Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions does not have a story, so let’s move on.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions, as its name suggests, is based off of the popular trading card game of the same name. With thousands of players already invested in the trading card game, it seems only logical to bring it to the Switch. I have, however, a slight feeling this game is going to split its fan base.
Free-to-Play or Pay-to-win?
Firstly I want to get this out of the way, as it drags down what is an excellent tactical board game. So what do I mean by free-to-play? It is that the game is entirely free to download and start. I am sure we have all had the joys and annoyances of mobile games that are free but the grind is immense and the progression is slow, that just about sums up Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions. Even if it is slightly faster than a mobile game.
With Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions taking a mobile approach to the game, its geared to the players who want cards quick and not the time to earn the cards. So it may be more of a grind than other games that you pay for. This is no doubt to make paying for the crystals more appealing and get the super advertised spell card that can only be bought with crystals.
Taking this approach then makes the game pay-to-win, in the sense that people will pay real money for these cards and packs. I dislike this practice in games, which is why I do not play mobile games (crystals can be earned in the game also.)
This way of playing will no doubt split the fan base into three categories;
First: The players of the card game that the belief is physical is the only way to play.
Second: The fans who don’t mind the free-to-play mobile model as they will grind away or pay for the good cards.
Third: The fans who do not like the mobile gaming practice who might try it then never look back (this is me).
Splitting the fans this way is going to make or break this game. I, for one, would have instead liked to have gotten the game and paid for it and cards are all there with no money needed to unlock them, like in the Yu-Gi-Oh games.
Now that I got the bad out of the way, let’s move on to the good.
The board game is really good. It is also super simple to play and understand the basics and the core mechanics; this is always a plus in a board game. There is a short tutorial that explains everything within three matches; once done you will have the core mechanics down. If you have not played Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions before, do the tutorial.
The Set Up
When entering a match, the first port of call is to pick the deck you want to use. There are;
Order – The humans, these are standard cards with buffing abilities
Chaos – Twisted abominations from the warp, cause big damage at the cost of own life
Death – The undead, cause decks to be reshuffled
Destruction – The green skins, piling on Orks for multiple damages
It to me seems how the starting decks play. Of course, these decks can be customised to your liking once the right card is collected or bought.
On to the board, as shown above, there are four spaces each, health pool on the left and the deck to the right. Firstly, you will need to place your champions; these are the first four pictures you see on the board. The champions determine what cards can be played, these are: Warrior allowing damage dealing cards to be played, Wizard uses spell cards, and Warrior-Wizard uses both types of spells.
More About Champions
Champions determine how your own game will flow. Firstly, allowing certain types of cards to be played. Along with that, some have special abilities that can be used once per game, for instance, give 4 health.
By far the biggest thing that needs to be considered, and this makes the game really tactical, is the champion’s missions. These are displayed on the square next to the champion and consist of four icons on each with its own objective, once all for objectives have been completed, the champions and unleash a special ability. The champions quest are;
1. Deploy a Unit (show by a red shield)
2. Deploy a spell (blue swirl)
3. Play an ability (white sword)
4. Deal damage (orange explosion)
5. Gain health (green bottle)
6. Remove a card (a square with an x in it)
Making sure the card you place on each champion corresponds with the quest is the best way to play.
Once the champions are placed, you draw four cards, then it is time to place cards. A player can perform two moves per turn, after which the turn is over and its the opponents turn. If you want to skip the turn without making a move, then two cards can be drawn, if one move is performed one card will be drawn. The opponent does the same and so on till one player has no cards or zero health.
Cards have numbers or X places at the corners; these indicate damage or no attack. These indicators rotate each turn until they hit a blank space then it is discarded. Some cards have special abilities, such as remove the opposite card to your card or lower damage received.
All this is just the general basics of the game summed up. There is a lot more to the game, but if i were to talk about it, I would be here for hours. If you would like to see the full set of rules, I linked them here.
Overall, the game is entertaining and tactical once you know the rules of the cards and are understood, and finding the right deck for yourself. I prefer Order, followed by Death.
If you already play the Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions card game, it is possible to scan in all your cards and use them in the game as well. Game Workshop is looking out for the fans at least. It is a massive plus for the people who play the card game but find it hard to get to events. I am sure a lot of players will find this exciting.
The sounds effects are nothing special, nor is the soundtrack. They are not bad, just do not add much to the game, and let us be honest, who plays a board game for the sound effects or music?
Visuals & Performance
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions does not have a lot of moving parts, so graphically it is good. Everything on the screen is crisp, clear, and smooth. Easily the most stand out element for me was the level of detail in each of the cards, some of them are stunning to look at.
As for performance, I found nothing wrong per se, just one little thing in the design of the game – the placing and using of the cards animation is so long feeling and breaks the games flow. Other than that, everything was smooth sailing.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions is a free game; nothing is stopping you in at least trying it.
The pay-to-win model might put some people off, it did for me. Unless you want to grind for loot boxes and money to buy new cards, then paying is the only way to progress quicker. I have never liked this gameplay archetype, and I don’t think I ever will.
Enjoyable and fun
Easy to pick and play
Scan in physical cards
Mobile free-to-play style
Long wait for cards to be played