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Inheritors Game Review

I spy…the green six!!

Justin reviews the hand management game Inheritors from NorthStar Game Studio!

I love going to conventions because I get to play games with designers, fans, content creators and marketing managers. Sometimes, I get the chance to play a game with the president of a publishing company.

Such was the case during Gen Con 2023 when I played Inheritors with Dominic Crapuchettes, the President of NorthStar Game Studio. Inheritors was technically a 2022 release, per BGG, but it was a game I had not seen before attending this year’s convention.

And maybe it was Dominic’s presence, maybe it was the easy scoring system, or maybe it was the crisp, quick turn structure, but all of it worked for me. Inheritors is a blast, and now that I’ve played it with 12 different people across four plays, the reaction has been uniform: positivity through and through.

Advocate for a Spy

Inheritors is a hand management game where players have to play cards from various suits in order in a tableau that slowly builds from the lowest number in a suit (one) to the highest card (six). The trick? There are many of the lower numbers in the deck, but only one five and one six.

Starting with a hand of ten cards, players have lots of options on a turn; using a market of three rows, players can discard cards to a row to take entire stacks or discard to draw cards from the deck if they don’t like any of the cards on the table. Players can discard three cards of the same color to take a Quest, which provides a point or two at the end of the game.

Whenever a player has played three cards of the same color to their tableau, they become eligible to take a special player power in that color, which provides a benefit for the rest of the game. (Players can only own one power each game.) There are also public milestones known as Honors that can be snatched off the table when a player meets their condition, like playing (or even holding) certain cards, such as holding three Relic or Tome cards, playing the first six cards, playing four 2’s, etc.

When both the Honors and Quest cards run out—or the main draw deck runs dry, which has been most common in my plays—the game ends at the conclusion of that round. Scores have ranged from 15-25 points during my games, with one four-player game ending with a score of 18-17-16-15 and another game ending with two players tied at 16 and one holding more Tome cards than the other to win in a tiebreaker.

In this way, Inheritors is always close, and most of the score can be seen on the table. Each player scores points equal to the highest card played in each color, plus a bonus for certain cards, like having the most Tomes in hand when the game ends.

Don’t Play Too Many Cards!

I love that Inheritors gives you so many cards to start the game. That creates an interesting mirage—you’ve got a lot of choices, but you have to play the colored number cards (Influence cards) in order. I often find myself playing high cards as discards to acquire lower cards to start playing into my tableau…but with only one five and one six card in each color in the entire deck, maybe I should hold onto those cards for later?

Three of the card types allow a player to take cool actions; one of those, the Spy card, lets a player ask another player for a specific card. If they guess right, they get to take then play that card immediately. An incorrect guess still yields compensation and hints at what the opponent might be holding instead. Other cards like this are known as Advocate cards. These include the Conspirator, which allows a player to skip a number as long as another player has already played that number on the table, and the Advisor card lets a player take two cards from anywhere in the market, not just the top card of a row.

Turns here move fast. Inheritors is an easy game to teach, and the player aid is excellent. (Yes, medium-weight card games need player aids, designers and publishers! WE NEED MORE PLAYER AIDS!!!) Even though there’s a story here, Inheritors doesn’t bog itself down in the details but does provide enough of a hint that there’s a world behind the cardplay. Good, great, got it, let’s play.

Where does Inheritors go wrong? Production elements. The player aid is great…but the rulebook isn’t. 20 pages is too long for a card game that takes five minutes to teach. While the rulebook has excellent picture examples, I thought it was a bit too dense.

The cards have to sit right-sided in your hand. In other words, Influence cards that have a number and a color only have that number and color on one half of each card. Other card and trick-taking games get this right, by having all the info I need on each half of the card. I was surprised this wasn’t included for Inheritors.

The last offense is the most criminal: the card stock here is poor. On my first play with my copy, with cards newly out of the shrink wrap, I went to shuffle the cards and noticed how thin these cards are. In all seriousness, one player asked me how many times I had already played Inheritors because it looked like the cards were quite worn. When I told him that this was the deck’s maiden voyage, he looked visibly shocked.

I just love this cover!

A Solid Yes

Despite the production issues, Inheritors (designed by Jeffery CCH and Kenneth YWN) is an easy recommendation. It doesn’t blaze any new trails but does provide a very interesting series of mechanisms for best managing a slowly-shrinking hand of cards while trying to outrace opponents in low-scoring games. No one is ever out of the game, and taking advantage of situational discards by opponents has led to lots of fun turns for players in my games.

There aren’t a lot of options for the variable powers (known as Clans), with only ten in the box; Quests are a crapshoot, with players taking face-down Quest cards to see if they will score just one point or have a realistic chance at meeting the goal that grants a second end-game point. Losing a game by a point in these cases might set players off, but good news: the game is so short that you can play twice in an hour and get payback for any slightly-too-convenient card draws by your opponents.

Inheritors is a good time. And for less than $20, the box offers a solid value proposition. In a pleasant surprise, it is a card game that is NOT a trick-taking game, so if anything, it’s in a different space for the world of card games right now. Inheritors is an upgraded version of Reiner Knizia’s Lost Cities that plays four players instead of two. In that way, this replaces Lost Cities for some of my friends.

Give Inheritors a look!

  • Excellent - Always want to play.

Inheritors details

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!

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