04th Oct2019

‘Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid’ Board Game Review

by Matthew Smail

pr-heroes-grid-box

If, like me, you’re somewhere between the ages of about 33 and 40, you’ll very likely have spent most of your childhood avoiding the Power Rangers. What seemed like a stupid, cheesy mess to me was apparently hugely exciting to slightly younger kids, but I just never got it. As it turns out, Power Rangers had more fans than I could ever have imagined, and some of them are still just as keen today as they were back in the, erm, mid 1990′s. Cue Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, a surprising new miniatures game from Renegade Game Studios.

Given my admission that I’m not a Power Rangers fan, you might be surprised to read that I’ve spent a fair chunk of my free time over the past few weeks playing this pleasingly straightforward game, but Jonathan Ying (the designer of Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Bargain Quest) has delivered an absolute blinder. Where most miniatures games layer increasingly complex games one over another, Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid keeps things clean and simple, allowing for a broad player range and a decent standard of casual play.

Each game begins with the players choosing one of the five rangers, each of whom comes with their own deck of combat cards. Each deck features ten cards and is unique to a specific ranger, although God only knows whether these decks relate to each Ranger – I assume so. Some of the decks offer a very direct style of combat, whilst others might favour support or leadership abilities that mean the rangers all play very differently and can be used in different combinations, especially when all five are in play and working in sporadic teams across the board.

Also as part of setup, the players will seed a deck of enemy cards to include several monster cards, alongside the bog standard Putty Patroller and Super Putty Patroller henchmen. The myriad of Kickstarter driven expansion decks include further monsters and possibly henchmen, although I am not covering those here. A final boss monster is included in the bottom section of the location deck, and whilst only Rita Repulsa is included in the base game, I am sure that more boss monsters are available among the expansion content.

Finally, the board and tokens are setup. There are only a handful of tokens and depending on the number of players, each Ranger will have at least two actions per turn, but this rises to four at a player count of two. The central board is made up of five pieces; a central circle and then four moon shaped pieces that fit around it. These pieces are random and can be flipped to an alternate side to offer further challenges, but in general, the board itself is very simple and serves its purpose of keeping the action constant very well.

The pieces that are placed on this board are large and well sculpted, albeit lacking in the kind of detail that you might expect from a CMON or Games Workshop. There are plenty in the box, and each Power Ranger is differentiated by colour, but the real stars of the show are the monsters, each of which is large and distinct – as well as being particularly ugly. Fans of the series will no doubt enjoy these, although only a few of them rang bells in my long term memory. There are four monsters in the base game, alongside Rita, giving Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid good replay value, since the monsters that appear (and when) are randomised each game.

Because the board consists of only five spaces, turns are relatively simple and the action ramps up quickly. Location cards are drawn each turn, with groups of enemies being introduced as shown on them. Each location has a figure limit, and if the number of enemies ever breaches that limit, the location will become panicked, which can lead to a game loss. With this in mind, the Rangers will use their actions to move around the board defeating enemies in the hottest spots, hopefully whittling them down until each monster and then ultimately the boss, is defeated.

When a Ranger takes a fight action, enemy cards will be drawn for the henchmen and/or boss figures that are present in the location. Each enemy card shows some form of attack, which might sap the Rangers energy, deal them damage or do something else to their detriment. Keywords like Fast might mean that these attacks land before the Rangers, but where these rules apply, they are straightforward and easy to learn. Rangers use the ten cards in their own deck to deal damage to the enemy cards, and whenever a card is defeated, the matching figure is removed from the location.

The interesting thing about the Ranger decks, aside from that each one is unique, is the fact that each card is both a powerful attack or ability, and a health token. As cards are spent in combat, they go into a discard pile that can be reused, but when damage is taken, cards are discarded permanently. If a Ranger loses all of their cards to damage, then they are defeated and must spend an energy crystal to recharge.

During setup, a number of shared energy crystals will be placed in the centre of the board (and one is dealt to each Ranger) and if the players ever use up their crystals and are then defeated, the game is lost. Rangers can spend an action to return to base and recharge their discarded cards at any time, but obviously that will take them out of the fight for what will usually be a whole turn in four or five player games, or at least half of one in a smaller game.

If you can imagine for a moment then that each game of Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid is almost like a chaotic race that completely throws all concepts of reality out of the window, you can start to see how it really, really delivers on the Power Rangers theme. The Rangers might be at two sides of the city fighting putty patrollers, when all of a sudden a boss appears elsewhere… One Ranger from each fight agrees to jump over and tackle the new threat, but then one of the locations they were fighting in begins to panic.

As the Rangers madly dash around, beating down enemies and fighting proverbial fires, their decks will dwindle and just when you feel like you’re on top of things, everyone could need to rest at the same time, leading more outbreaks of panic. Suddenly, the Red Ranger who was left fighting on his own, is in serious trouble and you’ve lost your first energy crystal. It feels cheesy, it feels silly, but Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid is actually just a ton of fun to play. I do see that you’ll need to invest in expansions to keep the content fresh, but for the occasional casual game with friends, Heroes of the Grid is superb.

With all of that said, Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid really surprised me. Jonathan Ying’s design is accessible, exciting and interesting – it has a few mechanics (primarily around the card play and combat) that could appeal to slightly more experienced gamers, and its neither too hard nor too easy, giving it broad appeal. The miniatures are cool (because they are large) but not amazing quality, and the price point of the game is relatively high. Aside from those minor issues, there is little else to complain about here, and Heroes of the Grid is certainly a welcome and unusual take on the miniatures game genre.

**** 4/5

Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid is available online at 365Games.co.uk, or at your local games store. Don’t know where yours is? Try this handy games store locator

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