GTM #210 - Portal of Heroes
Reviewed by Jane Trudeau-Smith & Philip Smith

Once again, Mayfair Games comes to us with a great, easy to learn, fun to play game with Portal of Heroes! The first time we played Portal of Heroes it was just the two of us, then we played again with another couple. The game allows up to five players. It’s a compact game with two decks of cards and a portal sheet for each player, so it’s very portable and a great game to tote along on a trip or bring over to a friend’s house for game night!

The premise of Portal Heroes is that the world of Molthar has been turned evil by a mean magician! A prophecy says that a hero will eventually save them, and you are trying to become that hero! You become that hero by challenging beasts and mythical creatures, and by collecting pearls. The goal is to eventually have enough power points to save them!

How’s It Played?

There are two sets of cards:

  • Pearl Cards – these cards have values of 1-8 and are used to activate character cards. The stack is shuffled and a tableau of four cards is laid out with the draw deck to the side.
  • Character Cards – these are different characters in the world that you can gain power points from. The stack is shuffled and two are laid out to pick from, along with the draw deck next to it.

Each player receives a portal sheet where you can place up to two characters. Decide on a starting player, and have that player turn the side of their portal sheet with the first player symbol up, as a reminder to everyone that they’re the first player.

As you can see, setup is very easy. Now... begin play!

On your turn, you can do three actions. There are four to choose from, and you can perform the same action more than once, as long as the total actions you take is three.

  1. Take one pearl card from the tableau and replace immediately from the draw pile – you need these cards in your hands to activate a character later. At the end of your turn you must not have more than five in your hand.
  2. If none of the pearl cards are what you need, you can remove and replace the entire tableau of four cards with new ones. This is a great way to stop another player from getting something they need!
  3. Choose a character to put on your portal. You can only have two characters at any time on your portal. Each character has a cost, expressed as a pattern or formula, to activate them. For example, I may have a dwarf that has a cost of "33" – two 3's – which means I need two pearl cards with a “3” for activation. Some have more complex patterns like the sequence 45678, or a formula like three cards that total 20.
  4. Activate a character – when you do this you must pay the appropriate cost using the pearl cards in your hand. The character is then rotated upside down and moved to the right of your portal. On the bottom of the card, there’s a power point value you’ll have earned. Some of the cards also have special abilities that are activated immediately, or at any time during your turn. For example, the dwarf allows you to have an automatic “3” in your hand for future use.

Each player takes their turn with three actions until one of the players reach 12 power points. Once that happens, game end is triggered. The current round is completed, and then one, last, full round is played to give each player a chance to meet or beat the 12 points. The player with the highest amount of points wins!

It sounds easy, right? Sure, it’s easy to play, but not so to win! You must have the right pearl cards in your hand to activate the characters, and sometimes the higher the power points, the harder that is. Plus, your “friends” are either taking the cards you need or swiping them out before you can get them – so it can be a good challenge!

Timing of the Game

Portal of Heroes took about 35-minutes as a two-player game, and closer to the 45-minute mark noted on the box with four players.  We see this as a game you could play tournament-style if you want to play longer, too!

Fast Facts:

  • MSRP: $18.00
  • # of Players – 2-5
  • Age Range – 10+
  • Duration – 45-minutes
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