For a superhero franchise spanning 25 years, it’s a sore spot that the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have never starred in a decent board game. Finally, in 2018, Angel Grove’s hometown heroes may have an analog miniatures game worthy of their legacy in Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid.
But if you’re expecting Heroes of the Grid to be like “Power Rangers: Dungeons & Dragons,” don’t. As creator Jonathan Ying tells Inverse, dungeon crawling and rolling for initiative just doesn’t make you feel like a Power Ranger.
“We wanted to engage with the Rangers’ power fantasy,” he says. “Power Rangers are strong. They are cool. They fight waves and waves [of monsters] and kick a lot of ass.”
At this year’s Power Morphicon, the biennial Power Rangers fan convention, San Diego-based tabletop producer Renegade Studios descended upon the Anaheim Convention Center to introduce fans to Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, perhaps the first (fun!) Power Rangers board game in franchise history.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign funded in just eight hours, there is still over a week left to go as fans continue to unlock stretch goals that expand the game’s content with references to the whole Power Rangers universe. The game is set to launch in North America in spring 2019, with a whopping 118 miniature figures in the $240 “All In!” pledge level.
Described by Ying as a “tower defense game by way of combat,” two to five players become Power Rangers to defend Angel Grove from Rita Repulsa, who sends waves of monsters and minions that are generated by the game itself.
An earlier version of Heroes of the Grid was almost another game entirely. Originally a grid and tactics game like HeroClix (a miniatures game utilizing the overly familiar Marvel and DC heroes), the original version was scrapped by Ying who felt it just wasn’t “Power Rangers” enough.
“We knew we wanted a miniatures game because, well, I just love miniatures,” he says, citing his previous work on major tabletop games like Star Wars: Imperial Assault. “We played around with a grid-based tactics game, where you’re running around having a dungeon crawler adventure.” That “felt okay,” Ying says, it “just didn’t feel Power Rangers. They don’t kick down the door and explore. They’re defending locations, engaging in very cool martial arts action.”
Ying also explains that a Dungeons & Dragons or HeroClix-style Power Rangers game would be difficult in “differentiating characters” when all Power Rangers share similar attributes. “It’s tricky when their core power sets are fairly similar. Their weapons are different, but even so, all Rangers are good at martial arts. You don’t have a ‘healer’ in Power Rangers.”
Like any given episode of the series, players don’t have to worry about one enemy being a threat so much as being overwhelmed by many of them. This is where teamwork — a fundamental theme in Power Rangers — becomes especially important for the game.
“We worked hard to make it look like the Rangers are likely to beat what they’re up against, but there’s so much coming at them that they need to pace themselves,” explains Ying. Otherwise, that’s when things get really dangerous. “A lot of the game is proper tempo control. There’s systems I’ve built in to give the enemy an interesting A.I.”
But one of the most attractive features of Heroes of the Grid isn’t its gameplay, but its stunning miniatures, which were designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the ‘90s phenomenon than faithfully recreating the series. Ying says he often gave the game’s sculptors a telling direction, *Here’s what they looked like on the show. Don’t make them look like this.”
“I wanted them looking how I remembered them looking,” he tells Inverse. “In a way, it’s the Power Rangers we saw. They just didn’t have the budget, but they got that fantasy across. You get a lot of mileage out of this layered nostalgia with modern sensibilities.”
Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid will launch in spring 2019.