Steven Green
United Kingdom
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Title: This War of Mine: The Board Game
Designer: Michal Oracz and Jakob Wisniewski
Publisher: 11bit studios/ Galakta
Age: 18+
Players: 1-6
Duration: 45-120 mins


Intro

This war of mine is a board game based on a video game based on the horrors of war. As often as not war in all forms of media come across as sometimes glorifying those who take part. Be they heroes of a rebellion or what could be deemed the good guys. This war of mine does not concern itself with those factions. It is a gritty simulation of those caught in the middle, the civilians. There is a good reason this game is 18+ as it deals with the horrors of war that can feel personal. Where video games such as call of duty glamorise the one man army, this war of mine (both the video game and the board game) pulls no punches in showing war is hell. War is hunger. War is being cold, lonely and desperate. War is being miserable and low. War is not the way it is portrayed in the many media forms. War really is hell for those caught in the crossfires of a sniper or worst still others trying to look out for themselves. If this sounds grim and dark then this might not be the experience for you. If you feel intrigued, read on.

Components

Components for this game are top notch. From the nicely detailed figures for the characters to the board your playing on. Everything seems to have been made with attention to detail. The only complaint I could make is the lack of a turn tracker. The journal that takes you through the game is really good but a turn tracker from dawn to night might aid those who know the game but just want to be sure. A very minor quibble though as the journal does the job. Speaking of the journal, This War if Mine does not have the traditional rule book we have all come accustomed to. The journal is designed in such a way as to be the introduction and rules in one go. Initially my wife and I thought this was not a good thing but as we played more it really does work. Most of the rules are on cards and add to the experience of the game. For example we wanted to know how we boarded up the house we are in. No rule book, no mention in the journal. It wasn't until we looked at the upgrade cards and the workshop that we found out how to do this. Whilst at the time this seemed hard work in terms of theme and gameplay this makes sense. The game forces you to use your initiative and I for one think this is great. The book of scripts that is used for some encounters is well written and more accessible than you think. You can get an app for this now on android but honestly you don't need it. Another note about components, the board looks amazing all setup and as it evolves throughout the game it just feels more like home.

Rating 8

Set-Up

Set up for the game is simple if you use the journal and after a few goes it all makes sense. The biggest issue you may have is the size of the board. It is huge when set-up.

However with a big enough table this should also not be an issue. I have played games that can take ages to set-up (I'm looking at you Robinson Crusoe) and not give as deep or as rich an experience (Not looking at you any more Robinson Crusoe, your great). All in all set-up is easy and logical and you can get your game up and running in no time at all.

Rating 8

Game Mechanics

Despite everything there is still a game to be played and is it any good. Short answer absolutely. In the morning you have worker placement, evening resource management and night push your luck. Now I have made a conscious decision to be vague here. The reason is I want you to experience it for yourself. I was going to do a short run through for my YouTube channel but decided against it. I mean check out my Greenie Goes Gaming YouTube channel if you like (shameless plug there) but you really need to stay away and have that first gaming experience for yourself.
As far as mechanics all I am going to say is that during our first play through my wife and I really enjoyed the discussion around worker placement. Then we had another discussion around resource management (who will eat and drink etc). Then during the night we discussed where we are going and just how far to push our luck looking for resources. If discussion was a game mechanic (and other games do this as well, such as London Dread) this was something we really enjoyed. The game mechanics are there but the way they are used really add to the theme of civilians struggling to survive in a war. What will we do, when will we do it, what will we use and when do we take risks. Amazing.

Rating 9

Multiplayer/Solo Gameplay

The box says 1-6 players and given the right set of players I guess 6 would work. However there are no rule changes for the number of players. The only thing I will say is that more players will probably dilute the experience. I have seen some reviews saying this is a solo game in reality. Whilst you can have a great time playing solo, if you can don't. I really enjoyed the discussions and debates we had over the decisions to be made. So much in fact that this could be a game changer for me. I enjoy co-op gaming more than anything but its probably more due to the level of interaction and the involvement in the story. This war of mine also seems to have gotten around the alpha gamer situation that occurs so frequently in co-op gaming. The lead player changes as the journal passes around. Although this is fine we found that neither one of used the book in that manner. We discussed, we planned and we dealt with our decisions as a group. This is a fantastic co-op experience and one you should only have with those you trust to uphold the spirit of the game. Just amazing.

Rating 9

Conclusion

So final thoughts for This War if Mine. Its amazing. No really. It changes how I see co-op gaming. This is no easy task as I have been playing board games for well over 30 years (yes I am that old) and I cannot think of a game that gives the same sense of foreboding and emphasis on the decisions to be made. For example we decided one of our survivors needed to be treated at the hospital. We had done all we could to keep them alive but we were struggling. We made the decision based on game mechanics at the time but after we discussed why we did this. It was purely to keep them alive. We couldn't do any more for them so hospital was the only option. We gave up scavenging for items and lived with the decision. They lived and made it through but not without cost. Another survivor took their own life because we did not have water, cigarettes or coffee. Its these decisions that make this war of mine a great narrative experience. My only regret is that I didn't back the kickstarter campaign to get the extras that come with that version of the game. I didn't find out about it until too late. Never mind (deep sigh).
All in all then I would recommend This War of Mine to those people who don't mind an uphill struggle. Who don't mind taking the knocks of reality. As the fallout franchise often says “War, war never changes” and whilst this may be true This War of Mine clearly states “War, war never changes but our perception of it can”.

Overall Rating 9
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Steve Wrenn
United States
Bushkill
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What? You thought I'd have some interesting overtext?
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Excellent in-depth review! Thanks for not dropping spoilers.
 
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Thomas
Germany
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IMHO this game is a total dud. It's totally random you do not have any real choices.
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Alexandre Santos
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the tickler wrote:
IMHO this game is a total dud. It's totally random you do not have any real choices.


I would be curious for a development of your conclusions, as I'm interested in this game.

BTW, great review OP!
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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the tickler wrote:
IMHO this game is a total dud. It's totally random you do not have any real choices.


Agree.
 
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Steven Green
United Kingdom
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I am not sure we are talking about the same game. We found the choices meaningful and significant. I appreciate your point of view but even playing the game simply as mechanics there is a choice.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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It depends on the context.

There aren't many meaningful choices with regards to mechanics itself. It's pretty much random and you try not to drown.

There are "meaningful" choices, in terms of emergent narration and artificial "caring" of pawns in the game.
 
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Jennifer Ireland
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Great review thank you! Looking forward to test this game out. I also missed the boat when it came to supporting this game on kickstarter so I'm gutted I haven't got access to the stretch goals that were included.
 
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Mark Langford
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rattkin wrote:
the tickler wrote:
IMHO this game is a total dud. It's totally random you do not have any real choices.


Agree.


Disagree
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Alexandre Santos
Belgium
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lanky321 wrote:
rattkin wrote:
the tickler wrote:
IMHO this game is a total dud. It's totally random you do not have any real choices.


Agree.


Disagree


One of the things I like about a specialized site like BGG is the quality of the discussion shake
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Ben Thornton
Australia
Edgeworth
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AlexFS wrote:
lanky321 wrote:
rattkin wrote:
the tickler wrote:
IMHO this game is a total dud. It's totally random you do not have any real choices.


Agree.


Disagree


One of the things I like about a specialized site like BGG is the quality of the discussion shake


Agree devil
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jerry baker
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Benzy311 wrote:
AlexFS wrote:
lanky321 wrote:
rattkin wrote:
the tickler wrote:
IMHO this game is a total dud. It's totally random you do not have any real choices.


Agree.


Disagree


One of the things I like about a specialized site like BGG is the quality of the discussion shake


Agree devil


DISAGREE

AaaAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
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Sgt. Elias
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I personally enjoy games with lots of random situations. For me it keeps it fresh and unpredictable. Replayability goes through the roof with random factors in my eyes.

I like board games and video games with lots and lots of random placements, outcomes, situations, events, encounters, etc. etc. Being able to slightly influence the randomness here and there in my favor keeps me engaged.

Will I always come out on top even with well planned moves and modifiers? Not sure, it's random. Life isn't always fair and far from predictable. I'm in.

Random, yes I love random. One of the many things I like about this game so far. Great review as well. Cheers.
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