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Half-Pint Heroes

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Authors:
Johannes Goslar, Roland Goslar, Soren Schaffstein

Publisher:
Corax
2017

No. of Players:
2-7

EVALUATION

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G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Do you play poker? Do you have a poker face? Do you like drinking games? And do you like playing games in pubs? Maybe you are also good in betting? If you are saying yes to all of these questions, Half-Pint Heroes might be the perfect game for you.

Basically, Half-Pint Heroes is a trick-taking game with a lot of traditional mechanics similar to poker. In a pub, far away, the temper is running hot. A traditional card game has gone out of control, and now things can break down into a full-out brawl at every moment. We take over the role of the rivals, and try to win the game and leave the pub as soon as possible. But it is a strange game we are playing, easy to learn, but still hard to master. And it is a game about drinking, so all cards we use have the counterfeit of one of the more or less drunken players.

Each round starts with a Deal phase, in which the players receive their hand cards. But there is no steady quantity of cards. Instead, the first card drawn also determines the number of cards each player receives in the current round. As a result, some rounds are very short, with only 3 cards for every players, and the next, with six cards, gets much longer. Of course, the number of cards significantly influences what you can reach with your cards.

To understand what I mean, you must know that you are asked to collect card sets, very similar to poker. For example, a pair consists of two cards with the same number, whereas two pairs consists of four cards, two cards with the same number and two other with a different matching number. Of course there is also a full house, a straight flush, five of a kind and the highest you can reach a royal flush. Poker players know these terms, and they also know which sets are strong and which are weak.

So far the similarities. But how do players get new cards? How do they built up the collections? On his turn, each player plays one or more cards to form a set. But these sets are not only built by the cards the player chooses from his hand, but also from a face up row in the middle of the table. The number of cards in this face up row is also determined by the first card that is drawn in a round. And this face up row is for everyone. No cards are taken from this row, they only contribute to the players' card sets. A pair in the face up row, for example, is a pair for the one player, the next can add another pair to form two pairs and the third player adds another card with the same number, making it three in a kind.

After each player has played a set, the winner of the round takes all cards and places them stacked next to his or her playing area. This is a won set, but the turn lasts on, and a new round begins with the cards that are still left in the players' hand. This goes, until no player has any more cards. It is possible, that there is only one player left with cards, making it automatically winning him every round (because no other player has any cards left to react, so he automatically wins, whatever he is playing). This state should be avoided by his opponents, because it could start a run for the player, and no other player could have a chance to catch up again. This so called brawl does happen, if a player is able to win three sets in a row in the same round.

The number of won sets has big influence on the victoyry points the player gets for the round. But there are more ways to score. At the beginning of each round, and after the players have received their cards, each player predicts how many sets he or she will win in the current round. And after that, all players simultaneously bet who will be unable to achieve his or her prediction. Both the prediction and the betting can give additional victory points, of course only, if they are right. And after the last round there is also a final scoring in which the longest consecutive number of rounds with correct predictions or a brawl counts for additional victory points.

Half-Pint Heroes is a funny variant of the traditional poker game. It overcomes the sterile atmosphere of the poker cards by the shrill and oversubscribed illustrations of drinking mates on the hand cards. The betting mechanism is a well-known one, comparable for example to Wizard, but it is interesting to see it combined with a poker game. As a result, a royal flush does not vault you to the top, but it is only good enough to win the current set. I found out that Half-Pint Heroes is easily accepted by players who at least rudimentary know the different sets of poker.

Players who know nothing about the traditional game, will have more or less problems in their first rounds to follow up what is happening. Although I do not think that Half-Pint Heroes is a difficult game, I had to learn that these players sometimes gave up, especially if other players knew the sets inside out. I personally like the game very much, but I think it is better to introduce new players gradually, so they won't get frustrated. If all players know the poker sets, Half-Pint Heroes is something like the perfect final game after a long gaming night.


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Copyright © 2018 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany