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Subject: Chaos in the Old World - redux rss

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Philipp Klarmann
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It is certainly astonishing that a title like Blood Rage shows up on the Kennerspiel des Jahres list of 2016. The theme is full of Viking folklore, battles, blood and some graphic content. But there had to be a reason and the game is currently with 8.2 average on BGG at least widely regarded as good, but is it?

I spare you the details of the box contents and mechanisms. In this age of video reviews, where a dim-witted can point a shaky cam at the box contents and proclaim a game as the shits whereas in reality he has only played it once if at all, it is certainly necessary to be a bit more insightful and outspoken about the game's values rather than laundry-listing its components.

In general, this is Chaos in the Old World redone and made more accessible. You have an area-control game with direct conflict, action points and some card drafting included. Oh, and minis. Can't have any game without minis even if, as in this one, they add nothing to the game itself. It just looks cooler. The kids say that.

So, in each turn we are scratching our heads as how to maximize our gains with the cards we have at hand. Due to the drafting mechanism, the cards are mostly your own fault, so you better plan ahead here.
The unfortunate thing is that in each combat, the winner loses one card, whatever is on it. So, if you get forced into battles and to win them, you might lose that precious card you saved for another opportunity. iendish. So, pick your battles as they say in Walhall.

The game has many interlocking mechanisms and some ridiculous combos, which a beginner might not even begin to understand. Blowouts against new players is the norm, but the learning curve is shallow. Soon, you begin to challenge the more advanced players as control is not perfect. The game also rewards, gasp, tactical and strategic thinking.

The gameplay itself in its entirety is pure gamer bliss. For those who like Chaos in the Old World, this one is much less asymmetric, but focuses the area control battle to a few selected areas, then gives you a short card play moment with take that and then it is over and you move on. The gods and their asymmetric powers are gone, replaced by generic clans and the card drafting mechanism. For me, this is enough to make this enjoyable, others might regret that change. It is a bit shorter, not as colourful, more a reduced approach. I would not dare to say it is better, as Chaos shines with the right playing group and some fun with the thematic background (who does not want to ruin the world!), but gamewise they are siblings (like two brothers).

Playtime about 60-90 minutes sounds fine, that would depend on player count. However, with 2 people it appears to be less interesting, as there is a lack of subtelty, it is simply too two-sided...so, 3 and 4 is the way to go as the game also scales well.

I highly, highly recommend this as even after several playings I encounter new strategies and situations. It is short enough to have two playings in one evening at least.

One of the rare 10s in these days so far and it does not look as if this would change anytime soon.
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Rami Finkelshtein
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How do you feel it compares against Chaos in the Old World? Other than being more accessible? You give this a 10 where would CitOW fall on your scale?
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Tilou
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DaFink wrote:
You give this a 10 where would CitOW fall on your scale?


I'd say 9 whistle
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Philipp Klarmann
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I think it is faster and easier to teach. There is less going on on the map here, just a few minis, instead of the world map you have in CotW. Also, the asymmetric powers mean that each player has to play each role at least once to understand the nuances. For the long run and the enthusiastists, CotW is the meatier game and probably the better experience. For those with limited time and changing gaming habits, BR is the favorite.

Themewise, both are certainly adult-oriented, less family friendly games. CotW is a 9 for me, I consider BR to be slightly better due to the reasons above which, of course, are subjective.
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David Allen
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I've owned this game for a couple of months but have only actually played it about 5 times (maybe 6) and always as a 2-player—so my experience is limited. Nonetheless, I will add my thoughts to yours. I was initially excited by the theme, the artwork, and yes, the miniatures, which are frankly amazing.
After playing it a few times I found myself put off by the enormous disconnect between the theme of the game and the actual gameplay. I mean, c'mon, CMON, it's called "Blood Rage!" Doesn't that say "wanton reckless berserker bloodshed" to you? Doesn't that say "Yes! We will fight! I will squander thousands of my sweaty gross axe dudes all for the intangible and dubious benefit of 'glory!' And then they'll come back to life (Thanks, Odin!) and we'll do it again! WOOOOO!!"
But of course you CAN'T do that. You don't have enough guys (or ladies, beg your pardon, Serpent Clan). It's expensive to get more. You can't just load up on guys because you won't have the action allowance to do anything with them. Besides, you are only allowed to put four on the board at a time—in the beginning. For the most part, there's not enough real estate on the board to put a bunch of guys on there even if you DID have a vast throng of berserkers. And I won't even get into the fact that combat, such as it is, is completely non-random, which means you can't bet it all on a roll of the dice (no dice).

So, rather than a huge sprawling reckless bloody game of conquest and apocalyptic battle, it's a tight, almost claustrophobically tight, area control game that requires a LOT of strategizing and quick responsiveness. Once I figured that out, and explained it to the folks I was playing with, the game came alive for me, and I liked it all over again.
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Dillon Flaherty
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Some great comparisons, and I generally agree. I still think Chaos in the Old World is a 10, but Blood Rage similarly holds a 10 for me.

The accessibility of it (compared to Chaos) is why I'll probably only ever pull Blood Rage out going forward, though. Chaos in the Old World takes at least two games and probably more for a new player to understand how all of the factions operate.
 
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J M
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I don't feel much similarity between the games, even given the clear progression from one to the other. Blood Rage excised all the narrative potential of CitOW leaving a tight, very abstract area control game. It's a solid game, but rarely memorable for me in the way that Chaos is every time.
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Randy Espinoza
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I know CitOW is the better known game, but Blood Rage is a direct descendant of "Midgard", also by Eric Lang.
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Matheus Affonso
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Philipp Klarmann wrote:
Oh, and minis. Can't have any game without minis even if, as in this one, they add nothing to the game itself. It just looks cooler. The kids say that.


Do they ever?
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Philipp Klarmann
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Same designer, so all is connected.
 
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Mr Suitcase
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mdaffonso wrote:
Philipp Klarmann wrote:
Oh, and minis. Can't have any game without minis even if, as in this one, they add nothing to the game itself. It just looks cooler. The kids say that.


Do they ever?


Yeah. I'd think that instead of minis, they could have used chits, like in the old style wargames.

 
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Matheus Affonso
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mrsuitcase wrote:
mdaffonso wrote:
Philipp Klarmann wrote:
Oh, and minis. Can't have any game without minis even if, as in this one, they add nothing to the game itself. It just looks cooler. The kids say that.


Do they ever?


Yeah. I'd think that instead of minis, they could have used chits, like in the old style wargames.



They could. Wouldn't look as nice, though. =/
 
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