HELLBOY THE BOARD GAME / PUBLISHER: MANTIC GAMES, CROWD GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Mantic Games has been steadily building a reputation for producing novel and interesting games that use highly sculpted miniatures. Some of their most eye-catching offerings have been based on well-known franchises such as Mars Attacks and The Walking Dead. Their latest is thing Hellboy The Board Game based on the comic book of the same name. And it’s safe to say they have out-done themselves.
Mike Mignola’s iconic comic book detective/action-hero might seem like an odd choice for a board game, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to pretend to be Hellboy and crew for a few hours. Hellboy The Board Game is a dungeon crawler, like Zombicide or Hero Quest. This means that you take the role of either Hellboy or one of the other BPRD crew. The core box includes Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman and Johann Kraus. Though you can play the game solo, it’s more fun with friends.
Each hero has their own cards, abilities and inherent drawbacks. Abe may be a great shot but he’s not great if he gets swarmed by monsters. Liz has mastery over fire, and though that’s great to get rid of baddies it can burn the building down and so on. Each hero has their own distinct play style and the player’s take their turn co-operatively, which means one hero doesn’t have to do everything before anyone else can have a go.
Storytelling is done through a specific story deck of cards, called Case Files. These are customised scenario. You build another deck to control the monsters, depending on the case. This means no one has to be the rules keeper and everyone can be a hero. Fans of Eldritch Horror and similar horror games will know the drill. The game is on a timer and with every turn things likely get worse. A story of sorts gets told and the characters are designed with a synergy in mind. This means you actually get into the role.
The design is appropriately gorgeous. Each game piece uses the iconic Hellboy art to full effect and you get that moody, inky feeling from the comics. The models are the high quality we’ve grown to expect from Mantic. Fixed in pose they may be, but they’re dynamic poses. Unpainted of course, grabbing a brush is part of the fun. Despite being a Kickstarter, the core set does feel like a complete game, and the monsters are particularly interesting and fun.
It does have a slight flaw - we found the rulebook needed a second reading as we missed a few things at the start, but the game is well designed enough that you’ll notice if you’ve gotten something wrong. The games are quick and we did find ourselves craving more scenario packs. However, this horror adventure game easily takes top spot in a crowded market. Well worth the time.