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World of Warcraft: The Boardgame» Forums » Reviews

Subject: World of Warcraft - First session review rss

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Jason Jullie
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Richardson
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The following review reflects our groups experiences after one game played with 4 people. Obviously this review is not meant to cover all balance issues or precise gamplay mechanics, simply our first impressions of the game. I will try to keep things short so you can get a general idea if this game is right for you.

The Computer game
Just to clear things up, you don't have to have any knowledge of the computer game in order to understand this board game. The classes and monsters are taken directly from the MMORPG, but they are fairly universal for the genre (i.e. rogue, mage, warrior, ect). There are cool tie ins to the video game that come as a little plus to those who have played it, but no advantage is gained for it. If you have played similiar board games (Runebound, talisman) then you will have a good idea of where this game is headed.

Components
Well, for an $80 dollar game, you really get what you pay for. The components in this game really reflect the value put in. The creature models are sturdy and fairly well molded. The tokens are all very thick. The cards are nice, though the smaller ones are tough to shuffle. Addionally, every part of this game is done with the art style of the computer game. If you like the stylization, then this is a plus. Personally, I love it. It is very "cartoonish", but not in a goofy way. There are bright color and dramatic flairs all over. If you favor a more "tradional" RPG style, this might be a turn off to you. But the art is definatley not "slapped" together as it appears that the game makers made ample use of the extensive existing Warcraft art that has been developed by Blizzard (the computer game maker).

The Rules
The rulebook supplied is great. It has tons (and I do mean tons) of examples. For almost every rule, they go through and explain an example. Also, this book does a great job of using pictures to help relate the game components to the rules that are being explained. I really can't say enough about how nice this rulebook is. It may seem like a small thing, but I just bought another game, that has a horrible rule book, and it really effects my overall enthusiasm for a game. Also, the rules seem to "flow" nicely. In other words, as I was reading them they all seemed for make common sense. I never read one section and then say to myself "now wait a minute, didn't it say back here that..." As you are reading them, you can almost guess what the next sentence is going to tell you. It's not full of exceptions and confusing steps.

Character Development
This game is basically a race game to develop you character faster than the opposing team. You do this by completing quests and killing monsters. The game really shines in character advancement. You have three things to improve you character: items, powers, and talents. Items includes armor and weapons. This is pretty much similar to most other games of the genre. You pick up new items from towns and by completing quests. Powers can also be bought, but are specific to your character only. Each character has his/her own deck full of different powers, and you can buy and use them based on your level and your gold. Finally you have talents. These are recieved, free of charge, everytime you level (the highest you can level is to 5). Talents are generally passive abilities that improve certain aspects of your character. The great thing about powers and talents is that you can't possibly have all of them in play. In one game, you might see a little more than a third of that character talents/powers. The way you combine you talents and powers can shape you character in a unique and fun way. Granted we only played one game, but after we were done, I was wondering how cool it would have been if I would have advanced my character differently. Considering that you have 9 classes to choose from, this definatley adds to the replay value of the game.

Combat
Combat goes hand in hand with quest completion. In order to finish quests, you need to kill monsters. Due to the complex nature of the character develpoment, you are left with a fairly complex combat system. It's not overly difficult, but it does seem a bit cumbersome the first time through. Everything seems to make sense, you just have to keep an eye on all your abilies and powers to make sure you are getting the most out of your character. Towards the end of the game, we were getting much better, since we didnt have to keep consulting our card to see what we could do, but it does seem a little overwhelming at first. There are a lot of cool little abilies that make each class unique, but all the abilities are paid for with a heavy combat system.

Player Downtime
Well, this game boils down to a two team solitare game. One team goes, then the other. When the other team is doing stuff, you could be sitting there for a couple minutes waiting around. On some turns, the other team moves rather quickly, but if a quest or two is completed, this can drag out a bit. There is a lot of housekeeping to take care of everytime a quest is finished and a new one is revealed. Gold, items, and experience has to be handed out. Then some players might level and they have to choose new talents. Then new quests are revealed and new monsters need to be placed. Each step isn't too bad by itself, but it can be a toll on some gamers. If you someone in your group has a short attention span, you might find them wandering around the living room waiting for their turn. However, don't be too scared by the downtime, I have seen much worse. This isn't exactly Axis and Allies.

Play time
Our game took us 3 hours and 15 minutes from setup to completion. The game seemed to move pretty well. People weren't looking at their watches. You character only gets two actions a turn and there is always something you want to do, so you're generally looking forward to your turn trying to get the most out of your two actions. I was initally worried that this game would end up taking 4+ hours (and hence getting limited play), but it appears that we will be able to let it hit the table even if we don't have a whole afternoon for it.

Overall Impression
I personally enjoyed playing the game a great deal. I love this type of game. My previous favorite in the genre was Runebound (and Talisman before that). Now World of Warcraft has replaced those at the top of my "character development" board game list. The vast array of ability and talent combinations makes each level so much fun to reach. If you are really into games that start you off as a weakling and then you turn into a hero, then this is the game for you. Our group enjoyed the experince a good deal. One player thought that the combat system was a bit hard to get a hang of, but everyone else seemed have a good time. Even my wife, who almost never plays a game that last longer than an hour, was having a good time figuring out how her little gnome rogue could ambush monsters better. For our group, it was money well spent. I see this game hitting the table at least once a month. I give it an 8.



 
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James Stuart
United States
New York
New York
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I'm curious to hear reports (or play myself) a six-player game: it might remove the two-team solitaire aspect some (since the early quests in the starting areas will get sucked up quicker and the quests will then move into contested areas, with more people around). Even if there's not six players in the next game, I'll probably bump it up to six characters anyway.

I think another way of mitigating the two-team solitaire would be to stack the event deck in some way such that PVP based cards come in at a much higher frequency.
 
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Jason Jullie
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Yeah, I think that 6 players (or 6 characters) would change the PvP aspect a bit. With only 2 players to a side, there are more than enough quests to choose from right near each starting area. With an extra player I can see people being forced into "contested" areas and hence resulting in PvP. I will definately be playing with 6 characters in the near future.
 
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Sébastien Volle
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I played my first 6 player game last night and I can assure you that PvP is pointless as ever. On a strategic note, there's always ALWAYS better things to do than pick a fight with the other faction.
Quests are much easier, faster and more rewarding than wars, bosses and PvP loot. Sure you can slow down the enemy progression by kicking one of his characters back to stone age but 30 turns is not much and the Overlords are pretty tough. So it's a much better to cash in XPs.

Long story short, the game lacks interaction no matter how many players.
 
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Jason Jullie
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Yeah, I think that player versus player combat has been lacking in most of these games. I don't think that this game does any worse than say Runebound in that regard. It is nice to play the PvP at the end of the match (if no one has defeated the overlord) just to get the competitive juices flowing a little more.
 
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Corey Konieczka
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Seboss wrote:

Quests are much easier, faster and more rewarding than wars,


Just wondering if everyone is using wars correctly. Wars specifically state that EACH player of the faction recieves the gold and XP for the war. For example, in a 6 player game, the weaker faction can recieve up to 5xp PER PLAYER for the hinterlands war. That is a total of 15xp and the equivelent of 2-3 quests!
 
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