Superheroes need all sorts of gear: vehicles, costumes, gadgets, and probably a secret base. And where do they get all those things? From HeroTec, your friendly neighborhood superhero supplier.
What Is HeroTec?
HeroTec is a game for 2 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 20-40 minutes to play. (There is an expansion to extend the game to 3–4 players, and solo rules in the works.) It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $10 for a copy of the game. The gameplay is pretty easy to pick up and there isn’t anything inappropriate for kids, so I think the 10+ rating seems about right.
Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality. The wallet will be screenprinted, of course, instead of a sticker on the wallet.
HeroTec is one of Button Shy’s wallet games, so it’s a micro game that has 18 cards in a small vinyl “wallet,” which folds in half and has pockets for cards on either side. The expansion adds 6 more cards. You’ll need to provide up to 16 coins or tokens; the deluxe version will have custom tokens (but of course those don’t fit in the wallet).
The artwork shows various gadgets, lairs, vehicles, and costume parts, and each card also has three resource tiers along the left side of the card, and a special ability on the bottom. The cards are fairly easy to understand, though the build cost (just above the special ability) is a little small and could be a little larger. One other issue is that if you place the resource tokens on the resource levels, you can’t see the icons—so I usually ended up putting the tokens next to the cards. It might be nice to have a dedicated space for the token.
How to Play HeroTec
The goal of the game is to score the most points by building gear.
Shuffle the cards and lay out the stockpile in overlapping rows, with alternating rows face up and face down. Each player should have four resource tokens.
Each player has a workshop area that can hold up to 4 cards, and a showroom that can hold up to 4 cards.
On your turn, you get 2 actions (except for the first round, in which everyone gets 1 action). You may Select, Shift, or Build.
Select: Choose an uncovered card from the stockpile and add it to your workshop, placing a resource cube on the lowest resource tier. Any face-down cards are revealed when they are completely uncovered.
Shift: Slide one of your resource tokens up or down one space. The resource tokens indicate what resources you currently have available to you.
Build: If you have enough resources to pay for the cost of a card in your workshop, you can build it. You may spend the resources on a card towards its own cost. You may also recycle a previously built card by discarding it to get double one of its resource levels. After building the item, remove the resource cube, and put the card in your showroom. The card’s ability is now active.
Note: some card abilities can “junk” cards—these will go face up behind the last row in the stockpile.
When a player has built one of each card type—costume, gadget, vehicle, lair—they get 2 bonus points. Every other player gets one last turn. The player with the most points wins; ties go toward the person whose last turn was earliest.
Note: You may build more than one of the same type of card, but your showroom is limited to 4 cards, and the game does not end until somebody has built one of each type.
3 or 4 Player Games
For 3 or 4 player games, you’ll need the 6-card expansion, and the starting stockpile is slightly larger, with 4 cards set aside. At the start of the game, players claim each claim a card from the set-aside cards in reverse turn order. The game ends when somebody builds one of each type, with no bonus points and no additional turns.
Why You Should Play HeroTec
Button Shy has been publishing its line of wallet games for a while now, and they’ve got a big library of tiny games that you can take anywhere. It’s always fun to me to see the variety of games that can be made with a small set of components, though I do have to admit that I’m not entirely sure what to do with some of the extra cards and components that have been added due to stretch goals. The wallets themselves can hold a few more than 18 cards, but with more cards or tokens you’ll probably need a bag or something with them.
With HeroTec, you have a fairly quick game that focuses on managing your available resources and trying to get power combos that give you an edge against your opponent.
Each of the card types needs different types of resources to build, and provides different resources. The gadgets require tech and provide tech. The vehicles all need tools, but they don’t provide as many tools. The lairs provide more tools, but require the “arrow” resource, which is only available on the level 1 resource of each card. Costumes require a mix of tech and tools, and also provide a mix. A lot of your strategy involves figuring out how to get the resources to build all the things you want to build, particularly since once you’ve built something its resources go away (unless you recycle it).
There are a lot of interesting powers that will boost your abilities—but first you have to get them built. You might be able to get extra actions, or build directly from the stockpile, or get more resources for building. There’s one card that lets you deactivate a card’s power for one round, and another that lets you copy any other built item’s power for yourself. Again, the order in which you build things matters, because ideally you can build an engine that helps you build other things more quickly.
It is a bit of a race, too—whoever builds four different categories first gets bonus points and triggers the end game. It doesn’t guarantee a win, but if the other player can’t even get to four cards by their last turn, it’s hard to overcome. You do need to know what your opponent is doing, and keep an eye on how quickly they’ll be able to get the resources they need. The game is all open information—your cards are all face-up on the table—so the only unknowns are the face-down cards in the stockpile.
Overall, I think HeroTec is a clever game and will be most enjoyed by gamers who like figuring out great card combos. I haven’t played enough yet to feel like I’ve done more than just scratching the surface, but I’ve already found a few combinations that work well together. The setup can feel a little fiddly, but works well enough. If you like pocket games that you can take anywhere, I highly recommend checking out Button Shy’s wallet games, and HeroTec is a nice addition to that line.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the HeroTec Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.