Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30 to 45 minutes (3-6 players)
TL; DR-Build a hero! 89%
Basics- Cards! Assemble! Custom heroes is another in the card crafting games lineup from AEG. This game is a trick taking game where one player will play any number of cards of one number, and every player after them will play cards of the same number or higher numbers until no one can play any more cards, and the last player wins the round. Then, the player who went last starts again. An example would be starting with three 4s, and then play continues to 3 10s. You can also skip other players by playing the exact same cards as the previous player, so even if that player has an awesome play, they might not get a chance get it out there! Players continue until they have no more cards in hand earning various rewards. The first player out in a round then earns victor points, power chips, and inserts, while the last player left in a round loses a point, but gains many more chips and inserts.
And here is where the game really takes off! Each insert will give you a new base number, add, subtract, or provide a new power. When the round comes to you, you can insert as many inserts as you want into a card, as long as they don’t cover ones already there, and then play these new custom heroes. The game starts with base cards numbering 1 to 10, but I have seen three 18s played on a turn! Powers have to be activated with power chips, but if you don’t use the power, you gain back a chip. While you modified that heroe, they are part of a common deck, so you might watch as the hero you made one turn is played by a different player a turn later
The game continues until a player has 10 victory points and wins. So you might be over the 10 victory point top, but unless you are the first one out with that many, play keeps going. Three way battles between players with 14 or more victory points make for some tense games!
Mechanics-I have a lot of trick taking games, but the custom nature of this one is really fun. You get a bit more choice in the game. Lots of games like this just screw you on the flop, but now you get the ability to build your own numbers should the ones you are dealt suck. But, what’s really fun is how much this little game will make you think. You really do send your time thinking about the different math combinations you can pull to make your next play. This is a simple game that hides a much deeper one! 5/5
Theme- Here is where this game gets screwed by my love of theme. Hearts is a fun game, but it has absolutely no theme. This game has some good art and the nature of how the inserts customize what the heroes are doing is fun, but there really isn’t a story. It feels like some anime world, but beyond that, there isn’t much here. This game has a fun, but not deep, theme. It tries! There are descriptions of things in the book, but again, this is like asking for a custom, story based, version of poker that doesn’t change the cards in any fundamental way. 3/5
Instructions– Did you see the instructions up above? That’s the rules! The book says it nicer, shows pictures, and reads quick. This game isn’t hard to get into, and the rules make that transition quick. 5/5
Execution-Overall, i really like this game! The art is cool with a nice anime vibe. The inserts are great quality, as they build awesome heroes. The one things I don’t like are the card sleeves. AEG has to walk a hard line here. The card sleeves are the game, so they have to be rough and tumble enough to be used over and over. BUT, they are a bit too tough. They stick to each other way too much! Often when I’m about to hand out the 10th card for the round, I have everybody count to see if I have given them 10 already because the cards are stuck together. It’s not game ending, but it’s a slight annoyance that will drive you a bit mad. You can see our unboxing of the games here: https://youtu.be/3TAXTdlFGWA 4.75/5
Summary-Custom Heroes is just fun. It’s a small box game that teaches quick, plays fast, and isn’t bogged down in being too much. The art is great, the rules read easy, and the inserts are a fun addition to a simple game concept. I’d like to see more of this. I wish there was a story that we could build upon here to make more theme, but this is a simple game that any card player knows what to do next. Overall, it’s a blast that you will want to replay as soon as you finish your last game. 89%