The Sunday Geekery: Hirelings: The Ascent and Boss Master

The Sunday Geekery: Hirelings: The Ascent and Boss Master

One my favorit-ist (yeah, its a word cause I said so) parts of the con is finding a new board or card game. This year we found two. Both family friendly, both fairly short plays, and both kind of awesome.

Hirelings: The Ascent


Hirelings – The Ascent caught my attention all the way from across the isle. It was surely the artwork. I really like the pen, ink, watercolor feel to it and meandered over (ok, busted my way through a painfully thick crowd) to check it out. As it turns out, one of the creators, John Harris, was nearby with the board spread out demoing the game. It seemed like a really fun family game so we bought it knowing nothing more about it. Nice play John, you sold us!


The gist of this game is that you are a hireling that has been hired by adventure types to act as a pack mule. You’ve traveled to the bottom of a cavern for the dragon’s gold and run into trouble when the dragon bests the adventure types and you have to get out — quick! The Hirelings are not fighters so they grab a pack and starting running like mad. After four turns, the dragon breathes deep and sends a giant fire ball behind them putting a little more stress on the whole “get out” mission.


The game is super family friendly and challenging enough to entertain adults too. The mechanics are simple enough, everything resets after each turn, and the pack items give it enough variation and risk to stay interesting. I really enjoy the art work and the cheeky approach to the characters, monsters, and items and appreciate that thought went into to keep it from ever being frustrating.



We did run into a few scenarios that it wasn’t obvious what the rule was. They were easy enough to just pick something that seemed fair and go on with the game.  Despite that one quibble, I give this game all the stars I have. My kid is totally checked in and keeps begging for a rematch and I’m looking forward to winning again!

**Special note: I know some of readers aren’t super into the board game industry and may be taken back a little by the price. I just want to point out – when you buy a game like this, you’re supporting passionate, innovate, independent designers not the 2 millionth print of a major publishers game. No, it isn’t $6, but it is a good way to support the community. /rant (er, special note) **

Boss Master

boss_monster_retail_box-smallOK, I’m just gonna say it – Holy shitballz this is awesome! Here’s how I described it to my kid to get her to play with me, “You know how in Zelda you have solve problems in each room until you get the final boss and kill him? In this game, you’re the boss eating link!” She seemed to completely accept that and off we went!


Of course, I’m seriously over the moon in the love with the art work. It so takes me back and makes me feel like I just bought a nice shiny new Nintendo game. As a matter of fact, when I first looked it up on Amazon, the expansion pack package fooled me, I thought it was an old gameboy game! ha! I’ve always, as long as I can remember, wanted to see the story from the other side. The bad guy never THINKS he’s the bad guy, so the story may play out totally differently right?


Side Quest: Totally unrelated detail about Suedre – In high school, I wanted to write games (stories, not code). My first attempt ever was a story of a dungeon boss who was trying to earn his place at the top of the super mega dungeon. To do that he had to destroy towns, eat the hero, etc. See – this is totally in my wheel house!


OK, back to the game. It doesn’t take to long to get the mechanics and get started. The first play through, I was lucky and and fairly quickly built a dungeon that even the most epic of epic heros couldn’t survive. The second time, it was a little more balanced and the true genius of that game showed. Each time a hero is lured into you dungeon, she will will go through each of your rooms. If she doesn’t die before you gets to you, she creates a wound. If she does die in one of the rooms, you get her soul. Winner is the first boss with 10 souls and less than five wounds. You don’t want to attract the heroes before you can kill them. It’s very delicate when the other bosses (players) are competing for the attention of the same heroes. Your best room may not be the strongest rather the one with the “right treasure”, you may find it beneficial to force a tie with the other bosses, or you may try to force the heroes through their dungeons. There may even be times that you take a wound to keep it from being a soul for another player. Doesn’t take long and you’re really thinking!


This game and the expansion is the result of a successful kickstarter  (great video at the kickstarter link) from Brotherwise Games. If you want the game, you may consider backing their new kickstarter (only 5 days left!) for the app version of the Boss Monster. Backers of $45+ get the game, the expansion, the app, and a few other goodies.


Tell me, what game do you love and think I should try?


I’m off to check in with a few of my favorite bloggers then I’ve one heck of week coming! I’m looking forward to every minute of it, but I’m kind of tired just thinking about it.


  1. For some reason, we always play board games at Christmas but not during the rest of the year – possibly because it’s one of the few times everyone comes home. I love the look of Hirelings 🙂

  2. They look fun. Have you ever heard of a game called Cosmic Encounters? I used to play it when I was a kid, it would have been in the early 80’s. I loved that game.

    • I haven’t played it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t in the “collection” somewhere upstairs. We tend to buy more of these than we can play because we love them so much. Wasn’t too long ago that we were picking up old school games, that sadly, are still in shrink wrap. I really need more time! 🙂


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