Our monastery is huge and consists of many regularly arranged rooms. It is not just an ordinary building, but a combat complex. The only quiet place is the home room, where we can relax and, above all, meditate. This is the best preparation before the moment we leave this room and use all our knowledge of magic in an effort to be the last to stand on our feet.
And so the board game Black Rose Wars, created by Marco Montanaro under the banner of Ludus Magnus Studio, headed for us from a mysterious monastery. However, the release itself was only the result of a very successful campaign on the Kickstarter server, where it was already covered by the popular studio Ares Games from Italy.
The game is presented in a large and heavy box, on the lid of which we see an elegant black rose. Inside is a set of six-sided tiles that create a map and always start on Wednesday with the starting pair of tiles – the Black Rose Room and the Coronation Room. The rest of the location plates are then decomposed into a hexagonal shape and they randomly create a combat environment after mixing. Each will then receive their mandatory equipment in the form of a thin activation token. Players will connect the starting home rooms face down to the entire area so that no one has any idea where they will start.
Individual players now choose each of their magicians and get his board. Above all, however, he must choose his school of magic, whose cards, when combined with the special spells of the mage, will create a starting grimoire of seven cards after preparation. All other cards belonging to each area of magic will remain aside. Each mage also needs his color, so the player determines his starting corner in the ring, but also the supply of his damage cubes, action tokens, traps and protection.
Players will also attach force and event boards along the jagged edges and fill them with cards. This will bring up a menu of tasks and evocations, as well as a menu of events and a supply of damage tokens. In addition, the contents of the deck of cards are affected by the phase of the month that will move within the game.
The game is divided into three parts, after which the moon gradually grows from the first to its third phase of the full moon. But in general, the game is still divided into classic moves, and each of these moments begins with the discovery of a new event (and moving the previous ones one position further) until it is eliminated when leaving the third square polí. Above all, however, the revealed event begins to take effect immediately.
Then the individual players draw two cards from their grimoire, but they can choose any school of spells (from the six available), take four cards and choose two of them. He also adds these to his hand. In addition, at this very moment, the player can also discard one card from his hand so that it no longer returns to his hand, which is absolutely essential when building a strong set of spells.
Before the event itself, each of the opponents chooses their strategy, ie they choose two to four cards from their hand and place them face down on their plan. At the same time, he can choose a variant for each spell by turning the card, because each can be rotated 180 degrees and thus get a different effect. Also important is the order in which the magicians want to cast it, of which the first spell cast is the quick spell. It can then be ready to conjure at any time.
Then the players take turns after a combination of two actions, which can consist of movement and attack or playing one of the scheduled cards. Along with physical actions (ie movement or attack), players can optionally also activate the room in which they stand, thus gaining an advantage. At the same time, he must also turn the activation token to the other side.
With the help of spells, players can, in addition to classic effects, also set various traps, hold defensive cards in their hands or summon creatures that they will have under their control. At such a moment, they take the card of the corresponding creation with them.
In the event that a player attacks an opponent and takes away some of his life points, the attacker marks the collected points with the help of cubes of his color. This is important for the moment when a mage loses the last point of life as a result of a fight. Such a magician is defeated, and those who wounded him share the rewards in the form of power points.
Some spells then have such power that they shake the whole room in which they are cast. Such instability gradually increases until one of the heroes can completely demolish it. And again, which player contributed the most to this destruction can take the room activation token as his own trophy.
Players take turns in the main phase until they have one of the two physical action tokens available or until they run out of cards. Only then can they walk through the plan with their evoked creations. They are well-behaved creatures and can attack on command.
At the end of each round, the activation of the rooms as well as the physical events of the individual participants will be made available again. The game ends when one of the participants gains more than thirty strength points. To this will now be added bonus rewards for trophies, completed quests and destroyed rooms. The one who has accumulated the most points becomes the new champion of the Order of the Black Rose.
Black Rose Wars sounds on paper like a really interesting fighting game in which you plan your spells in advance and fight for control of rooms. Unfortunately, he cannot keep his promise as well as we would like.
Thematically, everything works well. The heroes are experienced in specific schools of magic, running around the rooms and spreading destruction and chaos. They have to start preparing spells in advance, so when it comes to the action, their order is already determined in advance.
But most of your actions accumulate, and if you give away your attacks well, you will be rewarded for it. The share in the elimination of the opponent or the destruction of the building is distributed according to merit. Here, the majority prevails at the forefront of the mechanisms. And this significantly affects the heroes‘ desire to move around the plan to new areas, but at the same time it motivates them to attack themselves.
The spice of all battles should be summoned creatures. Unfortunately, they are not as useful as we would like, because they are surprisingly slow and cannot respond appropriately to developments. Still, you can hardly resist the urge to summon one and have its power available in a separate phase of the round.
The mechanisms of Black Rose Wars and the overall course of the game is not entirely open to less experienced players. The central motif of combining physical actions and playing spells may seem quite simple, but the whole thing is surprisingly swollen in planning and options that are not easy for a beginner to navigate.
Unfortunately, the whole experience is quite spoiled by the fundamental imbalance of individual families of magic. And because players choose their specialization at the beginning of the game, they immediately determine their chances of winning. Later, of course, spells can be acquired from any family of spells. But that imbalance can lead to interesting situations and unexpected twists, which quite fit the overall playful touch of the game.
Still, the game itself is fun if you’re willing to forgive it for some trouble. Coincidence mixed with the possibility of tactical choices has a good ratio, above all we praise that the game does not rely on random combat. Instead, all chance is dominated by cards and their drawing.
It is the cards and their manipulation that is the absolutely essential element of the whole game. Their combination and proper timing is what can distinguish a mage from his opponents. But let’s not forget the fact that each spell has two sides and the player chooses a variant in addition to the order. The cards are rich in offer, in three copies of each type. And in general, the variability of the game certainly does not suffer and is interesting even when playing repeatedly, even if you do not need Kickstarter’s special edition.
Chaos is fun, but at the same time it can also be a good line across the budget of everyone who likes to plan and needs to have everything under control. This is simply not possible in this game. But even though it makes her a bit unpredictable and the winner doesn’t have to earn his win so completely, but at the same time it makes the development of the whole game interesting and dramatic.
But the game is quite long for the aforementioned light nature of the whole event. Players will have a hard time reaching the finals before in about seventy minutes in two and ninety minutes will not be enough in four. That may seem like a lot to many of them.
Black Rose Wars is a game you should not take seriously, otherwise you will be disappointed. The game is most of the chaos caused by pre-planned spell cards. Some things didn’t work out completely or have a piece to perfection, but in total, Black Rose Wars is definitely an interesting competing game full of unexpected twists and uncertainties.
At first glance, Black Rose Wars may look like another witch skirmish in the arena, like the Mage Wars we sing. However, this time, instead of a carefully tactical fight, you will get a really chaotic festival, where the spells fly in the planned order. But that may not be exactly what you want them to be when they happen. Individual magic schools are unbalanced, but even stronger magic skills cannot guarantee victory with certainty. Black Rose Wars is a magic shroud that will entertain you, last a little longer and you will enjoy a lot of unpredictable moments in it.