Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
If you want to battle a friend across the table, there are no shortages of games occupy your attention. From the juggernaut that is Magic: The Gathering to miniature war games such as Memoir ’44, players have been annihilating their buddies on the tabletop for years.
Warfields is a new game currently in funding on Kickstarter that seeks to take some of these age-old concepts and add a bit of a twist. Players must wisely manage their limited gold supply to both recruit troops to the battlefield and attack their opponents. Kill your opponent’s king and you will emerge the victor.
Warfields is a battle card game for 2 players that plays in about 30-45 minutes.
In Warfields, there are two draw decks that are shared between the players: the gold deck and the draw deck. Each turn, a player will collect income to spend on troops and fighting. Income is collected both from their worker units and by selling a card. This income will be drawn from the gold deck and will provide the vital currency the player needs to do just about anything in the game.
Everything in Warfields has a cost. Players must pay gold to recruit troops to the battlefield but they must also pay to use any attacks. Therefore a player must carefully balance recruiting more troops with smashing their opponents into bits. As a player advances his troops up the battlefield (which is divided into 6 zones), they will get closer and closer to that ultimate goal: killing their opponent’s king. If a player can do that, they will emerge the winner.
How to Play:
While the rulebook is still in its beta version, the rules we had to test were still pretty solid. Each player starts with three cards, a King, a Knight and a Worker. Each player then draws nine cards to start the game and discards two (there is a seven-card hand limit). A player’s turn is divided in four parts:
1. Currency Stage: First, a player draw two cards from the draw deck. These will be a mixture of monsters, items, and action cards. Then he draws one gold card for each worker he has in play. (Gold cards may be of 1, 2 or 3 value.) Finally, he can sell one of the cards in his hand for a few more gold cards.
2. Build Stage: A player can play any number of cards from his hand by paying their cost in gold. There are a few restrictions, such as equipment being attached to the right type of creature and a limit of one worker per turn (and you really want those workers). But for the most part, recruiting is pretty straight forward.
3. Move Stage: You can move any of your characters up or down the battlefield area. The battlefield is divided into six “bands.” From one opponent to the other it goes: Kingdom Field, Ranged Field, Melee Field, Melee Field, Ranged Field, Kingdom field). Each field is limited to seven creatures and you can’t move into an field that your opponent occupies.
4. Attack Stage: You can attack your opponent with any of your creatures. Each creature gets one attack per turn. Melee attacks can attack a creature in an adjacent field while ranged attacks must target a creature two fields away. To attack, choose one of their powers and pay the gold cost to use it. Then you roll a d6. On a 1-2, the attack is -1. On a 3-4 it’s even damage. On a 5-6 it’s +1 damage. The damage dealt to your opponent’s creature is deducted from their defense first, and then hit points (defense resets every round, health does not). Do enough damage to a creature and it dies.
And that’s about all there is to it. There are a few other rules such as summoning undead and beasts, but for the most part the game is fairly straightforward. You will be moving troops up and down the battlefield in attempt to make your way to your opponent’s kingdom field. Once there, you can attack and kill your opponent’s king for the win.
There is actually a good deal of strategy packed into these two card decks. For a light war game, Warfields requires a healthy amount of resource management and that’s a great thing. If it were easy to just constantly toss troops down on the battlefield, I think the game would get stale pretty quickly.
You need to plan your turns carefully. Since you have to recruit at the beginning, you need to decide if you are going to bring in that Knight or attack with your Ogre later in the turn. It’s a careful balancing act that I really enjoy. It’s tempting to constantly spend money to recruit more troops, but you need to press your opponent so you don’t end up on the defensive.
One of the aspects I really like about Warfields is that it reminds me of an almost super-light version of a real-time strategy game such as WarCraft or StarCraft. The early stages of the game has players slowly adding workers and troops. Each player will concentrate on their home kingdom as they slowly build up power. As the game progresses, players will move those troops forward towards the enemy “base.” Eventually, combat will happen when the two forces meet and one side will get pushed back. I love games that have that gradual build-up at the beginning before the inevitable confrontation.
The other element I really like is the die roll for combat. I actually have a love/hate relationship with that die. On one hand, it’s a fantastic idea to add a little bit of variation to the combat. It’s much more satisfying to not know the results of every combat before it even happens. While it’s only a one-point variation, it can make a huge difference. That’s where my hate comes in. The die hates me. I can’t even count how many times I’ve attacked a creature with 1 hp left and I cheaped out on the attack and rolled a 2 on the die. Not enough damage to kill the creature anymore!
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed playing Warfields. I think the rulebook needs work and there are a few things that need to be cleared up. But I’ve talked with the designer of the game and he’s working on addressing those issues. I’m feel confident that when the final game lands in backer’s hands, it will be great fun.
If you are looking for a light war game with a surprising amount of strategy, then give Warfields a good look. The game is easy to learn, has plenty of hard decisions and makes for a fun time when you are looking to have a battle.
I don’t usually comment on components or art for previews, since they are all subject to change, but so far I like the artwork on the game. Even my play test copy had a professionally designed feel to it. I can’t wait to see what they do with the final version of the game.
The game is currently in funding on Kickstarter and you have until Saturday, September 28 to become a backer. A $25 pledge will get you a copy of the game and all stretch goals and the game is scheduled to be in backers hands in January 2014. So head over to their Kickstarter page today and check it out.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.