Playing with the Box: A Review of Heroes and Tricks

Heroes and Tricks

This nifty little card game by Pencil First Games doesn’t just come in a nice compact box for the fun of it; the box actually has a key role in gameplay.

Gameplay

The game comes in a box that has three compartments. There are play cards, hero cards, and gear cards. The hero cards are all kept in the back compartment. Each player is dealt three gear cards and several play cards (the number depends on how many people are playing). Each player chooses two play cards and one gear card to pass to the player on their left.

At the start of each trick, players can choose to play one gear card that has "play before trick" written on it. The lead player then takes the box, takes one of the hero cards at random, and moves it to the front compartment of the box. Each hero card has a color and a suit. There are four colors and each color has two suits. There are four suits in total. Play cards all have a suit but also have numbers ranging from one to eight.

Only the lead player sees the suit and color of the hero. He then chooses a play card and slips it into the box, in front of the hero card. He may also choose to add a gear card, putting it behind the play card he just added. He then passes the box to the player on his left. That player only sees the play card that the first player added — she must choose what card to play based off of this. She adds her own play card (and a gear card if desired) and puts it in front of the previous card, then passes the box to the next player.

Once every player has played into the box, the last player removes all the cards and the winner of the hero card is determined. If no gear cards affected the result, the player who matched both the suit and color gets to keep the card. Card numbers break ties. If no one matched suit and color, the player who matched color wins. If no player matched color, the player who matched suit wins. Finally, if all else fails, the player with the highest card wins the hero.

However, gear cards can affect the result, doing things such as changing suits or colors of the cards played.

After someone has won the trick, the person who played last into the box becomes the new lead and a new hero card is slipped into the front compartment of the box and the round continues.

Each hero is worth one point.  Some gear cards also award extra points. When all but two play cards from your hand have been played into tricks, the round ends. You may either choose to count up scores and declare a winner, or play another two rounds.

Heroes and Tricks Components

Review

Heroes and Tricks is more than just a trick-taking game. As you run out of cards, it becomes less and less likely that you’ll be able to match the hero card’s suit and color, so you have to start trying to read your opponents and figure out what they’re most likely to do based on the cards that have already been played and what card you just put in the box.

The box is a great feature of the game. It makes it extremely portable and easy to play on the go, while also feeling pretty unique. The game also has fun artwork, with a great variety of different heroes. While playing the game, we kept stopping to look at them and read the flavor text on each card.

Due to the hidden nature of the cards, there is a lot of guesswork involved and sometimes you feel like you won a hero out of sheer luck. This can be fun, but may not be what everyone expects when heading into a trick-taking game. Because there’s a lot of luck involved, we preferred the shorter version of the game that only played over one round.

If you enjoy light trick-taking games, Heroes and Tricks is worth checking out. From its fun components to its interesting blend of reading other players and managing your cards for later in the round, it offers something original and enjoyable.

Pros: It’s fun to play with the box, the artwork is nice, lots of player interaction

Cons: A lot of guesswork is involved

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.