Friday, 6 September 2013

High Command

Warmachine meets Dominion meets Thunderstone. Kinda...

So what is High Command about? It's basically a 'competitive' deckbuilding game set in the world of warmachine. Except that instead of having a central market, everyone has their own faction market that they can tune/build/customise before the game. 
Then adding onto the deck building experience, you also have an added dimension of having to fight for locations, which give Victory Points. There is really no way to win without winning at least ONE location I feel. These locations would represent zones on the board I guess or flags in Steamroller terms.

The rules are available online for anyone who really wants to take a look at them and understand how the game works so I'm not really going to get into the specifics of the game. What I will talk about however is my own experience with the game.

  So I had my first 4 player game where I ended up playing Menoth. It was a pretty brutal game since I went about trying to prevent people from scoring early on, contesting the locations whenever I could while trying to secure my own because I figured out that was the spirit of the game. I did manage to end up securing 3 locations while others secured between 1-3. However, surprisingly at the end of the game, when we tallied up VP, I was the lowest because of the fact that my deck cards simply gave less VP. 

Based on location cards alone, I was probably 2nd highest but when you factor in all the VP that the opponents bought from their faction deck, I suddenly dropped to 4th. 

So the game seems slightly counter-intuitive to me. Based on the miniatures game, I would have thought it would reward aggressive play a bit more than it would just buying up cards. Although I get the fact that you're supposed to be building up an army also. However, there does seem to be a disproportionate skew to the number of VPs a faction card is worth as well. For Khador, their heavy jacks are worth 2 VP while for Menoth, most of mine are worth 1, while the cost for deploying them isn't that much different. 4 WAR compared to 5. 

I would also errata the number of locations as it seems that it's just too easy for players to avoid conflict in the game if they wanted to win locations. Due to the fact that there is at least 1 location for every player in the game, players could just choose not to attack each other and just go for their own locations. I would just make the number of locations X-1 where X is the number of players, thus forcing players to contend for locations. 

Another issue I have with the game is the cardstock used for the game. It really feels like it could have been much better. As it is, it felt pretty thin and fragile and when I got it back after the game, some of them were slightly...bendy or damp from gamer-sweat syndrome. Not exactly a great feeling to have when it's a new game and it's only been played once. You really have to use card sleeves with them, something I've almost never done with any of the other deck building games I've had. 

In fact, the plastic insert for the game was created with those in mind. When I originally stacked the cards in the insert, they felt loose and jiggled around a bit. However, it was much better once they had been sleeved. 

Overall, I'd say High Command is a pretty decent game that could use a slight bit more work or errata-ing.