My post title was probably a name that got left on the cutting room floor at WizKids for being too on the nose. But that's precisely what Warhammer: Age of Sigmar-The Rise and Fall of Anvalor is: a tower defense board game set in the GrimDark world of Warhammer AOS.
I love the Warhammer theme. That theme is the sweet stuff that drew me in. I love the variety of six factions and three enemy groups, suggesting quite a bit of replayability. Oh, yeah, and it's a solo game designed by the guy who brought us the Nations series of games.The components are generally nice, with thick and well-illustrated tiles (for the most part), nice counters and tokens, and an easy-to-follow rulebook. The board and the building tiles are sadly quite generic looking, if functional.
Got a chance to finally break this game out last night... and it promptly broke my nose in two places.
Maybe I don't play enough tower-defense games. Maybe I just don't grok the strategy one needs to stem the hordes and give my agents of Order a fighting chance.
The game's designer, Rustan Häakansson, has a series of blogs on Boardgamegeek.com that talk about the game design process in general and also about his desire to create a very challenging solo mode.
Well conbloodygratulations, Rustan (I'd type your whole name here, but it took me a while to figure out how to type the umlaut the first time...), the solo mode IS HARD! I found myself having trouble marshaling the resources I needed to field the proper buildings and units to defend my sad little city from the forces of Chaos that camped around our walls like Apple fans waiting for the next iPhone.
I played twice and found myself struggling to keep any part of my city in one piece. The few units I managed to get on the board seemed to crumple like the cardboard they were printed on (Well, not really, like I said, the tiles are pretty thick.) and since any building the enemies made contact with went up in smoke? Bye bye birdie.
And yet. I want to play more. Lots more, in fact. I mentioned the variety before. I can't stress how different the two factions I tried felt from one another. I tried the Hammers of Sigmar and the Fyreslayers against the Khorne baddies. While both of my approaches at defense failed. I had to act differently with each faction. The Hammers relied on adjacency to provide support to other buildings and units in the field, while the Fyreslayers primarily sought to meet the enemy face to face and turn them into little pies. In both cases, I didn't pay enough attention to generating resources to get units on the board in a timely manner. So doing the opposite of that is probably at the core of winning at this brutal game.
Do I recommend it? For fans of the IP, absolutely. It's another wonderful way to play in the world without spending a crap-ton on expensive if wonderfully produced hardcover manuals and resin miniatures. For people who enjoy a punishing solo game, I say go get it. There's so much variety in the box that I think you'll be playing it for a while. It's also a step-up in complexity from a game like Castle Panic, while at the same time not being nearly as fiddly.
Warhammer: Age of Sigmar - The Rise and Fall of Anvalor is an excellent tower defense board game that fans of the genre are sure to enjoy. You'll get a lot for the price of admission with a ridiculous amount of variety that'll take you a long time to sift through. W:AOS-TRAFOA (even that's a mouthful) is also a challenging solo game for folks like me who don't get out much. It's staying in my collection and I think it might stay in yours too.