Champions of Hara is, at last, the Mage Knight we deserve

We have a thread for that under the article linked in the review. It’s the one where you tried to convince me I’d like Gloomhaven instead. :)

I’d be happy to discuss it further over there if you like.

It’s Goblinko’s Dungeon Degenerates game.

I figured Dungeon Degenerates was the name of that “universe” and Hand of Doom is the name of the specific game. I might have that wrong.


Whoa, that’s cool that they’re from your college, Hassan. I just talked a bit with Walter Barber, and I’ll be posting that conversation as part of our podcast next week. It turns out the Champions of Hara universe is something he and a couple of close friends have been putting together since they were in school together. Basically, their art school equivalent of a D&D campaign. :)

Excellent question. I completely agree about multiplayer and coop/solitaire designs often being mutually exclusive. I think Hara is a stronger design for its coop/solitaire. As a battle arena among players, it’s entirely possible to just run around playing the board and ignoring each other. There are a few attempts to hardwire player interaction and competition – powers that let you steal items or resources, items that are specifically useful against other players – but they feel pretty ancillary. It’s ironic to me that Champions of Hara was originally designed as a competitive battle arena game, because that’s definitely not its strong point.

That said, the scenarios that tweak the relationship among players are pretty cool. Team games definitely tap into what makes the co-op good, and the one vs. many options seem interesting. But I confess that I haven’t tried the one vs many scenarios.

So to answer your question, I’m not sure I’d say the competitive suffers in quality, since that was their basic design goal in the beginning. But it’s definitely overshadowed by the superlative quality of the coop/solitaire. It’s just that if you want to play a battle arena boardgame, there are probably better options.

The rules book specifies that you should get other players to help you when the Dojo is swapping places with a world tile!

I wouldn’t say it’s annoying or frustrating, since the moving worlds is a significant part of the design. There are characters who can affect that, by the way. Kaoru is called a “geomancer” and he has some control over the world shifts. Persephone, I think, can rotate the world tiles. One of the quest goals is to “ride” shifting world tiles, and it lets you spend a Dreamstone to look at the next World Shift card.

Since a lot of the game is about positioning, the moving world tiles can be frustrating by design and tricky mechanically. I just pull the hexes out from each other to do the swap, then push them back together. One of the tiles is always the Dojo, which never has many pieces on it. But the swaps aren’t frequent. They happen every other turn and you’ll only do it five times if you play out the game clock.


Nah, I feel like we already had that conversation. Just noting it for people reading who may not have participated in that thread.

It looks like a cool game. Being a dick is kind of my thing.

If Tom is going to write five-star reviews for games (Chaos on Hara) that are LITERALLY UNOBTAINABLE, I think we need to fight back by posting only about Early Access stuff on Steam.

Yeah, I’m waiting on a reprint that might never come for that one. Que sera, sera.

Wait why do you say that? I’m guessing you’re not in the US and it doesn’t ship overseas? Just this morning I found copies on amazon and a few other retailers, and when I looked at the designers storefront it seemed you could ship internationally (for a high fee of course). I bought a copy this morning from miniature market.

He’s talking about the expansion, Chaos on Hara. Is that what you’re talking about? I don’t see it at MM.

Ok that would make sense, I thought Tom mentioned you could only get the expansion direct from the designer?

And yes it’s out of stock at MM, my buddy bought their last copy this morning.

Imagine a world… in which YOU CAN’T.

We’re living in that world.

Yeah, there’s no listing for the expansion on the publisher’s store.

They do appear to have previously offered a Kickstarter bundle that included the expansion, but I’m betting that was either a late backer preorder sort of thing or selling off overstock from the KS fulfillment.

Ok I can see that…except you can! Tom wrote a 5-star review of Champions of Hara which you can buy. He mentions the expansion but that’s not the game he’s reviewing. Trust me I feel your pain if the expansion is what you’re interested in but I think Toms opinion of the base game was that it is in no way “incomplete” without the expansion.

When I was grabbing screenshots* last night for the review, I noticed the Chaos on Hara page on Greenbriar’s storefront said “1 copy left”. I figured that was just there to pressure people into buying it. Apparently it was in earnest.

So that’s who it was!

If it’s any consolation, this isn’t one of those games where you need the expansion for it to be good (Fallout) or to truly live up to its potential (Spirit Island). You just need the expansion if you end up liking the game enough to want moar.

Which is weird. You’d think they would have the page up with an “out of stock” notice.


* I can’t believe I wrote “screenshots” here. I meant artwork. Not everything is a videogame, Tom!

It sounds like the expansion was considered a Kickstarter (or at least, nonretail) exclusive. It may be that they don’t have plans to print more, at least until they do another Kickstarter. They’re definitely talking about doing more Hara content so another KS seems likely. I’ll probably get in on things then.

Yep, same. I’m hooked enough by this review to keep an eye out for another KS with goodies.

I was too hyperbolic in my initial response. That being said, my initial response was visceral.

The shattered glass box made me a little nauseous looking at it.


The A’SHURA CORRUPTED BY VENGEANCE card has dark blue lettering on a dark green (purple/blue?) background, which makes it look even busier along with the illuminated neon sign numbers that I am guessing are your stats. It is hideous and busy.

The game board looks like it doesn’t communicate terrain or a theme. Why do any of those hexes go together other than they are cut that way? Maybe that is deliberate. And if thats the case, if they are conveyed by the tiles you add, then I will take back my criticism. Just not a great first impression.

The artwork you posted is beautiful. But combine it with the game components and it looks like well crafted sushi presented in a bowl of skittles and peeps.

This sounds great, and I don’t have a good game like this in my collection. I’ve ordered a copy.

Definitely deliberate. The game board is comprised of a giant hexagonal tile in the middle representing the players’ base, where they can heal up and hide from monsters. Then there are six worlds, two for each color of energy, placed around the center.

And just as the world is built from hexagonal tiles – one in the center, and six around the edges – each tile is itself the same structure: a hexagonal space in the middle, surround by six hexagonal spaces around the edges. The central hex for each world’s tile is where that world’s deck of cards sits.

It’s all very elegant, but you’re right that it’s not communicating terrain, because there isn’t any terrain in the game. Every hex is empty until a card is placed on it. I guess that’s one of many ways my Mage Knight comparison falls apart. There’s no sense of exploring a map, or discovering sites, or navigating terrain. It’s more like an elegant hex-based chessboard where the characteristics of a space are determined by whatever card might appear there.

This is known as FONT-RAGING!

Nevertheless, I think we can both agree the game is visually stunning. Even if we’re both stunned in different ways.


I picked up a copy as well. I can’t tell if this is the kind of game I’ll like but my desire to be part of the conversation is overwhelming!

I spotted this at The Compleat Strategist sitting right next to Unicornus Knights. Apparently they have a dedicated (but unlabeled) section for Tom Chick Unexpected Recommendations.