Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends’

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The island of Oshra has been in turmoil since the death of the Emperor as the conflict between the Imperial Army and the Hill Tribes has continued and escalated. While the Imperial Army wants to maintain control of the empire, the Hill Tribes want their independence. The Water Folk who value peace are trying to maintain a balance between those two rivals while the Undead seek to turn the conflict into outright war. While this conflict has been raging, a new faction has emerged as the ancient goddess known as The Mother has been awakened and unleashed the powerful guardian spirits. Will the Guardian faction be victorious or will one of the established powers take control?

What Is Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends?

Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends is an expansion to the strategy card game Hidden Leaders. The game is designed for 2-6 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 30 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with several pledge levels. Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends expansion is available for about $18. If you want both the original game and the expansion, there is a pledge level for both for only $39. You can also get just a copy of the original Hidden Leaders game for $24.

Hidden Leaders was released earlier this year after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2021 with over 12,700 backers! Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends was designed by Raphael Stocker, Andreas Müller, and Markus Müller and published by BFF Games, with illustrations by Satoshi Matsuura.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends Components

Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.

Here is what you get inside the box:

  • 4 new Guardian Leader cards
  • 1 custom Guardian marker
  • 20 Guardian Hero cards
  • 6 Artifact cards
  • 18 Artifact tokens
  • 1 Claim Corruption card
  • 18 Corruption tokens
  • 1 die
  • 1 bag
  • 1 rule book
leader cards
The Guardian Leader cards. Image by Michael Knight.

These new leaders each have a loyalty to one of the four original factions as well as the Guardian faction. They are used when playing the Guardian module. 

heros
New Guardian Heroes. Image by Michael Knight.

Each of these new hero cards belong to one of the four factions as well as the Guardian faction. Include them in the hero deck when playing the Guardian module. 

artifacts
Components for the Artifacts module. Image by Michael Knight.

Artifact cards are used when playing the Artifact module and give each player a unique ability with a limited number of uses. 

corruption components
The components for the Corruption module. Image by Michael Knight.

The artifact tokens are used to keep track of the limited number of uses of each artifact. The corruption tokens are kept in an included bag and used when playing the Corruption module. They can change the faction of a hero.

die and marker
There are just prototypes of the die and Guardian marker. Image by Michael Knight.

The new Guardian marker is used on the board to keep track of the Guardian faction’s progress in relation to the other factions. 

How to Play Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends

You can download a copy of the rulebook here.

Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends uses the same basic rules as Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends is but provides three additional modules which can be added to the base game separately or in combination with one another. This section will explain the rules of the base game and then how the modules from Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends add to the game. 

The Goal

The goal of the game is to have one of the two factions of each player’s leader align with the winning faction as determined by the position of the the markers on the board. 

Setup

Start off by shuffling the six leader cards. If playing with the Guardian module, randomly pick one or two of the Guardian Leaders, depending on the number of players, and shuffle them with the regular leaders. Then deal one leader to each player. These leader cards are placed face down in front of each player. While the owning player may look at their leader card, they are not shown to other players. 

Next place the red and green markers on the starting position of the power track on the board. If playing the Guardian module, then add the Guarding token to the space on the power track with the number 1 on it. 

Find the hero card with the Buried Emperor on it and place it next to the graveyard slot on the board. This forms the Graveyard. Shuffle the remaining hero cards and place them face down near the Harbor slot on the board to form the draw pile. Then draw three hero cards and place them face up next to each of the three Tavern slots on the board. When playing the Guardian module, be sure to shuffle the 20 Guardian heroes and the Mother of Guardian card into the deck of hero cards from the base game before placing three cards in the Tavern. 

Randomly choose a starting player and then deal each player five hero cards. After looking at them, each player must complete 3 steps in turn order. First they must place a card face down in front of them. Face down heroes are considered hidden heroes. Then the player places one card face down near the Wilderness slot on the board to form the discard pile. The final three cards are kept as a starting hand. 

When playing the Guarding module, place the Guardian die near the board. 

If you are playing the Corruption module, place the Claim Corruption card next to the Harbor with the side up that  corresponds to the number of players. Then add all the corruption tokens to the bag. Now draw two tokens from the bag and place them on the Claim Corruption card with the back-side with the corruption icon face up. 

For games with the Artifact module, every player chooses one Artifact card or one can be randomly dealt to each player. These cards are placed face up next to the face down leader. Players then put either 2 or 3 Artifact tokens on their card depending on the number of symbols shown on the card. 

You are now ready to play. 

setup
The game setup and ready to play with all three modules. Image by Michael Knight.

Gameplay

The game is played in turns with each player completing four steps in order before the next player to their left begins their turn. Let’s take a look at each step in order and then how the three modules are used during play.

The first step a player takes is to play one hero card from their hand and add it to their party. This hero card is placed face up in front of the player to form their party. Then follow the directions at the bottom of the card to move the red and/or green makers forward or back on the power track. Some cards may have additional abilities which must be resolved as well. Instead of playing a hero card, a player may instead discard up to three cards from their hand into the Wilderness. 

During the second step, the player draws cards either from the Harbor or the Tavern until they have four cards in their hand. If you draw from the Tavern, don’t replace those cards during this step. 

The third step requires the player to discard hero cards from their hand face down into the Wilderness until they have only 3 hero cards remaining in their hand. 

Finally, for the fourth step, refill empty Tavern slots by drawing cards from the Harbor. 

Guardian Module

Guardian hero cards have a guardian icon in addition to another faction icon on them. Whenever a Guardian hero’s ability is performed after it is played during the first step, move the Guardian token +2 spaces. This does not occur if the hero card enters the game in some other way such as in response to another hero card’s ability. If a Guardian hero is placed into the Graveyard, then the player who caused this rolls the Guardian die. If the blank side is up, do nothing. Otherwise move the Guardian token in the negative direction on the power track the number of spaces shown on the die. 

Corruption Module

At anytime during their turn, a player can claim corruption if they have met the requirement stated on the Claim Corruption card. These are based on having a minimum number of face up hero cards in your party. The player takes the corruption token from the space on the card that they met and then all players, including the player who claimed corruption, take one token from the bag. Each player in turn order then had to place the token face down on one hero card (even another player’s). That hero is now corrupted.  

Artifact Module

Players can use the unique special power on their artifact at specific times. If the power has a lightning bolt symbol, that power can be used at any time during step 1 when they can play a card. On the other hand, if the power has an hourglass symbol, it can only be used after step 4 of their turn once the empty tavern slots have been refilled. Each time they use the power, they place one of the artifact tokens back into the box. If there are no more tokens on an artifact card, that power can no longer be used for the rest of the game. 

Game End

The game ends when a player has the required number of face up heroes in their party. This number varies according to the number of players.  Hidden heroes do not count toward this requirement. Once this requirement has been met, the game end immediately and the winning faction is determined. Only one of the four factions can be victorious. Check for the following victory conditions in order. If both the red and green markers are in the dark war area, then the Undead faction wins. If the red and green markers are on the same space or spaces next to each other the Water Folk win. If the red marker is at least two steps ahead of the green marker, then the Imperial Army wins while if the green marker is at least two steps ahead of the red marker, the Hill Tribes win. When playing with the Guardian module, if the Guardian token is ahead of both the red and green markers, the Guardian faction win no matter what other conditions may occur. 

After the winning faction has been determined, then players reveal their hidden Leader cards. If only one player has a Leader who is aligned with the winning faction, they win the game. If two or more players are aligned with the winning faction, the player with the most Heroes of the winning faction in their party, both face up and face down, is the winner. If no players are aligned with the winning faction, then no one wins. If the Guardian faction wins, but no Heroes are aligned with it, then determine which faction would have won without the Guardians. 

win
If there is an leader aligned with the Guardians, they win. Otherwise, it is a Water Folk victory. Image by Michael Knight.

Why You Should Play Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends

The original Hidden Leaders game is a lot of fun. It combines several features in a single game. The rules are fairly simple and straightforward, making it easy to learn as well as to teach to others. You play a card, draw cards, and discard cards each turn. However, the complexity comes as a result of the strategic nature of the game. Each player can win with two different factions, but do not know which factions they are playing against. Therefore, the hidden leaders add a deduction aspect to the game. Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends adds new life to the original game. I like how the three modules can be played individually or in combination with each other. Each one adds new challenges and strategy as players have new abilities or ways to change how the game can end. In addition to the fun and engaging gameplay, the components are well made and the artwork on the cards is unique and impressive. 

I enjoy the fast playing nature of Hidden Leaders as well as the strategy involved. Deciding which Hero to play to your party requires several considerations. Does its faction match one of your leaders’ factions in case of a tie? Does its ability move the red and green markers in the correct directions to help one of your leader’s factions win? Might your play reveal your leaders’ alignment to other players? Then adding the modules can really change things up like Corruptions ability to change the faction of a Hero card. If you have never played Hidden Leaders, this campaign provides a great way to get into this world. If you already have the original game, then be sure to get Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends to add more to your game. I am sure you will enjoy playing this game as much as I do. 

For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Hidden Leaders: Forgotten Legends Kickstarter page!


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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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