Chad S
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Hello, and welcome to the next entry in a series of reviews, collectively called StormGate Reviews. These reviews will not concentrate on the specifics of how the games work, but rather a brief overview of the main mechanics, how people who play the games receive and enjoy them, how they look, and lastly, my own thoughts. Any edits are to fix grammatical or spelling errors. To see other reviews in the series, Click Here!

I've asked for some help with this review, so without further introduction, here's Boston and Phoenix, who will be assisting with this review.

Boston, the yellow Chihuahua


Phoenix, the black Chihuahua


Good boys.

Intro:



From the publisher:

Morrslieb, the evil moon, shines down over the walls of the slumbering castle. A lone creak resounds through the air as the front gates are drawn open. Suddenly, screams fill the night as the hordes of Chaos rampage through the city. Huge red daemons brandishing massive hellblades tear through the streets cutting down everyone they find in the name of Khorne. As the daemons reach the inner gate, they are beset by a massive vulture-headed creature! The minions of the two rival powers clash in the streets, stomping on the helpless peasants underfoot. The count sends his mightiest knights forth to do combat with the forces of Chaos, but they are no match for the daemons arrayed against him. The city will fall, but which power will claim it?

To quote Robert Florence, "Woof." No wait, that's Phoenix. "Warhammer matters." Does it ever.

In Chaos in the Old World, each player is one of the 4 Elder Gods of Chaos from the Warhammer universe, each trying to ruin the world. This game is best with 4 players (or 5, if you are using the Horned Rat expansion).

How It Looks and What's In The Box:

This is a game by Fantasy Flight Games. If that name doesn't conjur images in your mind consisting of a billion tokens and a mountain of plastic, it should, and this game doesn't disappoint in either category. Each player has a set of figures specific to their God, 3 types in all, a player board, 5 upgrade cards, scoring marker, power token, a pile of corruption tokens, and their own deck of Chaos cards for powers and abilities. The board is beautiful in its repulsive artwork, and has to be partially assembled - it has four dials on it, used for tracking progress for each player. The board itself looks amazing - the artwork looks like stretched, dried, tanned skin, with the details of each of the 9 regions "burned" onto or stitched into the flesh. A scoring track lines the border, and there is a section to attach the dials for each player. There is also a pile of tokens, representing Dial Advancement markers, Warpstones, Peasants, Nobles, Skaven, Heroes, and Events. There is also 2 decks of cards, a small 5 card deck for Ruination, and a larger, 28 card Old World deck, used for creating global events. Lastly, there are 5 6-sided dice, blood red in colour with black pips, and there is a very good, thick, illustrated rulebook.

There is a ton of high quality stuff in this game.



The theme is, obviously, quite dark. After all, you're an Elder God of Chaos hell bent on ruining the world.

The Horned Rat expansion contains its pile of figures, their advancement dial, a replacement deck of Chaos and Upgrade cards for every player, some extra tokens, some handy reference cards for each player, and more Old World cards. The replacement decks are for every player - it radically changes the abilities of the original 4 Gods, and balances the game for adding the fifth player. These decks can be used without the Horned Rat player for a different version of the main game.

Both the main game and its expansion will fit in the original box, with all cards sleeved, and the original insert still in place. There's not much room left in the box, but it all fits.

How it plays: 120 to 180+ minutes, including teaching the game. Add another 30 minutes if playing with The Horned Rat, and 5 players.

There are 2 ways to win in Chaos in the Old World. You can be the first player to advance their Threat dial all the way to your victory step, or you can have the dogs munch on the plastic pieces and advance on the victory point track to 50. The game plays in 7 turns (usually - this can change depending on the Old World event deck), with each turn separated into a number of phases, in a set player order. Khorne, the Blood God, always goes first. He is followed by Nurgle, the Plaguelord. Next is Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure and Pain, while Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, goes fourth. The Horned Rat is fifth. Each player in the game, while having similar mechanics on how to accomplish tasks, play completely differently.

No Boston, those are Threat dials, not Treat dials.


First, the commonalities between players. Each player has 3 different types of creatures to summon, and a certain amount of power each turn to spend on summoning creatures and playing Chaos cards from their hand. Each of the 9 regions can accomodate an unlimited number of figures, but only 2 Chaos cards. At its core, Chaos in the Old World is an area control game, which awards points based on control (or ruination) of the regions. This is about where the similarities between players ends.

Each players' Chaos deck is tailorerd to that player. For example, Nurgle, the god of Pestilence, tends to focus on corruption and just plain being disgusting, while Khorne's forces wreak havoc across the landscape, and their respective cards enhance their individual playstyles. There are, of course, some cards that are used to counter what the other players are doing. Each player also has separate conditions for raising their Threat dial, and the dials are of different lengths. On top of that, each player's units also have differing attack/defense attributes, as well as different abilities.

Players take turns summoning units and playing cards, until they either run out of power or chose to stop. This is followed by the Battle phase, where players roll dice and calculate hits, and remove any destroyed figures. Next is the Corruption phase, where players add corruption to each region (or, in the case of the Horned Rat, the figures themselves count as corruption when scoring only). Finally, there is an End phase, where each player gets their power back to prepare for the next turn, regions are ruined, Threat dials are advanced, the dogs bark their approval, and the game could end. There is a specific order for checking to see if the game is over, with a winner determined based on this order. It is possible for everyone to lose, however. If 5 regions become ruined, or if the Old World deck runs out (the aforementioned 7 turns), and nobody has enough points to win after either of those conditions, it's game over. He who has the highest points wins. As a house rule, we play that if 5 regions get ruined and nobody has enough points to win, everyone loses. Except Phoenix. Because that means it's treat time. "Arf!"



Somehow, the game design wizards and playtesters found a way to make all of this incredibly well balanced.

How it was received:

Every person that I have played this with, without a single exception, thoroughly enjoys this game. My usual gaming group have all played it, and my other gaming club have also played it a considerable number of times, and everyone always has a great time. Opinions range from "quite good" to "superb," and the games are almost always close in score. No one single God has an advantage over any other, and I have seen every God win multiple times. I introduced this game at my FLGS, at which point 2 people bought the game, and the store "bought" a game for people to play and it sits on their play-me shelf. It's a huge hit.

Players sometimes don't understand the goal of this game. It's unusual in that every player plays differently. Luckily, there is a section in the rulebook to explain this, and it outlines what each player should be striving for to achieve victory. When teaching the game, I usually read this section verbatim, so everyone knows what's going on.

My thoughts:

This is a Euro game. It might have a ton of Ameritrash plastic, and a pile of Ameritrash tokens, but make no mistake - this is a Euro, through and through. An excellent, incredibly well themed, somewhat long Euro.

I love that all the Gods play differently, as it will take many replays before one single person gets to figure out how each one works. Everyone has to watch everyone else very closeley. It's sort of playing two games at once - the main area control game, plus striving to advance your own victory dial and win the game your way.

Its length can be a tad on the long side, especially with new players, but a group of friends that plays regularly should be able to get it down to about 2 to 2.5 hours. With 5 new players (and myself acting as teacher), I have seen it go as long as 4.

The art, also, might bother some. It is a very dark theme, with disgusting demons and creatures everywhere. You play as the "bad guy," and your job is to kill or corrupt everyone and everything, while simultaneously ruining the world. It might be a little bit much for younger players. Remember, the boards artwork is stretched skin!

Fantasy Flight has something special with this game. I can not stress enough how well this game packs in the Warhammer mythos and universe into a few hours worth of game. It is easily in my top 5 games of all time.

From the very first turn, every player is screwing with every other player. Attack, corrupt, take control, ruin, pet the dog, attack some more, summon forces, pillage! What's this? Nurgle is getting a foothold at Bretonnia with corruption? Phoenix, look cute and distract him while everyone else gang up and stop him! But now everyone has opened a flank, and it's back to everyone screwing everyone again. There is no fodder in this game, every piece you control matters. Every decision you make matters. Plus it looks awesome. Just look at it:



Lastly, get the expansion. Even if you're never going to use the fifth player, The Horned Rat's replacement Chaos cards for each God are awesome, and make a great game even better. The new Old World deck is a sight to behold too - the original was just annoying, the new one has some very strong, difficult to overcome events that can't be ignored. It makes an awesome game, uh, awesomer.

Bottom line:

A fantastic area control game with varied focus depending on which player you happen to be. You might be fighting, you might be corrupting. You might be interfereing with everyone else who is fighting and corrupting! You might be trying to spread your influence like the plague. There is so much to do in this game, and the fact that it is so incredibly well balanced make this one of my favourite games to play. Add in The Horned Rat for just about the most perfect game playing experience you will ever have.

Skulls for the Skull Throne!

Score: 9.5 barks out of 10. 10 barks out of 10 with the expansion.
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Donald Gardner
New Zealand
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Nice review! Love that you have Boston and Phoenix helping out

2 minor corrections to your rules summary. Firstly, Horned Rat figures only count as corruption when scoring a ruined region, and when they do, they count equal to their power cost. Secondly, when 5 regions are ruined, the players don't lose, the player with the most Victory Points wins.

Glad you're enjoying playing, it's an awesome game!
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Chad S
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iuchiban wrote:
Nice review! Love that you have Boston and Phoenix helping out

2 minor corrections to your rules summary. Firstly, Horned Rat figures only count as corruption when scoring a ruined region, and when they do, they count equal to their power cost. Secondly, when 5 regions are ruined, the players don't lose, the player with the most Victory Points wins.

Glad you're enjoying playing, it's an awesome game!


Thanks. I've only been able to play the Horned Rat once so far, and I did do it correctly in play, I just wrote it wrong in the review.

I've been playing the "everyone loses" as a house rule for so long that I forgot that it's a house rule. I'll change the review text right now to reflect that.
 
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