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WARFIGHTER: WWII from DVG Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game  was DVG 's first introduction to modern day ...







Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game was DVG's first introduction to modern day tactical combat and the engrossing system created to simulate it.  It doesn't take much guess work looking at the title at the top of the page to know where their second foray into their system is taking us and so, if you are new to this system then I'd strongly recommend that you have a look first at my earlier review of Warfighter [for short].  This will give you a detailed idea of the basic game system and, as this move back to WWII makes few departures from the original, my goal today is three-fold.  These are [1] to comment on the quality and presentation of the basic game,  [2] to sketch in the minor additions and improvements to the basic game product and [3] to look at the expansions package in its entirety. 

For a small company DVG has a very high reputation and deservedly so.  By the time Warfighter appeared, card and counter quality were second to none.  Only the substantial game board came in for some criticism, not through lack of quality, but because [despite its impressive size] it wasn't really large enough to accommodate all the Hostile cards that were likely to end up displayed on the board.  A revamped board in the mighty Footlocker expansion went some way to improving this situation. But honestly to produce a board that would perfectly hold all the necessary Hostile cards would be massive and prohibitively expensive!

The WWII board

In Warfighter WWII, they've supplied a variant on this upgraded board that is clearer, sharper and even more user friendly.  I've certainly had no problems with any of my games about being sure which locations all my Hostiles were located in.  Despite this you'll still read moans from some players claiming that they never use the board or that placing the several decks of cards in their allocated place covers up the design work!  If you think playing on a plain table top creating your own layout is preferable, then that's your choice.
The host of quality counters before being pressed out.
... and just a sample after pressing out

All the counters [four sheets of them] are the magnificent circular or rounded corner variety that press out with ease and not a single dog-ear in sight when you've finished.  The cards, and once again so many of them, are a delight.  The illustrations for all the Soldier, Hostile and Action cards look like genuine black and white/sepia or late war colour quality reproductions.  If any are modern mock-ups, they're a damned fine job.
Just a few of your soldiers 

However, be warned you will find diametrically opposed views to mine, one of the strongest being "unattractive .. atrocious graphic design: there are few icons .. they are a chore to read."  The commentator in question would have preferred graphically created soldiers [such as the image on the box front] and scenes instead of the use of actual historical material.  I like the cards for exactly the reason that they use actual historical material; I wouldn't want some artist's drawing instead.  So, who's right?  I mention this because I don't think there is a game where the same element won't be praised by someone and decried by someone else.  What worries me is that opinion, as in this instance, is so often presented as fact.  Of even more concern is that this comment was given in reply to a request for advice from someone as yet undecided on whether to buy the game.

The comment about lack of icons, however, seems just to want icons without considering whether they are appropriate or an improvement.  The information on many cards is of two types - a table to roll to see whether you or a Hostile has scored a miss/wound and instructions.  Can't do anything about getting rid of the numbers and would icons help to convey a miss/wound better than the words themselves? Any other words on the cards are explanations that simply couldn't be conveyed in any other way.
Do you think this information could be conveyed by icons?
Or what about using icons for these instructions?

The one change to the cards is from one reticule for each individual Hostile on a card to a single reticule with the number of Hostiles inside it.  At first, I missed this detail, but as the KIA and Suppressed markers rarely stayed in place on top of each reticule, so that you often had to check how many reticules there were underneath, I soon began to appreciate just having the number in view all the time.

But for me the single major outstanding upgrade is the rule book - nearly 20 pages longer.  For those looking for lots of new rules, there may be a disappointment.  There are only a few new rules.  Instead, you get a far better layout.  Comparing the front cover of the rule books for Warfighter and Warfighter WWII spells out the change.  The former is taken up for three quarters of the page with a lovely picture and for a quarter with the index, the latter has no lovely picture, just a full page index.
The front of the new rule book may not be as attractive,
but it sure is more useful

This index has ten side headings with 70 subsections.  If you need to find a rule, it couldn't be easier.  Inside, the same improved layout for ease of access and use continues.  Following much the same order of information as in the first game, there is an increase of white space that adds to making reading easier and swifter.  Each major section has each page boldly edged in distinguishing colours and labeled in large block capital letters. 

There is a much more helpful inclusion of subheadings, which results in many smaller rules being properly spelt out at the right point and consequently not being overlooked.  In this respect, Covert and Support Action cards stand out as a typical example.  In the original Warfighter, they were only too easy to overlook and difficult to find when needed - now they get proper prominent explanation.  Despite all these features, there are still comments out there about confusing rules, poor organisation or hard to find rules and taking repeated games to get things working smoothly.  All I can say is that wasn't my experience.   

hen it comes down to what's in the content of the rules, there are no major changes.  Partly, I think this is because the original set for the modern world were so thorough and that when you are dealing with the tactical level, many concepts remain much the same and only the nature and quality of the weapons may change.  Perhaps, some may feel that the stats of some WWII weapons as compared to modern day weapons don't differ sufficiently.  Personally, as a gamer of the old John Hill variety, where effect is more important than hard statistical data, Warfighter WWII provides just as many tense nerve-shredding moments as is needed to keep me happy.

With the wide, wide range of Action cards and the sheer multiplicity of interactions between them and the soldiers you have on the Mission... and their different weapons ... and their equipment... and their varying skills and abilities, there is more than enough to handle and totally engross me in the unfolding narrative.

Only three new elements stand out.  The first is an extension of the area of hand to hand combat, with Melee, Unarmed and Thrown included.  The second is the introduction of Event cards that are drawn and occur when a Hostile card is drawn that contains the Event keyword.  Again, I loved this way of bringing random events into the game.  The basic game provides only American Soldiers against German Hostiles and even here I deliberately avoided looking at any of the Event cards so that each turn of the card was a fresh experience.   Each Event is different and I look forward to discovering new ones as I explore the different Nationality expansions in the future.  Sadly, a quick glance shows that the expansions provide very few additional Event cards. 

The last new introduction is Service Record cards; besides adding  a note of historical colour, I think their effect can best be described as adding a further riff on top of the use of Skill cards.  Interesting without being anything exceptional.

As always in the rulebook, at the end there is an excellent 6 page play through of a complete sample Mission that helps illustrate the rules so effectively and root them firmly in your head.  Finally, everything is rounded off with a 4 page player aid on stout glossy card alphabetically listing all the Keywords. 

I hope by now I've convinced you of the quality and value of the basic game and just to entice you further, in a few weeks' time, I shall be writing up "A Country Stroll", a detailed AAR of a typical Mission, which uses purely the components that come in the basic game.

So ...from the essential game to the expansions ... twelve in all.  Briefly:-
Expansion 1    US  #1
Expansion 2    UK #1
Expansion 3    German #1
Expansion 4    Gear
Expansion 5    Ammo Box
Expansion 6    US #2
Expansion 7    UK #2
Expansion 8    German #2
Expansion 9    Russian #1
Expansion 10  Russian #2
Expansion 11  Polish #1
Expansion 12  Polish #2

These have come in for a fair amount of criticism mainly on the grounds that they provide too much mixture in each, so that you are forced to buy both expansions of a single nationality.  The implication is usually that this is a way to force us to part with more money.  Having looked closely at what is offered and what each expansion contains, I'd like to offer a different analysis and explanation.  

As the basic game features purely US Soldiers v German Hostiles, the initial Expansions covering these two nations differ from all the additional nations covered in this first Wave of expansions.  With obvious logic, Expansion 1 US#1, predominantly contains US Hostiles divided between Frontline and Elite units [37 cards in total],while Expansion 3 German #1 holds mainly German Soldiers and German Weapons.  So far, so logical and I would consider totally what I'd expect and want these Expansions to contain.  Consequently, US #2 and German #2 are mainly what I'd call completist decks - i.e. you don't really need them, but you'll get them just to have everything! 

The other nations' expansions follow, at their core, a pattern that reflects the fact that nothing in the basic game contains their  nation.  So, first and foremost in each Expansion #1 comes a mix of Soldiers and Hostiles and then a spread of weapons, equipment and skills.  Again, I think, a logical decision.  However, variations reflect certain basic factors. 

[As a Brit, I inevitably turned to the British expansion pack first, but I can assure you that, if you never invest beyond the basic game, just playing as the American soldiers against German Hostiles will give you hours and hours of unfailing pleasure and excitement!]

, the United Kingdom Expansion #1 provides more Soldiers [17] and Hostiles [15 Frontline and 17 Elite] than other new nations, while adding in a few Action cards,  a few nationality specific weapons and a few Skill cards and Expansion #2 continues a similar pattern.   The logic for this is that there is no need to greatly add Location or Mission cards, as they largely mirror US cards.

However, the Russian Expansion #1 reduces the number of Soldier &  Hostile cards in order to accommodate the need for more Location and Weapon specific cards [and a few Objectives] to reflect the significantly changed terrain and weather.  Not, I would have thought,  unreasonable. 
Typically, rubble and heavy rubble make an appearance, as do such locations as a warehouse, snow tunnels and the tank factory in the cards featured below.  Apart from introducing these archetypal Russian locations, some of this Expansion cards are the first to introduce harsh Environments - in this case Cold!!  So, at last the use of Hardy Counters for your Soldiers to help counter these harsh environments become an important additional element in your planning.  When the 2nd Wave of Expansions appear, we'll be off to North Africa and Hot Locations too!

The final country to feature is Poland, with both expansions focusing heavily on Soldiers and Hostiles, though I was very pleased to see a number of very specific Service Record cards identifying this nation.  Some  of them you can see below.

As far as I can see, the only possible alternative approach to handling the Expansions would have been to make each Nation's Expansion #1 primarily a Soldier deck and Expansion #2 a Hostile deck.  This would have meant that to be able to play each new Nation as both Soldiers and Hostiles, both Expansions were essential.  With the choice that the company made, you can experience each Nation as both Soldier & Hostile by buying just a single Expansion.  For my money, that's a good decision and certainly not one designed to exploit.

The remaining two Expansions are Exp 4 entitled Gear which is misleading as 24 of the cards introduce more UK and German Hostiles.  In this case I really would have expected the focus to be purely on Equipment and Weapons.  This is probably the most easily omitted Expansion, if need be.  If you aren't the sort that absolutely must own every single Expansion, then buying each nation's #1 Expansion is a good compromise.  

Last, and by no means least if size matters, is the Ammo Box.  In some ways a disappointment considering its cost.  Cardwise, it's primarily a substantial number more US/UK/German/Russian Soldiers and Hostiles, plus German Service Record cards.  Nice, but are they the most worthwhile addition? 

However, for me, it is the box that carries the day.  Slightly larger than the Warfighter Footlocker, but once more a vast amount of space is there, if you have gone for the whole shebang and want to store it very neatly and thematically.  Cards, counters [whether stored in small zip-lock bags or a tray], the  large, mounted game board, rule book, play aid, dice  - oh and don't let me forget the little bag of metal [clips of bullets, a few very flat hand grenades and wound tokens, and XP stars] and still there's plenty of room for the next Wave of Expansions!
Don't be deceived by my poor camera angle and the way I've leant the Expansion boxes, there really is lots more space and large, thick, glossy dividers to separate out all your hundreds of different types of cards.

Not the best items!!
Metal v Card

Well, there you have it - another incredible product.  But once more just the basic game is the key to it all and Warfighter Tactical Combat, whether modern or WWII is for me the best of all my primarily solitaire games.  [...and dare I whisper, somewhere down the line is Warfighter Fantasy ...]

1 comment :

  1. Really nice review! I greatly appreciate your comments on the expansions, as I couldn't find a decent, general description of them anywhere else. You've firmed up my decision as to how much, and in which order, to invest in this game. Keep up the good work!