Sunday, January 12, 2014

Warhammer Diskwars

While I've not done much on the miniatures front due to building all the models for Samurai Battles, I have been playing some new games during the first weeks of the new year. Warhammer Diskwars recently released and it is great! I've already played three games (four if you count the mini-game I did for this blog) and I see lots of potential for this game.

Follow the link I provided above to see some nice pictures and details of the game mechanics. Fantasy Flight Games does a nice write-up with good illustrations. In a nutshell, this is the same game as the original Diskwars with a Warhammer theme. I'd never heard of Diskwars, but I understand it was popular and just as fun as this version. At the heart of the game are your units, which are represented as disks. The disks have a move value, which represents how many flips edge-over-edge that each disk can take. So a Move 4 disk can flip in any direction up to four times. When a disk lands on top of another disk, it has pinned the unit and once all disks are activated you will resolve close combat by comparing attack and defense values along with any existing damage. A disk is destroyed when you exceed its hit points and wounds totals. Most disks have only a single wound, but some of the tougher heroes and disks have two or three wounds.

So rather than try to explain all this, I ran a short game with one hero per side. The starter comes with Chaos, Orcs, High Elves, and Empire. I chose Orcs versus Chaos. Here's all the disks available for each of these forces. Sorry for the glare.

I just picked one hero per side and their associated disks from the constructed armies in the book. You have freedom to built your own armies, but using the book is faster for this example. The game is played on a 3x3 area. Michael's sells a 3x3 piece of green felt for $4, so instant playmat! After I select the disks, I pick four command cards to use.  Command cards determine initiative order as well has how many disks can be activated. Some cards also give special abilities.

With my forces selected, deployment zones are established. Players pick cards which determine how many disks can be placed within that zone, with one side of the card giving a perk and the other defaulting to three disks. You can set up deployment cards wherever you want, but it's a good idea to keep them together to form one big zone.  Here's my set up and the forces involved.

Chaos has Archaon the Everchosen as its leader, with a Bloodthirster (the giant disk) and a unit of Flamers to support him. His mission is to kill the orc leaders, five victory points per disk. You see how both zones make one larger area to accommodate these disks. I could place a total of six disks here, and any more would have to remain in reserve until there is room to deploy them.

Orcs are led by Azhag the Slaughter mounted on his wyvern. He takes a unit of wolf riders, arrer boyz, a big boss, and boar boyz with him.  Like Warhammer, orcs are cheap, numerous, and tough. I split their deployment zones, mostly because I wanted Azhag on the flank to take advantage of his flying and terrain. It wouldn't matter much, as we'll see. The orc's objective is to kill as many enemy disks as they can, for one victory point per disk.

Terrain is laid out with players taking turns. I just flung some pieces on the table. The terrain is dual sided with different types. There are game effects for the terrain that are fairly intuitive and work much like other war games. Here's the table to start. It looks underwhelming with so few units, but in a normal game you'd have two times or more the number of disks here.

You roll for initiative advantage once in the game, and after that command card priorities will determine who goes first. The initiative roll determines who has the edge, which breaks ties when cards of the same type are played. In this case Chaos wins and gets a warhammer token to show it has the edge in ties.

Turns progress by playing command cards, activating the number of disks the card allows, and then repeating until all units are activated or pinned. For turn one, The Orcs play the Approach command card, which allows them to activate four disks and has a slow strategy.  Chaos plays Assault which also allows four disks but has a bold strategy. Strategies are a rock, paper, scissors approach to determining initiative.  Slow always goes last, so Chaos activates first. They move to the center of the board.

The orcs now go, and I flip the disks according to their move values. This scenario has a special rule that adds one flip to each move, so the orcs become even faster. The arrer boyz move into the ruined fortress while the boar boyz and the big boss are able to reach Archaon the Everchosen in one turn. You can see the big boss barely made it, but it counts. The boar boyz do 4 impact damage, which is assigned as soon as they touch a disk. That's a powerful hit and will help whittle down Archaon. The other orcs move around but don't do much. The wolf riders move and shoot but have no luck.

Now with all activations done, close combat starts. (You can see activation tokens on all the disks along with hit point markers.) The orcs put a wound on Archaon and he strikes back at the Big Boss to destroy him. The disk is removed, but the Boar Boyz are still pinning Archaon.

Turn two:  Chaos plays Storm of Chaos, Devious 2, and Orcs play Fist or Mork Devious 3. Since Chaos has the edge, they go first. Chaos uses their command card's special ability to empower Archaon (giving him boosted stats). Then the Bloodthirster, which can also fly, zips overhead and lands on Azhag. The Flamers shoot at the Boar Boyz and put 3 damage on them, but not enough to kill. They can take 5 hit points before taking a wound.

Now the Orcs activate their units. Both the Arrer Boyz and  Wolf Riders shoot Archaon and put four damage on him. The Boar Boyz activate but don't move. With everything activated or pinned, it goes to close combat. Archaon kills the Boar Boyz, but since he is so wounded the Boar Boyz second round of fighting is enough to kill him, so both disks are removed. The Bloodthirster does two wounds to Azhag, which would normally destroy any model but Azhag is exceptionally tough with three wounds.

Here's combat just before I resolved the Bloodthirster.

Turn Three: Command cards are played and initiative goes to Chaos. The Flammers fry the Arrer Boyz with three hits in one roll, which is very good. The Bloodthirster remains pinning Azhag, since he doesn't want that bad boy getting away. Now the Orcs activate, Azhag can do nothing, so the Wolf Riders shoot at the Flamers then run away after missing completely. Azhag activates a special power from his command card, but the spell fizzles (he does d6 - 2 damage, and he rolled a two).  So now it goes to close combat of the two giants of the battlefield.

The writing is on the wall (or in this case, right on the disks), without help or some boosts to his powers Azhag doesn't have the juice to kill the Bloodthirster. He dies and Chaos wins, 5VP to 1VP.

So that's a small, short game of Warhammer Diskwars. The army construction rules are fun, and to really do this right you should get a second starter box. Like so much of what FFG does, they almost always make buying a second set a good idea --but it's certainly not necessary for playing the game. I just want multiples of some of the more powerful units. Armies like the High Elves need units with more juice than what is provided in the box.

The game is tremendous fun. What at first seemed to me a silly concept (flipping disks around a table), turned out to be quite an engaging experience. I highly recommend this game, and with it being under $30 is a great value. I can't wait for expansions to be announced. I'll be all over it!


Da Green Skins said...

It looks like a lot of fun. We will need to schedule another day to play more games.

Jerry said...

@DGS: You'll love this game, and the Orcs are really cool! Let's try this one soon.