HerStory by Underdog Games

In HerStory by Underdog Games, you play the role of an author putting together a book about influential women from all parts of history. The game features 120 women and their stories from scientific and literary fields, entertainment, and more. HerStory had a team of educator advisors and student researchers who put together the final list of women and facts that make this game both educational and fascinating. Each playthrough offers a new opportunity to learn about what amazing contributions various women provided to history.

This game includes so many amazing stories!

It is worth mentioning that the box also comes with an envelope of wonderful gifts, something we hadn’t seen with any other game before. The game comes with a series of bookmarks, stickers, and postcards featuring women from the game to “help you recognize the great women in this game and also honor the incredible women in your own life.” Let’s just say the Dolly Parton bookmark made its way straight into a book and we have plans to use all of the really empowering stationary in this set. Images of these items won’t be included so they can still be a surprise when you open the box!

Close up of the point track

General setup is fairly straightforward, the Idea Board goes within reach of all players, with the Chapter Deck to the side, and 5 Chapter Cards filling the slots on the Idea board (a nice neoprene mat). The game also comes with a pleather token bag for all the Research Tokens to be shuffled into (placing 6 tokens on the Idea board slots).

The board will have the five Chapter card and 6 Research Token slots replenished at all times. This is mid game when the push pins are depicting a higher level of points.

The player setup consists of giving each player a Pushpin of their chosen color that they’ll place on the start space, a matching Desk board (aka player board), a Library card, and Player Aid. As an author, you’ll use the Desk board to collect materials for your book (more on this shortly).

Library Card

Players are trying to collect Chapter cards which have two potential bonuses on them once completed — Victory Points (in the upper left of each Chapter Card) and Chapter Powers (which give special abilities that are either conditional or for end game). As you want to gain the most victory points, Chapter Cards provide a nice variety to strategizing where one can go for more straightforward points or try and gain points through the abilities. The abilities can give points at game end for a certain type of icon (an example Text Power), or there are Symbol Powers that can grant an additional permanent icon that the player will have available for the rest of the game once the Chapter is Completed. If a card has two permanent icons on one card, the player cannot split them, they either use both or don’t use that card. Players can use multiple cards with Symbol Powers however.

Chapter Powers are left showing on the bottom of each completed Chapter card. Some depict permanent icons and some are Text Powers.

A round of gameplay consists of one turn per player. On the current player’s turn, they must either Research, Draft a Chapter, or Complete a Chapter. Each Chapter card has a cost, a number of particular research icons on the right hand side that a player must have before they can claim the card. Many turns are going to consist of Research, especially at first, to collect the needed icons. To Research, a player collects one Research token from the Idea board and places it on a slot on their desk. Research Tokens have two or three icons (a mixture of Reading, Thinking, Interviewing, and/or Searching icons). A player can only keep as many Research Tokens as they have slots on their Desk (seven). Sometimes players may notice none of the available Research Tokens are quite what they want and can use their Library card (up to twice per game) to discard and replace all 6 Research tokens before they Research. The library card is flipped upon first use and discarded upon second use. The added element of the Library Card is nice as it allows players a chance so that they aren’t necessarily stuck with choosing from Research Tokens that won’t help their strategy.

Two of the Research Token slots on this Desk are filled.

Players can also Draft a Chapter during their turn, this is essentially saving a card to complete later. There is a Draft area on the Desk board that player’s can use to Draft chapters (up to two can be saved at a time). Players also get two points for Drafting a Chapter, which seems fair as drafting is a very important part to any well researched book! In gameplay terms, however, drafting is smart because it keeps others from claiming that card. This can be particularly useful to save a card that has a nice ability or a good amount of victory points.

A huge goal of the game is to complete chapters, and players can Complete a single Chapter as one of their turns whenever they have enough Research Tokens to discard for a particular available Chapter card (whether from the Idea board or their Draft area). If you discard a Research Token and it has extra symbols on it, the extra symbols are just ignored. However, it is worth strategizing to discard an exact amount of symbols with no extras, as there is an Exact Bonus of 3 additional points when completing that chapter in addition to any victory points on that particular Chapter Card. Completed Chapter Cards go to the lowest available space on the center column of the Desk marked “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2”, etc. If there is a Text Power on the bottom of the card, the player now has that available to them on future turns, conditions of the powers are listed on the cards.

This player’s desk has three available Research Tokens to spend on completing future Chapter cards. As Shiroey Chisholm’s chapter is the first chapter completed on this player’s board, this chapter goes in the Chapter 1 space.
Desk board with various discarded tokens

The game ends when one player has completed all eight chapters of their book. The last round is completed then when all players have had an equal amount of turns. Any remaining points are scored with each player’s Text Power cards, scoring any endgame abilities they have. The player who has the most points wins. The fun doesn’t end there, though, as players compile all their completed chapters in a pile, flip them, and place the Player Aid on tip with the HS facing forward for the book cover. The finished product looks like a tiny book and really brings home the theme of completing your book after the hard work of researching and drafting throughout the game. Players then choose one chapter from their book to read out loud. There are so many wonderful true stories to read that we ended up reading all of ours at end game taking turns. There are still plenty of cards left for many, many playthroughs without running into all repeats. Even then, this game would still be fun.

A completed book (all players won’t complete all possible chapters. That’s ok!

Language Barrier Playability: Pretty impossible to play without language. While some of the game does have symbols, language is needed to know the Text Powers and for the stories on the cards.

Replayability: Wonderful. There are 120 Chapter Cards and all players may collect 8 per game, so that leaves a lot of playthrough possibilities without running into all the same combinations of cards. The game also goes by fairly quickly, which makes it more replayable.

Artwork: Fantastic. The art style for the women on the Chapter Cards is modern and in a style that is a mix between graphic novel and portrait. The color pallete for the Idea and Desk boards are also very nice and library-esque.

Quality: Exceptional. The neoprene material of the Idea board and the pleather token bag especially elevate the elegance of the game pieces. The cardstock is also slightly thick for all cardboard components, the Pushpins are high quality, and there is an overall elegance to this game.

Elegant token bag

Strategy: Surprising! For being a somewhat short game there are a few ways to strategize. One way we found ourselves strategizing most was in trying to collect the exact amount of Research Tokens needed, so as to get the Exact Bonus of 3 additional points when completing a chapter card. There are also ways to strategize using the Text and Symbol Powers and in utilizing the Library Card at a crucial moment.

Instruction Manual: Short and to the point! The best kind of manual, really. The manual uses a good ratio of pictures to text explanations and makes it quick to learn the game. It is also wonderful how the back of the Instruction Manual credits all the individuals who made the game possible and how they contributed.

Organization: Good. The player boards kind of just go stacked on top but the bottom components have slots so everything fits easily enough!

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