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Battles of Westeros» Forums » Reviews

Subject: An Outside Perspective- Is this A Good Game? rss

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Erik Miller
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Disclaimer: I bought this game just knowing about Westeros and having not read a single page of any of the books. This is a spoiler alert on how far I've read in the books:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I read until Ed Stark died, was disgusted, and gave up


I know about the story since other people in my gaming group love this series and they talk about it during our gaming sessions. The books just weren't up my alley. Anyways, that's a discussion for another time. My wargaming experience is weak, to say the least. I own Tide of Iron+expansions, this+expansions, and Axis and Allies. I traded away Runewars, Twilight Struggle, Memoir '44 and other A+A titles because I didn't enjoy them. My primary gaming partner is my wife, who is not a wargamer or a heavy conflict gamer. She enjoys co-ops and medium-to-heavy weight games. That's about all you need to know about us.


Concept:


There are 2 ways to play the game- scenario or free play. Free play is simple. You draw some cards to determine what units/commanders you start off with, some cards to determine what terrain you can put on the map, and have a specific objective to accomplish involving either holding strategic points for points (higher point total wins after x rounds) or by wiping the enemy forces completely off the map. Points are the usual way to determine a winner.

Scenarios are battles taken from the books or alluded to in the books that you play out. They involve all sorts of different objectives, such as holding out for x number of rounds, storming a castle, burning a camp to the ground, keeping people from crossing a river, etc etc. The base game comes with 10 scenarios, with 2 additional free alternate history scenarios available on the FFG website, and each small expansion has 3 more scenarios.

Gameplay:


Gameplay is relatively simple, yet complex as you get further along in the scenarios and add additional rules to the game. The simple goes as follows:

You order units in 1 of 2 ways. At the start of each round you roll a number of dice (usually 4) to get tokens you can use to order units. The tokens are either green, blue, red, a purple fist, or a flag. The color tokens can be used to order any one unit of the same color, the purple is a wild, and the flag can be used to "rally" a unit, essentially letting you use them a second time in the current round. This costs morale, which will be discussed later.

Secondly, you have commanders on the field represented by gray figures. Each commander can order units within 2 spaces of it by playing a leadership card. Each commander can has a command limit (usually 2, but 1 or higher also occurs) that limits the amount of cards they can play each round. Leadership cards usually have 2 parts- an order (like order 3 units, or order 2 adjacent units, etc) and some sort of bonus effect (if your morale is green or better, x happens). Other leadership cards allow you to pay bonus command to get powerful additional effects, like all units rolling extra dice while attacking, moving farther, etc. Commanders and leadership cards are the main way you'll move your forces around the map.

Combat is simple. Each unit on the map has a rank (green, blue, or red) that allows them to move x number of spaces and roll x number of dice while attacking. Green units can move the farthest but have the least amount of attack, blue units can move farther OR attack, and red units have the most amount of attack. To score hits on your opponent, you need to roll the color the unit you're attack is on the die. There are more green sides than blue or red, etc. Purple fists count as a wild (in most situations) and flags make the enemy move back 1 space for each flag rolled.

All combat effects can be ignored or enhanced by the terrain you're fighting in (defending while in a building lets you ignore the first hit you'd take in any combat roll, for example), by easily explained keywords on the unit cards (cavalry can pursue, for example, letting them chase a retreating opponent and attack them again), and by the different leadership cards you play. Knowing what your keywords do is key for victory.

After a unit attacks another unit in close combat they are considered engaged and a token is placed between the two units of the color of the attacker. The token gives the owner 2 key advantages- if the other player chooses to disengage, you get a free attack on them. Also, any other units that attack that unit in close combat are considered as flanking and can reroll some of the dice they roll for their attack. Some units also get additional dice while attacking units while flanking.

These are the essential basics of the game. Each game is a set number of rounds, with additional rounds if the game ends in a tie. A round consists of each player rolling x dice to get tokens to command units, drawing x leadership cards, and whomever has the initiative playing a card or using a token. Play passes back and forth until both players pass or have no cards/tokens left, which means you start another round. You can save 1 token and 1 card from a previous round to the next round if desired.

Finally, the last important part of the game is morale. As your units die, your morale decreases. This is represented by a tracker. If a green unit dies, your morale decrease by 1 (2 for blue, 3 for red). If you kill a unit, it increase. This tracker has both players on the same side. If your morale gets all the way to the bottom your units flee the battlefield and you automatically lose. At that point you've probably lost anyways so this doesn't happen often.

Plus, this game has a lot of additional parts that make it really interesting. You can light the board on fire, a risky proposition at times, there are varying terrain effects, each leader has interesting powers (mostly), and some of the units are really cool. They all look cool as well.


Thoughts:


As stated earlier I went into this completely blind. It was on the 60% off shelf at my FLGS because it arrived damaged. The shrink was off, the box had a good nick in it, and it was missing a few pieces which FFG kindly replaced. I bought it on a whim betting that I could resale if for more then I paid if I didn't like it.

Fortunately, I really enjoy BoW. It has a really fun way to bring forth medieval battles and I love how the game plays. A couple of the scenarios seem titled towards one side but all in all they are still fun and enjoyable. The wife even enjoys this game. It's the only wargame I can get her to play without it being my birthday or Father's Day. She won't even complain while we play it. This is probably due to the fact that I've won 2 of the 16 games we've played. No matter what side she is she always demolishes me.

BoW is a really enjoyable game. I have a minimal knowledge of the world it's set in but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the game. The pieces are a beautiful, the game plays quickly (usually about an hour or so for most scenarios, some are longer) and it's tense, exciting, and fun. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants a good, solid wargame that isn't too involved but is well done.


Warnings:

You have to glue all the pieces together. That takes some serious time (about 2 hours) and involved me gluing my hands together multiple times with superglue. The pieces are also unpainted. I don't paint either but they are a nice looking white (stark), red (lannister), or tan (neutral players). I don't own the big box so I don't know the color of the order big team.

All in all, I rate this game a 9. It's a lot of fun, it's not too lengthy, the wife will play it, and it makes for some good times. I never regret playing a round of BoW!

Here's a link to my other reviews, including reviews for the Wardens of the North and West expansions for this game! Reviews by Mil05006
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Tom Reuhl
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Have you given the show a chance?
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Erik Miller
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Cranium Junker wrote:
tomreuhl wrote:
Have you given the show a chance?

I suggest giving the HBO series a shot. Remember everyone dies in Westeros


thank you! I've been thinking about it but am going to just wait until the whole thing is out. That way, if I get hooked, I don't have to wait between seasons.
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Erik Miller
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Cranium Junker wrote:
mil05006 wrote:


Spoiler (click to reveal)
I read until Ed Stark died, was disgusted, and gave up

This is hardly a spoiler mate. Most people have read up to this or watched the HBO series through the first season.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I know it's not a big spoiler but I didn't want to ruin it for anyone! And yes... everyone does die. And some come back as weird... things. Unless you're a cripple or a young female. Then you might live.
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Scott Randolph
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It's an awesome game. It is an excellent tactical level Medieval-era wargame on its own merits, with or without "Theme" (though I do love the theme).

Unlike the other Borg-inspired games, which use the L/C/R Game Mechanic (which I dislike a great deal), one can tactically organize one's units without worrying about an arbitrary line separating the board into thirds.
Also, one cannot just use, use and re-use the same "bulldozer" units turn after turn after turn. Each unit, generally, with the exception of Rally (which takes some careful planning to use effectively), moves and attacks once per round.

Holding a card and a token into the next round also facilitates better strategy.
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Fabio Calzolari
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S.Lazzaro di Savena
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mil05006 wrote:
Cranium Junker wrote:
mil05006 wrote:


Spoiler (click to reveal)
I read until Ed Stark died, was disgusted, and gave up

This is hardly a spoiler mate. Most people have read up to this or watched the HBO series through the first season.

I know it's not a big spoiler but I didn't want to ruin it for anyone! And yes... everyone does die. And some come back as weird... things. Unless you're a cripple or a young female. Then you might live.
The US are not the only country where ppl watch the show, or read the books.
Sure, the other countries have to wait for the books to be translated, or/and for the shows to be dubbed and aired on free tv channels.
This could mean that (for example) in Italy we're watching the first season on a free TV channel right now.
I'd apreciate if you'll keep your spoilers, big or little depending where you live, hidden
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Erik Miller
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My mistake- fixed! Ironic that I talked about spoilers and gave spoilers at the same time.....
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