My role model for his brains, calm demeanour and appetite for snacks!
I am trying out a new template for my reviews so I would appreciate all feedback given with regards to any aspect about this review which could be improved. Thanks in advance!
WARRIOR KNIGHTS - A REVIEW
As stated on the box, Warrior Knights is a medieval political and warfare game where players take on the role of Barons (interchangeable with "players") who are vying for territory in the land. At their command are Nobles who can be instructed to carry out activities like traveling, attacking and taking over cities that are scattered all over the map, or even attacking rival Nobles.
However, do not be misled by the title into thinking that this game is purely about combat, for running concurrently with the war element are politics and religion. In the former aspect, players can contend to become the "Chairman of the Assembly" who will preside over voting processes for pre-determined agendas. These agendas may impose negative effects on—or provide benefits for—players so there will be much emphasis in this aspect. For the latter, the player in the position of "Head of the Church" can influence which players will be affected by beneficial or harmful random "Events" that occur, so there will be a lot of contention over this position too. Economics is another area of concern in Warrior Knights but it is primarily used in a supporting role for the game’s warring mechanic.
Warrior Knights differs from other war-themed games in that players are not required to take over every city on the board to win the game. At the end of each turn, Influence points are scored by the players based on how many cities they currently control at that point. Players record their scores by taking tokens from the Influence pool which has been filled with a specific number of these Influence tokens during game setup. The eventual winner is the player who has the most Influence points when the pool runs out of these Influence tokens, or controls over half of the unrazed cities on the map.
Flow of Play:
Players begin with a Stronghold, 4 Nobles, and a small army of regular and mercenary troops which can be assigned between the Nobles and the Stronghold. Players take turns to place their Strongholds on the board at the start of the game, which represent the main base of the players and allow the latter to accumulate Influence points at the end of each turn. If a player’s Stronghold is captured by another player, the former can no longer score Influence points for each city owned and this makes it harder—though not impossible—for him or her to meet the "Have the most Influence Points" victory condition once the Influence pool runs out of tokens.
The Noble cards (image by Rokkr)
Nobles are used by players to travel across the board and attack cities to expand their kingdom. These Nobles are placed on the board at the start of the game and are activated during a turn through the use of Action cards that are played by their Barons during that turn. Each player will have 12 Action cards in his or her hand, comprising of 6 different possible actions:-
1) Levy Taxes – tax cities to raise funds.
2) Draft Soldiers – expand one’s army by hiring mercenaries. Hired mercenaries can be allocated among one’s Nobles.
3) Rally Support – gain Votes which can be used during voting sessions. The player who uses this card and has the most votes after it is resolved will become the Chairman of the Assembly unless stated otherwise.
4) Serve the Church – gain Faith which can be used for purposes such as cancelling the harmful effects of specific Event cards. Likewise, the player who uses this card and has the most Faith after it is resolved will become the Head of the Church unless stated otherwise.
5) Mobilize Forces – this card is used to move Nobles to an area, start a battle in the area, or do both. Once Nobles are activated in this manner, they are exhausted and generally cannot be activated until they are refreshed later on.
6) Versatile Strategy – the player can select 1 action to undertake from the options that are stated on this card. The latter include gaining 2 crowns or 1 vote, moving a Noble or starting a battle with it, or paying a fee to draft mercenaries.
Each turn consists of 3 main phases:-
1) Planning – Barons choose a maximum of 6 cards from their hand to play. In Warrior Knights, players are required to place 2 cards in the first of 3 Action card areas, another 2 in the second area and the last 2 in the third area. 2 Neutral Action cards are also placed in each area as well. This results in the creation of 3 Action card stacks in total by the end of this phase.
2) Actions – The stacked cards in the first Action card area are shuffled and each card is resolved completely before the next. This action is repeated for the cards that are placed in the second and third areas. Once each card is resolved, it is allocated to 1 of 3 special areas (Taxation, Wages or Assembly) and stacked. Placement options will depend on the Action card’s type; for instance, the "Draft Soldiers" Action card is always placed at the Wages area, while the "Serve the Church" Action card can be placed on any of the 3 areas. The only exceptions are the "Versatile Strategy" and Neutral Action cards, which are instead returned to the owner’s hand and the Neutral Action deck respectively. Once the number of cards in any area is twice that of the number of players in the game, the respective special phase is activated; the Taxation phase provides players with crowns based on income from their controlled cities, the Wages phase compels players to spend crowns as payments to their troops, and the Assembly phase triggers a voting process over the agenda items currently listed on the 3 face-up Agenda cards.
3) Upkeep – players check if a winner has emerged when this phase begins. If no winner is declared, players score Influence points and resolve activities, such as refreshing exhausted nobles and determining the occurrences of revolts. A new turn—in the form of a new Planning phase—begins once the Upkeep phase is over.
Players can also choose to sponsor expeditions to raise money, though there is a chance that the expeditions may fail. The results of the expeditions (along with other situations such as the outcome of combat) are carried out by drawing Fate cards. As a result, the 24-card Fate card deck will be the most-used deck in the game.
The luck factor in Warrior Knights mainly arises through:-
- All card draws;
- The order of which Action cards are resolved;
Conversely, the skill element primarily manifests itself in the form of:-
- Player selection and execution of Action cards for the Actions phase;
- The voting process during the Assembly special phase;
- General strategizing with respect to the overall utilization of one’s Nobles, armies and resources.
You won't take Gedze so easily! To war! (image uploaded by kilroy_locke)
Though card-drafting is a huge part in Warrior Knights, there are compensating elements to mitigate the randomness of the draws to some extent. For instance, players whose Nobles are engaged in combat are required to draw Fate cards, and may be required to discard some of these drawn cards before playing the rest to determine the outcome of the battle. Here, a decision will have to be made by each player regarding which cards are discarded and this is influenced by the skills of the battling Nobles—one’s own as well as the other player’s and the wrong use of these skills can easily spell defeat for a player.
Rules Book – Layout & Complexity:
Warrior Knights has a comprehensive rulebook with detailed pictures which provide overviews and illustrations of the flow of play and other key concepts. The rulebook provides an overview of the 3 main phases in each turn, before setting aside sections which provide more details for activities in each major phase. Optional rules and variants are provided near the end for gamers if the round is too short or long, or to deal with the problem of player elimination which is always an issue with long-running games.
There is an index at the rear of the rulebook which facilitates the searching process for the desired section(s) during gameplay and I found this to be very handy indeed. Unfortunately, no player aids are provided so do expect the rulebook to show wear and tear very quickly due to heavy use. Alternatively, quick reference and rules sheets are available from fellow BGGers and they are available for print.
Cards, cards, and more cards! (image by Hallow)
Tokens in the game (image by Rokkr)
The cards and bits in Warrior Knights are top notch. As some decks (like the Fate deck) are used and reshuffled very often, it is good to note that the cards are made of a harder backing and hence are not flimsy at all. However, gamers like me who wish to protect their cards with sleeves may be slightly disappointed to know that the cards are the same size as the Blessing/Curse cards in Arkham Horror and sleeve fitting may be an issue. Do note that there will be a lot of card shuffling in Warrior Knights so this may be a little tedious for players with low dexterity or big hands because of the small card sizes.
The Gavel and Cross (image by Rokkr)
The coins and bits are made of moderately sturdy cardboard material so this ensures that these components do not wear out too quickly. There are also the Chairman of the Assembly (gavel-shaped) and Head of the Church (cross-shaped) tokens, which are invitations for players who currently hold these positions to act out their roles if they so desire.
Warrior Knights can become quite lengthy if there are many players but the ability to toggle the victory conditions (i.e. placing less Influence tokens in the pool) allows for a lot of flexibility with regards to game time. The official variants included provide even more ways to spice up the game if it gets too stale so replayability gets a high score from me.
There are simply so many things to do in the game but yet too little turns, resources, troops or even Nobles, to accomplish all of them. Therefore, doing a balancing act is necessary and this will definitely require some strategizing if it is to be done right amidst the changing game environment. Warrior Knights is best played with 3 or more players because there will always be at least 2 players who can collaborate to reduce the lead of the highest-scoring player. In contrast, the potential for a player to run away with a lead is extremely high in a 2-player game because the leader is usually the stronger of the two, and there is a lack of interference by a third player who can help turn the tables on the leader.
Overall, Warrior Knights is recommended for medieval and wargaming fans, and gamers who are looking for a medium to medium-heavy weight game to play. Warrior Knights is an extremely fun game to play, with its myriad of available choices and decisions that players will be spoilt for choice. On the other hand, players can certainly have loads of light-hearted fun as they aim to capture a rival city or role-play during the Assembly phase when it is in session.
Edited for phrasing, and crediting of pictures' sources.
- Last edited Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:57 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:10 am
There are some player aids in the 'files' section of the Warrior Knight page on BBG.
The one page summaries are very helpful!
My role model for his brains, calm demeanour and appetite for snacks!
Thanks for the tip.
It's thanks to our fellow BGGers who took the effort and time to make those aids. My gripe is that game producers should already include player aids in the game. Given the potential complexity of games such as this, player aids are almost always required to smooth gameplay over.
I would think a quick and effective way to enhance the gameplay experience of one's customers would be to provide easy references for them, and reduce their dependence on the rulebook for the more basic things.
Thanks for the great review. This has been on my radar for a while, and I think I just might get it now.