Saturday, 9 March 2013

Lancaster vs. York, another game of thrones of sorts...

I was first introduced to Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs. York a few years ago during Baycon, a board gaming convention near Exeter, England. 

Baycon was four days of solid gaming. It was difficult not to feel a little overwhelmed by the experience and although I haven't yet returned, I do consider it every year.

Green, but not so pleasant lands
Wars impressed me at the con, it was nice to look at, it had nice components and we had a pretty cool room to ourselves in the hotel to set it up away from the busy main hall. A good gaming experience all-round. Roll on a few years and I finally got my hands on a copy courtesy of NikTheRake, a friend from my time at BGA.

Wars is a 4-player game and that posed an early barrier for us as on KoffeeKlub evenings we typically have 5-players. I wanted to get this one played again and agreed to host/cover rules for a match-up between GaryB/ChrisG (House Lancaster) and AndyA/DavidB (House York).

There Can Be Only One
Although this is a semi-cooperative game, I reminded them that there could be only one winner. At some point they would need to turn their attentions towards their kin.

Could they revive the bitter English civil war rivalries between the Royal Houses of Lancaster and York?

The first turn saw House Lancaster's GaryB pull well ahead on the victory point track, but money was going to soon be in short supply for them as House York plotted to use French support and equip their armies.

Final Planning For Dave
Scoring in the second turn saw a big shift towards House York (AndyA & DavidB) as they took control of a number of Lancaster assets by force. Wales and the south-west being particularly fruitful.

A brief respite in turn three clawed back some of the lost ground for House Lancaster (GaryB & ChrisG), but by the end of the fourth turn House York had once again established control of the throne with DavidB holding a slight victory point lead heading into the final round.

Last ditch plans failed to swing power back to the Lancasters and the lack of a killer instinct meant that Richard III (AndyA) couldn't catch-up with his son Edward IV (DavidB) ...a horse, a horse...
117 DavidB (York)
110 AndyA (York)
92 ChrisG (Lancaster)
80 GaryB (Lancaster)

Well played DavidB!

Final Thoughts

Wars is a light Euro-style strategy game with nice components and good level of player interaction. Each turn breaks down into a few key phases; select new cards, collect money, secret planning, resolve plans and scoring. player co-operations is limited to making sure that their particular house has more votes when influence in each of the regions is tallied up during scoring. (coming out on top rewards players of that house an extra 5VPs for that turn).

The options to swing influence in each region through card selection, movement, bribery or combat are the real meat of the game. So as long as there isn't too much downtime during the planning phase each game turn should run quite quickly.

I enjoyed the game, but would probably classify it at around the Arkham Horror level. It's a game that I'm glad that I know own, but that will probably only see a few plays per year.

AndyA of York gave battle in vain - "We had a run of War of the Roses tonight at tonight at #KoffeeKlub  and I have to say its really good fun. I came to a close second with 110 points to DavidB and his 117. Although its a nice game, I would not rush to play it again in any time soon, there are others I would like to play before this again."  

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