War Chest - First Impressions
I recently picked up War Chest with a gift card from a Board Game Atlas giveaway, and I was really excited to try it out! The game plays at either 2 or 4 players (on teams of 2), but I just played with a friend so we played 1v1.
tl;dr - I LOVED it, and so did my friend. I can't wait to play more.
A short description of the game is that it's (kind of?) an abstract strategy game in which each player has a unique set of unit types, 4 each in a 2 player game, and 3 each in a 4 player game, each of which has different abilities. Each unit has a certain number of chips (usually 4 or 5), which get added to a bag to be pulled out at random. This is why I question how much of an "abstract strategy" game this is, because some people say that in order to qualify for that description, a game may have no elements of randomness. This is a bag-builder, and therefore has a random element. Whatever it is, it's awesome.
The goal of the game is to "control" a certain number of "control points" on the hex-grid board. In a 2 player game, that's 6 in total. Each player starts with 2. In a round, you will draw 3 chips from your bag, and then each turn you will use one of those chips. You can either place one on the board at a control point you own, bolster one of your existing units (add to the stack on the board), or discard the chip face up or face down to perform different actions. The face up discard action is to use one of your units on the board to either move, attack, control, or use its special ability. The face down discard actions are either to recruit (add a chip of one of your units to the bag), take initiative, or pass.
With the basics out of the way, here are some point-by-point thoughts:
- +++ Components: awesome. High quality overall, and the art and graphic design are excellent.
- The box is awesome - it looks like a chest, and it has a magnetic lid.
- The bags are nice, and even have different logos for the different players.
- The chips are AMAZING. They are very chunky and heavy. It's satisfying to reach into your bag to grab some for the round, and even more satisfying to plonk them onto the table!
- The board is standard, but I have one minor complaint, which is my only complaint about the game: the control points are not visible when a chip is on the hex. They should have some sort of outline.
- ++ Rulebook/learning process: Great! This one is pretty easy to learn - not too many rules, and the units are all pretty self explanatory, with clear graphic design as well as text on the cards.
- +++ Gameplay: SO MUCH FUN. As I said above, I don't know if this should technically qualify as "abstract strategy", but it is abstract, and it is strategic, plus it has that chess-like feel of maneuvering around a board, so in my book, it qualifies. The bag-building element is a stroke of genius. It introduces that little element of luck, where even if you have an inferior board position, you still have a chance. To be clear, the better play should usually win still, but the fact that there is a little bit of luck, along with hidden information, just gives it that little bit of doubt that makes the game that much more enjoyable (to me, at least).
I didn't think to take any photos (not a big photography guy), but here's one I yoinked from BGG, posted by user SrBoardgames here: https://boardgamegeek.com/image/4368256/war-chest