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Pax East 2016: Hands on with This War of Mine: The Board Game

by: Nathan -
More On: This War of Mine PAX East 2016

This War of Mine is one of the most incredible games I have ever played. While a lot of war based games these days have you fighting as a soldier, This War of Mine reminds you that in war, not everyone is a soldier, and had you play as civilians doing whatever they could do to simply stay alive during the war. It was filled with incredibly difficult choices that no matter how many times I played the game, always stuck with me. Do you steal from other people who are trying to survive just as you are? Do you give up valuable resources like food and water to other people begging for help? I probably played through the game about 15 times and only survived the war once.

So imagine my excitement when I hard a board game was in development based on the game. I got to play through a prototype of the final game at PAX East and the board game version of This War of Mine does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the game.

This War of Mine will be a cooperative board game for 1-4 players. The game can end one of two ways. If all the characters die, the game ends, or at least one of the players survive long enough for the war to end, the game will end as well. After setting up the board the game begins a lot like the game. You decide what characters you want to send out at night to scavenge and which ones to leave behind. Each character has traits like whether or not they are good in combat, how much they can carry in terms of inventory and how much empathy they have, so you need to decide which characters would be best to send out at night when scavenging for items. When you get to your location you have a couple of things you need to pay attention to. The first is your noise level. It starts out at zero but as you perform actions you will need to roll the dice. If the number you roll is equal or lower to the current noise level it goes up. The higher it is, the more chances you have of triggering an event. 

The one thing I wondered about is how those events from the game would translate to the board game. Extremely well in fact. The board game I played was only a prototype so only a few scenarios were presented but the final version will be filled with tough decisions you have to make to progress through the night. These scenarios all correspond to a color. Blue results in an event which usually leads to something good, while red corresponds to you most likely having to endure a horrible scenario. The great thing about having a book filled with scenarios means that each game will be unique as it will feature a variety of different scenarios, choices and of course, consequences for your actions. 

A couple of scenarios I encountered were deciding whether or not to investigate a horrible rotting stench that was discovered in the supermarket. Upon investigation, we discovered that it was the bodies to two individuals who died holding hands. This caused each characters misery level to increase. For those who are familiar with the game will know that the game can get pretty dark at times and has some extremely disturbing content. For those who are uncomfortable with this kind of content, the final version of the game will allow you to completely skip over said events by removing the red color events all together. 

Once you finish scavenging for the night you make your way back to your safe house and then decide how to spend the rest of the day. Depending on the health of the characters, they can perform one or two actions. This may including clearing rubble from the house, raiding the house for supplies or using said supplies to build important items like beds, heaters and other luxuries that are not readily available during the war. Once that is finished, the process continues until the game ends. 

The other thing that I want to mention is that this game was incredibly easy to pick up and play. I feel like that learning new board games can be intimidating. The instruction manual for This War of Mine clearly guides you through the process of playing the game step by step and from what I played, it didn't seem like it featured any crazy or insane rules and regulations that can be difficult to understand. The game does feature multiple die but again, when it would come to rolling the dice, the instruction manual or the game cards will tell you exactly what each roll means. 

I cannot wait to get my hands on the final version of this and set up game nights with friends to play. We are always looking for new games to play which we don't put away minutes later because they are too confusing to learn. This War of Mine looks like it will provide the challenge of staying alive, but will also deliver tons of fun to keep the game going to completion. 

This War of Mine: The Board Game will begin it's Kickstarter campaign in May. You can check out a draft of what their Kickstarter campaign will contain but this is NOT the final version and could change by the time it goes live.