The Outcast Heroes Review

The Outcast Heroes
The Outcast Heroes

So we picked up copies of The Outcast Heroes in Essen and because of the pitch and my recent trip to Poland, I was rather interested in playing it. The game centers around the Polish resistance to the German occupying forces and players must together or against one another over the years to win. However, instead of playing to a final ‘win / lose’ proposition, players are attempting to score Glory Points.

Rules

I am not going to go too deeply into the rules-set but need to explain some of the rules to explain the game.

Each game is played across 3 stages with 4 rounds in each stage.  Players at the beginning of a stage are given secret mission cards which indicate if the player is a traitor or not.  Successfully completing a secret mission gives bonus victory points.

During the first 3 rounds of each stage, a new mission is revealed.  In addition, at all times a 4th mission (Free the prisoners) is available for players to run.  Players during each round only have 2 actions – they can recruit soldiers from the headquarters, play a soldier to a mission, take over a spot in a mission to receive the spots benefits or if they are the leader, begin the mission.  As such, each round goes pretty quickly and with only 12 rounds a game only takes about an hour or so.

When you run a mission, the leader draws and distributes the glory points that are available for the mission before government cards (bad cards that increase the difficulty of the mission) are drawn and then orders are given to the soldiers.  Orders to soldiers running the mission can range from ‘running away’ to getting injured or dying or being thrown into jail (potentially adding strength to the mission though).

Any missions not started by the end of round 4 automatically start too and if 2 out of 3 of the missions succeed, the rebels win.  If not, they lose and the traitors stand a chance to win additional points.

Appearance

At first glance, the artwork is very, very good.  There’s a lot of good artwork for the wolves and the design and it looks like the art is actually done in period style. However, the biggest problem with the artwork is that it is all in shades of black and grey, with mostly washed out tones.  Cards and card backs aren’t done in a manner that is significantly different (which wolf feature was it that was the Government card?) that can slow down the game itself as you try to remember which card goes where.  Block text on the back of the cards would have helped a lot instead of relying purely on graphical design.  Once you start learning the bits though, it’s not bad.  Still, those with colour blindness and who aren’t that good at quickly memorising the backs of the cards should be warned.

Gameplay

Overall, I have to say the game play quite well but it feels a bit clunky with the number of moving pieces / rules involved.  There are a lot of cards that need to be dealt each time a mission is played – glory points, government action cards, order cards, order cards have to be played and then finally, all cards resolved.  Compared to say the Resistance, the game definitely feels much more involved – though the cards themselves add a little bit more uncertainty and strategic options to the game.

I definitely like how managing your soldiers and the additional ‘free the prisoners’ mission added to the game.  You have to decide who to send, where to send them and what kind of cards you are willing to sacrific for the greater good.  One player had the majority of their characters thrown into jail by the third stage while I had only 1 character in jail (and 4 dead!) which meant I was more inclined to focus my efforts on the main mission.  It also meant that I could get to the leadership positions first, ensuring I had the best victory points if the mission succeeded.

I should also note that I have only played one game so far and I did it with non-gamers.  The non-gamers definitely had fun, but thinking back to the game, I think we missed a lot of the strategic / meta-gaming possibilities involved.  It’s easy to tell who is a traitor or not during the game, so one potential option a leader has is to bribe potential traitors with glory points to successfully allow a mission to succeed.  Since a traitor only gets 2 glory points if 2 / 3 mission fails (and 1 more if all 3 fail); it might make sense for a traitor to help at least 1 mission succeed (and potentially both if he gets 3 glory points a mission).   It’s something I think a ‘gamer’ crowd, or one that has been introduced to something like the Resistance or Werewolf would catch much faster earlier on, rather than ‘after the fact’ with non-gamers.

Which  I guess indicates that this game has definite replay possibilities – you want to try at least a few more games to see how it plays out, with both different number of players and with the same group as you learn the intricacies of the game.

Conclusion

So, would I consider this game a definite buy? I’m not sure.  The Resistance is a much tighter game, and the betrayal mechanic is done in a much shorter format in One Night.  On the other hand, the Outcast Heroes hits on a unique historical theme (or at least one that isn’t as explored) and seems to have a decent amount of replay value with a higher amount of complexity than either of the above two.

 

 

 

Top 10 of 2014

Well, here’s our annual Top 10 list of 2014. As always, it’s a list of great games that are releasing (or have released) that we think most gamers will love. It’s a pretty broad range this year, with a few games currently out of stock though we expect there to be restocks for most of them before XMas.

In addition, don’t expect there to be many business posts coming up to the holiday season, it’s already beginning to be pretty busy as it stands. My job right now is mostly support and ordering, so I’ll be helping deal with e-mails, adding new products to the site and just getting the backend caught up.

The Future of the Video Reviews

As some of you who view our video reviews might have noticed, we have turned on advertising for the video reviews. The reason for this is because we have realised that the reviews just aren’t doing what they are meant to – generate more customers for us. It’s rather obvious when you view where our customers are coming from compared to where viewers are on the videos. Even though we have more viewers than ever, our actual visitors to the site from the Youtube visitors have dropped.

A Marketing Vehicle

Basically, the effectiveness of the Youtube videos have disappeared.  There are numerous reasons for this, but at the end of the day, it looks like the audience for our videos are just not interested in supporting the production of the videos via buying from the site.

It was always a danger with an internet vehicle like this which was not / could not be targeted to a specific geographic region.  It’s always been somewhat tenuous as a line item, with its effectiveness hard to judge.  Still, we were willing to let it coast for a time when we saw an upward trend in visitors / sales / etc.  What that means is that as a marketing vehicle, the videos are being written off for 2015.

 

Advertising as a Stop Gap

Since the videos can no longer be counted as a valid marketing expense, the next step is to make them (at least) revenue neutral.  To do that, we need to generate direct income from the video reviews.  As such,we have turned on advertising on the video reviews in stages, with the latest update turning it on completely.

We will see if this generates sufficient revenue to keep doing the video reviews.  The likelihood of that is quite slim due to the nature of the payouts for advertising.  Still, it is worth a shot since it is the least obtrusive way of generating revenue.

 

The Next Steps

What are the next steps if advertising doesn’t work? Well, the system that makes the most sense to us is Patreon.  Subscribers can pay directly for the creation of the video advertisements and only pay when we actually release a video.  It does require us to fund the videos first, but it does at least make it viable for us to continue the videos if enough people are willing to pay for it.  And considering we have over 18,000 subscribers, you would think that would be viable.

We’ll launch the Patreon subscriber drive in a month or so after we check the amount of revenue we’ve generated from advertising.