8 June 2009

Return of the Favored

The FFG staff favorites returns this week with Warrior Knights.

This week we return to the realm of the staff favorites. So far we have seen Cave Troll, Blue Moon City, Drakon, Micro Mutants, and Colossal Arena. Now we turn our spotlight to the classic Games Workshop remake of Warrior Knights. This game of dominance was chosen by our Event Coordinator, Erik Lind. “Warrior Knights has always been the apple of my eye when it comes to board games.  It plays out like a meta, with numerous mini-games that can all change the course of the game indefinitely.  If you try to put all your eggs in one basket, prepare to get crushed.  Warrior Knights is certainly not a one-lane-strategy game.  It demands you to look at the bigger picture of what is going on in the kingdom, while concentrating on your own vested interest.  Plus I just love being the Chairman of the Assembly for the entire game.  Who ever thought slamming a gavel down during one of the assemblies would have been so refreshing?!”

Warrior Knights places you, and up to five friends, in charge of a growing realm, as barons. Fortunately, there are four nobles ready, willing, and able to help bring law and order to your growing populace. They will be in command of your armies, and with your leadership, will attempt to bring all of the lands under your flag. Take care, as you must also win influence if you are to become the new king. Will you go for a pure military strategy, will you become the Chairman of the Assembly, or do you listen to a higher power and become the Head of the Church?

First you must choose where to place your stronghold. There are many options, but each has their inherent benefits and weaknesses. There are choice locations that can only be reached by sea, but they are very difficult to defend if an opponent has you in their sights. Most often, strongholds will be placed in the middle of the kingdom, with a couple of neighboring cities to expand to.

Once you have established a base of operations, you must plan out what actions you wish to take. Every baron has a hand of 12 cards, from which six must be chosen. Actions, such as Mobilize Forces and Draft Soldiers, support the military side of strategy. Serve the Church and Rally Support will generate points towards becoming the Head of the Church and Chairman of the Assembly respectively. Levy taxes will bring much needed income to your rule, and the Versatile Strategy will provide you with a plethora of options. Each round will go through three stages, so you must choose which actions you will need each stage. Every baron will get to enact two of his choices per round, and the order is done randomly. In addition, there are two neutral actions per round, which can provide an advantage to an adaptable baron. As each action is revealed and resolved, they are placed on the right side of the board into one of three areas. These areas don’t get cleared until there is a certain number of cards on them. This will force barons to choose their cards wisely, as they may not get the cards back when they are needed.

Each of these three areas will trigger once their number of cards is reached. Wages will require each baron to pay all of their troops. If they are unable to pay for their troops and the hired mercenaries, the mercenaries will desert. This can put an unprepared noble in charge of an army of none. Assembly calls together all the barons to vote on new laws. The Chairman of the Assembly chooses which order the three new laws are voted upon. As each baron only has a finite number of votes they can throw into the mix, the Chairman can put a baron in a precarious position by placing a devastating law after the one he wants to pass. Taxation provides income from each city a baron controls.

As players maneuver their armies, conflict will inevitably ensue. Combat is diceless, as each player will draw a number of cards. These cards will potentially have victories, casualties, casualty prevention, or even draw a new card. Whichever player has the most victories will determine the winner, but this victory may be hollow, as their army may be killed to a man. Cities will find themselves besieged, and unless properly defended, will be stolen or potentially razed to the ground!

At the end of the action phase, every baron will receive influence based on the cities they control. There is a finite amount of influence available, and when it is gone, the game immediately ends. The baron with the most influence is crowned king, and will rule the kingdom for ages to come. Alternatively, if any baron is able to control over half of the locations on the board, the game ends. They then rule the bloodstained lands until a new challenger rises from within.

Make sure to check out the wallpaper available on the Warrior Knights support page!

Warrior Knights is a fantasy area control and diplomacy game for 2-6 players. Each player is a baron seeking to dominate the area by building up influence and controlling the various cities found across the kingdom. Players must recruit mercenaries, siege enemy cities, vie for both the head of church and the assembly, and above all crush their opponents!

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