Games that strike a perfect balance between an interesting theme and well designed gameplay are not that common. Sure, deep lore and creatively crafted worlds don’t equal success. Still, when a board game engages you on more levels and immerses you in an unique world with its own problems and conflicts – the enjoyment only gets higher.
Chronicles of Waral: Revolt in Heldenheim seems to achieve both points equally well, which is pretty admirable considering it’s Moskito Games’ debut title. Let’s explore it a little more.
A Rising Conflict
There is something disturbing in the air in Heldenheim, the capital of the Kingdom of Kreis. If you listen closely you can almost hear the early signs of rising conflict. One which will undoubtedly explode within weeks if not days. Rulers, mages and regular citizens are all afraid of each other and willing to use extreme measures to end their problems.
And let’s not forget about neighboring countries as well as dwarves and elves. Heldenheim is one of the major sea ports of the world of Waral and was built on a one-of-a-kind rock formation that turns it into a natural fortress. A city with such an attractive location strategy-wise would always attract potential conquerors. Especially when some groups within its borders have done them some wrong.
The Arcanic Assembly and The Brotherhood are the two main factions within the walls of Heldenheim.
The Arcanic Assembly consists of powerful mages who have taken over the capital some time ago and become its new rulers. One of their most controversial ideas was segregation based on magical ability. People who’ve lacked it ended up at the very bottom of society while others were highly promoted. The Assembly is led by a council which happens to only care about other mages, especially these in its ranks.
The Brotherhood on the other hand is much less structured but that’s what makes it the strongest. It’s divided into various “chambers” and has members from various races and parts of society. It’s hard to guess when and where they’ll strike. Some rumors claim that the faction might be backed by neighboring countries. Still, The Brotherhood mainly represents the will of the angry citizens oppressed by their magi rulers.
The City of Heldenheim
Heldenheim takes a sizable part of the playing area, like you’d expect from the storyline above. At the beginning of each game you set 8 to 10 districts in the very middle after drawing them from the District Deck. The amount depends on the player count.
Every district card has its own cost listed in the lower left corner. Characters need to pay it if they plan on conquering this area and getting hold of the card. District cards also tell you how much it takes to loot them, what resources they provide when owned and what additional effects they have on you. Districts come in 4 different varieties: military, merchant, cultural and strategic. As you’re probably expecting, your goal will be to conquer as many of them as possible and become the most influential leader. But how do you achieve it?
Recruiting Your Party
Recruiting a team of seasoned and trustworthy fighters is vital to your success. After setting up the districts, players begin picking their characters. Everyone draws 4 random hero cards, places one in front of them and passes the rest to the player next to them. This continues until every person has 3 heroes of their choice in their team.
What characters can you get? The choice is quite wide and includes heroes specializing in different crafts and having unique abilities. The party you manage to create is the indicator of the strategy you will be taking. The idea of drafting characters makes the party building much more surprising and leads to an increase in the already high replayability.
Time to Fight
When your teams are constructed and ready to fight, it’s finally time to start the game. You’ll spend each turn performing one action per one of your 3 characters, until you run out of them.
There are three actions available, and each one exhausts a character. First: you can loot a district of your choice which costs a little bit but grants you one-time bonuses right away. Next: you’re able to take control of a district. This requires placing a character on it, paying the cost and then taking the district as a reward and placing it in front of you. The final action is using the Trick Cards. These have all sorts of effects and also exhaust one character if you want to play them.
When all players have used every single character in their teams it’s time to start a new round. When somebody manages to amass a certain amount of Influence Points (11-15 depending on the player count) the game ends and whoever had the most of them wins and becomes the ruler of Heldenheim.
Chronicles of Waral will launch on Kickstarter this year, but the date has yet to be specified. Judging from the materials released so far we’re expecting a fast paced and highly strategic card game that will please both the newcomers to the genre as well as many seasoned veterans. And let’s not forget about the top tier artstyle which also adds a lot to the lore and atmosphere. Consider us hyped!