The Best Defense

Part 2 in a series of designer diaries on Warhammer: Invasion by Eric Lang


Welcome back! This week we’re going to look at some of the game mechanics in more detail, and give you a better idea of how the game play flows.

If this is the first article you’re reading about Warhammer: Invasion, I suggest you refer to last week’s article The Invasion is Coming part 1, and the explanation of what a Living Card Game™ is to get caught up.

We’ve mentioned the warfare management on the description page, and given you a taste of each section of your empire. Now we look at the troops and buildings you will be bringing in, and how the various factions combine together.

Loyalty IconsThere are three different races per side (Dwarfs, Empire, and High Elves make up Order and Chaos, Orcs, and Dark Elves make up Destruction), and you may mix and match allied races in any deck you build.

Each race-specific (as in not neutral) card has a number of loyalty icons. These cost an extra resource per loyalty icon. However, you can “discount” each loyalty icon penalty by having a card from that race already in play (this includes your capital). For example, the Orc unit Ironclaw’s Horde has two orc icons. Its base resource cost is 5, so you’re paying up to 7 for it unless you have two or more Orc cards in play. If you’re playing the orc capital, that discounts one of them, but you’ll need an additional orc card in play (either a unit or support) to offset that other loyalty icon.

Most cards have one or two loyalty icons, and can be included in almost any deck. Troll Slayers add a fair amount of punch to the forces of the Dwarfs, but can be added to Empire or High Elf forces easily, as they have only one loyalty icon. You may use a single faction to get the most out of that faction’s strengths, or you can add allied cards to increase your versatility. There are some cards, the most noble of heroes and most foul creatures, that are very difficult to ally with. The Bloodthirster has five loyalty icons, and while it is an awe-inspiring sight, it is best left to a force solely dedicated to the Ruinous Powers.

Blend the ForcesAs each side, Order or Destruction, has three different races to choose from, how do you decide what you want to build your deck with? Each race has specific talents and abilities that they are best at, which are highlighted, once again, on the description page. For example, the Dwarfs are the masters of armour and feature some of the toughest fighters to ever walk a battlefield, or kingdom for that matter. They have great support, and can weather almost any storm. They do however, lack mobility. Mobility is something the Empire is known for. To increase the possible options, some Empire cards have been added to the Dwarf deck. This will give them a boost in mobility, but remember, each Empire card added has its own loyalty icons that must be paid for if they aren’t present in any of the Dwarf zones.

To assist in this noble idea of alliance, there are support cards that can be added to your deck. These Alliance cards feature two loyalty icons, one for each faction represented in the alliance. As these cards are neutral, they don’t require a loyalty icon to be played, and only cost two resources. These can provide your deck with a potent speed boost, as you wont have to wait for the resources to buy those extra loyalty icons.

Defense and DevelopmentThere are a few other wrinkles in the game you need to be aware of. As mentioned earlier, your capital is divided into three zones. Each zone can take eight points of damage before it is burned down. You lose the game the instant two of your three zones burn.

In addition, each turn you may play any one card from your hand face down into a zone of your choice. This face down card is called a development, and it increases the amount of damage that zone can take before burning down by one. There are also many card effects that increase in power if you have a certain number of developments in that zone, adding another wrinkle to your resource management. As seen above, Troll Slayers gain two extra power if you have two developments in the zone they occupy. Another card that keys off of developments is the neutral Forgotten Cemetery, which also gains power based on developments.

The Play is the ThingTo recap: during each of your turns you gather resources based on how well your kingdom is built, then draw cards depending on the number of power icons in your quest zone, then play cards and finally, attack your opponent based on the strength of your battlefield.

Though the basic rules of the game are very simple, the choices you make with each card play are quite involved. How do you want to develop? Where do you have to defend? Are you able to adjust your strategy and tactics to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness or to shore up your own in the face of devastation?

On top of this are the card abilities themselves. Each race has its own distinct play style and flavor, which include exclusive card abilities and sometimes even keywords. I’ll be writing an article for each individual race in the coming weeks, so you can judge for yourself.

That’s it for now. Join me next time when we talk design philosophy. 

Warhammer Invasion The Card Game is a card game, by Eric M. Lang, in which 2 players develop their kingdoms and lay waste to their foes. Each side is comprised of either the forces of Order -Dwarfs, High Elves, Empire- or the forces of Destruction -Orcs, Chaos, Dark Elves- as they seek to extend their empire to include the entire Old World.

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