Saturday, 6 June 2009

War for Edadh review

This week I’ve got quite a bit of gaming and painting done, but I’m not going to be writing about those, instead I’ve got a review of a card game; ‘The War for Edadh’...

The War for Edadh
First things first, it’s pronounced ‘Ed-ath’, the War for Ed-ath, the War for Edath, got it? Good stuff. I had this game sent through from Nigel Pyne of WarriorElite Ltd and when the parcel arrived, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as I’d only had a quick look at the website. When I opened the packaging a huge smile spread across my face, the box looks like a DVD boxset from some forgotten 1980s cartoon TV series, one that actually turns out to be as good, if not better than you remember. The cover art shows an armour clad warrior firing a multi-barreled weapon at an unseen enemy and it just screams ‘This Game Is Cool!’. The game is set in the World of Edadh, and recreates the war between a number of factions. The two that are included in the box are the Angueth and the Huaos-Dzaa, though others are soon to be available.

The box comes stuffed with all the bits and pieces you need to play; two rulebooks, record cards, beautiful plastic tokens and two decks of cards in very nice resealable bags. I picked up the first rulebook, started reading and soon had the cards laid out for a game.

The boring mechanics bit

I don’t like writing reviews which are just summaries of the rulebook, so I’ll just say here that the game plays by maneuvering your units (represented by cards) laid out across a randomly selected terrain card which affects the way conflict is resolved. Conflict is driven by a selection of numbered cards (1-12) you have in your hand and which you use to try and beat your opponent, with the highest card winning. However, it’s not that simple as there is an element of ‘Paper-Scissors-Stone’ with some of the lower scoring cards always beating the higher cards. The game overcomes the randomness associated with the P-S-S mechanic by assigning points costs to each cards and giving extra values such as ‘Guarding’ on certain cards. This greatly helps the game along as you can have a rough idea of what your opponent will play and can use this to your advantage; of course your opponent knows that you know this, but you know that, but does he know that you know that he knows you know... and so on. To cut a long story short, the main conflict resolution mechanic is very well thought out, the designers have taken a classic, fundamental game mechanism and, I would argue, removed the faults associated with it. There are also layers of additional mechanics introduced, such as playing a card which brings on your ‘Combat Master’ or ‘Battle Master’ during a round of combat to significantly alter your result in battle.

The two rulebooks included in the box are; ‘The Art of the Apprentice’ and ‘The Art of the Warrior’. The ‘Warrior’ book is the main rulebook and the ‘Apprentice’ book serves as an introduction to the game, introducing the main conflict resolution mechanic and then adding on the various additional rules, one at a time.

It can’t all be fantastic though?
Unfortunately, the effort that has gone into the gameplay is let down by the colour scheme of the cards, box and artwork. Some would say the colours are ‘subtle’, ‘muted’ or ‘understated’ but to my eye they just look dull. I’m obviously no judge of colour, as anyone who’s seen the palette of my blog would agree, but the delicate scheme of the cards really doesn’t do justice to the excellent artwork and can make the cards difficult to easily recognise.
The shortfalls in presentation also carry across into the rulebooks which are perfectly functional and very well laid out. The problem is that the game is intended to introduce gamers to the world of Edadh, and there is a lot mentioned on the website about forthcoming games and products linked together by the same universe. So really, the rulebooks should have a lot more ‘fluff’ and background in them and a bit more art. Sure, art and colour printing aren’t cheap, but this is a great product and the creators obviously have big plans. Putting more information and eye-catching art out there now would whip the public up into a frenzy. We’ve had too many triumphs of style over substance and it would be great to see a game succeed for fantastic gameplay, but neglecting the ‘chrome’ is doing a brilliant game an injustice.

The Frugal Judgment
Overall, this game is easy to learn when taken step by step. Unlike many games which you’ve learnt by the end of your first turn and go downhill from then on, this is a game that rewards continued play. The game has the scope to be a quick ‘pick up and play’ 15 min game or an in depth 90 minute battle game, and all levels in between. The representation of combat via simple cards with no need to reference charts or tables is incredible and has to be a contender for the game that provides the most fun in the smallest simplest package.

I really like the idea of creating a linked universe with a number of products, and I’m going to keep an eye on this company, the website has a huge (and I mean huge) range of upcoming products and ideas and I hope they all come to fruition. The products that caught my eye included rules for guerrilla warfare, tunnel warfare, aerial combat and even an exploration game and a separate RPG set in the same world!

But of course, the question is; is this a game for the Frugal Gamer? As you may have already guessed, I can say a definite YES. The game costs £17.99 and will give you plenty of hours of play.
The Small Print
Thanks to Nigel Pyne at WarriorElite Ltd for accepting The Frugal Challenge and sending though a copy of his wonderful game for review. If you have a product you would like to have reviewed, click on the ‘You want to know more?’ link on the right and take up the Frugal Challenge.

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