LEGO Heroica: Retrospective

Heroica was one of Lego’s short-lived “Games” line from 2011, and was actually the Lego product that got me out of my “dark age” (a term adult Lego fans often use to define the period between childhood love of Lego and “rediscovering” it as an adult).

To be honest, Heroica reminded me instantly of Hero Quest, a childhood (and still, as an adult) favourite boardgame, so when I saw it on the shelf I bought the four available sets – Fortaan, Draida, Waldurk and Nathuz – on the spot.

lego-heroica-all
All the original Heroica sets combined into one big board!

Heroica is a very simple game and is designed more as a competitive game than the co-operative one you might expect, considering everyone plays “heroes” and the monsters are AI-controlled. However, the beauty of it – as will everything Lego – is that you can change things to make it what you want it to be. It it easy to play Heroica as a co-operative (or solo) “dungeon crawler”, though it takes more work to add the complexity (in the basic game, monsters don’t move, for example) an older or adult player might expect from such a game. But this is Lego, after all, so anything is possible.

Indeed, part of what made me love this game so much was creating my own “sets”. The boards are already modular (think Space Hulk, but with each “tile” being 3D and made of Lego) so making new pieces that can be added is easy. I designed a bunch of sets and had great fun coming up with new rules, monsters and treasures for them. I might post some of these on this blog at a later date…

Even using just the official sets, though, Heroica gives you a lot to work with. As I said, the mechanics are simple (and use a single Lego-built 6-sided die for everything) but there is lots of variation; each set is based around a theme (beach, caverns, forest, castle, sewer) and each contains different several heroes (Barbarian, Wizard, Knight, Rogue, Ranger, Wise Man and Prince) and monsters (zombies, spiders, vampires, werewolves, goblins, and more), and a key treasure that powers up the hero who finds it. There are also potions and weapons that can be “bought” using found gold; these give your hero new powers or restore their health. Rather than using pen and paper to track your hero’s “stats”, cute little Lego-built “Hero Packs” hold your treasure, weapons and life points. Monsters have different strengths, with each set generally having a weak, strong and “boss” monster to encounter. The final set even included an epic brick-built giant mega-boss to fight with its own “life bar”!

Each set contained 1-3 adventures (“Quests”) you could play using its components, but of course you could put the board together in any way you wanted to create your own Quests. If you had more than one copy of a set, you could easily make much bigger “maps” to play on and of course increase the number of monsters faced. Because of this, I ended up buying multiples of each set, in most cases three or four (including the rare “promo” set Ganrash, which I only got due to the kindness of a BoardGameGeek member and the *huge* generosity of a lovely Lego customer service representative I phoned).

lego-heroica-ilrion
Ilrion, the last Heroica set released

Heroica sadly ended (like the whole Lego Games line) in 2012 with only one new set (the sewer, Ilrion) that was only available for a short time (and only online via Lego themselves). It was a huge shame, not just because the game was great, but because it had huge potential to keep going with new sets. Indeed, the “map” shown in some publicity material suggested they already had some new sets planned (there are several locations mentioned that weren’t sets at the time, with Ilrion among them… and that did become a set).

Like many great Lego themes (such as Alien Conquest, the other theme that got me collecting Lego again, which also ended with another wave planned), it ended before its time with so much more that could have been produced.

Again, though, the beauty of Lego is that if something isn’t made officially, you can make it anyway yourself…

 

Side note: Heroica had a fantastic website that is no longer available, but can be found via the Wayback Machine here!

One thought on “LEGO Heroica: Retrospective

  1. This is great, thanks for compiling all your stuff here. It makes me want to get out the Heroica stuff and play again with your house rules. I don’t suppose you’re on flickr or discord?

    Like

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