Mighty Morphin Power Rangers played a key role in my childhood. In hindsight, it was a cheesy, campy show made on a shoestring budget with questionable acting. But it was also a highly imaginative, action-packed superhero show, one that had real heart that shined past the rubber suits, spark packs, and blatant toy marketing. That kind of sincerity to the premise is felt in every element of Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, designed by Jonathan Ying and published by Renegade Studios, and is great for those who never fully grown out of seeing the teenagers with attitude suit up.
In short, Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid is a cooperative board game for 2-5 players. Each player chooses a Ranger, then must work as a team in order to defend 4 different locations from evil forces. It starts off simple with footsoldiers, then gradually escalates with monsters until a boss finally appears. If the board becomes overwhelmed with enemies, you lose. Survive to the end and defeat the boss, you win.
On the surface, it all sounds very straightforward, but there is a surprising amount of depth to be found here. Each Ranger has their own combat deck which acts as both their attacks and defense. When every battle starts, you choose to draw however many cards you want, up to a maximum of 5. However, every single time an enemy attack goes off, you must discard cards from that deck. Each and every combat deck is made of 10 cards. If you run out of cards, your Ranger is taken out of the battle and brings the team closer to defeat. Do you limit your actions for greater survivability or do you risk defense for greater options and combo potential?
Adding to these decisions are other forms of resource management. Every battle begins with a shared pool of energy tokens, which are spent to use certain combat cards. There are 3 different types of cards: straightforward Attacks where you roll dice and deal damage, Maneuvers that range from adding more energy to the pool to letting other Rangers search their decks for cards to play, and Reactions that can be played immediately for free when certain conditions are met. Finally, there are no individual turns in Heroes of the Grid. Whenever a fight goes down, every Ranger on that part of the board fights, and they can only play 1 Attack or Maneuver card at a time.
That last part sounds highly restrictive but it makes the game reflect the greatest strength of the Power Rangers: teamwork. Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid is at its best when players are talking to one another, trying to figure out the best course of action and how to use what they have for the best possible result. It is also where the Rangers' own specialized roles and unique character abilities take center stage. Examples include Jason's Leadership which lets you reroll attack dice once per battle, or Billy's Strategize letting a player draw another card then put a card from their hand on top of their deck.
These discussions and team synergies only grow as the game continues. Defeating footsoldiers and monsters cause an experience track to increase, once the group goes up a level, a Zord card is drawn and given to its corresponding Ranger. These Zord abilities can be activated at any time and have devastating effects like bonus damage, turning misses into hits, and even instantly taking out footsoldiers. Naturally, the most potent of these abilities is if you fully max out the track and gain access to the Megazord. Said abilities are a must if you want a chance at beating the final boss, which has the potential to instantly knock out Rangers if you're not prepared.
As for the game pieces themselves, they are an absolute wonder to behold. The artwork on all of the cards are fantastically realized by artist Dan Mora, some of it lifted completely from his work on the stellar Power Rangers comics by Boom! Studios and the cards themselves are textured and glossed to perfection. The miniatures themselves are expertly crafted, there are no noticeable bits or pieces out of place, and are brimming with personality. Simple putty patrollers have never looked so intimidating and the iconic Rita Repulsa have never stood so menacingly. The only underwhelming elements are the currency tokens, as well as the Megazord, which are simple cardboard pieces. There are more specialized pieces available by Renegade Studios if you want them, but it's a minor complaint.
The Bottom Line
Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid fully realizes the excitement and tension of saving the world with the color-coded heroes of the title. Whether or not you're an adult with fond memories of the original show's camp or a younger fan wanting to show the likes of Rita, Lord Zedd, or King Mondo what you're made of, there's a lot to enjoy. The joy of having a hail mary play one-shot a monster, the debates on whether or not to thin the hordes or go for the boss, all of these moments and more play out in games that can last between an hour to an hour and a half session. If you love exciting teamwork-based area defense with in-depth card-based combat then this is the one to look out for.
Get This Game If:
- You're a Power Rangers or Superhero Fan
- You Can't Get The Theme Song Out of Your Head
- You Love Teamwork Combos
Don't Get This Game If:
- Prefer Something More Competitive
- Don't Like Communication
The copy of Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid used to produce this review was purchased by the author.