Captain’s Log: August 12 of the year 2796.
“Haven’t lost a ship this week. It has been a good week. I can honestly not remember a time this has happened. Until this morning, I thought we could possibly be the only surviving people alive. It would be nice. I sit up at night praying for a day of peace. Praying for a time when lives are not lost. This week has given me a great understanding of a time long ago where the galaxy was at peace. 300 years of peace. I couldn’t imagine it. This war has raged on for 150 years, and to be honest I have lost sight of what we are fighting over or for. The worlds are uninhabitable and there is no prize to be had. I only fight now for my family. For every man, woman and child on these ships. But these are more than ships – these are our homes. This will probably be my last recording, as this morning we have scanned five different Multinational groups of ships heading in our direction. This will be our final battle. Our last stand”
War Co. is an expandable Card game made for up to six(6) players to play at a time. Each Deck consists of 50 Cards. There are six starter decks in the game: Bruiser, Conspirator, Guerilla, Militant, Trickster, and Wildcard. You can play them straight out of the box or mix and match to create new combos. See below for a brief description of each:
Everybody shuffles their decks. Choose someone to go first, then go clockwise around the table. Every player’s turn goes through four stages, in the following order. The goal of the game is to eliminate your opponent/s deck, which represents their life. Each player starts with ten energy.
Draw: Required. Draw until you have 4-7 cards in your hand.
Place: Optional. Play cards face-up and/or face-down.
Attack: Optional. Attack one target with one machine.
Discard: Required. You must discard one card from your hand. You may choose to discard one technology from the field.
DRAW > PLACE > ATTACK > DISCARD
When all players have taken their turn, it’s called a round. If you’re the first player on the first turn, draw an extra card.
You can’t attack someone until they’ve had a turn. You cannot discard machines from the field.
There are only two types of cards: machines and technology.
Machines: which can attack. They’re your offence and defence.
Technologies: which can’t attack. They change the rules of the game and provide you benefits.
You can only attack once per turn. You attack only one target player or machine of your choice with only one machine each turn. The attacks are broken up into two categories:
Direct Attacking: Your enemy has no machines on the field. They have to discard three cards from the top of their deck. This is rare but is very good for the “stacker” and bad for the defender.
Indirect Attacking: Your enemy has at least one machine on the field. If your machine is stronger than its target, the target is destroyed. The enemy has to discard one card from the top of their deck. If your machine is weaker than its target, you lose the attacking machine plus you discard one card from the top of your deck. If both machines are equal in strength, both machines are destroyed. No one discards from their deck. If you’re attacked and your deck is empty, you have to discard from your hand.
There are important phrases that are printed on the various cards as their abilities. These phrases include the following:
WNP: “While in play.” Card has a continuous effect that lasts while it’s face-up on the field.
1x Use (One-time use): (Only listed on machines) Card’s effect is used once and does not have to be used immediately.
P&D (Play and discard): (Only on technologies) Play the card, use its effect immediately, then discard. You can still discard another technology during your Discard Stage.
Counterattack: The machine targeted by an attack is “counterattacking.” Sometimes counterattacks have a different strength.
Trap: (Only listed on machines) Trap effects automatically take place when the machine is attacked and destroyed by a stronger machine.
With every deck of War Co., they have included yellow counters to help you keep track of energy use. When you put a card face-up on the field, take one yellow counter from the pool for each unit of energy the card uses. Put those counters above the card.
Also included with every deck of War Co. are blue counters which can be used to count time or events. Blue counters are very flexible. In general, think of blue counters as count-ups and count-downs. Put blue counters below the card.
There are several rules, as you can tell. Overall, they are pretty self-explanatory and look a lot more complicated than they actually are. If you have played any other living or expandable card game, these rules are probably going to be second nature to you. But even if you haven’t they are still pretty easy to pick up.
You can definitely tell some serious time, effort, hard work, and love has gone into this game. If you check out their website here, there is a more in depth look at the cards, rules, and back story of the universe that has been created. Even before sitting down to play this game, I was so impressed by the website. They have produced a highly detailed universe for you to sink your teeth into even before you get the opportunity to sit down and play the game.
They have also released a demo on Steam’s Tabletop Simulator for you to play before the release of the Kickstarter. I must admit, I am extremely impressed with their effort and level of professionalism.
So over the weekend, I played this game with a few Magic the Gathering buddies. I did this for two reasons:
1) I thought they would try to break the game, or find loop holes and horrible combos and win conditions (or as they put it “have the most fun possible”), and
2) They were already coming over and I haven’t stored my new Standard Deck (Shhhh! Don’t tell them that though).
Overall they were highly impressed and found the decks to be surprisingly balanced. They did towards the end try and build their own decks (as I had the print and play version, it was quite easy to just reprint several pages), but I was surprised on how well and robust War Co. truly is.
Unfortunately, on the print and play there were no pictures – just the required information to play the cards. However, looking at the above pictures, and the ones on their website, it appears as though the cards are going to be stunning! The spaceships look amazing and are surprisingly original in their design. They look more like a stunning watercolour painting rather than a playing card. Several of their designs I would gladly hang on my wall. My only issue with the cards are that I just wish they did more with the back design. If the website pictures are anything to by, the backs of the cards will simply be black with ‘War Co.’ written in blocky typefont. I wish they had carried the artwork around onto the backs. Magic The Gathering has a generic design on the back of their cards and I wish War Co. had followed suit, rather than going with simply its name in black and white.
This game is a solid and fun game. It is simple and yet very strategic. There are some rather beautiful mechanics to this game I really enjoyed like having the deck be your life. Discarding a card every turn really made you feel like you were barely holding on to your survival and the use of a limited energy supply.
War Co. is a very well thought out game, but I’m glad we used dice rather than counters. I believe if we had used the counters in the way displayed in the above pictures, they would have gotten in the way quite a bit and would become annoying to clear or move every time you lose a ship. I also found that one vs. one worked a lot better than an all-out war. We found with six people that the game can be quite drawn out, and one of the games we actually lost because of the discard a card after your turn rule. I would personally say one vs. one is this game’s sweet spot, but if you want to play with multiple players, stick to four.
I won’t lie – War Co. took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. When I offered to review it, I didn’t know what to expect, but loved the artwork so much I had to give it a go. I have played several Living or Expanding card games that have never made it much further than the Kickstarter, but none are as thought out or as mechanically well-designed as this one. They have gone the extra steps that I truly believe will make this game a stayer.
If you have ever wanted to try Magic the Gathering, Netrunner, or any number of the other living card games, this is something you should definitely check out. The decks are pre-built, so there’s no stressing over knowing all the cards and trying to make competitive decks – it has already been done for you.
Even if you are an avid living card game player already, you should also check this out. I found it to be quite a refreshing change from the other major players out there.
The Kickstarter for War Co. goes on August 15th and you can view the draft Kickstarter here.