Rhino Hero Review – What Goes Up, Must Come Down
It has now been, dear readers, one week since the start of the UK Games Expo. With that in mind, and with the games bought by our gaming group starting to be played I want to tell you about a little tradition we have. Each year we, as a group, run what we call the “Ten Pound Challenge”.
So, what is this incredible sounding “Ten Pound Challenge”? I hear you ask.
Well, the Ten Pound Challenge, dear reader, pits us against each other in a test to see who can buy the most enjoyable game for £10 or less. This year we have already had a few awesome entries. Beth (my partner) bought Mesozooic. I went around the Expo and eventually settled on the mint box game, Mint Delivery. One of our friends, on the other hand, went for something completely different. He went to the Haba Games stall and purchased (you guessed it) Rhino Hero.
Now, before we get into reviewing the simplicity that is Rhino Hero I have to tell you about something I was told whilst stood by the Haba store at the UKGE. This may not be true, as it was told to me by a guy similarly browsing, but it was interesting nonetheless. Apparently Haba have a forest by their HQ in which they harvest and replant the wood for their games. If that is the case, massively good on them. That’s awesome.
Okay, let’s get into this. This is a review of Rhino Hero by Haba games.
What is Rhino Hero and how is it played?
Rhino Hero is a 1-5 player game designed by Scott Frisco and Steven Strumpf. In the game, you (as the players) are racing to get rid of your hand of roof cards.
The whole game starts with a ground card, and progresses vertically. As a player, when it is your turn, you must place walls on the allocated spaces of the previous card. Walls are cards that are bent in the middle so they can stand upright, creating an “L” shape. That player then places a roof card on top, creating a 3D structure.
Depending on the roof they then played, one of several things may happen. Firstly, the play order may reverse. Alternatively, the next player draws a card before they play. The next player could skip a turn, or you may have the coveted 2x roof card, which lets you place two at once.
Finally, there is a Rhino Hero card, which forces the next player to take a specific Rhino Hero meeple/piece and place it, facing a specific direction, on the roof as they build their layer. If the Rhino Hero meeple is already in the tower he has to be removed from the structure in order to replace him. It can be really tricky.
There are two ways a game of Rhino Hero can end. Either, like Uno or Timeline, a player gets rid of their hand or, more likely, the tower falls over. Then no one wins, but that player loses.
That’s more or less it.
What’s it like playing Rhino Hero?
This may seem like an odd game to review straight off the back of the UK Games Expo, and in many ways it is. That being said, I think it is the perfect game to start with. This is for two reasons. Firstly, we have been playing quite a few dexterity games recently. Before the Expo, dexterity games were something we were severely lacking in our collections. We then left with at least four in our collections that we are really excited to play. Those are:
- Rhino Hero
- Flick ‘Em Up
- Flick ‘Em Up: Dead of Winter
- Meeple Circus
Rhino Hero, being the simplest, seems like the logical place to start.
Secondly, I’m writing this on a train, and can remember all the minutia of the rules without having to look at the box. I mean hey…sometimes it’s about being practical – amIright?
So, what is Rhino Hero like? Well, I think that question can be answered in three letters – Rhino Hero is…well…fun.
Rhino Hero is about as pure as fun can get. It is, to fun, what kobe beef is to steaks. It is to fun, what Lard Lad is to doughnuts. It is to fun, what mithril is to chain mail. Okay, an obscure Simpsons reference and a LotR reference may be pushing it too far.
Rhino Hero is to fun what David Tennant was to Dr Who.
Okay, nerdy references aside, you get the idea. Rhino Hero is pure fun. It is fun in its purest form. The game is so incredibly simple, that anyone can pick it up, making it a perfect family game. The recommended age is actually 5+, and yet it is one of those games that anyone seems to be able to enjoy.
Rhino Hero is, as a premise, silly. It doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t need to. Instead, it is a simple stacking game, with a few added points to make it more of a challenge.
We’ve played Rhino Hero a few times now and a friend of mine keeps repeating the same phrase when he plays:
“We are buying this for literally everyone at Christmas!”
And I think he has a point. Rhino Hero is a superb entry level game. It is a game that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. Not to mention, last time we played we played it after a game of Seafall and it was just the remedy to put everyone in a good mood before leaving for the evening. Rhino Hero is simple and superb fun.
Of course, it is not a perfect game. Rhino Hero is supremely simple, and will outstay its course in the long run; however, it is easy to see it becoming a game like Sushi Go. It is a game that does one mechanic incredibly well. In Sushi Go that is hand drafting, in Rhino Hero it is balancing and stacking things. Those may not be official mechanics on BGG, but they should be considered with a game like Rhino Hero.
For the time being, for us, Rhino Hero is a welcome addition to the table. We don’t know how long it will stay that way, but we hope for a long time. Depending on the kinds of games you like you may decide it is too simple and reach for something more complex. The only thing I would say is, if that sounds familiar to you, don’t dismiss Rhino Hero so easily. Yes, it is silly, but it is also really good fun.
TL;DR – The Good, The Bad, and The Unstable
Like all games, we can look at the Good, Bad, and Neutral points behind Rhino Hero.
- Rhino Hero is incredibly accessible, making it a good family game and entry-level game.
- It is pure and simple fun. The game is silly and enjoyable.
- The quality of the components is actually really high, and they reckon you can build a three foot high tower with the cards.
- It only takes around 10 minutes to play, making it something that works well as an “end of the evening” kind of game.
- Rhino Hero could easily be construed as a game for kids; however, I would argue it is a game for everyone. So long as you don’t mind a slightly silly game, it should be enjoyable.
- As mentioned before, Rhino Hero is an incredibly simple game. Where this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it may suggest that Rhino Hero has a limited shelf life and the simplicity may put some gamers off.
Conclusion: Rhino Hero Review
All in all, we really like Rhino Hero. As a game it has a certain simplicity and innocence that it wears like badges of honour. It is unapologetic for providing a game that is shamelessly and simply fun. We have to respect that.
Realistically, I can imagine playing Rhino Hero with all members of my family and it going down a storm. It should be a blast to play with different groups and, although not a game we would probably choose to play by ourselves, it is something to look forward to having at the table with family and friends alike.
So, what are your thoughts? Have you played Rhino Hero? If so, what do you think? If you haven’t – would you like to? Or is this something you would rather miss? Let me know in the comments below.