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Ravensburger El Dorado Heroes & Hexes Family Board Game for Adults & Kids Age 10 Up - Strategy Games

Reiner Knizia (designer) Franz Vohwinkel (illustrator) and Ravensburger (publisher) get the band back together to update and expand the excellent family/gamer game 'The Quest for El Dorado' (review on GGO) with 'HEROES & HEXES' with a flip-over rules booklet that has German language from one cover to the centre, and then English language rules from the back cover (which becomes the front cover when the booklet is flipped) to the centre.

This expansion is recommended for experienced 'El Dorado' leaders (players take on the rôle of expedition leaders) although there is nothing I have found within it to suggest it is in anyway too complicated for the 10+ years old age suggestion. The expansion is not for adding extra players, and of course you do need the original base game to play, it is for, and does, add Familiars (useful, possibly magical, pets), each of which can be one-shot use. Leeroy (the Bull) gives 2 Machetes. Frank (the Elephant) offers 1 Machete, 1 Oar or 1 Coin.  Luna (the Llama) offers 1 Machete or 1 Oar.  Polly (the Parrot) gives 1 Gold. Each player is dealt one Familiar at the beginning of the game, all remaining Familiars are returned to the box, not to be used in that particular game.

Each of these rewards can be used whenever the card/s are drawn into play. Each of them also has a number above a Red cross on a card. These numbers, Leroy (4), Frank (2), Luna (3), Polly (3), allow the player to discard the card/s from the game after multiplying their use by the red number. For the easiest example Polly gives 1 coin every time she is brought into play or has a one-off value of 3 coins.

 

This expansion introduces 12 new expedition cards which, if I read and understand the rules as they are written, are sorted into 4 piles of 3 cards each and placed next to the 12 piles of the base game. We may be doing it wrong, but instead of just adding 4 piles of 3 cards we shuffle the new expedition cards in with the original expedition cards, and then make the 16 piles (if you didn't catch that, we don't separate the new cards from the base cards).

   

The new expedition cards were expected, because adding new cards into the mix is always a good, and easy, and always bring something to the table. It is the other new components that make this expansion of value.

Like most deck builders, deck blocker cards pad out your deck and frustrate your game turn as they are supposed to. In The Quest for El Dorado expansion these cards arrive in the form of Demons. The good thing about these Demon cards is that they are not as bad as deck blockers in other games. They can be discarded at the end of your turn (not out of the game, but you don't have to hold them in your deck) plus they each have a gold value the same as other non-gold cards, ½ a gold coin, so they are okay to spend to enhance your deck.

 

The expansion is titled Heroes & Hexes, but although there are 10 Hero cards in the game, there are no Hexes - they are actually Curses (the internet informs me that a 'hex' is the casting of an evil spell on someone, whereas a 'curse' is when someone is wished bad luck or for bad things to happen to them). I guess Heroes & Curses doesn't have quite the same ear-candy ring as Heroes & Hexes.

The Heroes are 'named' after well known people/characters and each has a valuable action for their players. Mary Ripley, Amelia Lockheart, Christopher Dundee, Scrooge Bly, Lara O'Malley, Dr Ian Magellan, Nathan Cook, Isabella Jones, Gertrude Evergreen and Sir Henry Threepwood. Heroes are obtained by landing your adventurer on a Tavern space, taking the top three Hero cards and choosing one of them, straight to your hand. Only one Hero per player during each game.

So far we have discovered (well we are adventurers) that 'Golden Temples' brings Familiars, Heroes and Demons into play. Whenever Heroes & Hexes pieces are in the game then the Caves variant is always played (from the base game rule book). The expansion does expand the terrain as well by adding Demon spaces - these trigger curses which may go off immediately, others may stay with the player until necessary. Tunnel spaces - these 'attach' other tunnel spaces on the same terrain tile allowing players to move quickly across the map but probably also gaining curses en route.

The new Blockades are, like the base game pieces, randomly positioned and have different crossing costs, otherwise they are the same. 

The game plays just the same as the base game but now it has the augmentation of actual Leaders and the edgy anticipation of the curses. It also has new Market cards; Jack of all Trades, Scouts, Transmitters (one shot only), Trailblazers, Photographers, and Treasure Chests. These have similar rewards/uses as the cards in the base game (they add into the base deck, not replace cards from it) and in general are a little more powerful in some cases. They certainly fill the gaps left behind by the base deck cards.

Even with the new additions I still suck lemons at El Dorado. The photographs on this page are taken from one of the games we have played using the expansion and the comments on some of those photos truly reflect my luck during this game - I did get better in the next game and actually came first in the third or fourth game.

The QUEST for EL DORADO doesn't need the GOLDEN TEMPLES expansion - it is already a very good game - but the expansion's components and rule additions take the base game at least two steps higher, 

Found online at various shops and sellers, it can be obtained for anywhere between £15.00 - £30.00 with an average price seeming to be £19.99. There are plenty available so shop around, but make sure you are dealing with a true dealer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021