It's time to get your hero on!  The Champions of Zeta City have an opening, so you can make it onto the team by earning enough fame to prove your worth by taking on a big villain, plus their henchmen and underlings.  Other wannabe heroes have the same idea, but you can prove your worth by outdoing them (or attacking them).  This is the world of Heroes Wanted, a card/board game from Action Phase Games that has the silliest heroes and villains outside of The Tick -- and some very good gameplay too.

Each player assembles their hero by combining a card from the A deck (the top half, which gives a type of hero (Vigilante, Cosmic, Tech, or Mutant) and superpower) and from the B deck (with a more ongoing ability).  Players can go for straight ability (like Danger Blade), silliness (Brunch Giraffe), or a mix of the two (like American Weevil).  Players also get a random quirk, which gives them 10 fame but goes down 2 fame each time they don't do what the quirk says (like consoling another hero who rests, or posing heroically after damaging a bad guy).  Players get a Hero Bonus area, which gives benefits when they complete Headlines.  Finally, the heroes get four basic action cards, one Superpower action card, and one Hero Type card.

Villains are assembled by combining A and B cards  -- so far, I've faced the Mama Twins, Unstoppable Jock, and the dreaded Cat Taco -- and the villain usually has 15 hit points per player.   The scenario (four come in the basic game) includes: spaces for the Villain (plus their movement), underlings, and henchmen; special rules, from throwing out trash to secret doors; Headlines that give players fame when accomplished; and when the villain escape if not knocked out.  Once that's all set up, it's time to play!
Starting with the first hero (which can change during the game) and going clockwise, each player can play one action card.  These are usually a movement or attack, but they can sometimes do other things, like make a player the first hero or let them get a card from their discards.  Players can knock out an underling for 4 damage (and earn 1 fame) or henchman for 5 damage (and get 2 fame), or damage the villain (earning half the hit point damage at the end of the game, plus a bonus for knocking them out or doing the most damage to them).  Players can also attack other players.  If a player meets a headline requirement (like knocking out three henchmen or earning 10 fame), the players get a bonus from their Hero Bonus card.  And since players can't use cards in their discard pile, they can choose to rest, doing nothing but getting all their cards back.

Of course, villains get to attack back!  The main villain does an amount of damage determined by their A and B cards; in addition, heroes take 1 damage from each adjacent underling and 2 damage from each adjacent henchman.  Players can discard cards equal to or greater than the damage to avoid being injured.  If a player can't, they spend the next turn doing nothing (and getting all their cards back) and get an injury token, which adds 1 to future damage and costs them 2 fame at the end of the game.

There is so much I like about Heroes Wanted.  The game has an absolutely terrific sense of humor, from the hero and villain combos to the flavor text ("Giraffes are the nunchucks of the animal kingdom") and scenarios (where you stop villains from jaywalking or selling bootleg dvds).  The gameplay is also quite effective, as you have to decide when and who to attack, when to holds cards back to defend with, what headlines to grab, and what you'll do to win.  (I learned early on that knocking out the villain doesn't guarantee victory.)  The tokens are designed perfectly to see exactly what's on the board: Underlings are small and gray, henchmen are bigger and tan, and the villain is the biggest and black.  The Extra, Extra expansion gives many more hero and villain cards, and future expansions should provide new scenarios as well.  Heroes Wanted is perfect for folks what want to play something that's both thoughtful and amusing.  Trust me: I was DJ Worm.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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