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Subject: A 4 Player treat that should not be missed! A great game. rss

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Jonathan Moodie
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Prior to this year, I had never played a single game in the Warhammer universe. Thanks to Fantasy Flight acquiring this license, I have been bombarded with Warhammer – and I have fully begun to love the universe. I have played and enjoyed very recently both Warhammer: Invasion and the latest edition of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game.

My latest entry into the Warhammer universe came in the form of Chaos in the Old World by Fantasy Flight Games. I was really unsure what to expect when I opened box having purchased the game purely based upon is rocket ride up the charts on BGG. I had enjoyed the other game entries by Eric Lang and had enjoyed the other Warhammer games by fantasy flight, so I figured I’d give it a go.

I’m extremely happy that I did. Chaos in the Old World is one of the best new games I have played in a long time.

To give you a brief overview, the game is about four chaos gods of the old world duking it out to see who can control the most of the nine regions of map. Players score points for dominating a region (i.e. having enough cultists and demons in the area to control it) and then ruining a region (i.e. corrupting it to such a degree that the region collapses into anarchy). Each god also has a circular dial associated with it that the player controlling the god gets to advance a notch when he accomplishes a stated goal – each god has one specific goal they try to accomplish each round to gain a dial advancement token. The game ends when any of the following occur: five regions have been corrupted, a player reaches the end of his dial, a player reaches 50 victory points, or 7 rounds have elapsed (I think it is 8 in a 3 player game. I may have those reversed).

Player turns always go in the same order – Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, then Slanesh. Each god has an allotment of plastic minis that are his followers that he can summon. Each god can summon a basic cultist that is the same for all 4. Then each god has access to a lesser daemon that is unique to him, and then to a single greater daemon that is unique to him. Each god also has a deck of chaos cards that is unique to him. Each god has an allotment of power points he can spend (they reload every new round) to summon his figures or play cards. Finally, every god has a set of five upgrade cards that he can earn through advancing his dial. These cards upgrade the followers to make them more powerful or add power to the god’s power point track. Every round, players take turns playing 1 figure/1 card at a time until each has exhausted his supply of power points. Then all conflicts, dominations, and ruinations are resolved and scored.

What makes the game unique and fun is that each god plays significantly differently than the other. Khorne is about destruction. He has relatively few cultists to with which to ruin a region, but his followers are good in conflict s. He earns dial advances for destroying opposing units. Nurgle is all about ruination. His followers make easy fodder for Khorne, but when combined with his chaos cards are very effective at ruining regions. Tzeentch plays a defensive game, relying on his cheap chaos cards to do his work for him. By playing a lot of cards early in a round, Tzeentch also delays committing his figures to the board so he can see where other players are and try to avoid them. Slanesh can do a little of everything. It is good at taking control of other followers and generally making life difficult for the other gods – stealing daemons for a turn, shutting down combat in a region, etc.

Chaos in the Old World draws me in on so many levels. The first thing you notice when you open the box is how beautiful all of the components, especially the actual board, are. This game contains far and away my favorite board of any game I’ve ever played. It’s thematically appropriate while being beautifully produced. While each god’s cultist figures are identical but in a different color, each god’s daemons are unique and are fairly detailed minis. One downside to the mini’s is that the cultists are poorly designed, leading to a lot of bent or broken ones. Each cultist piece has a staff with a chaos symbol protruding from it. These staffs bend and break quite easily. The cards are well done and straight forward and the components carry the general polish of all Fantasy Flight Games.

What really draws me in, though, is how balanced and thought out the game is. There are multiple ways to win, and when each god is played to his strengths, every game we’ve played has ended with each god in the hunt for victory. I have seen various discussions about each god being over/under powered, but in our experience, each god has won at least one game – with each god being on the verge of winning every time when they lose.

It’s true that each god is generally locked into a path to victory. For instance, Khorne will never win by victory points. He generally has to win by the dial. Regarding this, our group has discussed the downside of knowing how each player is going to play based on his god of choice, but I don’t really consider this a weakness or a downside. To me it would be similar to complaining that the dwarves in Warhammer: Invasion are always going to be defensive and complaining that that locks in that faction to a specific play style. Yes, Nurgle is always going to try to corrupt the populous regions on the board and Tzeentch will chase warpstones – but that only points to where they’ll go. The players still have to execute a sound strategy, and finding the “how” of their pursuit is where the fun lies. I might be more put off on this if the four gods weren’t so generally well-balanced. I feel confident that I can win regardless of which god I get to play in any given game.

And last, a word about the luck and strategy mechanics. This game does harbor a significant luck driven element in that combat is resolved by dice and you draw cards from a deck. But I wouldn’t say this game is driven by luck. How you manage the element of chance and how you react to the ongoing changes in the game provides a key element of strategy. The game can come down to a roll of a single die that determines if your force is lives or dies and therefore whether you can win right now or maybe are pushed out of a region, but that situation is almost always precipitated by a player choosing to put his force into that position rather than avoiding the chance mechanic.

Chaos in the Old world is one of my overall favorite games as I write this. It is a fine tuned, well-balance mix of several elements of many of my favorite games. There are few, if any, real negative points for me on this game. It has good strategy elements, some euro mechanics, classic Ameritrash elements, and is a game that is dripping with theme from the moment you tear the shrinkwrap off the box. The full realization of the theme is another notch in this game’s favor. A word of caution, however; make sure you can play this game with 4 players at least some of the time. It is fun and very playable with 3 players, but it doesn’t truly shine with the best games unless all 4 gods are involved in ruining and corrupting the old world.

I wholeheartedly rate this game a deserved 9.5 out of 10 with 4 players.



Though still excellent, I think the gameplay aspect falls to an 8 with 3 players.





(One last sidenote: I sleeved my cards. I highly recommend this for the little cards. Makes them sooooo much easier to shuffle.)
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Matt Mehlhoff
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If you liked this and haven't played Runewars you need to do so. Not in the warhammer universe but an amazing game. Longer, better combat and more. Love both this and that!
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Jonathan Moodie
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I actually just bought Runewars last weekend. I've gotten one very long playthrough to learn it. So far, I love it. I stepped through a 2 player solo game last night to better acquaint myself with some rules so the next game will be much faster. But I agree with you that my initial impression of Runewars is extremely positive.
 
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Matt Mehlhoff
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For Runewars, for a more combat heavy game I'd start with only 1 real and 1 fake rune each and not allow more than 2 runes in each player's homerealm. I also play with one less map piece than it recommends.

I had taught my brothers to play and I think we added one more map piece than is recommended so the game ended when only maybe 2 pvp battles had occurred. Turned them off to it, but I"ll win'm back with more combat
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Big Sixer
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Nice Review!!

Glad to see you picked up RW too, Lannistergold and I have played both games together and we both prefer RW to Chaos. That being said, I will gladly play either as they are both terrific games, RW is just a perfect mix of strategy, combat, and troop/resource management for me. Have fun with both!

Six
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Joseph Cochran
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LannisterGold wrote:
If you liked this and haven't played Runewars you need to do so. Not in the warhammer universe but an amazing game. Longer, better combat and more. Love both this and that!


Is RW more about combat? One of the things I love about this game is that while there IS combat, it's actually only one god's mission to undertake it directly: the rest of the gods use it only when necessary to achieve their own ends. In what context does RW compare?
 
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Jonathan Moodie
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Runewars is 4 player, its area control like Chaos, with lots of differentiated minis for each faction. However each faction can fight and has a strategy for effective combat. You dont have to fight in Runewars necessarily, but it is more fun if you press a little conflict, IMO. Combat is card driven as opposed to dice roll driven. I really like the runewars combat system.

Overall theyre similar in some respects, but still quite different.
 
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Marstov
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A fine review, but I suspect you haven't played the game enough if you think Khorne can't win off VPs. Setting up a credible threat to win off of VPs makes life a lot easier for Khorne, as people will be forced to confront you directly which makes it easier to get dial advances.

For example: if Khorne drops all of his cultists in the Empire along with some warriors or his greater demon, he can dominate it for 5 VPs a turn and has a reasonable hope of ruining it as the primary ruiner for a total of about 33 VPs by turn 4 or so. That's a long way towards winning the game, especially if you get some VPs from your dial and random 1 point regions. If people want to stop him, they have to do something in that region which means putting figures in harm's way, advancing his dial.

About the only win I would suggest is not possible is Nurgle winning off of dial advancement. Getting 12 ticks without winning off VPs seems unlikely.
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Joseph Cochran
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jmoodie wrote:
Runewars is 4 player, its area control like Chaos, with lots of differentiated minis for each faction. However each faction can fight and has a strategy for effective combat. You dont have to fight in Runewars necessarily, but it is more fun if you press a little conflict, IMO. Combat is card driven as opposed to dice roll driven. I really like the runewars combat system.

Overall theyre similar in some respects, but still quite different.


I don't really think of Chaos as "area control", I guess, which is why I asked the question. Chaos HAS areas, but you're not trying to control them so much as profit off of them. There's a control element in the play of Nurgle and Slaanesh, but only in that it'd be nice not to have to resummon every turn. Khorne and Tzeentch really don't care about controlling areas much at all: I'd say Khorne actually wants other people to be in as many areas as possible: more targets = more profit.

The reason I ask is that area control isn't really something that really attracts me to games, so I'm trying to frame the recommendation for Runewars based on what interests me. FWIW, what interests me about Chaos is the asymmetrical powers that still manage to be balanced despite the fact that each is actually playing with a different style in what is essentially a race game (race for either dial ticks or points).
 
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Jonathan Moodie
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I see your point.

Runewars is definitely more about area control as each hex provides resources and if there is a dragon rune in the area, you control the dragon rune by controlling the area.

The factions in the game seem to play different, but since the only way to win is to control dragon runes, the powers are by no means the "asymmetrical" powers found in Chaos.

If a land grab type of game is not to your tastes, then Runewars would most likely not be for you.
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Joseph Cochran
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Thanks! Sorry to threadjack the Chaos thread, but I was curious.
 
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