August 19, 2013 by brennon
When I was at the UK Games Expo earlier this year I had the chance of sitting down to play Lords of War thanks to my friend urging me into a game. This turned out to be an awesome nudge in the right direction and I found a card game that was both tactical and easy to learn in Lords of War.
I have already looked at the main mechanics of the game through my first review of Orcs Versus Dwarves and if you’d like to know more about how the game actually plays I urge you to dive in there and read that. You can access that one HERE.
This review is going to focus on the new forces for both the Elves and Lizardmen in their new set and what it brings to the table as an expansion or indeed alternative battle pack for the game. It certainly has a lot to offer.
First off I’m going to dive into the Lizardmen and how I feel they work on the tabletop. This was the first faction of the two I picked up and I immediately found a lot of information hitting me. These guys have a lot more options when it comes to attacking with a variety of strengths aiming in various directions. It’s hard to avoid the savage advances of the Lizardmen as they hit out in all directions.
Of course this isn’t just a tactical headache for your opponents. This also works against you too. With so many angles of attack you have to think very carefully about where you put your soldiers. If you clam them up too much then you will end up losing out on certain beneficial attacks and at its heart I have found that Lizardmen work very well as an ambush force, leaping out of the jungle to gut their opponent before darting back into the forest.
This is most apparent when you come up against the Cruor Sacrifice card. This assassin is different to the ones present in Orcs Versus Dwarves due to its ability to hit out at not one, but two opponents with its five strength attack. This can be utterly devastating when used properly and if you can pin down cavalry with your spearmen then you can easily blunt the charge, I’ll get onto cavalry in more detail later. There are two of them that attack forwards and two that attack back so you have any number of options whether you’re butchering ranged units or going head on. Don’t expect them to survive but be safe in the knowledge that your enemy will be weeping a little at this point.
Their leader card, Kai’itza of Xhotl is as tough as the Dwarf one, Krod Klouthammer and while the Dwarf has a more definitive attacking direction Kai’itza has spread his damage to the front, and sides, with strength four each way. He is a tough nut indeed.
The other interesting angle the Lizardmen bring are their fast but flexible cavalry options. Dwarves had none of these and while the Orcs had access to some very brutal offerings the Lizardman can bring their Trike and Compy to battle with a horrendous array of options. I think this exemplifies the Lizardman force in many ways. You have a lot of options to choose from making the force very flexible. If one plan isn’t working then you can change it up very quickly.
I think it’s time we jumped into the wood with the Elves now! These guys give me a perfect chance to talk about cavalry and the new rules that have been added in by the developers. Normally you can’t take a card away from the battlefield as a withdrawal unless it’s unengaged. Well, Cavalry can now do that if you follow the intermediate rules.
Here is an example. You could charge in your cavalry unit to engage an enemy. Then, next turn despite there being an arrow pointing in its direction you can withdraw your cavalry to then head off into a different melee. Of course you do this instead of drawing a new card but it means you can have an incredibly powerful tool at your disposal. This isn’t just for Elves however and any forces can make use of their cavalry in this way (apart from Dwarves who have none).
The Elves are masters at this with eight cards having the cavalry symbol. They aren’t push over’s either! They might have a relatively low armour but their mass of attacking options and the way they can skip around the battlefield means you can become a really irritating opponent! Couple this with two hero choices with five and six health each being able to engage in a fight and then if all is going poorly, relocate elsewhere despite the attacks means you have a force that can ambush with impunity. Well, you’d think so anyway.
The only caveat to this rule comes with spearmen. These units were seen as ranged anchors in the past with very little health and not a lot of attacking power. Now however they can cancel out the cavalry ability. It makes sense really. A bristling nest of spears is enough to corral even the most deadly of cavalry advances. If you use them right then you can now pin down your opponents cavalry and put them to the sword. Thank the Gods that the Dwarves have spearmen!
Talking of spearmen the Elves have a fair few too. Nine of them grace their deck with a nasty hero character too meaning that while the Elves know how to use horses they also know the ways of combating them too. A potent combination. Pin down your opponents cavalry and then send in your own to finish the job.
As if that wasn’t enough the Elves also have some masterful bowmen. The humble Elven Archers might only have four armour each but they can strike out in a massive three by three square of threat and if the enemy come for them a thicket of blades will greet them. Ranged attacks are also a speciality of the Lizardmen but the Elves know how to do it well.
This might sounds like “Elves are broken” but I assure you they aren’t. For all their ferocious abilities and options they are also very soft when actually hit. If you can set up a watertight castle on the battlefield and weather the storm then you will be able to strike out against them with abandon. Another tactic I’ve heard is making brutal shield walls where the enemy might be able to get a kill but die in the attempt. This is most apparent in their Puresouls who are as dangerous as the Cruor Sacrifices but only have one health each. Both the Dwarf and Orc assassins have two meaning that they can be deployed into more deadly circumstances and possibly come out alive, still threatening the board.
Elves Versus Lizardmen essentially takes the game to a new tactical level. The game has always been one of sacrifice and Chess-like decision making but the Elves and Lizardmen feel this the most. The Dwarves and Orcs can weather the storm and most of the time once they are on the board, they stay there. The pointy ears and their cold blooded foes are a flexible almost fluid force that moves about the play space looking to exploit openings. Its risky but it can pay off massively if you’re careful.
Before I move to do the summary of my thoughts here it would be remiss of me not to mention the artwork. Once again Black Box have outdone themselves with some astoundingly nice work that is in keeping with the artwork present in Orcs Versus Dwarves but adds a nice splash of colour too. The Elves in particular are an ethereal delight/
I think you can probably tell that I enjoy this game and much thanks to Black Box for sending me out a copy for review. You can start with either of these packs but I would suggest that Elves Versus Lizardmen be your second choice. Get Orcs Versus Dwarves first and cement your understanding of the rules then grab this next pack and take things to a whole new level. It will certainly get interesting when you start to mix the decks together!
Templars Versus Undead is on the way next and I can’t wait to see how that turns out. Bring it on!