’s latest Kickstarter. With exclusive cards, bonus characters and promotional tees available for both kids and adults, the incentive rewards look to be as fun as the game itself. Check out the Kickstarter video:

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