Rhino Hero Super Battle is the sequel to the 2011 dexterity stacking game Rhino Hero. Released in 2017 by HABA, designed by Scott Frisco and Steven Strumpf, the game sees four super heroes Rhino Hero, Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin battling it out up, down and around skyscrapers. With buildings to scale, monkeys to dangle and dice to roll the game is designed for 2 – 4 players and takes only around 15 minutes to play. However, is this a game that is fun for all the family? Let’s find out!
Setup is extremely simple, seeing the three starting tiles placed in a line central to all players. These tiles are double sided with an easy and hard side, effectively increasing or decreasing the amount of starting build locations. Shuffling the floor tiles each player gets a hand of three and three are put into a draw line. The tall and short walls are put into piles. Finally, the dice and the hanging monkeys are placed within reach.
Each turn can be up to 6 actions long, with some only coming into effect depending on the floor card played and the consequences of a die roll. Firstly, the active player chooses one of their floors to build with. The player takes the combination of tall or short wall(s) depicted on the card, which may be identical, one of each or only one symbol. The shown wall pieces must then be used to horizontally balance the played floor piece. Placement wise when on ground level only specific dotted locations can be used, however above ground anywhere on previous floors can be built upon.
Next, if the floor card depicts a monkey, or one was knocked off, the player must balance a monkey on their placed floor card. The monkeys hook on with a hand or tail and swing nicely from the structure. There are only 4 included and once the pile runs out you must remove a previously placed monkey before proceeding to place one. Heroes want to get to the top of the tower, or at least be the highest. The next phase sees players roll the movement die to see how they’ll move, from going down one level to up 3 levels at once. It matters not if multiple skyscrapers are being formed and you are in one of them, you still go up that many levels, these are super heroes after all.
If a hero moves to a level with another hero on it a Super Battle is triggered. The hero that has just got to the floor rolls a red attack die, which has a maximum of 6, with the defender rolling a blue defend die, that has a maximum of 5. Once rolled the two players compare results. The loser of the battle moves down a level, potentially triggering a further conflict. After this whomever is on the highest level takes the all important medal!
Before play continues with the next player, the active player draws one of the face up floor cards into their hand and replaces it in the draw line from the pile. Play goes clockwise around the table until either the floors run out or some of the skyscrapers collapse. If the floors run out then the medal holder wins. If the skyscrapers come crashing down then it depends whom caused it. Non-medal holders knocking a skyscraper down cause the medal holder to win. However, if the medal holder knocks anything down everyone else wins!
While Rhino Hero Super Battle works at 2, Rhino Hero Super Battle truly gets going at 3 – 4 players. Instead of merely being about who make the skyscrapers topple, players can gang up on the leader in an attempt for the all against one to win. While this might not sound ideal for a family game, the one, in the all against one, constantly changes as players go up and down the skyscraper levels so no one player will constantly be targeted. This also adds to the feeling of victory when you win!
As with any game that involves dice rolling there is a large element of luck instilled into Rhino Hero Super Battle. No matter how excellent a player is at balancing, they have a lower chance of winning if they keep rolling 0 or -1 on the movement die. To counteract this turns come back around extremely fast so you get lots of rolls. The dice rolling can somewhat be seen to level the playing field, as it can see non-gamers or younger players trouncing their opponents and more importantly enjoy themselves. In a four player game, when it is more than possible to enter more than one super hero battle in a round, this can cause larges cheers and groans from all players.
Component wise the game strikes the perfect balance. The cardboard used for walls and floors is solid enough but light enough that nudges and taps can see it all collapse. On top of these light card walls and floors will be wooden player pieces, ideal for overbalancing the structure! Each element visually fits the colour city landscape, with peculiar animals, balconies, stairs and more adorning the walls. The floor pieces leave plenty of room for the iconography, so it is instantly obvious what players must place on their turn. The hanging monkeys are designed well to hook on and yet still require somewhat of a steady hand to place them. The dice are large and chunky, making them easy to read and the double sided base tiles work well to start games off differently.
There has been a few times where the number of floor pieces has run out, one way the game ends. This ending feels very anticlimactic, with the tension of the game not overspilling into the cards crashing to the table. While merely including more floor cards may help, rules to increase the difficulty – along the lines of flipping the starting tiles over or house ruling placing with only one hand would increase the odds of things toppling.
There are a couple of rules that the rulebook suggests ditching for younger players, such as ignoring the -1 on the movement die. While not tested with children, it doesn’t result in a lot less battling but sees more upward progression from all players. One rule that new players did need reminding on is the limitation of balancing new floors on old ones. Allowing this rule to be broken has resulted in mind blowing balancing and a super wobbly structure – though you’ll more commonly run out of floor cards. The final diversion from the rulebook when a few games in, to spice things up a bit, is to the change the shape of the starting three tiles from a line to a triangle – something well worth trying after a game or two. This just makes the towers more 3D as they wrap around.
Players must take Rhino Hero Super Battle for what it is. The game aims to be fun and it more than delivers on that front. Going into the game you cannot worry about bad dice rolls, just roll with the results and laugh along the way. The theme and visual style captures the childlike fun the game emanates, with a vivid city full of interesting flair to point out. Dexterity is the core of the game, with amazingly high and crazily outward growing structures. Just when you think something will be impossible another player will pull it off and the table will accordingly go wild. For all the fun the game has and will continue to provide it has balanced its way onto my gaming shelf!
[Editor’s Note: Rhino Hero Super Battle was provided to us by Asmodee UK for review purposes. The game is currently available on 365 Games for £18.99. It is also available from local UK board game stores, find your local store here]