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Welcome to the tenth installment of A Review a Week, where I am trying to get all of the games in my collection played and reviewed. As you can see by this picture…



I have a while to go.

I am going to do things a little differently this time around, as someone suggested that I split up the different sections of my offering and place headlines to let the reader check out which parts that they care to read. Let me know how it goes.

As always, if there is a game in my collection you want me to review, let me know. Also, every single game that I own was either purchased by me, or was a gift from a friend or family member. Anyway, on to my review.

Overview

Fantasy Flight Games is a well respected company that literally houses itself about 3 hours away from my home. I have driven by the warehouse a couple of times and always let my mind wander as to what exactly is going on inside there at any given time. While they have made a few clunkers in their day, for the most part I have at least been pleased by what they have produced, and in many occasions, blown away by their efforts.

Chaos in the Old World is one of these latter occasions.

Being a fan of the Warhammer Universe, as soon as I heard about this one, I put in my pre-order for the game. As the information slowly was leaked regarding the game, I became more and more interested. Of course I got it the same time as I got BSG: Pegasus Expansion and my group was too busy going to New Caprica to try this one out, but eventually it hit my table, and then hit my table again and again. Suffice it to say FFG has a winner on its hands, but let me break the game down for you and you can see if it is something you will like.

Components

Well I can’t think of a game by FFG that has poor components and CitOW is no exception. You get an awesome looking board that depicts a chunk of skin being stretched out with the map of the Warhammer world upon it. Very gruesome. If you have played Battlestar Galactica then you will be familiar with the 4 threat dials that will be used throughout a session. You get a large handful of cardboard chits for a variety of purposes – these are of course think and sturdy and very colorful.

If you own any games by this company, you are familiar with the two different sizes of cards that come with pretty much every game – one standard sized and one mini. You get a deck of “Old World Event” cards and then four small decks of cards, one for each ruinous power. You also get five dice that are supposed to be “mottled” but they just look red to me.

Finally, you get the plastic figures. While these aren’t all that numerous (at least when compared to some games) they are highly stylized and fun to look at. They are in four distinct colors and easy to distinguish and do not distract from gameplay in the slightest.

All in all, just a nice looking game. If I have to complain about anything, I have two issues. The first is that the cultist figures that everyone has are designed with a long skinny pole with a circular symbol on top. The plastic making the pole is so thin that the top has already broken off on several of my pieces. Not a big deal really, but I wish they were more sturdy instead of just trying to make them look cool. Secondly, some of the areas on the board, especially on the edges, are very small without a lot of room. At times, there will be nine or ten figures, and a large handful of cardboard tokens vying for about four inches of cardboard. Things get lost and shoved around – of course this is again a minor quibble, and as I said, it doesn’t detract from the gameplay in anyway.



How do you play?

There are four different evil gods trying to subvert the world. While each of them want the same thing, they don’t work together to do it – there can be only one winner. When the game starts, each player gets one to take the role of one of these ruinous powers. They are:

Khorne – The most physical of the gods. He delights in combat and if he kills other gods’ followers, he can expand his power via his threat dial

Nurgle – God of disease and corruption. He gets numerous (if weak) followers that spread easily. His threat dial moves up as long as he is corrupting the more populous regions of the world.

Tzeentch – Evil god of magic and change. He gets lots of cards and spells, and many of them are very cheap to cast. His threat dial is moved up whenever Tzeentch corrupts areas of the world high in magic or the energies of warpstones.

Slanesh – The god of pleasure and pain. Probably the trickiest power to play, Slanesh is able to subvert and control other gods’ minions for his own benefits, and increases his power by corrupting parts of the world containing nobles and other important people.

Once every player has a power to play, they draw their starting hand of cards. Next, you take the beginning world event tokens depicting peasants, warpstones, and nobles, and place one token randomly on each area of the board. Next, you take seven random Old World cards (eight in a three player game) and place them on the board face down. You draw one of these cards and perform what the text on the card tells you. These can be many things – perhaps a hero has come to a certain part of the world and will do battle with the ruinous powers in that location, or maybe the dreaded Skaven have infiltrated and move on to the summoning phase of the game. Going in turn (in the same order they were listed in this review earlier) each player may either place one of their minions on the board, or play a card from their hand on an open space on the board.

There are a few rules governing this however. First, each player only has a certain amount of power points that will allow them to summon cards or minions to the board. This number is either six or seven depending on the God, but can be increased later with upgrades. Secondly, if you have a minion on the board, you can only play another figure in the same spot, or an adjacent spot – simulating the “spread” of your followers. Finally, when placing a card on the board, you can only place up to two cards per area – so if it fills up, it fills up and you have to play your card somewhere else.

After everyone has used up their power points (there is no reason to save them since they regenerate automatically) you move on to the battle phase. In every region where there is a battle forthcoming, each combatant rolls dice to determine the number of “hits” they get. Normally, a 4, 5, or 6 is a hit, with a 6 being open ended (they call it an “explosion”) and allowing re-rolls for further hits. Count up the number of hits that you get, and then the attacker gets to decide which of his opponents figures he takes out. I found this interesting because in most games it is the defender that gets to pick.

Next you move on to the corruption phase of the game. For each “Cultist” you have in a region, you get to place a corruption token in that spot. If the total number of corruption tokens (yours or your opponents, plus any warpstones that may be in the region as well) equals 12 or more that particular spot has become ruined. Basically, the ruinous powers have overran the area and turned it into a cesspool of corruption and evil. Game wise, the spot is pretty much ruined and nothing can occur there anymore. This is a good thing because ruining a region is a really good way to earn Victory Points. Each person who has had a hand in ruining the region gets some, and the top two powers who have the most corruption tokens get more.

Finally you check and see if anyone has won, either by way of Victory Points (you play to 50) or moving their threat dial to the last spot on the disc. You also check and see if the game is over. This happens when 5 regions have been ruined, or you have used up the Old World deck. In an interesting turn of events, if you use up the Old World deck before someone wins the game, nobody wins, and the peoples of the old world defeat the evil gods.

It should be noted that the flow of the game will take you a round or so before it starts clicking for you. Be prepared for your first game to be a “learning one”, but after that one, the strategies and tactics will be racing through your mind and the game will be much more easier to grasp.

My opinion

I like this one a lot, if you haven’t grasped that yet from the general tone of the review. For me, CitOW hits on all cylinders – it is equal parts strategy, treachery, dice rolling, and theme, all things that make a game great for me.

For starters, I love the fact that there are multiple ways to win the game – just because you aren’t leading in VP’s doesn’t mean you can’t pull off a surprise victory by way of your threat dial. There have been at least 3 or 4 games I have played where the VP leader ended up the loser because someone else pulled off a great turn late in the game, moving their threat dial one or even two spots to claim the win. This makes everyone stay on their toes, and also prevents some of the “gang up on the leader” moments you find in other games.

Next, and I know some people are going to have an issue with this, but the sides are not perfectly balanced with each other. I don’t think any of them have a clear cut advantage over anyone else (yes, I know everyone thinks Khorne has it too easy – I have not seen this myself) but certain situations WILL arise that will help a certain player out for a turn or two. Lots of people might think that this is unfair, but in my mind, it is up to the other three players to recognize that opportunity and make it tough for them to take advantage of it. In my opinion, if you play this game and one power wins over and over again, it isn’t a problem with the game, it is a problem with the people that are playing the game.

Finally, the replayability of this game is very, very high. I know that I will eventually tire of it, but I am coming up on a dozen plays, and so far, it has just gotten more and more enjoyable. There is enough randomness with the setup (the various event tokens and the old world deck) to make each session fresh, and the basic fact that a fair portion of the game relies on luck (i.e. the dice) will keep this one hitting your table over and over again.

If I had to find a problem with the game, and this would be digging pretty deep, it would be that it is over a bit too quickly for me. It just seems like the moment I start enjoying the strategy and the destruction of my opponents, the game is over. Also, you need to play this one with four people. You can scale it down to three but I have played that way a couple of times and it just isn’t as much fun. There is simply too much room on the board with three people and confrontations don’t happen as much, leading to a less interactive experience.

In closing, it should come as no surprise that I will highly recommend this one. Chaos in the Old World is a 2 hour romp filled with theme, interaction, with focus on conquest and subversion. If you like the idea of battling your buddies, while corrupting an innocent world in the process, this is a must buy. Even if you know nothing about the Warhammer universe, you will still have a lot of fun with this one, but I would still suggest reading up on the backgrounds of the different powers just so you can “get into character”. If nothing else, trying to pretend to be an insane leper with oozing sores should amuse yourself if not your friends.
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Tom Grant
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Re: A Review a Week #10: Stop me if you've heard this one - An axe murderer, a leper, an anarchist, and a sado-masochist walk into a bar
Actually, a lot of people think that Khorne has it too hard:

His threat dial conditions depend on rolls of the dice.
You depend on your Bloodletter units (warriors) to get the killing done, but if any of them die, they're not cheap to replace.
Other players have cards that make it impractical to attack a region, stop all combat in it, or help potential targets flee to another place.
By going first, Khorne has to be very careful about when he makes his key placements.
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Christopher Taylor
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Re: A Review a Week #10: Stop me if you've heard this one - An axe murderer, a leper, an anarchist, and a sado-masochist walk into a bar
I gave an extra thumb because of the title of this review... Brilliant!
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Re: A Review a Week #10: Stop me if you've heard this one - An axe murderer, a leper, an anarchist, and a sado-masochist walk into a bar
Kingdaddy wrote:
Actually, a lot of people think that Khorne has it too hard:

His threat dial conditions depend on rolls of the dice.
You depend on your Bloodletter units (warriors) to get the killing done, but if any of them die, they're not cheap to replace.
Other players have cards that make it impractical to attack a region, stop all combat in it, or help potential targets flee to another place.
By going first, Khorne has to be very careful about when he makes his key placements.


While I agree with this, a resourceful Khorne player is rarely denied the ability to at least get one or two combats a turn. It all comes down to the other players working together long enough to prevent this from happenning.

You simply cannot let Khorne go uncontested, not even for a turn. Another reason why this game has so many facets and is such a good time.
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Christopher Donovan
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Re: A Review a Week #10: Stop me if you've heard this one - An axe murderer, a leper, an anarchist, and a sado-masochist walk into a bar
UndeadViking wrote:
...There have been at least 3 or 4 games I have played where the VP leader ended up the loser because someone else pulled off a great turn late in the game, moving their threat dial two or even three spots to claim the win...


Good review, but I have to point out a small error, you can never advance more than 2 slots on your advancement dial...
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Re: A Review a Week #10: Stop me if you've heard this one - An axe murderer, a leper, an anarchist, and a sado-masochist walk into a bar
Zerosum wrote:
UndeadViking wrote:
...There have been at least 3 or 4 games I have played where the VP leader ended up the loser because someone else pulled off a great turn late in the game, moving their threat dial two or even three spots to claim the win...


Good review, but I have to point out a small error, you can never advance more than 2 slots on your advancement dial...


You are completely correct. I will edit my mistake, I meant one or two.

Have some GG for pointing it out! And thanks!
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Re: A Review a Week #10: Stop me if you've heard this one - An axe murderer, a leper, an anarchist, and a sado-masochist walk into a bar
Keep up the good work man. I've been digging the review a week format and I find myself anxiously waiting for each one. Chaos in the Old World looks fantastic, but I already have too many games on my shelf that are unplayed. I, much like you, have been attempting to go through the ol' collection and trying to play em all. I still got about 15 games that need to hit the table.

Your collection looks like a dream come true for me...though I would be lying if I didn't say that my girlfriend would consider that monstrosity to be her worst nightmare!!!

~ Bones
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Re: A Review a Week #10: Stop me if you've heard this one - An axe murderer, a leper, an anarchist, and a sado-masochist walk into a bar
Nicely done!

Obviously, I don't share the reviewer's high opinion of FFG, but I really do think this game is a hit out of the park. And all without an expansion to make it playable!

However, I disagree that the map and broken Cultist standards are little things. From a company like FFG who takes enormous pride in their minis and their art, the garish, ill-formed map and the similarly colored tokens are a problem. Not a deal-breaker, by any means, but it seems just as a great design emerged in-house, FFG's art department stumbled.

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Another excellent effort. Your review helped me determine that this is not my cup of chai, so thanks for that.

Minor typo nit: 'these are of course think and sturdy'.

Again, really well done. Always look forward to reading your content.
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You said to let you know if we wanted you to review something. I looked at your collection picture and want you to review that one over there, the one in the blue box.
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You are the first person to actually ask me to review somethime. Feel free to actually pick a game, or I can just try to pick a blue one.

Have some GG!
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Ed Browne
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UndeadViking wrote:
You are the first person to actually ask me to review somethime. Feel free to actually pick a game, or I can just try to pick a blue one.

Have some GG!


Actually I was just trying to make a joke about your huge collection. Certainly not worthy of a GG donation. I am envious of its size (that's what she said!), and I think it's cool that you plan on reviewing them all. You're gonna be a while...

I enjoy your BGG contributions; keep up the great work. Feel free to take your GG back.
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Oh, and review Kingsburg. I'm interested in that game. And it's blue...
I'm not subscribed to the game, so geekmail me when you do.

Thanks for taking my request.
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Chris Schenck
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Thanks for the review!
I like the new format, too.
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Grimstax wrote:
Oh, and review Kingsburg. I'm interested in that game. And it's blue...
I'm not subscribed to the game, so geekmail me when you do.

Thanks for taking my request.


Kingsburg will be next week!
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