Being raised as a kid in Indonesia during the early 90s makes me pretty familiar with many Chinese dramas. Most of them brought up the heroic Wuxia genre, something that has been becoming rarer since the booming of modern dramas from China itself and its neighbouring countries. Crossroads of Heroes from Patrick Lee did bring the nostalgia, thanks to its theme covering the whole gameplay.
A short disclaimer before you read my board game analysis
As an avid euro gamer and hardcore Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) LCG player, my reviews may reflect a preference for these styles, and I may not cover solo games/variants extensively. Please note that my personal remarks are based on my gaming experiences, and I aim to provide honest insights within the scope of my preferences.
Crossroads of Heroes was a Kickstarter project initiated by Pat Pier in 2017. As an alter-ego from Patrick, he and his team single-handedly materialized and published this game for us to enjoy. I got my copy from them during SPIEL Essen 2018.
I will not overindulge in the rule explanation. There are several videos on YouTube tutoring how to play Crossroads of Heroes really well.
THE OVERALL GAMEPLAY OF CROSSROADS OF HEROES
I can see how much Patrick loves the game, and his passion when developing Crossroads of Heroes is visible in the end-product. He created several heroes and gave each of them not only the pretty illustrations and background stories, but also their own unique items and additional upgrades. The latter ones help to define and shape the heroes’ destinies during the game.
There is a sense of role-playing as the Wulin heroes travelled around Jianghu. Patrick positioned some NPCs along the way, and we could interact with them. Some were friendly enough to give rare equipments or teach you new skills. But it wasn’t rare to encounter the hostile ones, ready to ask for a fight.
A sort of resource management is prominent
Nevertheless, the fun part in this game lies in the tiny bits of how to be the most renown hero in Jianghu. Mind you, it was an arduous journey. While trying to gain the most fame, the heroes have to keep their Qi in check. All heroes spend their Qis when they need to play some technique cards. When they lose all their Qis, they need to find the Divine Healer in three turns to survive.
Patrick also added a switch to trigger an asymmetrical gameplay. It will set off if one player plays to many Stratagem cards, turning them into ‘Evil Scum’. It does not necessarily mean that this player loses, though. This rule imposes a drastic change to the winning condition.
Both rule implementations exhibit the need to manage resources. I like how immersive the latter rule with the background story of the heroes’ journey. Some may stray away from their noble path and join the evil force. Hence, the name Crossroads of Heroes fits the game perfectly.
We need more epic combats!
If you are looking for a game packed with epic combats, Crossroads of Heroes does not really provide such thing in the box. The combat is simply comparing the wugong value of each combatant, buffed with any learned technique along the way.
It’s true that it manifests a good hand management mechanic in the process. However, I was expecting something more in this matter.
Engaging in a combat is an effective way to increase the renown rating. The duel is not a bullfight, so nobody dies in the process. The loser just have to admit the winner’s superiority. It is noteworthy to mention, Pat inserts a congenial rule: the renown is only gained once against each opposing hero. I must say that I admire this design. Not only it limits the abuse of using combat to win the game, this rule is really proper to the Chinese martial art story. One victor is enough, and there is no fame in beating the weaker one twice.
Replay value and the expansion
Crossroads of Heroes contains high replay value, indeed. There will be lots of things going on the board, offering a unique conclave whenever we replay the game. It is interesting to try all the heroes in different gameplay, since they bring a set of different skills. These aspects change the way we devise plans and respond to tactical play (during combat, for example).
As I like to play the role of villain, the Evil Sect expansion automatically becomes my favourite. It adds a new variation and what the Evil Scum can do.
CROSSROADS OF HEROES WITH ITS REMARKABLE ARTWORKS
I think people will agree when I state that Crossroads of Heroes has extraordinary illustrations. This aspect and the theme successfully coaxed me to ask Pat for one copy to review in 2018. Each hero gets a cool portrayal printed on the cards and as the standee. I am absolutely in love with it.
Crossroads of Heroes has a deep strategy aspect, and the tactical actions can be observed in the combat section. Overall, the game is a decent addition to my collection. The combat could have been better, but it is still a nice game. We could sense the adventure-ish feel during the whole game. The gameplay and the background story fits together perfectly. I think Pat Piper needs to reprint this game soon, making it available for many other gamers to try.
I am a full-time food technologist during weekdays. However, when the calendar hits weekends, I transform into an avid board gamer. I am a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) LCG player from Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Current hobby: buying board games. My shelf of shame’s list is getting longer, thanks to you, Kickstarter.