My son, Travis, and I spent Saturday afternoon at Petersen Games playing their latest game, The Gods War. We played a quick 4-player game before we broke for supper, then continued with part of Sandy’s core gaming group for a longer 6-player game. Between the three games, I have seen all of the factions played, and some of them, like Chaos, by three different people. Each combination of the faction’s abilities and player’s individual style significantly changed how each was played. Below I’ll explain a little of what makes each faction unique and what I think of the play style.
I have now seen Chaos played three times and each time was completely different. Chaos’ unique abilities lend itself to an aggressive play style where you are rewarded by death on the battlefield. Death of any sort increases the Mad God counter and Chaos plays off this as his Mad God Ragnaglar’s combat abilities tie directly to this counter. When the counter is 10 or more at the end of a round Chaos must roll 1d6 and decrement the counter by that value. This helps keep the game balanced, but even with a combat of 8 or 9 Ragnaglar is a formidable foe. It is still possible to see much larger combat numbers, depending on where in the round Chaos’ turn is. In our last game Travis entered combat with the counter at 15, and rolled 7 additional dice for a total of 22. The win didn’t help his position significantly, but it did swing the odds away from The Invisible God and helped Sea win.
In our first game Travis played Darkness, but struggled to find a good strategy. In hindsight it would be better to play Darkness aggressively attacking at every chance and swooping in to clean up the weakened factions after a battle. Darkness’ abilities allow his units to leave hell whenever they want, and appear anywhere on the map. Other factions must ask permission and occasionally barter with a stronger unit to get out of hell and must appear in a specific location.
Sky is the only faction to start with their greater god on the map. The Sun God, starts the game in Hell, but must wait for a stronger unit to arrive before he can ask permission to leave. If the Sun God is defeated in combat he does not die, but simply returns to Hell. Thankfully Sky can offer gifts of runes to barter for freedom. Sky’s best strategy appears to be in the long game, slowly gaining power and allies until their strength makes them difficult to eradicate.
Storm’s greatest ability allows for cheap and quick movement of troops across the map. While this is of limited value early in the game when combat is at a minimum it can make Storm a difficult foe in the mid to late game. This allows Storm to set up defensive positions without sacrificing the ability to attack. Teleport is one of Storm’s unique gifts and it allows their greater god to teleport into or out of a location and take any unit along for a ride. This is useful to bring in reinforcements, or to kidnap an opponent’s unit and remove it from battle. Storm is best played aggressively but be careful not to overextend your reach.
I played Earth in our third game, and stuck to a safe yet defensive strategy. Looking back I should have been a little more aggressive and utilized the Earth Queens more. Any time an Earth Queen enters the game it is married to the faction of its color. The faction to which the queen is wed controls her, but both Earth and that faction gain power each turn. The Earth Queen counts as one combat against any other foe and is powerless against Earth, though still useful as a meat shield.
Unlike the other factions, the Invisible God has no greater god. Instead they have minions, lesser gods, and different building types. Castles and towers allow quick movement between each other and increase the power of the knights and wizards. Specter’s have three combat when attacking, but only one when defending so it is best to take the offensive early.
Moon’s game mechanic is tied to the lunar phase. As the moon waxes and wanes so does their unit’s strengths. Various actions in the game can advance the phase of the moon. Each player may also spend one power to advance the phase. With careful planning it should be possible to attack Moon at her weakest, but be wary of enemies who may increase her strength while you prepare for battle.
One of Sea’s unique powers is to sink a section of land, turning it into ocean. Any buildings or units in the area remain, unharmed, but if there is a ziggurat in the area Sea gains extra power each round. Sinking the land will also affect routes and when used properly can thwart an advancing enemy. In my second game I placed a respectable second using Sea and a mildly aggressive play style. I would have done better to pay more attention to the oversea routes and impede travel more than I did. In our third game another player won the game using Sea and a more aggressive style.
While each faction has its own unique abilities and play styles, Travis and I both agree that Chaos is our favorite we have played so far. Still, we’re eager to try out the rest of the factions and experiment with different play styles. While it may not be possible to fully understand the intricate aspects of each faction in one play, the overall mechanics of the game are easy to grasp and understand. I think this lends itself well to replayability as you experiment with different factions and play styles. I’ve bought into the Kickstarter at the Lesser God level which gets me the core game and Empires. In all this will give me more than 80 high quality resin casts which will certainly find themselves teleported into other board games or RPGs in the future.
While The Gods War is fully funded, there are stretch goals to make, so if you’re invested in the game now is the time to tell your friends to jump on board. For a more comprehensive look at how the game is played, Sandy has posted a video of a 5 player game at his house. It’s three hours long, but is worth skipping through if you’re still curious about how the game is played.