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RHINO HERO: SUPER BATTLE

Reviewed by Herb Levy

RHINO HERO: SUPER BATTLE (HABA, 2 to 4 players, ages 5 and up, 10-20 minutes; $29.99)

 

Super heroes, super hero battles, building things up and crashing them down, what more can someone ask for in a game designed for kids? At least, that seems to be the way designers Scott Frisco and Steven Strumpf were thinking when they came up with Rhino Hero: Super Battle

Rhino Hero: Super Battle brings back the Rhino Hero character (from its initial 2011 appearance) along with more superheroes (Giraffe Boy, Big E and Batguin) and adds a bit more strategy in constructing rising skyscrapers before their inevitable fall. And, of course, no superhero would be complete without an arch nemesis which, in this case, are spider monkeys!

To begin,  three game boards (with yellow “build points” marked on them) are placed side by side. Floor cards are shuffled and three dealt to each player. Three more floor cards are revealed to form a display with the remaining becoming a draw deck. Short and tall “walls” (cardboard pieces) are placed near the building area. 

On a turn, a player must first build by selecting one of his/her floor cards and adding it to the skyscraper. Each card shows the type of walls required (short or tall) and how many need to be used to place the floor on the ever growing structure. Floors must be placed so they are level (no 45° floors allowed) and walls must be placed on the denoted build spots. (If you happen to find yourself with a floor that is unplayable, you can discard any or all in your hand and draw new ones to replace them. However, this counts as your full turn. No building that turn for you.) But then comes the nefarious spider monkeys!

If your floor card has a spider monkey symbol on it, you must hang a spider monkey anywhere on that floor. Placement is critical as these spider monkeys may thwart your construction plans as they can tip the floor just placed and cause everything to crash! But, if disaster is averted and the skyscraper remains (semi) stable, you may roll the light blue die. This die has faces showing -1, 0, 1 (two of those), 2 and 3. The number rolled tells you how many levels up your superhero may ascend. (If the die roll is a minus 1, however, your hero goes DOWN a level!) If your hero ends up on the same level as another hero, then get ready for a super battle!

Super battles are done via die roll. Despite the presence of “superheroes”, no super powers are involved in play. Everyone starts on an equal footing. The hero who has landed on the occupied floor is the attacker and rolls the red die, the defender the dark blue. The attacker has an advantage here as the red die has two faces each of 2, 4 and 6.  The dark blue die shows two faces each of 1, 3 and 5. High number wins the battle and may stay on that level. The defeated hero must move down one level. (If this downward movement results in two heroes on the same level, another super battle is triggered!) The dice in the game are large, a nice accommodation for younger players who have smaller hands.

If, by the end of your turn, your hero is the highest up in the skyscraper, you receive the “superhero medal”. (Of course,  possession of this medal will shift as player positions may change from turn to turn.) Finally, the player draws a new floor card into her/his hand, either from the top of the draw deck or from the three card display. Then, the next player goes. 

The skyscraper continues to grow and heroes continue to climb it –  until the skyscraper collapses! When that happens, the player holding the superhero medal wins the game EXCEPT if it is the superhero medal holder who causes the collapse. In that case, ALL of the OTHER players win! (If, by some miracle, no collapse occurs and all floor tiles have been used, then the player holding the superhero medal at that point claims victory.)

On the whole, the game plays rather quickly. You might take some time in placing those floors to avoid a collapse. Figuring out just where and how to add those tiles to the growing structure is a challenge. Adding to that challenge are those spider monkeys you are forced to have cling to the floors making the sometimes difficult floor placements a shade more tricky as these monkeys tend to unbalance them. A steady hand is an essential requirement. With those special battle dice, no ties are possible so battles get resolved fast which is a plus as well. 

Rhino Hero: Super Battle combines elements of popular stacking games (think of Bandu/Bausack and Jenga) while injecting a bit of strategy to the impending destruction. Add to that a bit of dice rolling and whimsical fun (after all, Batguin??) and you have a pleasing package of family fun. – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


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