Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Designed by Walter Barber, Ian VanNest and Andrew Zimmerman, this is an adventure game from Greenbrier Games and Leaf Pile Media that comes in a fat box. Even so, there’s a helluva lot packed into that box because Champions of Hara is a game that gives you a host of options for game play. It can be played as a fully co-operative game, solitaire or as player versus player (PvP). There are also 18 scenarios setting up three games focused on the backstory of each of the six characters that come in the box for the core game.
We love the art in Champions of Hara (by artists Stephen Gibson, Hannah Kennedy and Jason Piperberg) and the high quality minis for each character all have their own distinctive charm. The characters also each have their own distinct abilities. Although all the characters commonly track health, Spirit and three different colour ‘energy’ bars, each character makes use of their own unique resource and each has their own individual deck of cards defining the actions they can take and therefore their style of play. At the top, the cards specify the action that can be taken when the card is played from the player’s hand. Once played, a card is rotated to show the action it can be used to take when played from the table (on a subsequent turn). This means that you have full knowledge of the eight possible actions available to you and so, when playing from your hand, for example, you will need to bear in mind what actions you will be enabling for yourself on your next turn. On your turn you can take up to three actions (more if on the card an action is described as ‘free’). After each player has taken a turn, the day moves from Dawn to Dark, and more hexes are drawn (one more than the number of players) and placed out on the board.
Champions of Hara is played on a modular board, and one that shifts through the course of the game (fun, if sometimes a little fiddly, as you’ll be picking up and repositioning sections of the board along with any minis, hex cards or markers that are on those sections). By fighting the monsters that are revealed, satisfying the ‘events’ that come up and closing off ‘rifts’, players will be accumulating red, green and blue energy, recorded on their individual tracking boards. These in turn are used to deliver upgrades (additional cards that enable different and more powerful actions). Some of the monsters are easily despatched but some can be tough to tackle, not least because none of the hits they take roll over to the next turn: if you don’t succeed in taking them out on your turn, they immediately recover their full health. Many of the monsters also have ranged attack, which means that any characters within their range will take hits until the monster is eliminated. On the plus side, defeated monsters may additionally drop an item. When they do, the player takes the corresponding numbered card. These will either be equipment that adds a permanent buff or an item that is discarded to give a one-use special ability.
Events are typically resolved by meeting the specified target through combining the roll of a six-sided die with the Spirit energy committed by the player. So, for example, if the event needs 6 to succeed, you can decide to just take your chance in the hope of rolling that number or you can spend Spirit to contribute in advance to that total. In this example, if you decided to spend 5 Spirit, you’d be guaranteed success even on a die roll of 1. There are often penalties for failing an event, so these encounters add an exciting push your luck element. Rifts work similar to events except that players roll the die first so know up front how much Spirit they will need to contribute in order to succeed.
Champions of Hara plays quickly: allow around 30 minutes per player. Although game play is straightforward and refreshingly intuitive, there are several ‘key words’ to keep track of, each of which triggers a small variation on the usual run of play. Happily the rules incorporate the glossary that you’ll almost certainly need to refer to on your first play, so you won’t be scratching your head struggling to keep track of lots of exceptions or special rules.
We’ve had a lot of fun with Champions of Hara, both in PvP and co-operative mode. Now we’re just hoping that the Chaos on Hara substantial expansion to this game also gets a worldwide retail release. We’ll certainly show it off here on Board's Eye View if we can get hold of a copy.