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[Review] Warriors

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  • Tom Vasel
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2005
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      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
      much!

      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
      of three).

      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
      discarded.

      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 gameā€¦

      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
      same game.

      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.

      Tom Vasel
      "Real men play board games."
      www.tomvasel.com
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