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Mulan Wong
Taiwan
Zhonghe District
New Taipei City
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When I noticed that Alan R. Moon and Richard Borg are working together on a fantasy title, Warriors, it became a must on my list. I am very fond of both designers' games, especially their recent hits from Days of Wonder: TtR and MM' 44. While Warriors is produced by Face 2 Face rather than DoW, I have enjoyed I'm the Boss and Sleuth, the only F2F games I own/played - great games if played with the right (more likely different) crowds. So I bought both Warriors and Dragon Horde the first chance I got (even though I was over-charged by 20 USD). It seems odd to me that I have an opportunity to get my hands on a retail version of this game before others, but I suppose this might be due to the fact that the game is manufactured in China.

RULES- To start the game, each player is dealt 11 cards to form their basic kingdom, which may include wizards, catapults, and creatures from following Nations: Undead, Dwarves, Trolls, Elves, Goblins, and Barbarians (any Attack cards dealt are replaced, so that no player starts with any Attack cards). The cards are placed faced up and arranged so that each Nation has its own separate column. The Wizards are placed in any Nation you choose (a Nation with one or more Wizards cannot attack or be attacked), and the Catapults are placed in their own special column. Each card in a Nation represents one of the three types of units- Infantry, Archers, or Cavalry. The object of the game is to obtain the most VP via two paths: 1) Kill as many foes as you can, each card you defeat gives you two VPs; and 2) Build and preserve the largest Nations of one or several kinds. Each largest Nation is awarded different amounts of VP at the end of the game: Undead 5 VPs, Dwarves 6 VPs, Trolls 7 VPs, Elves 8 VPs, Goblins 10 VPs, and Barbarians 11VPs.
After the initial setup, the game proceeds in three rounds. In each round, the players are dealt 7 cards each and are allowed to keep 4 cards (or 5 in the last round). These cards are used to either reinforce your army (creature cards) or make an attack (Attack cards). All players reveal their cards simultaneously and arrange all the creature cards into Nations and place Wizards and Catapults accordingly, in addition, place any Attack cards above your setup area. Now is where the Attack cards come in, you can only attack via using an Attack card. Each Attack card has a number printed in the top right corner, and in each round the attacks are resolved individually from the lowest number to the highest. There are two kinds of Attack cards: Battle and Mercenary. Battle cards are straightforward, you choose a Nation you control and either attacks another Nation of the same color, or the natural enemy of your Nation (the natural enemies are depicted at the lower right corner of each creature card) without Wizard cards. For instance, if you attack with a Battle card with your Elves Nation, you can choose either to target the attack any Elves or Troll Nation (natural enemy of Elves) with no Wizard cards. Mercenary cards are not limited to any Nation; in fact, you have to pick 3-4 Infantries (depends on the card) from any combination of your Nations (even from Nations with Wizards) and make an attack to any Nation without Wizard cards.
There are three different units icons with different functions: Infantry- the foundation of your army, you get one die roll for each infantry you have in your Nation or Mercenary Army (up to a max of 3 for attacking, and 2 for defending); Archers- the side with the most archers adds one to the highest die roll for each dice roll; Cavalry- allows additional attacks to be made against different nations. For each additional attack, the attacker must turn any one of the cards in the attacking Nation face down to exclude that card from participating subsequent attacks, except that the attacker is not allowed to flip his last Cavalry icon face down (all cards are returned face up after this Nation’s Attack is discarded).
For each attack, count up the number of icons (including the ones on the Attack card) the two conflicting Nations, and roll the appropriate dice for each Nation and compare the dice in Risk-style: highest with highest and second highest with second highest. The higher die wins and the owner of the lower die roll chooses a card in the participating Nation to give to his/her opponent as a VP counter (2 points). The defender always wins any ties. The Attack continues until the attacker decides to stop or either Nation is completely defeated (no cards left in the Nation). The Attack cards are discarded and the next lowest Attack card is resolved.
Anytime in an attack, any player can use one or more of his/her Catapult card to target ANY other card as an interrupt. The attack is halted and the Catapult card owner rolls a die, on a result of 4, 5, or 6, the target card is hit and is taken by the Catapult owner as VP.
When all the attacks are resolved, the round ends. All Wizards and unused Catapults are discarded. Each player is dealt 7 more cards in round 2. In round 3, all the discarded cards are reshuffled back before dealing out new cards to each player and this time they keep 5 cards instead of 4. At the end of round 3, add up all the VPs gained from kills and bonus VPs are awarded to any player who has the largest Nation of any kind. If any players are tied in being the largest, they are all awarded full VPs for their Nations. So for example, if Bill gets 11 cards from kills and has the largest Elves Nation and Undead Nation, he gets 22VPs (kills)+ 8VPs (elves)+ 5VPs (undead) for a total of 35 VPs. The highest total wins. Ties are settled by the number of cards gained through kills.

GAME PARTS- Both the game and the expansion are in identical sturdy, square cardboard box roughly the size of an average 20pcs CD holder/bag. Inside the box of Warriors there are 3 rule sheets (of different languages: English, Japanese, and Korean), 110 cards, and five dice. The rule sheets are fully colored, double-sided, and glossy. The rules are illustrated and accompanied by an extended example of game play at the end. Since the game is quite simple, the rules are mostly clear and straightforward (with the exception of the Catapult, which I will discuss further below). The five dice are three red and two black, and they come in a flimsy re-sealable bag which is superfluous. Now, the cards themselves are the meat of the game and they are indeed professionally done. In size, they are almost identical to the cards in I’m the Boss, but the overall quality is much better and very slightly thicker and sturdier. Since the cards in Warriors are glossed over with the same kind of square-grid dotted surface much like the cards in Sleuth, this gives them a good texture that is pleasant to the fingers. All the cards are black bordered to further resist stain and wear; in all I am very pleased with the durability and the quality of the cards. The artworks are beautifully rendered and are equally pleasing. There are three different pieces of art for each of the six Nations, one for each unit type. For example, the infantry cards will depict different races wielding appropriate melee weapons such as swords, shields, knives, scimitars, axes, and so on; the more interesting illustrations are probably the Cavalry, the “steeds” for each Nation is different, and this is probably one of the few instances where you will see a troll on a charging yak or a dwarf on a galloping antelope. The background and weapons are appropriate to each Nation and the artwork does very well to enhance the theme during game play.

TIME PER SESSION- After a few plays, the game usually clocks in under 30 min; for three or less players, usually no more than 15 min. With the expansion that supports up to 6 players, it might take 40-45 min or less if everyone makes decisions fast enough. A very fast, light filler.

LANGUAGE DEPENDENCY- 100% language independent, as long as you know the rules, you can play and teach others. There is no wording whatsoever on the cards and the icons and numbers are universally recognizable. The different Nations are color coded, the Attack cards are in black, and Wizards and Catapults are in grey. In fact, even though the games suggests the age for 8+, I think most 6 or 7 year-olds can learn and play the game very swift and well.

GAME ANALYSIS- The game is completely luck driven. The cards dealt to the dice rolled are vital to winning so there seems to be very little control in the game, but if you an element of negotiation into the game, that’s when the fun really begins. Even without negotiation, there are some points which you can make to better assess your chances of winning. Max out your Infantry, attack with more than three whenever possible, since the defender always wins ties, it is vital to get that one more die before you attack. Archers bonus gives a great boon, but there are only a handful of archers in each Nation so having one is a good enough defense and having more than two often results in them becoming cannon-fooder (the Elves Nation has 4 Archers and the Barbarians 3, while all the rest have only 2). Picking the smallest defense is not always the best strategy. If you do not have Cavalry in your attack force of 4+ cards, you might want to consider attacking a Nation that two or three cards so that you will not limit yourself to 2 VPs per attack. Picking off one card Nations with a strong attack force containing Cavalry is probably the most profitable. If you use Catapults, remember to us all of them before the end of the round, sometimes they can be more profitable then a chancy attack especially if you can whittle down opponents Nations so that yours will be the largest at game end. In likewise manner, Wizards can be used not only to protect your weakest Nation but also to preserve your strongest Nation especially in round 3 to get the lucrative VP reward at game end.
There are three issues that I have with this game:
1. The Nations are virtually identical with the exception that they have different numbers of creature cards in total. There are no special abilities and each Nation is virtually identical. This is a serious draw back in a fantasy theme, since we the players often look for varying strengths and weaknesses in the different races. The theme cannot be held together by the card art alone, the game plays less fantasy like and more Risk like in this aspect. Perhaps it is due to keeping the game simple and language independent and fast, but for a game claiming a fantasy theme, it lacks the atmosphere. With the expansion, the Dragons with their special power flavor up the theme somewhat, but to someone looking for high adventure and fantasy, I would not recommend this game (except for the artwork).
2. The Catapult rule is somewhat fiddly since the rule states: “A Catapult can be used to attack any single card, regardless of whether the card is involved in the current battle or not.” This creates several problems: First, is it possible to target an Attack card? Of so, does the attack card count as VP if eliminated, and can the Attacking Army/Nation continue to attack without an Attack card? Second, can a Catapult target another Catapult? If so, can the second Catapult interrupt the first Catapult and roll first? Third, can a Catapult target the same card targeted by another Catapult and roll first? The question gets more complex as you consider multiple Catapults firing at the same time. We used a house rule that prevent Catapults doing any of the above, and if two or more Catapults wants to fire at the same time, the owners roll a die each and the higher roll goes first.
3. This is perhaps the most critical issue concerning game play and gaming experience. The ratio between Attack cards and creature cards are too drastic (14 out of a total of 110) for the two to be mixed in the same pile. This is basically a light dicefest game, so it is extraordinarily frustrating to not being able to attack for 90% of the time due to the lack of an attack card. In one of the games we played, one player had to sit through without attacking and in two other one player could only attack once in the whole game. While I understand that winning does not necessarily come from being able to attack, it is much less fun if only one or two attack cards show up in a single round. Although this mechanic (less attack cards) speeds up the game, but I think it makes the whole experience less enjoyable. Even if the game plays fast, it is no fun to watch all the other players charge around as you sit there for 15-20 min. One simple fix is to separate the Attack cards from the other cards and create a new deck which is dealt to the players evenly. In fact, there are so few Attack cards that in a four player game, there are not enough cards to deal two cards each for two rounds. To fix this deal one Attack card and six creature cards each for the first round; two Attack cards and five creatures each in round 2; reshuffle all the discarded card before round three as per the rules and deal 3 Attack cards and 4 creatures each in round 3. Strangely this problem is actually less of an issue with the Dragon Hordes expansion since the expansion of 55 cards contains 16 attack cards.

OVERALL- I enjoyed the games I played and I am glad that I bought the game. Warriors is fundamentally “Risk without a board,” and it is fast and fun (albeit with some tweaking) and it will be our filler for a long time to come. My main problem with Warriors is that it should have been sold with the Dragon Hordes expansion in one box, which would have turned it into a much better AND a much more COMPLETE game. I sincerely do not recommend getting Warriors alone, unless you plan to play with some house rules. The fact that Warriors and its expansion hit the market together is already odd, and if you account for the number of Attack cards in each game, it seems quite obvious that the two are actually meant to be one single game. Perhaps as basic and advance versions of the same game, but they really do belong in one game box.
I would like to thank Mr. Moon and Mr. Borg for this fast and enjoyable game and also hope that they will make the Nations a little more diverse and characterized through the next expansion(s).
 
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Christopher Brandon
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Lynnwood
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Re:User Review
Mulan (#446445),

A good review-but the catapult issues you raised (confusion over can a catapult attack an "attack" card) seem very...hmmm...how to put this, a bit overly rules lawyerly. In other words it seems like the sort of "well the rules don't say I can't do it" sort of a question than a real game play concern or issue. A reasonable person would not think-hey my catapult card will attack your "attack action" card and thus nullify an attack. A non issue except if the people you game with are rules lawyers-in which case why game with them?shake

I do agree with you regarding the action (attack card) issue and your suggestions regarding their deal with each hand is a welcome change.
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Mulan Wong
Taiwan
Zhonghe District
New Taipei City
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The mushroom of course.
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Re:User Review
Fenway5 wrote:
Mulan (#446445),

A good review-but the catapult issues you raised (confusion over can a catapult attack an "attack" card) seem very...hmmm...how to put this, a bit overly rules lawyerly. In other words it seems like the sort of "well the rules don't say I can't do it" sort of a question than a real game play concern or issue. A reasonable person would not think-hey my catapult card will attack your "attack action" card and thus nullify an attack. A non issue except if the people you game with are rules lawyers-in which case why game with them?shake

I do agree with you regarding the action (attack card) issue and your suggestions regarding their deal with each hand is a welcome change.


Thank you for reading this review and I am glad that you find something worth your while. As to the catapult issue, a "reasonable" person might not think it is plausible to halt an attack using a catapult, but the average person, when attacked by a superior force, might wish to fling their catapults at one of the attacking unit most advantageous to him/her, and this is when the problem arises. After looking at the attack force, he/she might discover that the most valueable target is not any of the unit but the attack card since they often have two unit symbols on them. Thus this question is quickly raised not primarily to stop the attack completely, but to efficiently whittle down opposing attacks.
And I do agree with you that it is more reasonable not to be able to target attack cards, as I noted that is our house rule. The reason I mention it is that there is some gray area with this rule which could have been cleared up very easily with the inclusion of one or two sentences. I believe it is simply an minute oversight in an otherwise clear and informative set of rules.

Mulan
 
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Re:User Review
Mulan (#446445),
Very True concerning the lack of attack card.

And I will try to use your variation about the attack card dealing. And I will simply separate the attack card as a deck for ease of the dealing cards at the begining.
 
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Mulan Wong
Taiwan
Zhonghe District
New Taipei City
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The mushroom of course.
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One side of what?
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Re:User Review
casterlyrock (#481570),

Glad you find it helpful. And I really like your Avatar... The Incredibles is just such a loveable and enjoyable animation!

Mulan
 
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