Twenty-one turn hero is a strange game in that no matter what I write for this review, it will probably be longer than the game itself. Designed by Robertson Sondoh Jr, the game is a solitaire print and play title and while I’ve covered the idea of solitaire games before perhaps the notion of print and play should be explored a bit further. In short it does what it says on the tin. It’s a game you print out and play, but to try and give you a bit more information beyond what you could gather from the blindingly obvious, the idea of is that these are games are put up, sometimes for free, on sites like Boardgamegeek, to be downloaded and printed out, usually on plain A4 paper like you’ve currently got stacked under your desk getting scuffed and pinched for shopping lists, and played; often with the addition of a few dice or pens and blank paper. However those of you who know of print and play titles will find that this game is a fair bit smaller than most.
Coming in at one A-4 sheet of paper for the board, rules, character sheet, monsters and shop the game will be played nominally over twenty one turns as you, the gallant hero, try and save the world from the evil sorcerer. Instead of rolling dice or anything so barbaric however everything you do will instead be measured in time or simply how many turns the task will take you. Moving one square = one turn. Fighting a monster? Simply deduct your strength from theirs to see how many turns the fight lasted. Once you hit the end of the turn tracker that runs helpfully along the edge of the board, the bad guys win.
This means that early on the game is staked heavily against you and the whole situation may appear unwinnable. Once you realise this there will come a moment, not too long later I hope, where the mechanics of the game will click. This isn’t to say that the rules are hard to follow or anything, you deduct your strength from whatever your fighting to see how long it takes you to fight it, you figure out what you’re fighting by what turn you’re on; an A, a B or a C as shown on the track running outside the board and checking the table. Instead what I mean by the whole thing falling into place is the idea of stocking up on time and kitting yourself out for one long dash across the map to face the evil wizard and end his threat once and for all. How quickly you grasp this will determine how much you like the game I imagine, with the best option being not too long after you start nor too soon, though I may have just ruined that for you. From here the game becomes more like a puzzle, akin to a crossword or Sudoku.
The art style for the game is simple enough with a hint of the anime about it, in fact I would swear that one of the monsters is a digimon. In truth it does the job and perhaps anything more would have a) distracted from the game and b) been a waste for a game that will not be sticking around too long. For in truth I doubt most people will get more than two games out of this before they get bored, but at one sheet pf paper I figure that to be an acceptable loss and the uniqueness of the mechanics make this an interesting diversion for any would be solitaire gamer, even if they won’t be placing it on the shelves with the rest of their collection. Not only is this a good place for any solitaire gamer to start with the ease of the rules and the fairly short run time of say twenty minutes but it’s also a good place to get into the print and play scene. There is no cutting out, no rustling up parts and pieces, beyond two tokens and a pencil, no colour and little too no waiting time meaning you can have this game downloaded and printed out before you can find that pen you could have sworn you just had to hand.
While some print and play titles have hit the big time a lot exist because, like this one, you could never sell them only mess with them and then stick them up for other people to see and maybe be inspired.
Or alternativly from their blog which contains a number of other promising looking games you may be seeing later. http://experimentalplayground.blogspot.co.uk/