Entertainment

Game review: Portal of Heroes and Saboteur: the Duel are fun, fresh and innovative card games

Posted March 18

Creating a good card game is not as easy as it looks. There are hundreds on the market. Mayfair Games recently created two very different, innovative and exciting new card games. Take a look at Portal of Heroes and Saboteur: the Duel in this detailed review.

For lovers of fantasy, Portal of Heroes offers travel through the portals of Molthar into a world of folklore. From two to five players attempt to gather magical pearls and quickly trade them for fantastical creatures. Gain 12 insignias of power to win the game.

To start the game, four numbered pearl cards (from one to eight) are placed on the table in a row. Two character cards are also placed on the table. The character cards have a string of numbers at the top. Players collect these characters and then activate them by playing pearl cards with the numbers depicted on the character card.

For example, a powerful wizard card with the number 7788 is acquired. A player activates the card by playing pearl cards with the numbers seven, seven, eight and eight.

It's worth noting that the artwork in this game is absolutely wonderful. It enhances the play by showing cool creatures from fantasy such as wizards, dwarves, Conan, unicorns and many many more. The pearl cards have a tremendous amount of detail with intricate colors, patterns and design.

On a player's turn he or she can take three actions from four options. Option one is to take one of the pearl cards on the table and add it to his or her hand. Option two is to replace all of the pearl cards on the table with a fresh deal. Option three is to take one of the character cards on display. The fourth and final option is to activate a character already acquired by playing the required pearl cards, as explained above.

One of the best parts of this game that keeps the excitement level high is the sheer variety of character cards. When a character is activated it will be worth points and it may grant a special power. Some cards give special diamond cards that act as wilds when activating even more characters.

When a player activates 12 points worth of characters, the other players get one last turn and the game ends. The player with the most points wins and ties are broken by the number of diamond cards gathered.

Portal of Heroes is a great game. It is well designed, innovative and fun to play. Gamers looking for a nicely themed card game to break out at the next game night will be pampered by this gem of game.

One of the unique things about Saboteur: Duel is that it can be played alone or with another player. Players are dwarves in a mine trying to collect as much gold as possible. It's not so hard to find the gold, the trick is to get to it.

To start, the table is seeded with six goal cards that will contain different amounts of gold nuggets. The players start next to each other on the table and will play cards representing tunnels that can be built on the table creating a network accessing these goal cards. To get to a piece of gold, players must create an unobstructed path to the gold.

Speaking of obstructions, the hand of cards that each player has will contain action cards that will hinder his or her opponent. Action cards stall an opponent so they cannot move and get more gold. Action cards also can fix a problem created by another player such as repairing broken equipment.

Doors that open to only one dwarf and a blocked passage by a greedy troll can be found in the caves too. It will require a great deal of strategy and tactics to win the day and collect the most gold.

Saboteur: the Duel is a quick game with a good theme. It's different from other games out there and is different every time as the layout of the mine changes. There is a fair amount of luck in the game as to what cards get drawn but the strategy is when and how to play those cards. Of course the option to play it solo is worth pure gold. Find out more about these games and more at Mayfair Games' website.

Email: rmorgenegg@deseretnews.com

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