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Tabletop Game / Hero Realms

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Just a few of the Champions that will aid your Heroes...

While Thandar's trade has delivered its promised peace to nations, the wealth generated by its trade spurs endless political and physical conflict...

Hero Realms is a Fantasy Turn-Based Combat Deck Building Game designed by Darwin Kastle and Robert Dougherty. It was published by White Wizard Games in 2016. Set in the city of Thandar, the players are characters attempting to reduce their foe's Health to zero. To do that, they need Gold to buy new actions and allies, in order to increase their Combat points.

Based on the Star Realms engine, the two games have similar gameplay: Players start with a standard low-power deck, play five cards, buy from a common market, attack, discard, and draw new cards. But whereas Star Realms has a strategic space war theme, Hero Realms is more akin to a Fantasy Roleplaying Game- each person is a Player Character. Instead of leading fleets and bases, the hero has Actions, personal weapons, and Champions working for them. As part of this new thematic focus, the game also offers Character and Boss Decks that offer specific classes with their own unique items and powers.

The players can buy new actions and Champions from four factions:

  • Imperials: Those affiliated with the Empire, the nation of humans and dragons that founded Thandar. A militaristic (though not necessary warlike) group represented in Yellow. They allow the players to draw cards and replenish Health. Some of their cards get stronger with more Champions in play.
  • The Guild: A criminal syndicate consisting largely of humans and ogres, that grew as the city's trade increased. Represented in blue, their agents allow the player to gain gold and to stun (discarded from play) Champions. In addition, certain Guild cards will allow the player to gain cards and place them into either their hand or on top of the deck.
  • Necros: Represented in red, an underground evil cult that preys on the weak and serves demons. Despite this the players are willing to work with them. They focus on dealing Damage and Sacrificing (removing cards from the player's deck).
  • Wild: An umbrella term for the nations or tribes in the unsettled East. Represented in green, the Wild includes Elves, Orcs, Trolls, Human barbarians, and wildlife. Their focus is dealing lots of damage, drawing and discarding cards, and forcing other players to discard.

In addition to the base game, Campaign Decks add more of a Roleplaying Game aspect, allowing players to develop their personal deck during those sessions. Hero Realms The Ruin Of Thandar is one of these Campaigns, released in late 2017.

Hero Realms provides examples of the following:

  • Adventure-Friendly World: The setting is this. Thandar is a melting pot of a trade city were various civilizations and cultures mingle and connect. It was founded by a massive Empire as a means for peaceful expansion. Trade attracts criminals, and allows for the formation of a powerful underworld. As with most urban areas, there will be those who are homeless and plenty of run down buildings - both perfect for the needs of a wicked cult. There's plenty of resources and opportunity for adventurers to grow and become powerful.
  • Arbitrary Equipment Restriction: Players can only use their Weapon Item cards only when they are in the player's hand. Considering the players are Fantasy heroes, it seems odd that such a character wouldn't be able to use their weapons at any time.
  • All There in the Manual: The backstory can be found in the rulebook and the official website.
  • Attack Animal: The Dire Wolf and the Wizard's Cat Familiar champions, both animals capable of generating Damage.
  • Big Red Devil: Tyrannor, the Devourer - big horns, red skin, skull face, and being very tall.
  • Card Cycling: The Wild faction has an ability that allows the player to add one card to their hand and discard one card from their hand.
  • Cheap Gold Coins: The starting currency are single Gold coins. As the game progresses, the players will eventually upgrade to Actions or Fire Gems that provide more buying power and eventually will sacrifice Gold to get better draws.
  • Curse: A specific subtype of Action cards. True to the name, they do harm and then some.
  • Death Is Cheap: When Champions are destroyed, instead of being killed they are "stunned" instead. Makes sense in a deckbuilder, were discarded cards are reshuffled when the deck is reformed. Having "dead" champions show up again would be odd without explanation.
  • Discard and Draw: An ability of the Wild faction, allowing the player to draw a card and discard. This allows the player to move through their deck faster.
  • Draw Aggro: Guard Champions, which players must defeat first before attacking non-Guards or the other Player.
  • The Empire: Founders of Thandar. A nation of humans and allied dragons with a powerful military. Avoiding the typical portrayal, the Empire is clearly on the side of good, prefers bright colors and now focuses on peaceful trade.
  • The Emperor: Unrepresented in the base game, The Emperor is referenced in the Citizens of Thandar blogposts.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The Emperor’s Guide to Thandar is quoted in the "Citizens of Thandar" blog posts, providing some bit of exposition of the subject.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Players purchase Champions from the Market regardless of faction or job. If taken literally, one can acquire a cultist, giant wolf, or high priest by paying them. Though this may just be an abstraction of what happens in universe - when a player purchases cards as the Lich, it represents his evil influence taking over.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Rayla, Endweaver is a Necros Mage champion. She's pale skinned, wears horns, performs magic using an ancient tome, and seems to be raising the dead.
  • Excuse Plot: The base game doesn't give much of a plot: you're a Fantasy hero fighting other fantasy heroes for some unknown reason. The Campaign and Boss Decks avert this, as they provide some story to the game.
  • Facial Markings: Necro human cultists and priests, as if belonging to a death cult wasn't obviously evil enough.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: Custom starting decks for several of these classes are available: Fighter, Cleric, Thief (as the Rogue class), Ranger, and Wizard (Magician class). For more details, see the Character page.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Empire seems to be Medieval Christian Europe mixed with a bit of a Roman Empire trappings.
  • Gemstone Assault: Fire Gems can be used as money, but sacrificing one can also deal damage.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: The Orcs never wear any helmets at all, which is in character. While Imperial troops are shown to be wearing helmets, Champions Cristov, the Just and the Man-at-Arms lack any head wear.
  • Hero Unit: Named Champions, costing more than common Champions. On the bright side they tend to have higher Defense, and provide very useful abilities.
  • Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: Sadly fighting other heroes doesn't provide much income. So players either have to use actions like Taxation or work with the Guild or Necros (neither are heroic) in order to expand their funds.
  • High Priest: Kraka, who has this as his title. Using him can provide Health, and using him with another Imperial card can get even more health.
  • Hit Points: Health. Unlike Star Realms' Authority, the Health correlates directly to the player's life. Champions also have Defense rating, showing how much damage they must take in one turn to be discarded.
  • Kill It with Fire: Spark, a spell dealing damage. It features a fireball forming on its artwork. The Guild also offers the Fire Bomb action, which deals a lot of damage and then some.
  • Life Drain: Played with - instead of gaining life after doing damage, this card allows the player to draw a card again.
  • Make Them Rot: The Rot action, which when purchased allows the player to do damage and remove a card from their deck.
  • The Medic: Imperial Priests, who deal no damage but give Health. The Imperial faction in general is the only one that heals.
  • Merchant City: Thandar grew from a trade outpost to a major city thanks to commerce. Helps being located where four major rivers meet.
  • Mook Commander: The Man-at-Arms, Master Weyan, Wolf Shaman increase Damage for each other additional Guards or Champions on the field.
  • More than Mind Control: Influence, which gets the hero Gold. The art shows a royal couple... with a hooded sinister figure behind the throne.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Imperial faction symbol is a Star on a Yellow field. This is also the emblem of the Star Empire in Star Realms. Humorously enough, the Imperial faction can Heal, in contrast to the Star Empire which did not heal and focused on offense.
    • The Wild faction is also used in the Epic (Card Game), both sharing green and the use of a paw as their symbol. Epic also includes a Ogre Mercenary aligned with a blue faction (see Private Military Contractors below).
  • Necromancer: Varrick, who has this as his title. Despite the sinister connotations of his profession and being a Nerco, Varrick is rather benevolent. He can return discarded champions to the deck, help draw cards, and deals no damage. And as if to further offset fantasy stereotypes, the Necromancer is buff, youthful, and has thick blonde hair.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The Street Thug provides Gold or Combat, implied by using the trope.
    "Give me your gold, or I'll give you my knife."
  • Our Elves Are Different: Its noted that the Wild's Elvin nations are "older than human recorded history." Also, they give cool gifts to the players via one action.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: In addition to the typical humanoid giant, there is also the Dire Wolf, a Giant Wolf.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Green skinned warriors who could be mistaken for Ogres.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Wolf Form is an action, which seems to allow the player to transform into a werewolf. As expected with Wolves, it deals damage.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Part of the Nercos, with two Vampire Champions in the base game. One is a suave noble, the other looks like a ghoul out of a nightmare. They also allow removing cards with the added benefit of gaining Combat in the process.
  • The Paladin: Cristov, the Just, whose subtype is Paladin. The card artwork invokes the idea image such a noble hero: Young, heroic, with stylized armor (Loin-faced Pauldrons adding to the image) and wielding two swords.
  • Player Party: One of the possible formats is having a group of players team up and fight another group, or a single player using a Boss Deck.
  • Plunder: To gain more Gold, players can use cards like Bribe, Deception, Intimidate (if used with another Guild Card). Smash and Grab allows the player to move a card from the discard to their deck.
  • Private Military Contractors:
    • Borg, Ogre Mercenary - able to take damage and deal it as well. Interestingly, he's a Guild Card instead of the expected Wild affiliation.
    • Captain Koska, a Human mercenary. While unaligned, Koska has the ability to be any Faction the player chooses when the card is expended (turned sideways).
  • Professional Killer: The Guild provides these. Rake, Master Assassin is so good that everybody knows his (or is it "her"?) name. Although, these hits don't apparently kill Champions in game as they're only Stunned instead.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Several of the Wild Champions are implied to be this - warrior barbarians that includes a Berserk human and Orcs.
  • Red Shirt: Guard Champions, who take the damage first for the player and other non-guard Champions. Have several and the player has a Red Shirt Army to protect them.
  • Religion of Evil: Necros, whose cult also provides destructive curses, includes Vampires and necromancers, and worship demons. It seems to contrast with the more Saintly Imperial religion.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Any time you hire Guild and Necro Champions.
  • RPG Elements: What separates this game from Star Realms. Players can choose a class to use specific abilities and gear.
  • Sinister Minister: Cult Priests - Necro champions who are bald, have facial scars and tattoos, and welding an ornate dagger and a skull for a censer attacked to a sawtoothed chakram.
  • Shout-Out: Cron, the Berserker seems to be a homage to Conan of Cimmeria - a dark haired barbarian whose name starts with a "C", and Cron is only a letter short of Crom, the Cimmerians' god.
  • Solo Tabletop Game: Possible with the Tibus, Guild Lord card. This Challenge scenario has a card drawn by a trade deck is placed in front of Tibus. The drawn card's alignment determines an effect and attack damage determined by cost. Tibus automatically attacks, and Guards help defend Tibus. If there are is a card of each alignment in front of Tibus, he discards them and gains a massive Combat bonus.
  • Starting Equipment: Players start with the same deck of low paying Gold and a Ruby, and low damage Dagger and Shortsword. Character Decks have different Starting gear reflecting their Class.
  • The Syndicate: The Guild, with its thugs, smugglers, and assassins providing a number of useful services... for a price of course.
  • Tabletop Game A.I.: Challenge Cards serve as a boss that players work together to fight, or use in solitaire games. Following certain rules, the Challenge cards do something to the Market such as removing a card. Another card is added to the market, and it triggers an effect based on the card's faction.
  • Touch of Death: Downplayed with Death Touch - while it does damage, it isn't very much. The card does allow the player to remove a card from their playing deck.
  • Thieves' Guild: Downplayed with the Guild. They're a powerful, feared faction offering burglary, assassination, and criminal specialists. However they don't control nor regulate all criminal activity - the players could be unaffiliated Thieves.
  • Warrior Monk: Master Weyan, who can generate damage. Despite the Imperial's European influenced styling, Weyan's robes, topknot, and combat stance invokes an Oriental look.