If you are a fan of video games, then no doubt you have heard of the popular Xbox 360 game, Gears Of War. The video game is a 3rd person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world where you take on an evil army called The Locusts. The game is characterized by lots of frenzied combat that utilized a necessary cover system (ie: don’t stand out in the open and shoot). The board game tries to reproduce the feeling of intense combat and tactics.
Gears Of War: The Board Game is a coop board game for 1-4 players. The game comes with many highly detailed figures that fans of the video game will recognize. As a coop game, is you vs the game. Since no one is running the bad guys (the locusts) the game has an system in place to guide the bad guys turns (more on that later). The game also comes with a set of missions for your COGs (heroes) to play through that are increased with later expansions. With many different cards, weapons and a modular board, the game changes with every play. That is, unless you replay the same mission.
How to Play:
Once you choose a mission, it’s time to get down to tactics. You setup your board ahead of time by choosing specific tiles for the mission and laying them out. As with most games, the game is played over a series of rounds in which a COG will take his turn, and then you have the locusts take their turn. On your turn, you can take either default actions (move or attack) or you can play a card from your hand. Usually the cards will have extra things you can do, or give you bonuses.
Cards are the lifeblood of this game. You must use one for every action you take. So obviously they are important, but the real challenge comes from they are also your life points. Every time you take damage, you discard a card. Get down to zero cards, you are “bleeding out” and have to wait to be revived. If all the COGs are bleeding out, then the locusts have won and you feel shame.
Speaking of the locusts, they move using an AI deck. After you take your turn, you draw a card from the locust deck. The card will tell you which locusts get to move and attack (or possibly spawn). You never know which bad guy will be attacking each turn, which adds to the tension.
Attacks are made with die rolls, and there are a variety of weapons, each with their own attack stats and special abilities. Throughout the mission you’ll find more weapons (and who doesn’t love finding weapons), all straight from the video game.
Well how did our rough and tough COGs handle the army of locusts? Better than their previous attempts for sure. The first time we played, we got a butt kicking. A serious one. I think we made it to room three before we all died. Not a good showing for the heroes.
This time, we played the same mission again (the intro one) and were doing quite well. The COGs were rolling well. We had left a pile of locust bodies in our wake. We made it all the way to the end of the mission. Our objective was to seal an emergence hole and kill off the remaining bad guys. We were battered and bruised but in pretty good shape, all things considered. We sealed the hole and flipped the mission card. It had us spawn about half a dozen bad guys. A little rough, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Or so we thought.
One COG took his turn and then we drew from the locust’s deck. And promptly drew the worst possible card in the game. We drew the firefight card that let every locust on the board attack us. (usually you are only getting attacked by 1-3 guys). We held out briefly, but in the end, the COGs were overwhelmed with a victory just out of their reach. Our heroes were overrun, the game was lost.
So what did I think of the game? You might think that after 2 losses, I would not care for it. But I actually like this game alot. It captures the feel of the video game very well (if you are not in cover, you will get killed). The game has a pretty fast pace, fun combat action and once you get the rules down, plays pretty easily. I’ve only ever played it with 4 players, but have heard that it is somewhat easier with less. I am determined to beat this game someday though. Every time I enter my game library, I’m sure it’s taunting me. It’s definitely a keeper though and I’m sure it will get more playing time in the future.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $50. It normally retails for about $80, so that’s a good deal considering you get tons of good looking components (over 30 plastic figures).
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – Great cooperative game play with some high quality components.
• Highly detailed miniatures
• An instant hit with fans of the video game
• Cooperative game play is always a plus in my book
• Unique game play rules, the cards mechanic makes for tough choices
• Game play is fairly long which makes it harder to get in multiple sessions
• Scenario based will somewhat limit replays