Friday, July 15, 2011

First Impressions: HEROICA – LEGO does a Dungeon Crawl

This article originally appeared on the Opinionated Gamers website - with a very nice addendum from Andrea “Liga” Ligabue (who consults w/LEGO)... you should go there & read it.

While the official release of HEROICA™from LEGO Games happened on June 1st, somehow product began appearing at some Toys’R'Us stores on Memorial Day weekend. So, thanks to the magic of the U.S. monetary system, three of the four sets ended up in the very excited hands of, well, me. (And my boys – that’s right… I bought them for the 6 year old & the 9 year old. Just keep telling yourself that, Mark.)

What follows is not really a review but a series of first impressions & thoughts… so take it with a grain of salt.


  • Having played other LEGO games, I knew what the microfigs looked like, but they still take a bit of adjustment after years of playing with mini-figures. However, the smaller scale allows the folks at LEGO to pack a lot of gaming punch into a pretty small space.
  • The modular design of passageways & rooms is nicely done – my boys & I began creating our own adventures pretty quickly.
  • For those of you who are wondering if you could build custom rooms/dungeons for the game, the answer is a qualified “yes”. In order to do that, you’ll need a lot of what LEGO calls “Plate 2×2 W 1 Knob” (which is currently only available from LEGO in grey.)
  • I have to say that I’m kind of in love with the LEGO dice. The interchangable face element doesn’t come into play here – but the springy-edged over-sized dice are just a lot of fun to play with.


  • The game is a pretty simple roll’n'move/roll’n'fight – this system certainly isn’t advancing the technology of dungeon crawling games forward. If you move next to a monster, you have to fight it. If you move over an object (gold, potion, treasure chest), you can/should pick it up.
  • There are 6 different hero types – each with a special power that is activated by rolling a particular symbol (a shield). The monsters, OTOH, are differientiated only by the amount of damage they can do to the players.
  • The base rules to the game have the players racing to reach a particular space – acquiring potions, gold (to buy weapons) & fighting monsters in order to get there. As usual, the whole “the guy who defeats the last monster just opens the way for the next guy to win” problem rears its ugly head.
  • The battle rules (where one player controls the monsters against the players) has worked MUCH better for us. We’ve played with the heroes working as a team & so far all the games have been close.
  • The epic rules (playing multiple games & keeping gold/weapons/potions from game to game) is a good idea but isn’t very well-developed.

Game System

  • There seem to be two competing design ideas operating here – the first is that each box of HEROICA be a playable game by itself. While I haven’t played the smallest box (Draida Bay), they seemed to have accomplished that with the other three sets (Waldurk, Nathuz & Fortaan).
  • OTOH, the sets are obviously designed to fit together. (For those too dense to figure that out on their, the maps included in the Waldurk & Nathuz sets show you how to build a 4-set monster board.)
  • HEROICA has the same feature/bug (depends on how you look at it) as the rest of the LEGO Games series: by leaving wide creative space for players to customize & change the game, they’ve left pretty big holes in the rules. This is especially true when you start combining the sets.
  • As of June 9th, the HEROICA portion of the LEGO website is online – but it’s still pretty bare bones. (No new maps or rules available.)


  • Even with all my questions/concerns about the “holes” in the system, I have to say that my boys & I have had a blast playing the game. It’s fast (our 3 set dungeon took about 30 minutes to play out), it’s fun & there’s nothing quite as cool as seeing two geeky things you love (Legos & board games) work together like this.

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