Thumb up
3 Posts

Chaos Marauders (second edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Chaos Marauders - A Detailed Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
CanCon, BunnyCon...BorderCon!!!
flag msg tools
May 2018 be all you dreamed it would be and be all that you dreamed...
This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

Image Courtesy of DICE_COLLECTOR


Game Type - Card Game
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Mechanics - Dice based combat, Set Collection, Random Card Draw
Difficulty - Pick-up and Play (Can be learned in 10 minutes and understood after 1-2 plays)
Components - Very Good
Release - 2009

Designer - Stephen Hand (Fury of Dracula, Chainsaw Warrior)

Overview and Theme

Chaos Marauders is based on the Warhammer Fantasy universe, making this another title that FFG has published from the Games Workshop back-catalogue they have purchased. How closely this production matches that of the original I am not sure.

Here the players find themselves as Orc War Chieftain’s on their way to fight those intolerable forces of the Empire. Only problem is that several Orcish clans have run into each other so inevitably they start to squabble over the carcass of some unfortunate Elf that is roasting over a campfire.

In the time it takes for the sun to move from up to just a little more up the Orcs are at it and it’s each Orcish War Chief for himself.

Goes getz ‘dem boyz!


The Components

Chaos Marauders has been released as part of FFGs Silver Line streamlined box series (think Red November, Condottiere and Cold War: CIA v KGB to name a few). These games are renowned for being component light and the play tends to focus almost all the attention on the cards.

d10-1 Player Boards – Having said that Chaos Marauders does provide each player with a long player board. I say long because each board features 3 folds that allow it to extend to accommodate up to 12 standard playing cards. The boards are made out of a fairly flexible cardboard and the artwork depicts a brooding Warhammer type landscape in an orangey/red that suggests the Orcs have laid waste to the surrounding environment and the village is burning.

Boards of this nature can be problematic when cards are laid on them as they tend to sit up due to the folds. FFG have done a good job here though as the boards are flexible enough that a quick ‘fold-back’ seems to remove any kink quite easily. I suspect this is due to the glossy finish that the boards have been given and making them at just the right thickness. The glossy finish also imbues the boards with an added strength that will see them stand up to any necessary folding.

Image Courtesy of sydo

d10-2 Cards – The game dishes up a total of 110 cards, which all feature a high quality matte/linen finish. Each card features some wonderfully colourful and often humourous artwork as the centerpiece. Other information on each card may include a combat value, victory point value, a card title, a coloured border, a symbol at the bottom of the card and some card text should the card have a special ability.

Not all cards are unique, in fact many are duplicates but there is plenty of variety to keep the game interesting.

It’s also worth noting that the cards have been well designed in relation to graphical layout. Symbols are clear to see, combat values and victory point values always feature in the top right and text has been kept to a minimum on the cards themselves to ensure that the play does not get bogged down.

The final clever touch is the use of coloured borders as these help to quickly identify the type of card just drawn. Purple cards are always simple combat units that can affect battle, blue borders are treasure or loot cards, grey borders tend to be battle line fillers like hobgoblins, red borders are the powerful War Machines and green bordered cards generally offer an ability to affect other players and are discarded after use rather than being added to a player’s battle line. This is all well done.

Image Courtesy of sydo

d10-3 Sneaky Git Markers – These are used in conjunction with the Sneaky Git cards and they comprise of a set of 4 small cones in a given colour. When a Sneaky Git is played into another player’s Battle Line, one of these markers is placed on top of it to denote who controls that Sneaky Git.

Image Courtesy of Hex_Enduction_Hour

d10-4 Battle Dice – The final in-game component is the battle dice. This six sided dice features 5 Orcish Eyes and 1 Mark of Chaos symbol. How these results affect combat will be outlined soon enough.

Image Courtesy of Hex_Enduction_Hour

d10-5 Rule Book and Card Summary Booklet – Chaos Marauders offers two booklets. One covers the basic rules and helps to quickly outline the aim of the game, the flow of play and the scoring mechanics at games end.

The other is a Card Reference booklet that outlines in detail how special cards must be resolved (which allows the cards to not be overly burdened with excessive text) and it then includes a sizeable section dedicated to the history of some units and notable figures featured in the game. This 2nd section is total flavor text but it is a nice touch because it features much of the humour that traditional Games Workshop titles (like Blood Bowl for example) are known for. Another nice design decision is that the cover of this booklet features the artwork from the original edition of the game.

And that’s it. Everything is well produced, the card design is well laid out and the box insert is efficient to say the least, using the standard approach of having 2 card wells and slotting the dice and markers inside the central part of the insert.

Job well done I would say. Nothing mind blowing but certainly efficient and there is enough quality here to justify the price of purchase.


Chaos Marauders requires nothing more than a shuffle of the cards, the setting up of each player’s playing matt and the taking of a set of Sneaky Git control markers. You don’t even need to deal out cards…the game is ready to begin. I mean…even an Orc could do it!

The Game Play

Chaos Marauders is an incredibly simple game to play, featuring a general flow of play that is as about as simple as it gets. Where some intricacy can occur is in the resolution of some cards, but even then after a play or two even these are dreadfully simple to administer. Perhaps this was a deliberate design decision to engage the intellect of the average Warhammer Miniatures player? (No no I’m joking seriously…just trying to match the theme of the game)

A single turn is made up of the following actions –

d10-1 The Aim of the Game – But before we get into how the game is played I think it is important to understand what you are trying to achieve.

Each Orcish Chieftain is essentially looking to crush the enemy and in the process grab as much loot as possible for their clan. To do this each player will draw cards (acquire units) and they must place these into their army to form battle lines. Each player has 3 such battle lines. The player board represents one line and a 2nd and 3rd line can be created directly above and below the player board.

Some cards are combat units and are used to fight other armies, other cards are simply loot worth victory points at the end of the game. Then there are the Standard Bearers, Musicians and the War Machines…but more on those shortly.

When any one player places a card to complete their 3rd Battle Line, the game is over and points must be calculated to determine which War Chieftain has won the day.

So how does the game unfold?

d10-2 Draw a Card – The majority of the play in Chaos Marauders involves nothing more than drawing cards from the central deck. With each draw a player must place that card (unless it has a green border) into a slot in one of their battle lines. If they have not drawn a card that ends their turn they can draw another card and repeat the process…it’s that simple.

d10-3 Placing Cards into Battle Lines – Most cards get placed into a player’s battle lines. A single battle line can have up to 12 cards in it but the player has almost complete choice of how long a battle line will be (a line can have only 4 cards) and what units feature in each line. There are some restrictions that must be adhered to though –

Standard Bearers and Musicians – Each battle line must have a Standard Bearer and a Musician. The Standard Bearer must always be on the far left of a battle line and a Musician on the far right. Therefore no cards can be placed on the two external sides of these units and no cards can be placed on the last left or right position of a battle line as these must be kept free for these units.

How long a battle line will be though is totally up to each player. It is quite possible to create a battle line only 4 cards in length, with room for only two cards between the Standard Bearer and the Musician. More on why a player may do this shortly.

Once a battle line is completed (features a Standard Bearer, a Musician and all spaces in between have been filled) it cannot have cards added to it any more. The exception here is if a card is ever removed from the battle line.

The last restriction is that a single battle line can never have more than one card of the same name in it. The exception here is the Blightskabb Plague Lords, which offer a multiplier combat effect.

d10-4 Determine if Your Turn is Over – After drawing a card and placing/using it a player must determine if their turn has come to an end.

All of the following will result in a player’s turn coming to an end –

- Drawing a green bordered card.

- Drawing a Standard Bearer or Musician that cannot be added to a battle line because all battle lines already feature these units.

- Drawing a named card that already features in each of their battle lines (remember that a battle line cannot have duplicate cards unless they are Blightskabb Plague Lords).

- Drawing a card that features a symbol already located within a player’s battle lines.

- A player completed a battle line and used it to attack another player.

- A player places a card to complete their 3rd battle line and in doing so ends the game.

If however after placing a card a player has not triggered any of the above conditions, they can continue their turn by drawing another card. In this way a player can continue to draw many cards on their turn or they may get unlucky and only get 1 draw before the play moves on. Of course the more cards in a player’s army the higher the chance that their turn will end quickly (based on the matching symbols criteria).

d10-5 Completing a Battle Line and Combat – As soon as a battle line is completed the active player can choose to use it to attack another player’s battle line of their choice.

To attack the active player must total up the combat value of the line (all red numbers) and they are allowed to attack any battle line that has a combat value equal to or less than their own.

If a target can be found then the attack is made by rolling the Battle Dice. The attacker has a 5 in 6 chance of success as the Orcish Eye represents success. But there is always that slim possibility of failure in the form of the Mark of Chaos…and it is crazy how often it comes up to ruin a player’s plans.

The results of combat are severe. The loser will see their battle line totally destroyed. All purple cards are discarded and the victor is free to plunder any loot, War Machines and non-purple Standard Bearers and Musicians. These cards can then be added to any of the victor’s battle lines provided that rules for placing cards are adhered to.

If cards taken are used to complete another battle line, then this line cannot attack. If the cards taken complete a player’s 3rd battle line then the game will end at this point.

In this way the ebb and flow of Chaos Marauders can change quickly. One minute you can be top of the heap and the next that scumbag across the way is wearing your helmet and your loincloth is on fire. whistle

A player also has the option to not attack when they complete a battle line. If this option is taken (and indeed they may have no choice if their combat value is lower than that of the enemy) then their turn can continue as normal by drawing another card. But really…it’s not very Orcish is it? sauron

d10-6 War Machines – In keeping with the theme of the game and the Warhammer universe, War Machines are the most devastating units in relation to combat. But Chaos Marauders makes the players work for them as each War Machine consists of 2 or 3 cards that make up each of their parts. These must be placed in the correct sequence to be completed and of course a player needs to leave the space required to place the parts adjacent to one another.

Each War Machine consists of 1-2 machine elements and a Crew Card. The Crew Card is most important because as soon as a player draws a Crew, they are entitled to take any matching Machine parts already in play from any other battle line and add them to their own.

In this way the War Machines can move without warning from one player to another and green bordered cards that allow cards to be stolen only add to the chaos thus helping the game to live up to its name.

d10-7 Game End Scoring – When the game comes to an end each player must add up their final score. A nice summary sheet outlines this very clearly. Points are awarded for…

- Completing all 3 battle lines,

- For all loot cards.

- Completed War Machines (points are earned for completing the machine parts and bonus points if the crew is also there).

- The number of cards in each completed battle line (the more cards the greater the reward).

- 10 points for each card in a single army.

The skulls of the losers are then awarded to the victor!

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Game – What Makes it Tick?

d10-1 Is Aboutz Da Chaoz – Whilst there is some level of strategy possible in relation to building up your battle lines, defending important Loot cards and working out when it is to your advantage to try and kill the game by completing your 3rd Battle Line, Chaos Marauders has a fair dose of luck to it. It feels very swingy and the fortunes of an army can be changed dramatically with the drawing of a single card or the roll of the Chaos Dice. And yet somehow this feels like a positive with this game.

d10-2 Thematically 'Right'– And I think the reason for this is that the game play evokes the theme so well. This game is about Orcs and their antics. I'm no Warhammer expert but I know enough to realise that a euro strategy game featuring Warhammer Orcs would just be bizarre. Chaos Marauders gives me exactly what I expect and when approached in the right frame of mind it can be a fun little romp that is just begging you to trash talk your opponents from start to finish.

d10-3 Little Down Time - Whilst luck can go against you at times the saving grace of the game is that each player's turn won't take more than 30-60 seconds once everyone knows what they are doing. When it isn't your turn you will still be interested in the fortunes of others as you need to know the threats that exist, the loot to be taken and the targets you can aim to obliterate in battle.

d10-4 From Zero to Hero - One final point to harp back to is that the game is really designed to give anyone a chance to win from almost any point. You can have little more than a Standard Bearer and a lone Musician but if you happen to draw that key part of a War Machine and the other parts are already in play then they will all go to you and suddenly you have the means to crush the enemy and plunder their Loot. This makes the game great for families with young gamers as they will never feel out of it for too long.

d10-5 Strategy to Luck Ration - Overall I would say that Chaos Marauders is about 15% strategy and 85% luck. The only real control is in how long a player decides each Battle Line should be, which allows players to kill the game if they think they have an edge over the competition. Finishing Battle Lines is also important as a completed Battle Line cannot be attacked, so it is possible to try and make a short line and stuff it full of high valued Loot, should you be lucky enough to draw it.

But essentially the game lives well up to its title. The luck of the draw and the roll of the dice will dictate in large part the outcome of each's that simple.

d10-6 Weaknesses – Certainly the luck factor will not be for everyone. It is entirely possible to draw Green Cards that will end your turn 5 times in a row in a single draw, and you will be cursing. You may be going for the win with the final battle and manage to roll up that 1 in 6 result that sees your mighty Battle Line all but wiped out. These moments can be frustrating...but then again you knew what you were in for. The box, title and rulebook made it perfectly clear what kind of game this was! So I don't suspect too many will have a major problem with this.

The other minor quibble to mention is that the game can go a little long for what it is if the players are not moving at a brisk pace. It is possible for a sequence of turns to go by where multiple players are drawing cards to end their turn quickly or battle results fall somewhat evenly and keep reducing players to a point where no one can finish the game. Because the game tends to have a 'hit the leader' syndrome some games can go 15-20 minutes longer than they probably should. How big a problem this is will entirely depend on your group and to what level you get into the theme.

Oh it's also worth noting that Chaos Marauders is not the most portable of card games. There is no chance in heck that this can be played on the train or a plane and with 3 battle lines of possibly 10+ cards in length, it also requires a reasonably sized table.

The Final Word

I have to say that I was less than impressed by my first play of Chaos Marauders as I kept getting 1 draw turns that were stopped before they began. My opponents were not so unlucky so they were building large Battle Lines and just because I had a decent Loot card here or there I was targeted repeatedly and left praying for a 1 in 6 result that never came. But there was just enough 'something' for me to persist for another 2-3 plays and I'm glad I did.

Once you come to terms with the game and let your 'inner trash talker' out to play it can be quite a fun little romp of Orc Bashing and War Machine crashing. From this angle Chaos Marauders really fits into the 'Beer 'n' Pretzels' category and I think many Warhammer/Blood Bowl fans (who play largely due to the theme) will like what it brings.

I am of course a fan of games like Blood Bowl so take from that what you will.

For allz thoze Euroz peoplez out dere I wooz suggests you look uva placez for ya kickz! (We need a Green Orc Microbadge)


For a full list of all my reviews in a search-able Geeklist -

My Review Geeklist for Easy Reference
 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian McCormick
United States
flag msg tools
Tasteless Brute
Wow, this was a great review! thumbsup

I'd seen this game before, but I didn't realize it drew from the Warhammer tabletop universe. I might have to give it a second look. The luckiness of the gameplay makes it look like the perfect, thematic, goofy filler.
 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
CanCon, BunnyCon...BorderCon!!!
flag msg tools
May 2018 be all you dreamed it would be and be all that you dreamed...
Aurendrosl wrote:
Wow, this was a great review! thumbsup

I'd seen this game before, but I didn't realize it drew from the Warhammer tabletop universe. I might have to give it a second look. The luckiness of the gameplay makes it look like the perfect, thematic, goofy filler.

Cheers Brian.
 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.