Heroes of Land, Air and Sea. launches on Kickstarter on Jan. 26th
This article should be taken as a first impressions and not a definitive review. Heroes of Land Air and Sea is still very much in development and all points and opinions are subject to change upon final release.
Gamelyn Games has had an exceptionally mediocre beginnings. With a few small games published on Kicksarter, Michael Coe and crew didn’t quite hit their stride until they found Scott Almes and started to publish the Tiny Epic series games. The company is finally taking a break from the games that are too small for their own good to do something genuinely epic.
Heroes of Land Air and Sea is the latest offering from the Gamelyn Games and Mr. Almes. It takes everything that the duo has done and turns it up to 11. HLAS is a big box 4x game, and is amalgamation of everything they have ever published. The game borrows from everything from Tiny Epic Galaxy to Fantasy Frontiers and Tiny Epic Defenders and Western. Influences from outside the company are prominent too. HLAS borrows some combat mechanics from Game of Thrones 2nd ed. and exploration rewards from Origins among various other mechanics.
As a 4x game, there are 4 ways to win. Game end can be triggered by Exploring the entire map, Expanding by placing all of your units onto the board, Exterminating another player's home base, and by Exploiting the resources you have gathered and build all three of your towers. All of these conditions trigger the end game, and do not immediately crown a winner. After one of these conditions is met, there is one more full round before endgame scoring. While it is a 4x game, it is clever melding of Euro style mechanics and Amerithrash combat.
The rules are complex yet intuitive, and after a round or two it is easy to know how to do things, even if it isn’t apparent what you should do. Each player gets two actions per round, one action per turn. Actions called “Capital Actions” allow players to recruit new units, build buildings, upgrade a tech tree represented by their home base, earn income, or research spell cards. These actions can be followed by other players much like in Tiny Epic Galaxies, but instead of spending resource that exists for the express reason to follow, players spend Peons, the most basic unit in the game. These peons are not only a military unit, but a euro style resource that can be used in a multitude of different ways.
The other set of actions are called Command actions. These cannot be followed by other players, but a player can follow their own Command Action by assigning a peon to an action. These actions include moving units on the board either by marching, sailing or flying (depending on the unit type) and casting magic spells earned by using the Research action. These command actions allow you to take your turn a little further with proper planning.
Exploration is encouraged with a cautious hand by a few things. Firstly, the best way to get more resources is by exploration. Second, the more spaces you control at the end of the game, the more victory points you earn. Thirdly, each space has an exploration marker that when a unit ends its movement on a previously unexplored space, a random event triggers.
Right now, the game has some grammatical errors which are to be expected for a game that is still in the prototyping phase. Our game took 2 hours overall, with each player getting less than ten turns ( I think less than 5 but I lost track). This does not seem like a lot, but the following mechanic makes every turn everyone's turn. At four players there was not a lot of down time (again, thanks to the follow mechanic) and if there is, it just means that you are not optimising your play. All that being said, I felt as if it was a slow crawl to the finish as opposed to things ramping up to a climax. When I decided on my path to victory (exploitation), it took me an aditional two rounds, or 30 minutes to finally accomplish it and when I did, it felt rather uneventful.
The components here are for the most part finished-ish. The sea units are missing final art, and the air units are getting a complete overhaul. Castles, towers, sea units and more are a clever bit of cardboard engineering almost like cardboard origami. Score lines are replaced with what seems like perforations, and the pieces fold into themselves like a puzzle. As of now, these bits will come unassembled and unpunched. When asked how long it took to assemble everything, Michael replied, “ About two hours.” All pieces except for the human paladin hero were cardboard standees, but later on, all land units will be miniatures. Special hero characters will come fully pre-painted and look phemonenal.
So take the assembly time with a huge grain of salt as it most likely will decrease substantially on final release.
Please excuse the poor quality for some of the photos in the slide show below. The room we were playing in was not the best lit.
One other side not on player count before I wrap up. Four players (one being completely new), took two hours. That was with one player rushing to end the game as soon as possible. For me this is too long, but if we assume the average time per player is 30 minutes, a six player game isn’t all that long. I do not think the system will play well with two people, but it just might provide enough of a tactical approach for some deep two player action.
Heroes of Land, Air and Sea is a sprawling epic that borrows from the best in the hobby. If you are a fan of any of the games Scott Almes or Gamelyn Games has published, you very well may have a blast with this one. If you are adverse to sprawling epic, dudes on a map, time sinks, stay far, far away.
Heroes of Land, Air and Sea. launches on Kickstarter on Jan. 26th. To be notified when it launches, sign up for Gamelyn Games' newsletter.