I had extremely high hopes for Warriors (Face 2 Face Games, 2004 -
Alan Moon and Richard Borg.) Not only was the game designed by two of
my favorite game designers, but the theme was promising. However, I
dislike the game to the point of near hatred. I was so convinced that
there must be something I was missing that I played the game five
times and detested it all five. Even when I added the expansion, the
game still didn't work for me, and yet I wanted to like the game so
Normally I enjoy some games less than others, but Warriors just
really bombed for me. The gameplay is almost like Risk in a card
format (something already a bad idea in my book), but the mixture of
fighting and set collecting just did not work for me. The sheer
overwhelming randomness of the design, plus the erratic combat, just
made my game time wretched. Add to this the fact that occasionally a
player can do nothing on their turn and simply must sit there, really
makes the game something I never want to play again.
A deck of cards is shuffled, consisting of army units for six
different races. Each race (undead, goblins, trolls, barbarians,
elves, and dwarves) has three different army types: infantry, archers,
and cavalry. There are also three wizards, nine catapults, and
fourteen attack cards in the deck. The deck is shuffled, and eleven
cards are dealt to each player (attack cards are discarded and players
receive replacement cards). Players take their cards and place them
face up in front of them. Each race is placed together, in the same
"nation", with catapults placed to the side, and wizards assigned to
any nation the player prefers. Five dice are placed in the middle of
the table, and the deck is reshuffled for the first round of play (out
In each round, a player is dealt seven cards. They pick four of
these cards to keep and discard the other three. Once all the players
have chosen, the cards are revealed while the army, wizard, and
catapult cards are placed just like the initial setup. Battle cards
are placed in front of the armies. The battles then begin.
Each attack card has a different number (which range from 2 to 38)
and is either a Battle Card or a Mercenary Card. A mercenary attack
consists of the player taking the number of troops shown on the card
(3 or 4) from any nation, and making an attack with them. A battle
card attack consists of an entire nation attacking. A mercenary army
can attack any other player's nation, while a nation can only attack
the same type of race, or their "natural enemy" (shown on their card).
In an attack, the attacker and defender both roll one dice for each
infantry symbol in the battle (including those on the attack card).
The attacker rolls a maximum of three dice, and the defender rolls a
minimum of one die and a maximum of two. The player who has the most
archer symbols on their side adds one to their highest roll. The
highest roll of each player is compared, and the player with the lower
roll (defender wins ties) must give one card from their force to the
opponent, who places it face down in their "Victory" pile. If the
defender rolled two dice, then the second highest dice of each player
is compared with a casualty occurring from that also.
After the initial roll, the attacker can either continue the battle
or quit. The battle can also end if one side is completely destroyed.
Once the attack is over, the battle card is discarded, unless the
attacking player won and has a cavalry symbol on their side. If so,
they may make an additional attack, but must turn one card in their
attacking force face down).
Wizards protect the nations they are with, which can neither attack
or be attacked. They can only be killed by catapults. Players may
use their catapults during a battle to target any card in the game,
which pauses the battle while that attack takes place. The player
using the catapult rolls a die and scores a hit (adding the card to
their victory pile) on a 4-6. Either way, the catapult is discarded.
After all attacks have been resolved, all wizards and catapults are
After the first round ends, the same round begins, with seven cards
dealt to each player, and each player keeping four. In the third
round, players get to keep five cards, instead of four! After the
third round ends, the game is over, and players total their points.
The player who has the biggest nation of each race gets points
(Barbarians = 12, Goblins = 10, Elves = 8, Trolls = 7, Dwarves = 6,
and Undead = 5), with ties giving all tied players the same number of
points. Also, each card in a player's Victory pile nets him two
points. The player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: No one can fault Face 2 Face games for their
components, as the cards included with the game are very high quality
and have beautiful illustrations. Each race is distinguished not only
by a different color but by very different artwork. In a small circle
at the bottom of each card is a picture of each race's hated enemy,
which is nice but is a bit small, so some players confuse them
occasionally. The game also comes with three red dice for the
attacker, and two black dice for the defender. The five dice are
really nice, with gold pips, and the two different colors help
distinguish them (especially with crazy dice chuckers at the table.)
Everything fits in a small box (the expansion also fits in easily)
that is sturdy and covered with more of the very nice artwork.
2.) Rules: The eleven pages of the rulebook (which comes in several
languages) fold out (which is kind of annoying, actually) and are
filled with examples and a few full-color illustrations. The game is
fairly easy to explain to people (especially if they have a Risk
background), although the lack of attacking may confuse some of them.
I had no problem teaching the game to teenagers, and adults also
picked it up fairly fast. The biggest snafu was players trying to
remember which races were worth how many points. A reference card
would have been great for this purpose, as even I couldn't remember
after five games and was constantly looking it up.
3.) Combat: I've never liked the Risk combat system, but at least in
Warriors, it's modified slightly better. I like how the archers give
a +1 to the player who has the most, and I enjoy how the attack cards
add symbols to a player's army. What I didn't like was how the
cavalry was almost worthless, as players rarely had enough forces left
after a battle to successfully make another attack. I also didn't
like the limitations on the attacks. Sure, I know that this was to
add some strategy to the game; but if I have attack cards and a large
Goblin army, and my opponent has a one-warrior Dwarf army (the
Goblin's enemy) and NO Goblin army, what am I supposed to attack that
will make it worth my while? And if they have a big army, the odds
are too even for me to even attempt it! It's just not the same as
Risk. In Risk, you attack because the more you attack, the more
territories you gain, which in turn provides you with more armies. In
this game, you don't get much when you attack small armies; they only
provide you with a few victory points.
4.) Battle Cards: But by far, the most annoying factor about combat
for me was that you might not even have it! With only fourteen attack
cards in the deck, it's very possible that a player get only one or
even NO attack cards. When you get no attack cards, all you basically
do is just sit there, twiddling your thumbs and waiting for someone to
come after you. For some people this is satisfactory, as they simply
sit there and build up their armies. But I would submit that those
type of people would be totally put off by the combat system. And
this is where Warriors fails. Players who enjoy combat systems like
Risk will hate it when they cannot attack or can only attack once or
twice the entire game. Players who like set collecting games will
despise the total randomness of the combat. I don't think that there
are many people who would be fond of both and certainly not in the
5.) Fun Factor: Well, it's apparent from my review that I had no fun
playing the game at all. I played it several times, each time with a
different group, and I just couldn't stomach it. I solicited people
for their opinions; and while a few said that it wasn't as bad as I
thought, none of them had much pleasure playing the game.
6.) Time and Luck: The game is over fairly rapidly, especially if
there aren't several attacks. In fact, luck plays a large function in
this; because if few attack cards are played, then the game ends
quickly (and ends rather unsatisfactorily, I might add).
7.) Choices: Knowing which army to attack sounds like a strategic
option, but in reality, it's simply too obvious. Adding the right
cards to your army - again obvious moves. I just didn't find many
options that I had during the game to make my time worthwhile.
8.) Expansion: There is an expansion for the game, called Dragon
Hordes. I've written a review on that game also, but suffice it to
say that it adds a bit of attack to the game, while also increasing
chaos. In other words, it doesn't salvage the game.
9.) Risk: The combat system is like Risk, and that's about the extent
of it. One draw of Risk is that you can continue to attack, and
attack, and attack. You can only do that if you have cavalry in
Warriors (which is rare) and then only if your army is large enough to
sustain multiple attacks (even more rare) and then only if there are
enough available, viable targets (forget it!). Risk: the card game
sounds neat, but I don't think Risk fans will enjoy Warriors. Not
enough fighting for them, and not the same drive for world dominance.
I've been fairly harsh towards Warriors, and I feel rather badly about
it. For one, I really like both designers, as they are true gentlemen
and have designed some of the best board games of all times. And
also, the theme and idea really intrigued me. Could you take a game
like Risk and make it into a fun card game? For Warriors, the answer
was "no." This design simply didn't work for me, and I didn't find
that I had enough interest from others to cause me to ever bring it to
the table again. Risk as a card game may interest some people (it's
not a selling point for many), but this game isn't Risk. It's a
combination of Risk and a Eurogame, and the mutant produced is rather
deformed - very few will enjoy the playing of it.
"Real men play board games."