Publisher: Gamelyn Games
Game Type: 4x, Strategy, Exploration, Exploitation, Extermination, Expansion, Extrapolation, 5x
Designer: Scott Almes
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Artist: Chad Hoverter
Artist: Adam P. McIver
Artist: Ian Rosenthaler
Artist: Benjamin Shulman
Theme and What is it?
4X games have become the RAGE the past few years, though strangely not all 4X games define themselves as such. Heroes of Land, Sea & Air makes no qualms about this, it is 4x tried and true, and puts it right on the box.
For those of you like me, I love 4x, though I think this might be breaking the 5x wall, and in the world of Deadpool 2, breaking the wall, is so very modern. So, please take my words with a grain of salt, as I am predisposed to like this title. So…
This world is small, it is big enough for me and my kin, of (Elves, Orcs, Humans or Dwarves), my clan. Anyone else, is just taking up space. And for that reason alone, they will die, horrible sad horrendous deaths, at the tip of my sharp pointy object, or be crowded out by us breeding faster than them, or have the resources drained from the land before they can use them, or, or, or… My point is my kinsfolk are more awesome than yours…
4x stands for Explore, Expand, Exploit, and/or Exterminate. This game is no different in general game mechanics, but I would argue it is almost hitting that 5th wall of extrapolation.
While leveling up your Capital, you are also leveling up your buildings, which necessarily level up the skills of your forces. Like most 4x, you are creating an engine, but here, you are also leveling that engine up. The Mana Tower for example allows you to research and cast during same turn on first level, on second level it allows you to cast twice. We argued amongst ourselves if that meant you could cast twice upon the research action, as the wording of the player board said it allows you to immediately cast.
We didnt know if that was an action or not, and we are rules anti-lawyers, we refuse to constantly look up rules, we like to decide amongst ourselves. My point is, there is a lot of play here, as your people, buildings and Capitals level up. You must extrapolate your plan from a very early stage, and hope that it plays out well, by determining which high level benefits you want. Otherwise you are just wasting resources on buildings that are unnecessary.
Love the look of the game. Am super thrilled at the outset the idea of 4x and RPG element leveling up. As Forrest Gump said, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Game Build Quality
The minis in this game are great, the insert is awesome. I did have a slight problem popping the cardboard. I hope it was a simple diecut issue on my copy, as I could see some people getting a bit frustrated that the cardboard ripped as easily as it did for me. My guess, knowing Gamelyn, and their penchant for quality, is this was a one off issue. Though, it does deserve mentioning, that you may want to use a sharp knife (Xacto) to precut if you are the sort of person that would be upset by that issue.
Colors always make me happy. Just because, this is war, does not mean the colors need be muted. HLAS make use of a tremendous palette that makes me happy to look at the board, the minis, the box, and the growth of your armies.
For this reason, the art of the game fits the theme, and makes me quite happy to see it and play it. Some games are masterpieces of art. Some games make you feel the theme of the game. I would argue HLAS is the latter, rather than the former. The art brings you into being one of the four deadly clans.
In my book, that is exactly what a 4X game should do, make you feel that your clan, is your own, not just some plastic pieces. HLAS does exactly that, I felt more connected to my elves than I feel in other similar playing games, and that means job well done on the artistic team from Gamelyn.
As I said, starting this, I am pre-disposed to like 4X games. With that being said, this fits my expectations and more. This game will likely get some playtime in future months.
Age Range & Weight
14+ is the official number handed down by the Gamelyn folks.
I tend to agree, the critical analysis that it would take to come up with a plan for future power would be tough for a younger audience. However, I also encourage parents that enjoy gaming to start your monsters early. The earlier you start teaching those skills, the earlier they will beat you and make you proud.
HLAS is a fantastic adaptation of the 4X genre, both in theme and carrythough. The minis are well done, the art bright and bold, and the engine build works so well that this may become one of my goto games.
I am a huge fan of static engines in 4X, but this static engine has a growth mechanic, something I had not personally envisioned in 4X. That mechanic allows for thought that is far beyond just unlocking one steam mech, which unlocks capabilities for all steam mechs, or a God that gives your troops one specific ability. Each level of unlock allows for a more powerful play-through.
I have not said this phrase in a while within a review… but HLAS will become a Top-Shelf game… now, I wonder who gets unseated by this HUGE box…?