July 25, 2011 by brennon
There are plenty of ways in which to play as the heroes of the Warhammer world but very few which allow you to take on the role of the evil denizens and puppet masters that create such a living hell for the inhabitants of the Old World. That is where Chaos in the Old World by Fantasy Flight Games steps in. Putting you in the mutated shoes of the four Chaos Gods, Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Tzeentch you are charged with destroying the Old World. The key question however is which one of you will do it first and claim dominion over the world of men, elves and dwarfs?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the rules it seems a good idea to take a look at what components you get in the game. First off you get a mass of tokens each with their own key uses. The most regular used ones are the corruption tokens, each the symbol of a Chaos God and used to show who has dominance over a specific region in game. As well as these you have a mass of tokens to represent Heroes, Nobles, Warpstone and the Peasantry of the Old World and also Event markers used to show places where in most cases the Old World is fighting back. All of these tokens are thick and well made, capable of a lot of wear and tear. It’s a good thing too since you will need pretty much all of them in a long game.
As well as the mass of tokens you get a whole host of little figurines to use. Each of the Greater Demons is rendered in their ugly glory with a Bloodthirster, Great Unclean One, Keeper of Secrets, and Changer of Ways all looking very nice indeed. As well as this each unholy power gets a set of lesser demons all modelled in the character of their patron God. Its nice to see a game where you get figurines that match up to the power or race your playing and while a little bonus, it’s a welcome one. The only other figures are those which represent your cultists and while they are all the same they are just as well made as the larger demons.
Calling the board lavish is an understatement. Fantasy Flight Games have gone to extreme lengths to make it look as good as possible. Fashioned to look like you are playing on a stretched out piece of human skin it certainly looks like the kind of thing Chaotic Gods would be plotting the end of the world on. As well as this they have four fantastic little dial in the corner which tracks the corruption each power has. They snap fit onto the board when you get it and stay on for the rest of your games life, and it’s a neat idea instead of everyone having their own and adding to the clutter of the table when playing.
Last but not least there is a nice deck of cards which are incredibly tiny but as lavish as the board itself. In typical Fantasy Flight fashion they are well made and built to last with a nice sheen too them. These play a key role in the game and while tiny are incredibly deadly. But, I digress with my love of these little cards and I know you all want to find out just how this game plays!
A game of Chaos in the Old World plays with three to four players each taking control of their favourite God and setting up their little play area with cards, upgrades and miniatures ready to take over the Old World. Then, starting with the player with the lowest corruption you place figures on the board lowering your ‘Magic’ dial as you go. Cultists, while the cheapest to put down in an area have no attack value so will very much fail in defending your territory. Lesser Demons are of course the ones that do a lot of the killing but cost that bit more to use. Greater Demons are incredibly expensive to play but incredibly effective; but like all evil schemes you have to bide your time and strike when the time is right.
As well as playing these demons and cultists to stake your claim you can also play Chaos Cards from your hand. These can do something as simple as shielding a particular figure from harm that round or on the other end of the scale, not allowing any figures to be summoned away from an area – a particularly effective Khorne card which can lead to some very bloody battles. Once all your magic points are down to zero you move onto the next stage of the turn.
This next stage is the combat one. Players take dice equal to the number of attack points the models in an area have and roll to slaughter the demons and cultists of any other Gods in the same zone. One of the major things in this combat turn however is the awesome exploding dice feature. Every time a six is rolled you get to cast the dice again so it means even a lesser demon could fell a healthy amount of foes. This also plays into the ‘bide your time’ style of play where you have to position your figures in just the right way and at just the right time to at the same time avoid a beating and dish out as much punishment as possible.
After combat comes the Corruption and scoring Domination phases. For each cultist in a zone you get to put down one of the Corruption tokens mentioned in the components part of this review. These then added up allow you to dominate a certain zone and score victory points based on its value. As well as scoring victory points placing Corruption tokens in certain zones provides boons to different Gods. For example if Slaanesh manages to corrupt areas rich in nobles and heroes he scores points towards an extra turn on the dials in the corner, unlocking more powerful cards and upgrades for his demons. Each of the Gods has their own specific requirements and in most cases denying your opponent these can make the difference between victory and defeat.
However, all is not done. There is of course the Old World still fighting back against your nefarious schemes. After scoring and before the next turn begins the Old World reacts. This can be something as simple as a hero slaying demons in a particular region or if you draw his card the mighty Teclis might descend on the Old World and scatter your cultists and cleanse whole regions of the map. Again, a key part of the game is in this phase to make sure you don’t suffer and your opponents do.
That pretty much sums up the phases of the game which are repeated until one of the victory conditions is met. There are a number of these. The first is if a God manages to get his dial all the way round to the Victory marker, he wins showing his dominance over the Old World through sheer presence. The second is by Victory Points. Through corrupting regions you can score points and if you reach fifty you have won! The third way is through sheer destruction of the Old World. Once five regions have been utterly devastated by corruption the game ends and the player with the highest Victory Points wins. Each of the Gods has their own particular favoured win condition. Nurgle for example loves corruption and therefore victory points, while Khorne with their dial advancement keyed to slaughtering foes prefers to see the dial win condition.
Chaos in the Old World therefore becomes a game of denying the opponent while ensuring your own survival and dominance of the Old World. It might seem a daunting prospect and at some times it can be but after a few games you will be sneering with evil glee as your plans come together. This is not a game for the faint hearted and backstabbing and scheming is part of the package, as you would expect with four dark Gods warring for control of the land of mortals.
There are a few niggles with the game which while not game breaking can sometimes be a bit of a pain. The first is the size of the board and the amount of components needed. The game board is massive don’t get me wrong but the regions on it can sometimes be a little bit too small to take all the different tokens and models you are putting into them. This can lead to a bit of a cluttered board and you completely losing track of what areas are actually corrupted at times.
A second niggle is that once you have played this game with four players you will find three player a bit lacking. This game shines with all four Gods playing together and twisting everything round to fit their own goals. It truly shines as a multiplayer game and while you might be sinking about three hours into it it’s a great experience. But, like I said the four player totally outshines the three player game and in some cases it just doesn’t work if Khorne is involved in a three player bout. He will tend to completely bully one opponent and be unstoppable when it comes to the other player trying to take him on.
Overall you can sit down and play Chaos in the Old World and enjoy it thoroughly. It gets the feeling and tone of being an evil God down to a tee and you will love falling into the role of Khorne or Nurgle and working out the intricacy of their play style and how each one can win; while at the same time hampering your opponent. The tactics and depth of this game are incredible and with the amount of variety each time through Old World cards and different regions getting different bonuses no game is every quite the same. If you’re a fan of Warhammer and the extended universe, or even if your not and enjoy a good domination boardgame you will enjoy this game. Prepare to do over your friends and not feel bad about it. This Old World ain’t big enough for the four of you!
3 Player (2 hours) 4 Player (2 – 3 Hours)
There is also an expansion for this game which brings in the nefarious Skaven! The Horned Rat expansion brings the twisted Thirteenth Council to the Old World and allows you to flood the Empire with the furry ratmen. Check out my review for that soon!
A whole hearted recommendation then from me, but what do you guys think?