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Subject: Black rose wars review: a worker placement game in disguise rss

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Black rose wars is a competitive 2-4 player game of mages throwing spells at each other. Despite this (overused) theme, fresh mechanics borrowed from a variety of genres make the game stand out.

Basics: worker placement sprinkled with a little deck building

You control a mage attempting to show he's the most powerful. This is represented by a classical scoring track ("power points"). Player with highest score at the end of the game wins.

The game takes place on a randomly generated lodge, made up of a series of unique rooms. To score, you need to fight other mages, destroy rooms and/or complete quests.
Each turn, you will draw spells both from your deck and from a common draw pile ("The library"), while clearing your deck (if you want). That's where the deckbuilding comes in, as there are 6 schools of magic, each with a strong theme and focus. For example, if you need to destroy a room, you'll need transmutation spells, but don't expect to be good at completing quests with those spells in your deck. The decks are reshuffled usually no more than twice per game, so the deckbuilding part is pretty small.

After that, you need to decide in advance the order in which you will use your spells. Then, you resolve them as planned (hopefully, if another mage doesn't throw a spanner into your plans. That happens very often, and that's the fun of the game). In addition, depending on which room you are in, you will be able to get bonuses or complete your quests. You can also summon evocations to help you. That's the worker placement part of the game (go to a room, perform actions, get points). However, unlike worker placement games, player interaction is strong.

Spells: careful planning and quick execution

The game is divided in clever phases that keep the downtime minimal. Players draw spells and program their usage in advance, which can be done simultaneously. That's when all the thinking happens. After that, there is a maximum of 6 actions per player to resolve in turn, with much more limited agency, therefore more limited analysis paralysis. Clever.

The Game can win

Of note in BRW is that you are not playing only against other players, but also against the game itself (in the form of the black rose). Through event cards and player spells, the black rose will gain points, compete for the win and maybe even trigger the endgame scoring. I have yet to see the black rose win, however it is always a serious contender that comes 2nd or 3rd position usually, keeps the leading player on their toes, and prevents the game from dragging on too long.
Overall a great system, although the whole thing feels a little passive in the base game (there are expansions to make it more active, check Crono or Inferno).

Components: inconvenient

The most striking point in BRW is, unfortunately, some weird and inconvenient design choices.
Start with the insert: full of air and unused space, slots too narrow to put put miniatures back in place, and why is the black rose tile not with the others? The insert made so little sense that I trashed it and used good old bags for the game.
Then there are the rose pins. Those things are tiny, they don't fit in the holes of every miniature (sometimes too big, sometimes too small), when the holes exist at all (hello Andromeda), and they're easy to lose.
And yet, there is one crucial component missing from the game: a turn order summary/reference sheet. This has been a major problem when explaining the game to new players. Worry not, I made a turn summary myself, but still, it should have come with the game...

Miniatures: cool

Detailed, good quality without being particularly outstanding, nice to paint, nothing much to say. A few miniatures stand out as particularly enjoyable to paint, like Teessa and the Landksnecht, but then you have the very boring Cerbero and divine altars to balance it out.

Conclusion

Black rose wars is a fierce competitive game that will always keep you on your toes, wondering what your opponents have planned and how to best counter them. Inspired by worker placement, yet nowhere as boring as many of games of this style thanks to a strong player interaction. Intense, strategic, and with clever rules. Too bad that the publishers' lack of attention to details at production gets annoying at times...

8,5/10
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Stefan Loew
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good review, but:

"You can also summon evocations to help you. That's the worker placement part of the game (go to a room, perform actions, get points)"
it is not a worker placement, because the placement of the evocations has no effect. Further it is a worker-movement mechanism for the mages.

"The insert made so little sense that I trashed it and used good old bags for the game." really?!? cannot believe it! Of course, it is not the best insert, but I would not like to have my (painted) miniatures in bags. The black rose tile should be on top to look good (even this one will not stack in the insert ^^ ) in my view, there is not soo many air inside.

"summary/reference"
I missed it too, made it by myself.

"very boring Cerbero and divine altars"
I like the altars. yes, they are not that impressive, but I like how the loook in the background on the board without moving.
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Zoltán Dudás
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Cha0s_lord wrote:
That's the worker placement part of the game (go to a room, perform actions, get points)


Well good to know that every dudes on the map, every wargame, basically any boardgame with some moving figures on it is actually a worker placement game xD
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Jahz
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Loew wrote:
the placement of the evocations has no effect


Well, they can trigger traps, but indeed it's a surprising perspective to see that as worker placement.

Great read anyway, nice review.
 
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Stefan Loew
Germany
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Jahz wrote:
Loew wrote:
the placement of the evocations has no effect


Well, they can trigger traps, but indeed it's a surprising perspective to see that as worker placement.

Great read anyway, nice review.


yes, you are right, but as you mented, this has nothing to do with the "Worker placement mechanism"

even the subject "a worker placement game in disguise" is not taken very well.
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Joel Berg von Linde
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when are we getting an expansion for Yedo?
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Spike225BGG wrote:
Cha0s_lord wrote:
That's the worker placement part of the game (go to a room, perform actions, get points)


Well good to know that every dudes on the map, every wargame, basically any boardgame with some moving figures on it is actually a worker placement game xD


My favorite worker placement game? Memoir 44 ofcourse
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Armin Fiedler
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When I read the title I somehow thought that you meant placing cubes on opponent's health bar and the room's instability bars which I would have deemed a nice approach but the summons aren't workers I think... Nevertheless a nice review, still couldn't play the game yet although I have the All-In Pledge...
 
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Summons are not workers indeed. Your mage is. Summons are more of a way to deal damage every turn or trigger combos (except Andromeda, which really works as an extra worker). The worker placement concerns the whole paragraph, not just the evocations.
If not worker placement, I'm curious about what category you would put Brw. Because people I played with all described it as a reimagined worker placement.
 
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Zoltán Dudás
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Cha0s_lord wrote:
Summons are not workers indeed. Your mage is. Summons are more of a way to deal damage every turn or trigger combos (except Andromeda, which really works as an extra worker). The worker placement concerns the whole paragraph, not just the evocations.
If not worker placement, I'm curious about what category you would put Brw. Because people I played with all described it as a reimagined worker placement.


This paragraph?

Cha0s_lord wrote:

After that, you need to decide in advance the order in which you will use your spells. Then, you resolve them as planned (hopefully, if another mage doesn't throw a spanner into your plans. That happens very often, and that's the fun of the game). In addition, depending on which room you are in, you will be able to get bonuses or complete your quests. You can also summon evocations to help you. That's the worker placement part of the game (go to a room, perform actions, get points). However, unlike worker placement games, player interaction is strong.


I dont see how casting the spell has anything to do with worker placement. You dont have any workers that you place anywhere. The spells in your hand are not a common pool of actions, neither are your spell slots. You are not blocking anyone by placing them and later on playing them.

You could look at activating of rooms as a sort of placing and blocking, but that is such a small slice of the game that I would hardly call it "worker placement sprinkled with a little deck building" as you did.

The mechanism listed in bgg perfectly describe the game. Action programming, area control/influence and deck building are the main ingredients of the game.

As programming the spells makes or breaks your turn.
Points are award on majorities both on mage and room and endgame points.
And you build your deck and hand of spells each turn.
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Ess Why
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Yes, not really convincing that this is worker placement
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