March 8, 2011

Warparty - The Hidden Gem at Total Confusion XXV Part 2

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Last episode (found here), I had shown up at the Holiday Inn hotel in Mansfield, MA where Total Confusion XXV was being held. There were a lot of people playing a lot of games all over the place, from pen & paper RPGs, to all out mini Wargames, to popular Euro and Ameritrash. Everyone was having a great time, myself included. While perusing the scene, I came across an unmanned table with what appeared to be a prototype map. I read the flyer and check out the map as Larry Bogucki approached and began to explain the game of Warparty. He explained to me that it is a combination of RTS, RPG, and Wargame that pits teams of opposing armies against each other in order to capture the enemy capital. I signed myself up for a demonstration play and continued to examine the convention while I waited for the assigned play time.

As I walked around the convention admiring the Heroscape castle (it was pretty amazing) and the fully decked out Wargame miniature ensembles, I happened to notice a group of 4 players sitting around a table with what looked like the same map I had seen on the folding table in the hallway. Intrigued, I found myself weaving through the Power Grid tourney to find out what Warparty was like in action.

I pulled up to what appeared to be a game that had been running for a while as armies were spread across the board. The Undead army had worked its way down the map and was knocking on Man's fortress door. That battle would have to wait as the Dwarves had heroes attempting to conquer the Forgotten Temple. They ended up encountering a behemoth of a creature that wiped out one of the heroes. "That was expensive" were the owners exact words and I had no idea what that meant..yet.

Looking at the board while it was in play versus when it was on display, I was able to notice some details about it. First, there were spaces that had numbers on the board, mostly twos near the faction castles and a few threes near the middle, right around a strategically placed bridge. I could only assume that these middle spaces would end up being hotly contested during matches. Second, each of the faction cities had separate amounts of upgrade spaces. The Goblins had the least amount of city upgrades with 3 and Undead had the most at 6. Third, there were 5 different dungeons spread across the middle of the board. I was unaware of how important the dungeons were to the different strategies until I had my chance to play. Not wanting to shadow too much, I ventured off and killed time until it was my turn, but it looked like everyone was having a blast.

After about another 30 minutes, it was time to try out what looked to be a combination of my favorite gaming genres. Larry was willing to join in and play against me, but we were fortunate enough to have 3 of the players from the last game stay and play another round. That was a big sign to me; they just had finished a multi-hour session and then were eager to play again! The guys were nice enough to let me pick my race first and since I was the closest to the Undead, I chose them. One thing that I found interesting about the game was that the player strategies are very different from race to race. I was partnered with a gentleman who played the Goblins and we were teamed up against a father/son combo, with the father as the Dwarves and the son playing Man.

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The game started off with each race having 8 base units in their main fortress. We rolled to see who would start the game. We won the roll and opted to go second, which gave us an extra unit to start with. Interesting to note is that each turn both members of the team take their actions simultaneously, which is nice because you don't have to wait for three others to take their turns before you play again, making for less downtime. The first stages of the game involve spreading out your army, claiming the resources in the land and increasing your production values. It is these production values that you use to purchase fortress upgrades, satellite towns, units, and heroes. The first few turns were very similar for both sides, until about turn 3.

It was about this time that we all placed our satellite towns. These are important for two major reasons. First, is that they give a nice boost in resource income. Second, is that you can only place purchased units in your main fortress or in these towns. So having strategic locations for your towns is of utmost importance. There are limitations on the Goblins and the Dwarves though, as the Goblins can only place their towns in forest spaces and the Dwarves must use mountain spaces.

Another important aspect of this time was that it was easy to see which direction players were focusing on. The son had only split off a few units to head in the direction of my teammate, the Goblins, and sent the majority of his forces directly at me. I noticed his move and countered with stacking units down his side as well. Not having decided my strategy in advance, I opted to purchase a hero right out of the gates. Having looked over what my fortress upgrades give me, I noticed that if a hero is in town for their turn with a specific upgrade, they get to roll for experience. I figured that I would stack experience points on the hero early without having to fight. Heroes have 3 levels; level 2 occurs after 50 xp has been earned. I was getting 2d6 rolls for xp with the hero camped in the city. It was going to take me at least 5 turns to get to level 2. This was a resource heavy move early in the game when I had few units to spread around the board for resource acquisition, especially with the race of Man breathing down my neck.

It was looking like I was going to have a showdown with Man. He had placed a town right on the opposite side of a mountain space from where I had my town. Right off the bat he started producing units, purchasing 7 archers and getting a bonus one for completing his quest card that he drew before the game began. He wasn't messing around and I had to do something to stop him from rolling through me. I countered as much as I could with small units (skeletons and archers mostly) but opted to continue going the hero route and purchased a wizard. As he split his units into two separate forces on either side of the mountain, I mirrored with two forces. However, instead of placing them on either side of the mountain, I had one at the side and the other behind the mountain.

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White circle = Undead town, White rectangle = Undead force; Blue circle = Man town, Blue rectangle = Man force

Editor's Note: Ignore the bad marker art on my part!!

We both began to amass our forces, preparing for a inevitable battle that was brewing. The status was very similar for my teammate. He and the Dwarves were having a massive army buildup/standoff on the other side, while small raiding parties went around claiming lands. At this point, I was behind on the resource allocations, probably due to my strategy of choosing to buy a hero instead of purchasing smaller units to capture lands. Warparty has an inflation mechanic that can be very painful. If a player is able to increase their resources to 45, then the first level of inflation occurs the following round. After this occurs, prices for all units, heroes, and city upgrades are double for the remainder of the game or until the third level of inflation occurs. Now I understood what the gentleman meant when he said, "that was expensive" when I was watching the game.

Aside from being behind on resources, I was also behind on units. I couldn't just sit there as force of the Men continued to grow on the other side of the mountain. During one of his turns, and in an effort to gain as much resource as possible, he moved one of his forces forward into the space between the mountain and the edge of the board, putting himself in attack range of both of my forces. I had to make a move and it had to be it soon. Once all my units were in place, I attacked. I pulled both forces into battle against one of his. I had my wizard hero, skeletons, and archers against his soldiers, knights, and archers. It was a desperate move on my part, but it had to be done or defeat was inevitable.

To be continued....

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at March 8, 2011 8:40 PM

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