Last month I awarded Warhammer: Invasion both Best 2 Player Game of the Year and Game of Year. Now it is time I explained why.
Why So Long…?
I’ve had the game since the day it was released in the Uk, so why has it taken me until now to review it? Simple, this game has so many ways to play that it would be unfair to judge it after one or two games. Even passing judgement after playing with every faction against every faction once would still not do this game justice. It is different every time and the replay factor is through the roof.
With this game the designers wanted to take a grand concept, a campaign set in a fantasy world, and boil it down to a set of cards and tokens.
In the game you play as a King (or other type of ruler) controlling your Capital as you prepare for war. You must control the flow of resources in your Kingdom Zone, while controlling your card draw in your Quest zone, whilst controlling your attacking force in your Battlefield. If you can manage to keep all this under control and burn 2 sections of your opponents Capital you win and glory is yours.
FFG have an excellent Video Tutorial on how to play here
To start the game each player has a Capital Board and hand of seven cards. Players can play single race decks (as I do) or they can mix and match from within two factions, those of Order (Empire, Dwarves, High Elves) or of Destruction (Orcs, Chaos and Dark Elves.) Note, this is currently the only way to make use of the High and Dark Elves.
Playing a mixed faction deck is more difficult due to that fact that powerful cards require you to have units from the same race already in play or you will have to pay extra resources.
The turn follows this order…
Your Turn Begins - both players can play actions. This is a change to the original rules and can be found in the FAQ. This is an important change as this phase comes before the Kingdom Phase where the active player will discard their unused resources, this means you can make use of resources gained through cards like “Burying the Grudge” which give you resources after Combat.
The Kingdom Phase – The Active player resets his resources to 0 and receives resources equal to the power in his Kingdom. The Kingdom has 3 power to start with (red circles) and for every additional Power Icon (red circle) on each card in the Kingdom Zone you would gain an additional Resource.
The Quest Phase – During the Quest Phase the active player draws a number of cards equal to the number of power icons in the zone. The Quest Zone begins play with 1 Power Icon.
The Capital Phase – During this phase the Active Player may put any cards from his hand into play by paying their cost. He may also play one card from his hand face down into any zone as a development. Doing so adds a hit point to that zone, each zone begins the game with 8 hit points.
Battlefield Phase – During this phase you may attack the other player with any Unit cards in your Battlefield, you may attack any of the opponents 3 zones.
- To attack you declare a zone.
- Then the cards you wish to attack with.
- Then your Opponent declares which Units he wishes to defend with.
- Then you each assign damage (this not yet applied). Enough damage must be assigned to each unit to kill it if you want to do any damage to the Zone you attacked. This means that you have to take into account any damage reducing abilities that are already in effect during the Assign Damage phase.
- Once damage is assigned you may then apply the damage. Units that take damage equal to or exceeding their Hit Points are discarded.
However, what makes W:I interesting is the fact that any number of actions may be taken in between each of those five steps.
Your Turn End – Both players may take actions during this phase, then play passes to the other player.
The game continues in this fashion until one player has two burning zones A zone burns when it has no hit points remaining.
LCG… What the…?
For those who don’t know what a Living Card Game is, it is exactly the same as a CCG or TCG except that when you buy a booster (a battle pack) you know what cards you will be getting and everyone else will get them too. There are no rares, no promos. Everything is available to everyone at a reasonable price. Of course, just buying the core game and the first 6 expansions will set you back nearly £100 so really buying into the game means a pretty significant investment. However the core game alone, for around £25 is a pretty good deal. For that you get 4 playable decks and later in the year a mini expansion will increase that to six without the need to buy any of the boosters.
In addition, from the second cycle, that is a set of six booster packs to be release around April, all boosters will contain 3 of every card for around £15 a pack, meaning 60 cards and no need to buy duplicates to get cards that have just one copy per booster.
So it’s Magic the Gathering… Just for Warhammer…?
No… not really. Yes this is a card game but it is different to every card game I have ever played. The windows for actions to be played are so plentiful that this game never stops moving. No card in the game is useless, if you have nothing else to do with it you can play it face down as an extra hit point to your zone. Each army in the game plays differently and has each been described, at various times by various players, as too strong or too weak, really proving that it’s how you play with the cards that determine whether or not you can win.
For example, if you try and play Orcs defensively you will nearly always loose. They are fast and brutal and they can easily burn a zone in the first two turns if their opponent isn’t crafty.
The mechanics of careful Capital management are fantastic. If you increase your resources but not your card draw you will end your turn with a pile of tokens you can’t use. The other way round, you’ll have 20 cards but nothing to pay for them with.
Some players, especially Warhammer fans, may be disappointed that the other Races from the Warhammer world have not been made into playable races, but it certainly shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
Warhammer Invasion Core Set contains:
- 1 Rulebook
- 220 Cards representing 4 factions
- 4 Capital Boards
- 35 Resource Tokens
- 60 Damage Tokens
- 4 Burning Tokens
The art on most of the cards is great and is taken straight from the pages of the Warhammer Army Books… (Grimgor’s camp, however is not…) The cards have no borders which actually makes them look fantastic on the table and all the information is clearly set out. The Capital Boards are beautiful and tokens are FFG quality, which is of course excellent. The box is big enough to house several decades worth of expansions and is made from that great quality FFG cardboard. There are a couple of rulebook errors, but that has been cleared up a little bit with the FAQ. (Available in the Rulebook link in the sidebar)
The game is beautiful and well made, I really have no complaints about the core set at all. I heartily recommend it. In addition, if it is purchased between a group there are four complete decks included so you only need the core set for everyone to start having fun.
I’ve had a lot of fun playing and teaching this game. I think the core set is excellent value and I have bought each Battle Pack so far, although each pack does signify a pretty significant investment in the game.
I have played and won with each faction, much to the annoyance of my friends and family. One particular game between the Empire and the Chaos sticks with me, in which I invaded and burnt the final section of my friend’s capital, but in doing so he redirected one damage and finished me too ending the game in an unbelievable draw!
I really enjoy this game for so many reasons, the way the races force you to adopt a different strategy is really rewarding for me. It is fast paced, but there is deep strategy, kingdom management and awesome combat. It really is just fun in a box.
Yes… that’s right, W:I will soon see a 3-4 player ruleset, keep an eye out on the blog for my take on that.