11 January 2011

Warhammer Invasion [Card game review]

Thought I would kick off the 2011 review section with a review of a card game called Warhammer Invasion.

I rarely play card games except Poker, I usually find them either overly complex or just lacking everything I like in a good boardgame. Warhammer Invasion is a surprisingly fun and easy to grasp game that offers a good balance of tactics, resource management and a little luck. It is set in the Warhammer world created by Games Workshop – many Warhammer players will also recognize a lot of the artwork which has been borrowed from various box covers and white dwarf magazines.
Component breakdown. This is fairly simple, there are only 4 components in this game. Resource tokens (barrels with loot), “Burn tokens” marking the destruction of a region in your home realm, casualty tokens marking wounds and damage and of course the cards.

Me and my buddy managed to get 4 games done withing 3 hours with lots of talking in between, this is a very fast paced game, which isn’t a problem and actually an advantage. Each game takes about 30-45 minutes to play. You will have grasped the rules during your 2nd game, after that you will start to refine your playing style and tactics.

How the game works:

There are 4 races in this starter set, Empire, Chaos, Dwarfs and Orcs. Each has a deck of cards, each has a home realm/kingdom board. There is also a deck of “Neutral” cards that lean towards defensive/tactical benefits and which can be used without penalty by all races. You can choose to play a pure Order or Destruction realm, meaning you will only use 1 deck of cards – say the Dwarfs. Or you can mix races of the same alignment, like mixing Empire and Dwarf cards into one deck. You still only have one home realm but more about that later. You can also choose to throw in some neutral cards into the mix. There is a limit on how many cards your deck can contain though so you won’t be able to include all cards from both races + the neutral cards, you will have to choose which to include trying to find a balance between cards that can harm the enemy and cards that will defend your kingdom.

Your Kingdom is a board divided into 3 sections. Kingdom, this area will generate resources, Battlefield, this is where you will assemble your army and send it out to attack the opponents Kingdom and you Quest zone which generates new cards for your hand. Now the board has small symbols of a hammer inside a red circle, this shows how much stuff  you get from each part of your realm. You always start out with 3 resources and 1 card. You then boost the amount of resources you get from your Kingdom or how many cards you get from your Quest area by buying units and placing them in whatever area you want to boost.

Placing a unit with 2 hammer symbols on the card in your Kingdom will boost the amount of resources you get next turn from the initial 3 to 5 (3+2). It works the same for the Quest area, 1 card to start and a card showing 2 additional hammer symbols you get 3 cards next turn (1+2). A fairly simple system which is easy to grasp but gives you several things to decide upon especially during early game when you are low on both cards and resources.  Do you start out boosting your kingdom to get more money while your card hand keeps shrinking limiting the variation of cards at hand ? Or do you try to boost the quest area to get more cards on your hand? At the same time you have to assign troops to each of the 3 areas in your realm to protect them from enemy raids.

The goal of the game is to destroy 2 out of 3 enemy areas, each area kingdom/quest/battlefield can take 8 points of damage before it gets destroyed.  You can boost each area with spare cards by placing them face down next to the area you wish to “develop”, this adds one additional “wound” to that particular area AND at the same time conveying bonus properties from several cards that can be played. For instance, the unit Dwarf Troll Slayers only inflict 1 damage when attacking /defending from the Battlefield area – but if you have 2 or more developments in the Battlefield their attacks are increased to 3! Which is a considerable boost in this game.

A regular turn sequence of Warhammer Invasion looks like this,

Player 1, draws resources matching his resource pool, draws cards matching his card pool.
He may opt to buy one unit/support card  from his hand and place it at any of the 3 areas in his realm. He may buy as many cards as he can afford.
He might then send off a unit on a Quest, send off units from his Battlefield area to attack the realm and/or place 1 development in any of the 3 areas in his realm.
Each unit card comes with an attack and defense value. If a unit has 1 hammer and 4 shield value it inflicts 1 damage / attack and has a total of 4 wounds. Attacking an enemy area which is undefended immediately add damage tokens to that area matching the attack value of the units inflicting damage. However, if there are any enemy units in the target area the opponent may opt to defend with his troops. All damage applied during an attack has to be divided between enemy units, and they all need to be killed before any damage is inflicted on the area itself.

When all of this is done the turn goes to Player 2, which does the exact same thing, draw resources, cards, buying and assigning units, attacking etc.

The tricky part is to boost and protect your areas while battling the enemy in a way so that you don’t waste troops, know when to defend with your own troops and when to let the enemy freely inflict damage to your areas as you sometimes might want to save your troops as their presence is boosting the area itself. If your Quest region is attacked and you have 2 units which both add 1 hammer each to the region – allowing you to draw 3 cards each turn, it might be a better idea to let the enemy inflict a few points of damage and focus on reinforcing the region in your following turn than let your units be killed and cripple the amount of cards you can draw the next turn.
You can always use a region even if it has been destroyed, that is they will always generate resources and you can always send out armies from the Battlefield. However you can lose particular traits from no longer having a functional region. And once 2 regions have been destroyed the opponent wins.
Now with the basic game described I can explain some further details, Loyalty. Each unit has a number of loyalty symbols on their card, these are faction symbols. Each unit has a fixed cost and a loyalty cost. The fixed cost may be 2 and the loyalty cost may be 3. You start out with 1 loyalty on your home realm board, if you want to buy a unit that exceeds your current total loyalty (all loyalty symbols on cards bought and in play in your realm totaled together) you will have to pay extra for that unit. So for instance, let’s assume you have 1 loyalty to begin within your realm, and you have already bought a unit which has 2 loyalty symbols on them – then you total loyalty is 3. If you then want to buy a unit that is marked with a basic cost of 3 and loyalty cost of 3 you ONLY have to pay the basic cost in resources. However if you want to buy a unit with a loyalty cost 5 and only have loyalty 3 you have to add the difference when paying for the unit in resources.

This is often not a problem when you play a pure empire/chaos/orc/dwarf army. But when you start mixing races your deck you will soon run into limitations. You will have to place units of both races in play to get as much dwarf and empire loyalty on the table as possible to keep down the cost of cards you want to put into play.  Mixing races adds another layer of tactical decisions, and you can boost one race with support cards of the other, like adding a Dwarf cannon to boost Empire infantry.
The game is easy to learn, and plays fast. It is surprisingly fun for a card game, especially considering I don’t generally like card games. There are a few things worth mentioning though, there is for instance one Orc card that seems to be fairly unbalanced as it is cheap to deploy and gives a crazy attack bonus which can win the game for the Order of Destruction player fast (Altar of Gork if I recall correctly), me and my friend were a little confused by this card as it is the only one in the game that is so powerful. You can simply opt to play without it though.  Each race also plays differently, my friend said that the Empire (humans) were too defensive in their cards which I could agree with to some extent. I don’t think you will experience that as a bad thing mixing Empire and Dwarf cards however. There is at least one expansion released already (what would you expect from Fantasy Flight Games), which adds additional races and some rules I think.

Overall I would say this is a good game with high replay value, easy to learn rules, good amount and variation in decisions. What you get in the core box should be enough to keep you occupied for a while.

 Get this game at GameManiacs:


  1. By reading your post it seems to be a very interesting game. You have explained this game very well. Just reading this post anybody can understand how to play this game. Thanks.

  2. It is quite fun and easy grasp. I have played it with the "Invasion of Ulthuan" or something like that - expansion where you get High and Dark Elves as well as extra cards for the 4 basic faction that come with the core game.

    I must say that the game gets a bit lost when you add new races beyond those already included in the core set. Mixing 3 races is very hard. And playing only dark elves or only high elves isn't as fun as playing the Empire/Chaos/Dwarf/Orc faction.

  3. Great post!

    I love this game so much a friend and I decided to start a meetup group based around it.

    Louisville Warhammer Invasion League

    If anyone is in the area you should come by and play sometime. Here is when and where we meet:

    Fridays from 6:30PM until Midnight

    BluegrassMagic GameShop
    5629 Outer Loop,
    Louisville, KY 40219



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...