Posted on September 29, 2016
WindUp War (on Kickstarter now)
WindUp War on Kickstarter now. Some of the art will change but the game play is pretty fixed. The Designer sent us a review copy and we are glad they did.
Do not be confused by the size of my army – for it is mighty and will do you great harm!
WindUp War is a fun little game where you control 3 tiny windup toys in a battle against other teams of windups. There are tanks, dinosaurs, teddy bears and more. Each turn everybody programs their actions at the same time and then see how things turn out. If one of your windups get destroyed you move the next one in to continue the battle. Last one standing wins.
So that’s the basics, but let’s look at the game in detail.
First off – everyone chooses a team:
Everyone will get a team of windups (for the preview copy we got Dinosaurs and Toy Soldiers, but there will be six in all). Let’s say you selected Dinosaurs. From your collection of Dinos you are going to choose 3 windup units to go into battle.
Each unit will have a number representing it’s HP, as well as at least one colored ribbon on its card. The HP indicates how much damage you can take before your unit is destroyed. The ribbons indicate what types of actions that unit can take. Units with Pink ribbons can perform Pink actions, units with Blue ribbons can perform Blue actions. All units can perform Black actions.
Next you will decide the order of combat for your team. This is permanently set at the beginning of the game. You choose one unit to start the war. It is placed on your heart tracker with the number of hearts showing equal to your unit’s HP. As your units are destroyed (and they will be), your next unit in line moves onto the heart tracker and continues the battle where the other unit left off.
This is where the strategy starts to come in, and also the fun. You see, you have to program five actions each turn. If one of your units dies on the 3rd action of the turn, the next unit comes in and takes the 4th action whether it is what you really had planned or not. This can work out, or be a complete bust. That’s where the ribbons come in.
Say I’m playing Dinos and I have these three units selected:
If I set my team up to play in this order, I should be ok. If I time it right, I can play green actions for awhile, and even if my 1st unit is destroyed, my second unit can also play green actions, so it could continue my strategy uninterrupted. If I think my 2nd unit is about to be destroyed soon, I may want to start using Pink actions so that my 3rd unit can continue. (You could always play Black actions as well, since all units it’s can use those). Also it is important to know that if a unit comes into play and all of the remaining programmed actions are of a color that unit cannot use, then those actions are treated as blocks. All used actions are sent to the discard piled until reclaimed using the Full Reload card (more in that in a minute).
Everyone has the same actions available to them, no matter what faction of Windups you are playing.
The choices you make, however are completely your own, and make the game different each time you play it.
So, first all players program in 5 actions for their units to take, then they are all revealed simultaneously and all actions are resolved as if they were occurring at the same time. It is helpful to start with one player and go around the table, but even if your unit was destroyed because of events from this round of actions, you still get to do damage, because all actions happen simultaneously.
Here’s what a programmed set of actions might look like:
In the above example, the 1st Dino unit can use Green actions and has 4HP so I chose to go all out attack with one Block thrown in to hopefully throw my opponents off a bit. The last action is a Full Reload, which will add all of the cards to the left of it, plus all of the action cards in my discard pile back into my hand. This can be quite handy, especially if a unit with 4 or 5 HP can survive for more than one round.
But let’s say my 1st Dino is down to one Heart left. Maybe I want to make plans to move on to my next unit:
Now if my 1st unit is destroyed this round, my 2nd unit can pick right up with the all out attack. I have chosen to not use the Full Reload card this round, which may come back to bite me if my 2nd unit is also destroyed since there will not any pink actions left for my 3rd unit to perform next round. I can still use Black action cards, and play other colors as blocks, but looks a little grim. (Better hope I win it all this round).
One other thing to take into account is what happens when a player is completely eliminated from the game. After that happens, you skip them in the resolution of actions. So if there were only 2 players left in the game and I had programmed in an attack of Green-“attack 2 to the Left,”. I would hit myself. This could make for an interesting round or a quick ending.
So…that’s the basics of gameplay. You continue playing rounds until there is only one team of Windups left standing and they are declared the winner.
Windup Roundup (The Good, the Bad, and the Cute):
Let’s start with the cute. The art for this game is really fun. All of the little Windups have their own personalities, and make the game much better. I only wish they were a little bigger so that they could show off the artwork a little bit more.
Which brings me to the only thing I really have negative to say about the game, and that is that the cards are a little too small for me. I found it difficult to hold the cards in my hands while choosing my actions and I kept dropping them. I understand that they are small on purpose, making it possible to carry 6 armies of Windups with you in a small box, but I might pay a little more for a larger set. Also a larger set would take up more room on the table, which was probably also a concern. But this is really a minor point for me, and might change during the course of the Kickstarter, who knows?
Overall, I really like this game. It has a lot of replayability. Even if you get stuck in a rut playing the same group of Teddy Bears over and over, other players’ actions are going to change your game decisions based on the outcome of each round. Also, you may end up with a really powerful Pink Dinosaur or Tank to their not so impressive Purple Teddy Bear, thereby making the final battle less in doubt. (Plus if no one has any Blue or Orange units left, you don’t have to worry about Bombs or Flame actions). But this also means you planned really well, and maybe they did not. Or maybe they just were the target of too many other people and you won because you flew under the radar for the first few rounds.
I really think that this game will appeal to a lot of different people. It’s easy to teach, easy to grasp and really quick to play. It is a filler. It’s not going to be a main event type game, but it’s not trying to be either. It’s a great little game that doesn’t take very long and travels extremely well. I see myself throwing it in my game bag as a “just in case” game for almost every game night, but also pulling it out as an intro game to start the night or to introduce new players to a programming game (“Let’s learn this, then we can learn Robo Rally or Dragon and Flagon”).
But overall, really fun and deeper than it seems at first glance. I look forward to seeing the final version of the game when it hits Kickstarter.
Do not be confused by the tiny packaging, this game packs a punch. Ninja Approved!
Update : The cards have indeed increased in size since the preview copy I received (yay!) – also the rules have been tweaked slightly – all of this is available to explore on the Kickstarter page (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1839615594/windup-war-the-cutest-combat-card-game?ref=nav_search ) as you prepare for battle.