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Tom Haesendonckx
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Hi all,

This review is for all those players that are on the fence about Berserk: War of Realms(BWOR).

I created this review after playing 50+ games using both the basic box + the first 2 expansions (using a print and play version) + kickstarter extras (like the Angels for example).

Introduction
BWOR is a customizable, but not collectable, cardgame with a high boardgame feeling.

It has elements of deckbuilding, strategy and tactics (+ a small amount of luck of the dice).

The setting is high fantasy and it seems to be a system that is made for creating expansions.

Cards represent units, terrain and items with different abilities and combat values.

You fight a battle by moving the cards on a board with 3x5 squares on each player side, fighting with enemy units and performing ranged and missile attacks. You win by eliminating all enemy cards.

The Basic Box

The basic box comes with 6 decks each with 30 cards that belong to the same realm.

These decks have been themed: Dwarves for the mountain realm, Orcs for the plains, Demons for the dark realm, Elves for the forest realm and so on.

On top of that, there are neutral and multi-realms cards to allow players to customize decks further using the basic box only.

Counters, special attack dice and 3 by 5 square battlefield boards are provided to flesh out the set, along with some special dice (attacke and defense dice) and some counters.

Artwork

Artwork is subjective, but everyone in our group agreed that the artwork for BWOR is of very high quality.

There is some variation in the quality; however, with some cards being significantly less impressive while others are pretty impressive.

Rules

The game actually consists of several ‘layers’ that make up the total experience.

Deckbuilding

Before starting a game, players can either pick a standard deck or build their own deck of 30-50 cards.

You can have up to 3 copies of the same card in your deck.

You can combine different ‘Realms’ (colors) of cards if you wish, but this will handicap you when selecting your army from the deck later in the game.

Once you are happy with your deck, you can start the game.

Army building

When starting the game, you draw a hand of 15 cards from your deck (that holds 30-50 cards).

From these 15 cards, you purchase an army with silver and gold coins.

The amount of silver and gold coins that you may spend is influenced by whether you are the first player and the amount of different Realms that are in your deck of 30-50 cards. The more Realms that are in your deck, the less coins you get to field your army.

Of all cards that cost silver you are allowed up to 3 copies in your army. All cards that cost cold can only be added once to the army (although they CAN be 3 times in your deck).

If you did not spend all your gold, it will transfer to silver on a 1-1 base. If you don’t spend all your silver, it is lost.

Deploying your army

Once you have selected your army, you deploy the cards, face down.

You first have to use the ‘middle’ portion of the battlefield (the central 3x3 area on your side of the battlefield). If you have cards left over, you may assign them to the flank areas.

Once both sides have deployed, the first player reveals ALL his units and the second player reveals only his 2 front lines.

The second player will reveal his last line on his first turn.

This is the strategic part of the game: you will have to choose units that work well together, considering the deck you are playing against.

This is difficult in the beginning, but after some plays you will find combinations that work well for your personal style of playing.

With all armies build and deployed, you are ready to start the battle!arrrh

Battle turns

Each player in turn may move any or all of his units (cards) and use their attacks and special abilities. You may not attack and then move.

You are allowed to move and then attack. Moving diagonally is not allowed, but you can attack all adjacent enemy units, including diagonally.

Each unit has 3 scores for its basic attack, called light/medium/heavy attack.

When you announce an attack (called a basic strike – unless you are using a special ability), you declare a target. If this target is ready (untapped), it may defend itself. A defense roll is made with a 1 in 6 chance that the attack is blocked and a 1 in 6 change that you can counterattack, causing a light strike to the attacker. Note that cards that have been tapped do not roll the defense die.

Assuming the attack is a success (did not get blocked or countered), an attack roll us made resulting in light/medium/heavy damage depending on the roll with 3/6 change of light, 2/6 chance of medium and 1/6 chance of heavy damage.

You place damage counters on the damaged unit equal to the amount of damage you inflicted. This damage stays on the unit until enough damage has been done to kill it (equal to or more than the unit has hitpoints). Of course it is possible to heal, regenerate,…to remove damage from certain units.

It is also possible to ‘protect’ a card that is attacked. If you have another card that is untapped and is adjacent to both the attack and the defender, you may declare that card as a protector, taking the place of the card that was originally attacked. The attack proceeds as normal, but the protector will be tapped after the attack has finished resolving.

It’s worth noting that you can only defend against basic attacks, so not against special abilities.

A lot of skills/abilities can affect combat. You can get plusses/minuses/immunities/limitations…the possibilities are limitless. A special not goes to attack and defense skills. Both allow for a reroll if either the attack or the defense skill. These are most commonly used during battle.

Next to basic attacks, you can have special strikes, magical strikes, blasts, throw attacks and shooting attacks, all with their specific plusses and minuses. Sound s complex…it isn’t really. It comes very naturally.surprise

The biggest difference is that you cannot defend against any other attack except for the most common attack: the basic strike. Plus blasts/throws/shooting attacks might have a specific minimum/maximum range. Note that you are not allow to make a ranged attack against an adjacent card.

As for movement: every unit has a movement score (usually 1 or 2) and some units have specials like jump, fly or teleport. It is important in the game to position your units carefully as to not overextend your army, leaving it open to counterattacks.

It is often key to organize you movement, shooting and attacking in exactly the right order to maximize the effect. This is the tactical aspect of the game: have the right card at the right moment in the right place.

Winning/losing the game

The game ends when one side has been eliminated or surrenders.

Rulebook

When you read the rules, you think everything is very clear…but once you start playing some questions will pop up that need clarification of some rules. Sometimes the special rules on a card will be a little vague.

The rules are not overly complex though, but the combinations of cards and abilities are countless, so it takes a couple of games before you are up to speed on how everything works and which cards have which abilities.

Adding more examples and maybe a sample game or 2 that takes you through the basics and then the specials would be a major plus.
It takes about 10 minutes to explain the game to a new player. Once you learn all the different cards, gametime will be substantially shorter though (initial games will take you up to 2H because it takes time building an army from cards that you see for the first time).


Summary cool

For me, the game comes down to 85% skill , luck of the draw 5% and luck with dice 10%. Which, for me, is the best combination.

In my experience the most skilled player will usually win in this game, but not always, which is exactly how I like it.

On top of that, you can tweak decks or the amount of coins to ‘handicap’ better players to make a match with less experience players.

What I noticed is that after each game, players usually had a discussion along the lines of ‘I should have done this …or reacted like that’ or ‘I placed this unit wrong from the start…’ and so on. To me this is one of the signs that the game is really good! People will sit down together and review their game, planning future strategies and weighing pros and cons of specific moves. That is exactly what I am looking for in a game.

Another thing we noticed was that it IS possible to recover from a disastrous turn in which you botched all your rolls and lost an important card! If you can think fast and adapt to reality of the battlefield..you can make a spectacular comeback.

Positive points:

- Deckbuilding + army building is really well done giving a ‘strategic’ feel
- Balance: strategy + skill + a small bit of luck works really well
- Complexity is just right: you discover more and more strategies the more you play
- Replay value: no game is ever the same
- Length of play is just right
- Easy to teach – difficult to master
- Great artwork
soblueNegative points:


- No good storage for the cards in the box
- Card stock quality is not 100% up to standard (the paper that is, the design is fine). Nothing a deck protector won’t solve
- Wording of rules and card text sometimes leaves room for interpretation
- Expansions do not fit the basic box Realm themes

To me this game is winner and it comes to the table often both with experienced gamers as well as with relatively ‘new’ players.

Score: 90/100. And that is NOT a score that I give a lot.
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Allen OConnor
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Great review. Very informative, thank you.
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Guillaume Gehan
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Thank you !

I did not try to make a multi-realms deck at the moment but it seems that the gold limitation is not that much a penalty ? How do you think about this ?

In the base set there is only creatures cards ? No areas/Artifacts/Equipments cards (page 7 of the rulebook)or something is missing ?
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Allen OConnor
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dolmard wrote:
Thank you !

I did not try to make a multi-realms deck at the moment but it seems that the gold limitation is not that much a penalty ? How do you think about this ?

In the base set there is only creatures cards ? No areas/Artifacts/Equipments cards (page 7 of the rulebook)or something is missing ?


The base set only contains creatures; however kickstarter backers will also receive one area card for each faction. Hobby World USA said that they would do a second kickstarter campaign that would include all types of cards.
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Edd Allard
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I was going to write a review, but you pretty much said everything I wanted to say. Thanks! I really appreciate your well-balanced review. There has been a lot of panning of this game, primarily because of the rulebook. The rules cover a variety of card types and contingencies that aren't present in the boxed version, and is not as well organized as some might like. Having said that, however, our group had very few problems getting this game on the table and figuring out the nuances pretty quickly.

We've played only a handful of games so far, and only one with mixed realms, but the game seems to work quite well. I've seen some posts with concerns about balance, but we haven't encountered that at all.

I agree with you that deploying the "correct" army to square off against an opponent is a big part of the strategy. You've got to evaluate your cards carefully when you construct your army. It’s more than just striking a balance between melee and ranged cards. You’ve got to consider what special abilities will enhance your army, or be most effective against the strengths of your opponent. If both players are mindful of this, balance really isn’t an issue.

This game won’t appeal to everyone. It’s not dueling wizards like MtG or Mage Wars … this really is more of a fantasy miniatures war game using cards. But, it’s solid right out of the box, and the game play is really pretty intuitive after your first game or two.

I think it’s unfortunate that some folks are getting so wrapped around the axle over a less than perfect rulebook that they are overlooking an otherwise very decent game. Again, thanks for providing a more balanced, and less emotion-laden review!
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Steve Kozlowski
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edralla wrote:
I was going to write a review, but you pretty much said everything I wanted to say. Thanks! I really appreciate your well-balanced review. There has been a lot of panning of this game, primarily because of the rulebook. The rules cover a variety of card types and contingencies that aren't present in the boxed version, and is not as well organized as some might like. Having said that, however, our group had very few problems getting this game on the table and figuring out the nuances pretty quickly.

We've played only a handful of games so far, and only one with mixed realms, but the game seems to work quite well. I've seen some posts with concerns about balance, but we haven't encountered that at all.

I agree with you that deploying the "correct" army to square off against an opponent is a big part of the strategy. You've got to evaluate your cards carefully when you construct your army. It’s more than just striking a balance between melee and ranged cards. You’ve got to consider what special abilities will enhance your army, or be most effective against the strengths of your opponent. If both players are mindful of this, balance really isn’t an issue.

This game won’t appeal to everyone. It’s not dueling wizards like MtG or Mage Wars … this really is more of a fantasy miniatures war game using cards. But, it’s solid right out of the box, and the game play is really pretty intuitive after your first game or two.

I think it’s unfortunate that some folks are getting so wrapped around the axle over a less than perfect rulebook that they are overlooking an otherwise very decent game. Again, thanks for providing a more balanced, and less emotion-laden review!


That's what I've been saying. At least TRY the game. It's quite fun. I get people being bent out of shape about the quality of the rulebook, but I think it's a shame that some people are willing to completely write the game off just over that issue.

It's like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

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