Thursday, October 29, 2009

Warhammer Invasion LCG - First Impression


I've had a chance to play the Warhammer Invasion LCG a few times and so far my initial impression is that there is a lot to like about the game.

First of all it is important to explain the distribution format for an LCG. An LCG is nothing more than a regular CCG-type game, such as Magic or Spellfire, but instead of buying packs of random cards from a larger pool FFG releases a $10 pack each month containing a fixed set of cards. This worked fairly well for Anachronism, a horribly underappreciated game, and FFG is using this format for A Game of Thrones, Call of Cthulhu and now the Warhammer Invasion game.

I'll get into the packaging and aesthetics of the game and card design in a different post but I'll just say this: the game looks great.

The game play is simple but not too simple as to be boring. I really like A Game of Thrones but that game is very mechanic and rules heavy (case in point, card effects are different depending on if they are just written on the card or if the effect comes after a colon designating them as a "triggered effect") but the simplicity makes the Warhammer game flow well. After two games my friend Aaron and I didn't have to look at the rules much and we were able to get into the swing of things like we've been playing it for a long time.

The object of the game is to destroy two of your opponent's three zones. While destruction of a zone has no larger game impact outside getting you closer to victory the way the zones are structured makes the game interesting.

Zones are used to determine how many cards a player drawns each turn, how many resources that player is able to use, and what characters are able to attack the opponent and defend a zone. Having a unit of Chaos Knights at your Quest zone, which allows you to draw cards, would let you draw three additional cards each turn and would provide a lot of defense for that zone. You are only able to launch attacks from your Battlefield zone, however, so that unit of Chaos Knights would only provide that draw bonus and defend but wouldn't ever be able to launch an attack. Most cards only provide for a bonus of 1, such as giving you 1 more resource to spend if placed in the Kingdom zone. I like how instead of wasting deck space with Lands or other resource type cards you can instead better focus on characters and other card effects.

Attacking works simply as well. Simply declare which characters are going to attack from your Battlefield to which enemy zone and then the defender declares which characters will defend and you simply resolve the conflict with damage being dealt to the defending characters with any remaining done to the zone. Damage stacks from round to round and a lot of characters have two or more hit points. Deal 8 damage to a zone and it is destroyed. It's very simple.

I also like how each faction has different playstyles. Chaos corrupts units, corrupted units are placed upside down and can't attack or defend, and is able to do different effects based on their target being corrupted or the number of corrupted characters. Empire is capable at moving characters from different zones and gives them a lot of tactical flexibility. Orcs gain bonuses for having damaged characters. Dwarves have a lot of sacrificing and gains a lot of bonuses for developing zones, not to mention having a lot of hit points and other Dwarf like card effects.

The only problem I so far have with the game, and I'm not sure if it's a problem or more with how we've played it so far, is that the game seems to have 4 or 5 turns where player interaction is relatively minor as each player works on building their resources and armies. The game seems to have an exponential growth as with more and more resources and card draw the game ramps up incredibly fast. There are a lot of card effects that kill characters and support cards, however, so maybe it's not a huge issue. More of an observation and a potential long term problem.

The box set includes a starter deck for each of the four factions, rules, and large cardboard realm cards. So far I've played a few games out of the box and it works well as a traditional board game, especially a 1v1 game, out of the box. Since the rules are simple it'd be easier to make a casual game out of this if you were only looking for a good 1v1 board game with a lot of replayability.

So far I'm really enjoying the game. I think it's simple enough for a new player to get into without much trouble while still providing for a deep and engaging game. While A Game of Thrones is my card game of choice, largely due to having a reasonably established competitive environment, I could see getting much more into Warhammer Invasion should it grow as well.

Be seeing you!
Casey

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