Mina's Fresh Cardboard
Mina's Mini Review - War Co. With Two
This game is not currently available, but will be on Kickstarter soon. I was NOT paid or otherwise coerced into doing this review. I was simply curious and provided with nothing more than a prototype to play. And some bingo chips. Those may have swayed my opinion .
War Co is an expandable card game in which your goal is to be the last player with cards remaining in your deck and/or hand.
You will start the game with a deck of cards and 10 energy tokens. Each card is either a machine or a technology. Machines are used to attack and defend, while technologies augment the rules of the game.
At the start of the game, you will shuffle your deck and on your turn will:
1) Draw: You MUST draw up to 4 to 7 cards in hand.
2) Place: You MAY play cards face up and/or face down. If you do so, you will have to pay the energy requirement of the card. The card will continue to consume energy until it is taken off your tableau by an opponent's attack if it is a machine or by you at the end of your turn if it is a technology.
3) Attack: You MAY attack one target with one machine. If your opponent has a machine in play, you must select a machine to be the target of your attack. You declare your attacker and declare which machine you are attacking and win if your attacker's strength is greater than that of your opponent's defender. Some machines can counterattack and others have varying strengths depending on whether they are attacking or defending. If you have won the battle, your opponent will discard his machine from his tableau and discard a card from the top of his deck.
If your opponent does not have a machine in play, you can attack him directly, forcing him to discard 3 cards from the top of his deck.
If 3 rounds pass by and nobody makes an attack, ALL cards on ALL players' tableaus get wiped!
4) Discard: You MUST discard one card from your hand and MAY discard one technology from your tableau.
Attacks are not allowed until all players have had a turn, so the first round will simply consist of playing cards.
The game ends when one player has 0 cards in his deck and hand. The last player with cards in his deck and/or hand is the winner!
Played prior to review 6x
1. Excellent artwork
I am not drawn to war-related imagery, but I do like space! This game is perfectly illustrated to depict the space machines and technologies of an imaginary future without any superfluous war gore. The artist did an excellent job.
At this point, the graphic design is sparse but functional and works to bring the spectacular artwork and important information to the fore, so I can't fault it for its simplicity. But this is a prototype and the graphic design may not be final anyway...
2. Limitations on your tableau and energy consumption of cards create interesting decision points
This is the most interesting aspect of War Co. for me. Your tableau is limited to 5 mechs and 2 techs at any one time and your energy pool is limited to 10 (unless, of course, you or your opponent have done things to increase or reduce that number and there are plenty of cards that help in that department). Managing your tableau with these limitations in mind can become quite challenging. In fact, you have to be careful about what you add from the very start, keeping in mind the fact that you will not be able to remove machines and replace them with others unless they are destroyed. As your tableau develops and you max out your energy and tableau space, you will have to make very difficult decisions and tradeoffs about which technologies to discard and possibly which machines to send off into battle to die in order to open up space for techs and machines that are more advantageous to your current strategy.
3. Streamlined way of tracking "life" points by tying your "life" with your deck also creates interesting decision points
I love the fact that your deck is your life source in this game. Not only is that a simple and streamlined way of dealing with the "life" situation, but it is also a thematic and interesting way of dealing with it.
I described the ways in which the energy and tableau limitations create a lot of tension when deciding which cards to play and when. The fact that your deck is your life source adds to this same tension. Because you want to keep as many cards as possible for the longest amount of time possible in your deck and in your hand, you generally want to play as few cards as possible to the tableau while keeping up with your opponent's tableau. And you also want to get ahead of your opponent, so the temptation to play more cards and max out your resources and tableau limits is always there! The game creates a strong tension between the desire to play as many cards as possible to get ahead of your opponent and force him to discard cards from his deck and to play as few cards as possible in order to retain them in your deck.
4. Interesting "bluffing" element
In War Co., you are able to play your machines face down or face up. This gives you some control over your opponent's actions. If you have a machine you know will destroy anything your opponent has on the field, you can play it face up to discourage attacks or you can play it face down to keep your opponent guessing and force your opponent to sacrifice a machine and a card from his deck in order to find out. You can't really keep this up forever because you will have to turn your machines face up in order to attack with them, but the ability to play your attackers and defenders face up or face down allows you to play some interesting mind tricks that create a lot of excitement and make for some interesting decision points in the game.
5. Although not perfectly integrated into the game and somewhat difficult to remember, there is a rule to prevent one player from running away with the game
If you get stuck and one player manages to dominate the field, you are able to discard 5 cards from the top of your deck to eliminate one of the cards in his tableau from the game. Although this rule feels a bit tacked on, it does work to keep one player from simply dominating the game and making it unfun for the other, so I appreciate its presence. I just hope I remember it next time I'm in a jam!
6. Decks feel different and multiple decks create replay value
War Co. is a game that comes with pre-built decks that each encourage a very distinct play style and it allows players to explore multiple strategies. Each deck comes with 50 UNIQUE cards, which makes every game feel a little different even when playing with the same deck. Though this may also increase the sway luck of the draw has over the game, things seem to balance out over the course of the game...
1. Card randomness
This is a card game, so the randomness that comes with drawing cards is, of course, present. At times, there is very little you can do but watch your opponent beat you down. However, the game does provide a number of cards that allow you to search your deck for other cards or manipulate your deck otherwise, so you can increase your chances of getting the cards you want into your hand when you want them by adding these cards to your deck and/or playing them at opportune moments. Most of our games of War Co. have ended in very close scores, so I would say that despite the randomness of cards and despite the fact that you won't be able to do much about your opponent beating you down at times, you will generally find a way to gain control and bounce back.
Contrary to my usual format, I will not provide a Mina's Love Meter rating for this game because doing that doesn't feel appropriate to me for some reason. But I will say that I think that it is very smart game with a unique theme and glorious art! I loved the interesting decision points and tension generated by the connection between your deck and your life and the limitations imposed by the energy concept. Expandable card games are plentiful and War Co. is part of a densely-populated market, but it does set itself apart somewhat from the rest of the pack through its theme, relatively simplicity, INSANE number of unique cards in each deck, and resource management aspects. And by using your deck as your sole life source! If you enjoy living, collectible, and expandable card games like I do, take a look at War Co. You might like what you see.