Review: Warhammer Diskwars – a revolution in motion
„Every step seems harder and harder. My feet have barely lifted off the ground and want to find it again. For the third day, we draggle through this inhospitable landscape. At the end of our voyage, there is presumably a difficult and bloody battle waiting. I wonder, if I will be able to fight in this state. The military is as strong as each of its individual. If this is true, our chances of success are very small. I fear, we will lose.“ This is last entry in a diary found among bloody bodies of the orcs.
Players should fortunately not have such a problem. Thanks to board game Warhammer: Diskwars, they will instantly find themselves at the foot of that fiery battle. This possibility is brokered by Christian T. Petersen and Tom Jolly and published by Fantasy Flight Games. The game was released under licence of Games Workshop in year 2013 and is set in one of the most popular gaming worlds.
But while Warhammer is famous for its miniature fights, that stretch for long hours, this new game arrives to desk of any candidate in a surprisingly small package. Modest thin box could not even hide all the belligerence, that belong to this world.
You may be surprised, when I tell you, that there is 62 units in there. All of this is possible, because this time it’s not all about miniatures, but a double-sided discs made of hard cardboard instead. Most components are thus hidden in thick sheets, whose largest area is occupied by those units. They come in three different sizes.
In addition to dimensions, they all have the same layout. On the top edge are located four numbers and read from left mark movement, attack, defense and toughness. And while most of the space below is dominated by illustration, there is a line at the bottom, where players find name of the unit, its ability and a trio of icons – recruiting price, race and membership to basic box. Some units may have printed on the divide between image and text also stamina and order points.
But this is not all waiting for players inside the box. There are pieces of terrain in variety of shapes and sizes, that will enrich the gaming experience. Also tokens have to be present (injury, activation, damage, battlefield corners and others), plus a trio of special combat and one ordinary dice. Our list ends with a deck of cards containing less than fifty cards divided into small piles – setup, terrain, scenarios and orders. And because it is a fighting game from Warhammer world, you also have to have a dear companion of everyone, who is stuck in this world – a scale.
At the beginning of the game, before players choose one of four races (empire, orcs, elves and chaos), everybody should ensure, that game will not be played on a slippery surface. It is best to use a cloth wrap, preferably in green or brown color to evoke feeling of a real battlefield. Meanwhile, players also managed to pick their side. Using recruitment points, heroes can assemble their own army or use predesigned ones to learn the game, together with a set of command cards.
Opponents can now define whole battlefield with help of four corner pieces. Standard area of the battle should measure three times three feet. Gamers get help with this from enclosed scale, which corresponds to a single feet (and is further divided into three combat distances by color).
Players choose side of the battlefield to start on, initiative and randomly draw a scenario. Its card is visibly placed on the table. Same deck is shuffled again and one card is dealt to each opponent. Lower half of the card determines player’s secret goal, he will get victory points for in the end. Another random draw gives to every player his landing cards, which each has its own advantages. Player also select four terrain cards and gradually spread obstacles on the table.
Only a while before start of the battle itself, its time to finally bring out the units. Players can only deploy units in front of their landing cards (spread by player on his side of the table in his sole discretion) into the middle range (using scale) and maximum number determined as well by these cards. Players can also take command cards into their hands.
At the beginning of each round, players secretly choose a card from his hand commands and play it on table face down. They reveal them at the same time. Any such card contains one of the four possible tactics, which determine order of evaluation ranging from bold strategy to slow. All such cards also have a number in their upper left corner, which determines number of disks, that can be with its help activated by the general. Some even have a passive skill.
Each disc can act only once per round. Selection differs from movement, focus (some units) and ranged combat. Each unit has a value of movement, that expresses the number of times, a player can flip it and move around the battlefield. The goal is to pin the opponent’s hostile unit and overlap at least part of its disk. Such contested unit can not move. It will have to fight in the near future, but attackers turn is over for now. Activated units are marked by tokens to guarantee, they are not used again in the current round.
Such match is to be resolved in very next combat phase. Two adversaries slaps each other with a number of hits – striker attack equals to number in a black circle, while defender has his retaliation printed in a white circle. Each unit gets hurt by placing wound tokens. As soon as their value exceeds the number of lives (toughness), such a fighter is out of the game and moved pile of loss. There is one exception to this rule – stamina points allowing this unit to stay on the battlefield for a while.
While the attack is close to certainty, such a ranged attempt may not always succeed. Dice combat enters this game at that point and they will decide, whether the projectile hit its target or not. Enemy needs to be within the specified range, corresponding to capability of the attacking unit. Results may vary from the classic hit, through critical hit (deactivates unit for current round) or target confusion. It is not always possible to shoot, because there can be some terrain in the way.
Teams then continue playing other cards up to the moment, when they run out of soldiers or order cards. At this moment, round comes to an end. Players will remove all activatiion tokens from their units, take back discarded command cards and game can continue with new round. It was at this point after the fifth round, when game ends. Players earn victory points depending on how well they were able to meet their victory conditions. And based on these, winner is decided.
Warhammer: Diskwars brings everything, what we know of the games with miniatures, retains all the atmosphere and tactics, but reduces game time and game delivers stunning simplification of motion mechanics. It mustsimply charm at first gland everyone, because of its simplicity will simply take your breath away. While making any maneuver, you have enormous freedom of movement, as if you had a real miniatures in front of you.
Beginners will certainly appreciate prepared armies around each of the heroes. With expansions Hammer and Hold and Legions of Darkness getting published, emphasis on the ability to build your own army will be increased significantly. With one basic packaging such composing is only limited, with competitions of two opponents.
These armies consist of regiments. With their number, players determine not only length of the game, but also tactics, because each of them is lead by one hero. But they remain on the same side, and once on the battlefield, they are hardly recognizable from each other (which is a good thing). Building army has its own fixed rules, that restrict composition, introduces unique units and copies of each disc.
Its not just about the soldiers themselves in the game. Generals have also order cards in their hands, which can with the right timing affect many things.
Other elements in the game also play role in the quest for success. First of these is already very choice of playing location cards on the board and initial distribution of troops. Players must be willing to take some risk from time to time, pick up the dice and shoot from a distance. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, but the uncertainty in contrast to predetermined melee fights gives the game more salt and pepper.
Overall, Warhammer: Diskwars is entirely tactical entertainment. Only with right moves, maneuvers and tactics, player can really succeed. He must constantly bear in mind his own secret goals, while trying to surprise opponent and hit him, where it hurts.
Units have their own abilities, that provide additional options, when playing. And you can of course look forwards to all the key words and similar gadgets. They are usually described directly on disks, but they can also be found in the rules in form of a lexicon, where everything is explained in detail. But a problem binds with this – getting acquainted with the game means, that players must constantly lean over the pieces and control their abilities, because they do not know them from memory at first.
Rules also contain a starting scenario, where game can be learned even by true beginners. Overall, this game is surprisingly accessible for its type, because rules are not very long and game revolves around a few simple mechanisms.
Game time will then probably surprise everyone, because it moves around sixty minutes. You don’t need more time for classic game with two players and two regiments. There is no problem to extend match by adding more troops. Such battles are then more complicated and longer. The game also supports multiplayer battles, which certainly look great, but with one basic package, we’ve tested it only once. Longer waiting time between moves can become an issue with more enemies.
Beautiful illustrations on the discs were given proper treatment and you won’t be missing miniatures. Whole processing is excellent, bars are solid and cardboard terrain is clearly visible and distinguishable. Game is easy to navigate through activation tokens. The only question that remains to anyone, who purchases this game and remains: where to get some table, that will be worthy (and big enough) to host this battle? We have played it outside our review office and for purpose of photographing, we had to tighten the battlefield a lot, so photos are not true to size of the real game.
Warhammer: Diskwars is simply fun in its core, that retains simplicity and crept into the hearts of all. Alternative to miniature wars was accomplished great by Christian T. Petersen and Tom Jolly. The game has an incredibly natural flow and offers deep tactics for many future battles. We can only hope, that our army will not stay long alone on the battlefield and further war powers will soon join them. Until that time, we have to go practice, because Warhammer: Diskwars is a real pleasure to play.
Review: Warhammer Diskwars – a revolution in motion
Warhammer: Diskwars keeps everything, we know from the games with miniatures, inside: terrain, distances, but removes one essential element - miniatures. Replacement are supposed to be round disks. And they are brilliant. But not only thanks to them, game is accessible (not just an wallet-emptier machine) at once and to completely different audience. It plays very easily within a short time span of one hour. Players activate commands with cards and give them to their troops, which have to be cleverly deployed at the beginning of the game based on available airborne cards. Discs are moving by flipping, overlapping each other and attacking themselves by doing so. Or they can shoot from a distance using dice with uncertain outcome. Simple rules ensure, that even less experienced players will not get any unpleasant surprises. In doing so, game remains a great challenge with option to build your own army and tactically rethink everything down to the smallest detail. Units have their own skills, which you will eventually know by heart, although they will slow your games down frist. Winner will be the player, that better meets his secret (and randomly assigned) goal. Warhammer: Diskwars will disappoints only few people. When you are looking for a game, where you need to have miniatures, and you are looking forward for every brush stroke, then you may be disappointed. But who wants to enjoy all the tension on the space of one hour learns to love the disk and will be truly excited.
Reader Rating0 Votes
amazing fun without miniatures
an ingenious mechanism of movement
excellent ranged combat
tactical and predictable
secret target for each party
playable directly out of the box
four sides in the package
accessible to less experienced players
someone may be missing miniatures (but why?)
initial game requires an understanding of units capabilities