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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Zooloretto

This month is all about Podcasts, our Poll is which one would you take to a desert island, but there is also some important Podcast news. The new episode 0 of the Dice Tower is out. For those who don’t know what the Dice Tower is, it’s an hour and half long show which talks about new games and old games and it is a very listener friendly show.

If you have never listened to the show, or any podcast before, episode 0 is a great way to start. The episode goes through the Top Ten  games all gamers should own and why, obviously it’s subjective but it’s a great place to start if you have never played designer games before. Also, starting with episode 175 which follows on from episode 0 the Dice Tower is changing to a new, shorter, weekly podcast, so there has never been a better time to listen to the show. Check out the episode here…

Right then, onto the review. This week’s review is on the 2007 winner of the Spiel des Jahres, Zooloretto. Interestingly, of the 30 games to win this award, I’ve played 3 of them and of the current 2010 nominees I’ve played none… oh well.

Anyway, that’s not what’s important, let’s take a look at the game.

Theme

You are the owner of a small zoo, so small in fact that you have but three enclosures and a rather large barn. Throughout the game you will receive animals for your zoo, although not necessarily the ones you want, it seems that your zoo suffers from a lot of clerical errors. When all the animals have run out (possibly through extinction or deforestation) the player with the most animals in enclosures and not in the barn will be declared supreme Zoo Master.

Ok… So the theme is a bit pasted on, but the theme is the reason I bought the game. My little brother loves the zoo and animals and I was sick of playing Talisman over and over, so I bought Zooloretto and while the theme may feel tacked on when viewed from an abstract viewpoint, it is so beautifully realised with the components that once you start playing you don’t really notice.

Unboxed

So, what’s in the box?

  • 16 Round Offspring Tiles (2 x 8 Animals)
  • 112 Square Tiles:
    • 88 Animal Tiles (11 x 8 Animals)
    • 12 Vending Stalls (3 x 4 Types)
    • 12 Coin Tiles
  • 5 Zoo Boards
  • 5 Expansion Boards
  • 5 Delivery Trucks
  • 30 Coins
  • 1 Round Wooden Disc
  • 5 Summary Cards
  • 1 Rule Booklet
  • 1 Pouch

First off, the copy I have is produced by Rio Grande and it has all the quality that I have come to expect from them. Good, sturdy box, clear concise rules, thick beautiful tiles. One thing I really love is the way that the art on the boards links to the expansions seamlessly. Overall I couldn’t be happier with this game… but… The wooden components, the coins and trucks don’t add that much to the game, in fact the cardboard trucks in Zooloretto Mini look far cooler than the chocolate brown slabs of wood. As a rule wood adds to the price point and I don’t think this game needed it.

That said… it’s still a beautiful game and worth every penny I paid.

Gameplay

So, how do you play Zooloretto? Each player receives a Zoo board with 3 enclosures and a barn, plus an expansion which is placed facedown next to your zoo and can be built later. Each player also receives 2 coins and a reference card.

Fifteen tiles are randomly removed and placed in a stack with the Red Disc placed on top of them, these tiles will be used for the end game. You are now ready to start the game.

In turn each player may perform one action:

  • Take a tile and place it on a truck
  • Perform 1 money action
  • Take a Truck

Once you take a truck you can no longer take any more actions and your turn is over. There are as many trucks as there are players and each truck has 3 spaces on it.

If you take a truck you must immediately place all the tiles on your truck in your zoo. Only one type of animal can be placed in each enclosure, so for examples only Monkeys in one and only Pandas in another. Any animals that cannot be placed must be placed in the barn. Any stalls (brown tiles) must be placed on one of the four (or five if you have expanded your zoo) brown spaces in the corners of the zoo. Any coin tokens are immediately exchanged for a wooden coin.

Once everyone has taken a truck a new round begins and this repeats until all the tiles run out. Once all the tiles are gone, players must draw from the stack with the red counter on it. The current round is played until everyone has taken a truck and then the game is over.

And that’s it… sort of.

Players can perform Money Action during the game. You may perform as many actions as you like in a round but only one per turn. The Actions are:

  • Move a Tile: For 1 coin you may move any 1 animal tile from your barn to an empty space in an enclosure or you may move a Stall to any eligible place in your zoo.
  • Exchange Tiles: You may exchange one or more tiles from one location with one or more different tiles in another location as long as all the tiles will fit in the new location.
  • Discard a Tile: You may discard any tile from your barn for 2 coins.
  • Buy a Tile: You may purchase any one tile from another player’s barn for 2 coins, one to the player and one to the bank.
  • Expand Your Zoo: Once per game you may buy the zoo expansion for 3 coins, which gives you an extra enclosure for 5 animals and a new space for a vending stall.

Scoring

So, what’s the point? To win the game you have to get the most points, this done by getting the animals you need but none of the ones you don’t. The number of animals in the game changes with the number of players:

  • 3 Players – 6 Types of Animals
  • 4 Players- 7 Types of Animals
  • 5 Players – 8 Types of Animals

Each enclosure has two numbers, if you fill an enclosure you will score the higher number as points at the end of the game. If you are just one animal shy you score the lower number. If you have two or more empty spaces you will score 1 point per animal but only if you also have a vending stall adjacent to the enclosure.

In addition, filling either the four or five point enclosures will score you 1 or 2 coins immediately, but not if the enclosure was filled using the exchange action.The coins are scored immediately and may be scored multiple times during the game. Points are only scored at the end of game based on where the tiles are when the game finishes.

Also at the end of the game each different colour stall in your zoo scores 2 points (for a maximum of 8). Each type of animal or stall in your barn scores you –2 points.

What about the Babies…

Ok, so I couldn’t find a good place to shoehorn in this bit. Four of the 11 tiles for each animal have a gender symbol on them. If a male and female of the same species are placed in an enclosure, they immediately have a baby, regardless of whether or not you want them too. Only a pair of animals will produce an offspring and only once per game. A baby tile is immediately added to the enclosure, if there is no room it is placed in the barn and you will score negative points for it at the end of the game.

The Verdict

Zooloretto is a good game. The first game we played was very high scoring as players pretty much just built their zoos and paid little attention to everyone else. Which lead me to think that game pretty much devoid of strategy, but it’s not!

For example, there is a truck with a fertile Monkey that would be perfect for you, but also perfect for someone else. Well, you draw a zebra, the other player isn’t collecting Zebras and has no spare enclosures, you drop the zebra on the truck, now if they take that truck they will also get –2 points.

Dropping unwanted animals onto a truck that someone else wants is also a very satisfying experience.

Completing the small enclosures, collecting the coins and then exchanging the animals into the larger encloses so that you can score more coins is also another valid tactic.

Overall, it’s not as deep a game as say Carcassonne or Setters (the other two SDJ games I own) but it has enough strategy to stop it being dull. It’s certainly not a game I would play with just adults, but there is enough meat to it to keep me entertained while playing with younger people and that’s pretty much why I bought it.

The real tactic in the game is knowing when to quit and take your truck, being able to read the other players and knowing whether or not to push your luck. The game is very easy to teach and very enjoyable for people of all ages. Younger kids might not really get the scoring, but they’ll have fun building the zoo and will quickly realise having animals you don’t need is a bad plan.

So, the Unboxed verdict is, if you can find it for the right price, get it!

3, 4 or 5 Players

Finally just a note on the number of players. Generally the scores will be higher with the fewer number of players. In any game you can have a maximum of 4 animal types in your enclosures so in a 5 player game you can end up with up to –8 points for the animals in your barn, as opposed to –4 in the 3 player game.

This means that a five player game is a lot more competitive and even cutthroat than the 3 player game. Regardless of the number of players, the game plays quickly, 30 to 50 minutes tops and there is no downtime because player turns are either draw a tile or move some tiles.

The game also includes a 2 player variant but I have not played it.

Right, that’s it, I hope you enjoyed this week’s review, next week will be a discussion on the results of the poll and I will reveal which Podcast gets my vote and why. Don’t forget to make your voice heard… Vote Now!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Board Game News: Issue 4

Just a mini-update here as news is a little slim on the ground…

Fantasy Flight Games has released a new preview of Dungeonquest and the game looks gorgeous! I had really made my mind up not to buy it because I own the original, but this preview is so nice I’m seriously tempted to sell my copy and put the cash towards the new edition.

As an added bonus the 6 new characters included with DQ will include cards for Descent, Runewars and Runebound, meaning you can port the new characters straight into the other Terrinoth games.

Speaking of Terrinoth, the rules for the new Runebound expansion are now live and can be found here in PDF format. No news as yet as to whether this expansion will include new hero cards for DQ, Descent and Runewars though.

Also, Z-man Games has added some new pages to their sneak peaks, including this one for Pocket Battles, Orcs vs. Elves.

That’s pretty much it from me, I will try and bring you a review of Zooloretto on Wednesday, assuming work is not too hectic. Thanks for bearing with me….

Chris

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

First Impressions: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – Part 1: Unboxed

Before I get into the meat and bones of this weeks post, I just want to give a shout out and a big thank you to all of the Unboxed Fans. This month saw the visits per month break the 800 barrier, not only that but over 200 people came back time and again, 19 of you managed to break the 100 times limit! So thank you very much for everyone who continues to make this place fun to work with.

There are quite a few people following the blog publically now too, which is great for me. I’m still finding my feet with this and I want to increase the content, in terms of quantity, quality and variety. Anyone who wants to help support the blog should feel free to contact me, if they have any ideas, suggestions or articles I’d love to hear from you. The easiest way to contact me is through Board Game Geek where my user ID is The Duke BGG and there is a button in the sidebar to add me to your Geek Buddies.

Finally a big shout out to anyone who advertises the blog. I know the guys over at Seize Your Turn do a great job there, but there are other bloggers linking to me now too or adding my links to BGG, so thank you for that. Right… that’s the housekeeping done, lets take a look at WFRP…

The Why

Two weeks ago I wrote a post ranting about the new edition of Warhammer and the reasons I wouldn’t be buying into it again. I’m not going to slate the new edition, I just can’t justify it, but I still love the universe and I wanted to look for a new way to explore it.

So (in a huff) I googled the base set of WFRP to see how much I could pick it up for… £53 (play.com) which sounded incredibly reasonable. I ummed and ahhed and weighed options (pay rent… buy new game) and before the night was out I had purchased a copy.

The Hate

With the game now listed as “Packing” I figured it was about time I actually read a review of it. I decided to check BGG as I always do and the reviews over there on the RPG section of the site are all positive. However I decided I wanted a bit more info so I checked out the FFG site. And what did I find… A storm of hate!

I found myself reading every article and then reading maybe the top fifteen comments about how FFG was destroying a fantastic game. My personal opinion, if the game you have is so fantastic, go play it! There are a lot of good in-depth articles on the site, including a seminar given by the lead designer Jay Little. If you think you might want to get this game, you much check these out because they are very very useful.

So, on the one hand I had positive BGG reviews, on the other I had a bag of hate mail and a lot of in depths technical jargon. So what did I do, I went to a source I can trust, I turned to the D6 Generation. You have to bear in mind that while I was doing this the game had already shipped, for some reason I like to do my research after blowing my cash.

So, while the D6Gers did not hate the game, they were not as blown away by it as I had hoped. However, I had little time to dwell on this revelation because the next day the game arrived.

Unboxed

After removing the rather superfluous sleeve you will find an FFG quality box. That means, beautiful artwork and solid cardboard, something that will stand up to years of play.

Inside the box are 4 full colour rulebooks, 4 decks of cards, 3 punchboard sheets, 3 tuckboxes, a deck of character cards, a pad of character sheets and a handful of dice.

I started at the contents and I was rather unimpressed. As with a lot of Fantasy Flight Games, there was a large cardboard insert with a small recess and all the components fitted inside that 3 inch wide hole. However, after punching everything out, unwrapping all the cards and bagging everything up I began to realise the need for the huge box. Quickly it became apparent that the Cardboard insert would have to go.

The Bits

The first thing I noticed were the character sheets:

As you can see they are beautifully designed, the art work is fantastic and there is a lot information on them, front and back. The only minor complaint is the thickness. They are the same thickness as the new Talisman cards, where as I was hoping for something akin to the punchboard thickness, but as I said, minor quibble.

Next I moved onto the punchboard. Lots of bits here. Everything was easily removable with no tears which is always a boon. All of the tokens and standees are great quality, some of the art is a little muted and difficult to distinguish from a distance, but on the whole, everything looks great.

Fatigue

Stress

The stress and fatigue tokens are double sided, which could be a problem if they get knocked off and you can’t remember which side they were on, however, they are much more efficient to use than a piece of paper, so kudos to FFG.

And that really is the thing to remember here with this game, it’s a paperless RPG. It is designed to make everything easier and that is really where I feel it succeeds. This box is a series of tools that could easily be used in D&D or any other RPG setting. 

Tracking Token 2Tracking Token 4Tracking Token 1Tracking Token 3

There are also a variety of multipurpose tracking tokens. They come in two varieties, blue with light grey backs and orange with dark grey backs.

The problem with these tokens is that they are used to track everything. Initiative, recharge, fate, so unless you define what each colour means (thus removing the multipurpose function) you could end up forgetting which token was representing what.

The puzzlefit pieces (which are one of the most ingenious bits of the system) are actually much smaller than I anticipated. They fit together well and are easily distinguishable on the table.

Again the only negative here is that the lack of neutral pieces. The puzzlefit pieces are an excellent GM tool and the neutral pieces represent event spaces, however after each player has a neutral piece the GM is left with just two.

My biggest complaint however is with the standees. 49 tokens to represent characters and monsters are included in the set but only 16 Stance Ring 1plastic bases are included. Also, not all the monsters from the core books are represented by a token and there are no duplicates. Even worse, there are no labels on the monsters, even as a veteran Warhammer Player I found myself unable to identify everything on sight. The standees themselves are very good quality and the stance rings that fit onto their bases are an excellent addition. But not including all the monsters or enough bases for everything seems like a ploy to  make you buy more stuff.

In addition to the punchboard tokens there are endless cards for everything from Actions, to wounds, to miscasts Standeeand insanities. Of course, there are no cards for monsters or weapons and equipment.

There are 36 dice included in the set, they are pretty big, nice quality custom dice and most of the images are pretty clear.

Overall, the amount of stuff in the box is huge. There are easily enough components to rival most board games and that is in addition to the four full colour rulebooks. Certainly, the most controversial part of the new release was the price, but I paid £50 for it, I would certainly have expected to pay at least £15 each for the core book and the GM’s guide and an additional £10 each for the Magic and Religion books, so that is £50, which makes everything else free.

So all those complaints I had about lack of components etc, they really mean nothing when you think about the game this way. The box contains everything you and three other players need to play, BUT… and this is a big but… everything you NEED to play, but not everything you might WANT to play.

Ok, so I’ve already gone on long enough, I have plenty more to say about my first impressions, so keep an eye out for part two, “The Rules”, where I will examine why the box doesn’t contain everything you might want to play the game, as well as examining how well the rules come together.

Also, don’t forget to vote in our poll about which Podcast you would take to a desert island.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Board Game News: Issue 3

Ok, so due to various factors this weeks regular review segment will now be delayed indefinitely with a new review coming out a week on Wednesday. This is due in part to the blogger updates and in part to real life work. That means that this week’s poll on which Podcast you would take to a desert island will run for three weeks.

I will try and take this time to update the blog to a new look and get some house keeping done. This Wednesday will see a First Impressions post about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, so make sure to check that out.

So, onto the news…

Fantasy Flight – Exciting news here, a new deluxe expansion has been announced for Warhammer Invasion. Not only are the Deluxe expansions the best way to expand the base game for casual players, but this one includes two of the most popular races, Vampire Counts and Lizardmen.

Interestingly the Lizards are Order only, I would have thought True Neutral would make more sense, I understand they wanted to include a Destruction Only and an Order Only race in the set but to me it doesn’t make much sense. Also I would have liked to see Vampires being included in Empire builds too to represent the fact that Vlad Von Carstein was an Elector Count.

Also this week the new rules for Battlelore: Battles of Westros went up, check them out here.

The Dice Tower – This week Tom and Eric announced that the next Dice Tower episode will be a new version of episode 0. This particular episode is a superb listen that focuses purely on getting people into the hobby and which games are best for introducing new players. I’ll post a link to it when it goes up, be sure to check it out.  

Days of Wonder has announced that coming soon will be Memoir 44 online. For all fans of the game, check out the article here.

Z-man has finally released the cover art of the new hotness “Merchants and Marauders” as well as a Gencon competition to win a copy of every Z-man game in stock!

Warhammer 8th Edition is also now available for pre-order. The core rules are £45 and the book is an unwieldy 500+ pages. There is also plenty of other pre-launch gubbings for purchase on the GW website.

Finally Board Game Extras is having a small sale, make sure to check it out for some bargains.

See you on Wednesday for a quick look at the new Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. 

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

It’s a Hard Life

Unboxed is very, very tired this week… I officially apologise that this week’s post will be a day or two late but that it will, eventually arrive. Also, Blogger seems to have crashed the poll so looks like the results will be postponed. Sorry about this guys… here’s hoping for more luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Warhammer 8th Edition? No Thanks!

But first the results from the poll…

Warhammer Fantasy Battles  2 (33%)

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay  0 (0%)

Warhammer: Invasion  3 (50%)

Chaos in the Old World  1 (16%)

Chaos Marauders  0 (0%)

Warhammer Quest  0 (0%)

HeroQuest  0 (0%)

Blood Bowl  0 (0%)

Mordheim  0 (0%)

Warmaster  0 (0%)

Man O' War  0 (0%)

I may have skewed those results a little by posting a Warhammer Invasion post… sorry… But the reason for the poll was that with Warhammer Fantasy Battles now entering it’s 8th edition less than four years after 7th edition was released, I have made the decision to stop buying the books.

The truth is that 7th ed is probably just as broken as 5th (Hero Hammer as it became known.) 6th edition was probably the most important edition of the game to date, but I never won a game under that ruleset.

I have several major issues with the idea of an 8th edition. They are as follows:

  1. Just over half of all the current armies saw an army book release under 7th edition. Core Races such as the Bretonnians saw nothing, along with Tomb Kings, Ogre Kingdoms and Wood Elves… not to mention Dogs of War, Kislev and Chaos Dwarves.
  2. On top of that the price of the army books has risen from £10 (during 6th edition when we were told that you would never need to buy a core rulebook ever again and that only the army books would be updated) to £17.50. This means that buying just the core rules and the army book will now set you back in excess of £50. That doesn’t include any models and that is assuming you only collect one army.
  3. Every new release generally makes previous releases obsolete. Unlike in 40k where a new plastic kit generally looks like the old plastic kit. Not in WHFB. Stylistically the look and feel of each army changes with each new edition, meaning to make your force look coherent you must replace all of your core units, or you can spend outrageous amounts on eBay trying to find Out of Production versions to continue your army’s look.  

So, yes, it’s an issue of price. It’s an issue of profit over loyalty. It’s an issue of feeling like you’re being forced to buy new materials. No other system does this. 8th edition may well be the very definitive version of the game, the best the system can be… but in four years it will be obsolete, just like the other 7 that proceeded it.

Since the first edition in 1983 there have been 8 editions, that’s one edition every 3.3 years. That’s mental! I am more than happy to spend £50 on a new game or £30 on an expansion, but to spend this kind of money on a game I already own! Worst of all the “new” rulebook is not even new. The revisions for seventh edition were summarised on two pages in White Dwarf, two pages out of a 200 and odd page rulebook for £35… get serious!

So, this was the reason for the poll. Yes, I will continue to play Warhammer (although there will be a certain number of revisions to the rules if I do.) but what I was hoping to find was a game that captured the look and feel of the game without the expense or the storage space. 

Overall I think that if you are looking for a Warhammer game that really captures the universe (either Fantasy or 40k) then you cannot go wrong with Fantasy Flight. For quality and support they are the number one suppliers of the Warhammer Universe in all it’s diversity, long may they continue this excellent trend.

To that end, the next £50 (Check Play.com) I spend on Warhammer will be to pick up the RPG core set because, bang for buck, this is a far more immersive system.

Sorry that this week’s post has a slightly negative slant. My thanks to everyone who voted in the pole and all the people who read this blog and generally make it a very nice place to visit and to write for.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Warhammer Invasion – Assault on Ulthuan

Yes, this week is all about Warhammer, so what better to review than the Deluxe Expansion for Invasion? In Assault on Ulthuan the forces of the Dark Elves and High Elves finally become playable factions with their own capital boards and 40 card decks.

For the purposes of this review I will not be covering the mechanics of the core game, if you want to find out my thoughts on the core set click this link. If you want a detailed video review of how to play the game click this one.

The Fluff

Assault on Ulthuan focuses primarily on the Elves. Ulthuan itself is the island continent that is home to the High Elves and by extension is the ancestral home of all other Elves.

The High and Dark Elves are bitter enemies, so their co-release makes a lot of sense. The High Elves have a large focus on Healing and Defence, while the Dark Elves are focused on malign magics and dark sacrifices. These two races are the perfect examples of Good and Evil in the Old World.

Unboxed

So, what do you get in the box?

  • 2 Capital Boards
  • 1 40 Card High Elf Deck
  • 1 40 Card Dark Elf Deck
  • 30 Cards split between the Neutral/Orc/Empire/Dwarf and Chaos Factions
  • Collectors Checklist

The first major disappointment for most people with this expansion was the lack of 3 and 4 player rules. It was never announced however that those rules would be released with this expansion and anyone serious about playing multiplayer has invented their own rules.

Other than that though, everything else in the box is good quality. The cards and boards are great. The Capital Boards for this expansion are a lot more vibrant that the muted ones from the Core Set. As for the cards themselves there is a good mix and the new starter decks are playable right out of the box.

It should be noted that this expansion is not as good a deal as the core set in anyway. In fact I paid more for this expansion than I did for the core set but the number of cards is a lot smaller. That is less a poor reflection on this set and more of a positive reflection on just how good value the core set is.

Playable Without the Core Set?

Have you always wanted to play just Dark Elves vs. High Elves? Then yes, it is possible to use this expansion without the core set. However you will not have:

  • Enough useful neutral cards
  • Resource or Damage Tokens
  • Access to the Draft Variant
  • Access to the Alliance Cards
  • Access to the Rulebook

Obviously the tokens could be replaced with any other tokens and the rulebook plus the errata could be downloaded from FFG’s site, however, unless you are dead set on just playing one of the Elf factions, then I would recommend the core set as a first purchase.

Necessary or Optional?

Unlike the battle packs, Assault on Ulthaun is a must buy for any casual players. The Core Set plus this expansion make the ideal purchase if you are not playing this game competitively. With both purchases you will have 6 playable decks and enough neutrals to support them.

Warhammer Invasion as a Casual Player

I’ve been playing this game casually since it’s release and I’ve racked up in excess of 40 games. I do own all the battlepacks to date, but I will not be buying any more.

For the casual gamer who is interested in a card based wargame with resource management and a flexible deck building system this is a superb game. The additional cards provided in the battlepacks do increase the choices in the game, but after a while the investment, from a casual stand point, becomes too high.

With that in mind, the Deluxe expansions make much more sense for casual gamers to purchase. For examples Assault on Ulthuan features two fully playable decks plus enough other cards to give the other factions a small boost. They also feature a more pleasing mix of card copies than the new battlepacks which will include 3 of every card. Although this is a boon to competitive players it seems a bit wasteful for casual players. 

So, although AOU is the supposed to be the only Deluxe Expansion for the game, I hope that is not the case because I think that further Deluxe expansions (one a year maybe) would be the perfect way for casual players to continue to keep the game fresh, without the massive investment.

But what about the Cards?

Right, so lets actually take a look at some of what the High Elves and Dark Elves can actually do.

High Elves

The High Elves are focused on Healing and Defence, but that doesn’t mean that they have no offensive capabilities.

Firstly Tears of Isha can heal all damage on one unit, and the Initiate of Saphery can heal one damage on each unit you control. Even better you can team this up with The Glittering Tower which allows you to deal one damage to an enemy unit or capital each time you heal a unit.

Continuing the idea of mass defence, the Elves now have the option to cancel any tactic played for 2 resources using High Elf’s Disdain and a new attachment that gives them +3 hit points in Dragon Mage Wakening and a new quest that allows the Questing unit to defend all three zones. 

However the ultimate defensive tools are the Sword Masters of Hoeth. These guys are completely immune to combat damage as long as they are in the battlefield. This means they can attack and defend with 2 power almost without fear and because you have to do enough damage to destroy units before you can damage the capital, for 4 resources these guys can make your battlefield zone immune to damage almost indefinitely.

Offensively the High Elves have a new Shadow Warrior who inflicts one damage at the start of each of your turns. But most impressively the Dragon Prince which causes all but two units in each players battlefield to be sacrificed. Just make sure you don’t trigger important abilities on those nasty Dark Elf cards with this unit.

Finally, if all is going to hell in a handbasket you can pull out the Flames of the Phoenix, like Troll Vomit this card wipes out all units on the board, but unlike that card, this one returns them to the players hands. So, if you build up enough resources you can wipe out the opponents defences and then play down all your units again from your hand before they can muster a defence.

Dark Elves

The Dark Elves have some very interesting new features. The first of which are the Hex cards. These are spells that inflict a negative effect which you can use to target your opponents units, particularly those annoying High Elf Swordsmen of Hoeth. The two hexes included in the starter decks are Mind Killer (-1 Power) and Word of Pain (Unit cannot Attack).

A second feature of the Dark Elves is their abilities to and powered up by Sacrificing. Firstly there is a tactic “Take Captive” that allows you to take control of an attacking unit until the end of the turn. You could then use it to defend against your opponent and still use Lash the Prisoner, allowing you to sacrifice it and gain two resources. As well as additional resources you could use Lash the Prisoner to trigger The Corsairs of Ghronds forced effect which gives one unit –2 hit points, or you could sacrifice the Walking Sacrifices for an extra card.

Team any of these effects up with Alter of Khaine and you can return the sacrificed cards to your hand for 1 resource too.

Similar to the High Elves the Dark Elves have a quest which allows them to make attacks as if the Questing Unit was in the battlefield. This card is very useful for allowing you to increase your card draw without wasting a powerful unit.

Finally I will mention the Cold One Chariot. This unit makes for one of the best defenders in the game. Its hit points are equal to the number of developments in the zone, effectively doubling the number hit points each development is worth. Of course you need to watch out against Orcs or Empire as both factions can move and or destroy developments leaving the unit with 0 hp, meaning it is removed from play.

Conclusion

I like it. The new races play very differently to the old ones. The presentation of the Deluxe Expansion is very pleasing to a casual player.The lack of 3 and 4 player rules almost 7 months on is a little disappointing, but other than that this is really an essential expansion for casual and competitive players alike.

Don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll… If you could only have one which Warhammer based game would it be?

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