Final WAR

Game Overview: You take a Warlord into battle along with supporting units, heroes, spells, and powers that are available to you as you come face to face with the opposing Warlord and the army they have amassed.  During the game you will battle each other, monsters, or bandits all the while waiting for the Final War that will determine the victor where a Warlord will be defeated, ending the battle.

Box Contents: This is an example of a game that I would consider to be overproduced.  There are three massive boards that some may not even have room for on their tables as they measure (16 inches x 32 inches ).  While I appreciate the boards and what they bring to the game and I will always use them, once you know the game mechanics you can play cards straight to the table and skip the board entirely.

Along with this, there are 80 plastic green health tokens, 115 cardboard tokens to track various aspects of the game, and seven 12 sided dice.

In addition, three pre made 50 card Warlord decks (Warewolf, Elf, and Guildmaster) are included along with a 54 card Fate deck.  The cards are a little on the thin side and if you prefer to sleeve your cards, you may wish to do this with these cards.  However, that means the deck boxes the cards come in will no longer work for you.

The art on the cards is simply amazing and would rival anything that is currently on the market.

Clarity of Rules: Make no bones about it; this is a massive rules book.  It is a full sized glossy manual and comes in at 30 pages long.  That is not where it ends though as there is a supplemental ability guide with is also full sized and comes in at 15 more pages.

With that being said, this is one of the best rules books I have seen.  It clearly takes you step by step and explains all aspects of the game thoroughly.  It throws in hints at different areas and draws attention to important aspects of the rules that could be missed.  It even sprinkles in the background of the game on different pages.

The same can be said about how detailed the ability guide is and how it takes you through all necessary rules for each of the 69 abilities that are available.

Game Play:  The game setup is very simple here.  You take your oversized Warlord character and place them in their designed starting spot in the middle of the board.  You shuffle up your 50 card deck associated with that selected Warlord and draw the number of cards based on the type of game you have selected.

Along with this, there is a separate group of 50 cards called the Fate deck.  The cards you use from this deck is also based on the game play you have selected.

There are three types of games you can select from.

·         Quick Play- Includes 12 cards from the Fate deck (Play best 2 of 3/10-20 minutes per game)

·         Quest- Adds in an additional 13 cards from the Fate deck (Play best 2 of 3/20-40 minutes per game)

·         Campaign- Play with all 50 cards from the Fate deck (40-90 minutes).

The Fate deck cards represent one of two things, which is known to all players based on a logo that resides on the back of the cards.  One is a card that will be added to your hand that will give you a benefit or an instant action that needs to be resolved once drawn.

From your initial hand, you can play cards to your side of the board to set up your army.  There will be different cards found throughout your deck.

·         Units are placed on the front lines of your battlefield.

·         Heroes are placed in the middle lane, the same as your Warlord.

·         Fortifications are placed on your back row and impact all of your cards in that column.

·         Items and spells can be attached to Units, Heroes, or Warlords and will become known once that card enters battle.

Units, Heroes, and Warlords will have some common things across their cards.  They will show their power rating in the upper left hand corner.  This is the number you will have to roll (or below) to have a successful hit during an attack.  A health value will also be found for all of the cards.  From here, cards will vary and show any magical spell types (Conjuration, Elemental Magic, Enchantment, Evocation, Mentalism, Death Magic, or Healing) that they may cast, any weaknesses they have, abilities associated with them, and the alignment (neutral, chaotic, or good).

On your turn, you draw one card from your deck.  You can then deploy any cards from your hand that you choose to, but it is not required and all depends on the strategy being used.  If you choose not to, you may be putting yourself at risk of not getting them out if the Final War starts before you have played them.

Next, you take the top card of the Fate deck.  If it is the Add to Hand symbol, you add it to your deck to play at any point during the game.  Some may allow an automatic hit or they may help you if a monster attacks you.  If it has the instant symbol, you must turn the card over for all players to see and resolve it.

The fate deck attempts to mix things up for both players without knowing what is about to happen.  There could be mercenaries that can be hired to your side to be used in the upcoming battles, if you have enough gold cards in your hand to pay them.  Bandits may come into play that will attack the player that drew the card.  Much more powerful monsters will also show up that will also attack.  Whether it is a bandit or a monster, you must pick which lane they will be attacking.  If you are able to defeat them, you will be able to draw cards from you deck.  In defeat, the cards in the selected lane will be lost for the rest of the game.

Additionally, cards drawn from the Fate deck will require players to battle either one or two lanes against each other, with the winner drawing extra cards from their deck.

At some point, you will draw the Final War card which is no longer a lane versus lane battle and is now a battle to the death.

When battling anyone, you will determine the order of the attacks.  Some cards will have first attack, regular attack, or last attack.  Along with this, you will roll for initiative to see who goes first as you progress through each of the attack categories when comparing the cards in the battle.

When it is time for a unit, hero, or Warlord’s turn you can choose to attack anyone through melee who is not protected by a card in front of them.  If there is a card in front then they would have to use a ranged attack, if they have that ability.  You must always wait to attack the Warlord last after everyone else has been defeated.

When deciding what to do, you can do a straight up attack or perform an ability that resides on the card.  This may allow you to heal someone or cast an equipped spell as just a few examples.

If attack is chosen, the outcome is driven by rolling a 12 sided die.  Each card will have a base power rating.  Certain cards or actions will allow you to increase that power rating.  When rolling, you are trying to roll the power level or below.  If you are successful, your opponent will suffer a single point of damage from their life value.  If you ever roll a 1 on a successful hit, you are given the chance to roll the die again and if a second 1 comes up, it is a critical hit eliminating the opponent no matter how much life remains.

As you perform attacks, you can use any cards you previously equipped to them that may adjust stats the card has or may give you additional abilities beyond the normal card you played.  In addition, if you have any power cards you can play those at the appropriate time that may affect a battle at any given time.

The players will continue exchanging turns until one of the Warlord’s is defeated then the other is declared the winner.

Replay Ability: The replay ability is how much you are willing to put into the game with purchases beyond the base game.  The base game has just three Warlords available so the replay ability is somewhat limited.  There are two expansions available and each have three additional 50 card Warlord decks available in them.  The Arcane expansion includes the Witch, Necromancer, and Wizard decks.  The Carnage expansion includes the Knight, Dwarf, and the Orc decks.

To take it even further, you can start building your own decks and can purchase booster decks and veteran sets, which include some of the most powerful Elder cards for each of the decks.

You also can play this game with three players as a third board is included.  Some Fate deck cards even force you to ally with one of the other players.  We didn’t actually try this but it does give you additional options in how to play the game.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 14+ and you may be able to go a few years younger than that.  However, it needs to be noted that this is not a beginners game and needs to be someone that is seasoned in games and can comprehend everything that is going on from turn to turn.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: This one was a real surprise for us.  I had the game on my unplayed shelf for a long time after winning it at a convention.  I will admit that I was a little intimidated by the size of the rules book but once I committed myself to learning it, it wasn’t as difficult as I had expected.

Now, this isn’t a game I would recommend for someone new to the hobby.  With so many keyword abilities, you do need to have that guide on stand by.

What really helped this game stand out from other similar ones for us is the Fate deck that is included.  Many of the one v one games are all about who can build up the strongest army possible or build up that character and then just have it out.  However here, the Fate deck can alter what each player has done at any point.  This includes drawing monster cards or bandit cards that have to fight against your army, possibly weakening it but also giving you the ability to gain cards if you defeat them or even being able to get a Fate card that allows you to send a monster at your opponent instead of battling it yourself.

The skirmish cards also found in the Fate deck that cause you to select either one or two lanes of your army to battle it out was also a great way to have the players interact with each other.  Not knowing when that final war card will be drawn, causes a lot of tension with these battles.  Should you play certain cards that can give you an advantage now to win the smaller battle or sit on them waiting for that final war when the overall battle is more important?

Another very positive thing for us was simply how so many cards interacted with each other from the pre-constructed Warlord decks giving you a truly unique feel for each of them.  Some of them were heavy with magic spells.  Some allow you to pull defeated heroes/units/monsters back to your side to add to your army.  Along with this, all of the Warlord cards are unique from each other.

There are certain aspects of the game that do fall flat for us.  First is the fate deck when playing the quick kill game, which is meant to be a short game and it is suggested that you play the best two out of three games.  However, the card that ultimately sends you into the final war battle can be the second card that comes out and doesn’t give the players much time to do anything and everything will be based on that first card draw.  This is avoided in the other games as it gets shuffled into the 2nd half of the deck.

Secondly, sometimes that fate deck just favors one player over another with the cards that benefit you always going to one player and the other player constantly having to draw the ones that could be reducing their army turn by turn or even costing them the game before the final war occurs as they have to commit their Warlord to these battles.

As you get into the longer versions of the game with quests, you still play the best two of three games.  Because of this, our experience has shown that if you draw a lot of heroes and units that first game you have a good chance at winning that one battle but then you use up many of those cards and you are going to be at a huge disadvantage over the next two rounds and there is no way to get around this.

Ultimately, this game does come down to rolling the 12 sided dice to determine if the attacks or a success or a failure.  While this is not a problem for us and you do have the ability to adjust certain things within the game to give you a better chance at successes, we know some people may not like this.

Finally, there is absolutely no community support that we have found on the Internet.  There are so many abilities that happen, there are bound to be questions from players but we looked a lot on the internet and simply can’t find anything.  Nothing on the game’s web site.  Nothing on Facebook.  Nothing on Twitter. Nothing on Board Game Geek.  Now that doesn’t mean the designers won’t respond to you if you contact them with your questions.  However, having a community behind the game and helping each other adds a lot to any games longevity.  For the questions that we did have, we just used our best judgment on how to play out that particular situation.

Add-ons/Other Releases: As noted above, there are two expansions currently available and each provide 3 additional 50 card Warlord decks along with some additional tokens.  They each provide the same additional rule book as well which explains new keywords and also clarifies some of the rules from the base game.  

Along with this, you can purchase booster decks and Epic and Veteran sets that you can add to any custom built decks.

  **A review copy was provided to us.