Kickstarter TableTop Alert: ‘Foe Hunters’

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Foe Hunters
Foe Hunters setup, using prototype cards. Image courtesy Spellforge Games

Join a band of intrepid adventurers as you battle together to defeat evil cultists or a deadly dragon.

At a glance: Foe Hunters is an engaging cooperative deck-building game currently raising funds on Kickstarter. It is designed for 2-6 players and games last about an hour. It is recommended for ages 13 and up, but that’s primarily because of the themes (mostly violence). You can get a copy of the game for a $36 pledge.

They sent me a prototype copy to review.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Components:

  • Six Hero decks with 15-18 cards each
  • Two Foe decks with 40-60 cards each
  • One sixty card City Deck
  • Twenty assorted tokens
  • Thirty (yes, 30!) ten-sided dice

As this is an active Kickstarter campaign, the number of components may change. For example, at launch time it only included four hero decks, but they have already reached a stretch goal to expand that to six. Also, many of the cards in the prototype they sent had incomplete or missing artwork, so it’s hard to comment on the quality of the components, but the cards that did have finished art were quite nice, so there’s no real reason to suspect that the rest won’t be the same quality.

Foe Hunters Berserker Setup
The setup for one character. Image courtesy Spellforge Games.

The prototype did not include any 10-sided die, so I do not know what the ones that will be included with the game will look like.

How to play: To set up the game, each player selects a hero to play and takes the matching deck. After removing the hero card, they shuffle the rest of the deck. Players collectively (or randomly) decide on a foe to face, and again place the foe card face-up, then shuffle the rest of the deck. Finally, the city deck is shuffled.

Players take enough 10-sided die to designate their hit points and point them on their card. (For example, the Dorin Stormblade character starts with 42 hit points, so you would take five die, setting four on 10 and one on 2.) Each player also need another die (you can see quickly why the game comes with so many) to designate their experience points, which they set at 4 initially, and then they draw a single card from their deck.

The foe also needs die set up to indicate its hit points. Four cards are drawn from the city deck and placed face-up on the table.

The rules for the game itself are incredibly simple: someone draws the top card from the foe deck and does what it says. Then, players take turns drawing a card from their deck and playing a single card from their hand. They may then, if they wish, activate a “feat”, or special ability, printed on their hero card. Finally, they may purchase a single card from the city deck, using their experience points as currency.

Foe Hunters Dragon enemy. Image courtesy Spellforge Games.
Foe Hunters Dragon enemy. Image courtesy Spellforge Games.

This repeats–draw a foe card, do what it says, then each hero draws a card, plays a card, activates a feat, and buys a card–until either the foe is defeated or all of the heroes are knocked out.

The verdict: Despite of, or maybe because of, its simple rule set, Foe Hunters is a deceptively deep game. In the early rounds, things can go surprisingly well as the team slowly builds up its force with armor and special weapons, but the foes are extremely hard to beat, and late in the game become quite powerful themselves.

The game also adds some nice surprising twists. For example, the dragon’s foe deck includes competing bands of adventurers who simultaneously help you beat up on the dragon while harming your characters, leaving you with the choice of keeping them around and taking the damage or killing them off and facing the beast alone.

Foe Hunters Paladin Hero
Paladin hero card. Image courtesy Spellforge Games.

The only real downside we found in the game was that it involved a lot of bookkeeping, particularly in the later stages of play. As with many similar games, once you amass a good collection of weapons and armor, it can be hard to remember to apply it all each turn.

But other than that, the game is very fun. My only previous experience with co-op deck building games was the DC Comics Deck Building Game (which almost certainly wins the award for game with the least creative title), and I found Foe Hunters to be ultimately more balanced and more engaging. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the game with the final artwork in place, as that will only enhance the overall quality and experience. And for a game as deep as this, it couldn’t be easier to learn.

For more information on Foe Hunters, check out its Kickstarter page.

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