Wednesday, September 4, 2013

High Command first look

One of the product releases I have been keeping an eye out for this year is High Command, the "collectible" Warmachine card game. This is one of the new Living Card Games (like the Star Wars and Netrunner) that all the cool kids seem to be putting on sale. I say "cool kids" as am an old school card gamer that started playing Magic back in the early 90's and enjoys the idea of buying boxes of outers and opening pack after pack looking for "rares" so this idea of buying a single booster pack every couple of months seems odd!

Victor and I sat down and had a look at the game last week. We had a quick read through of the rules which seemed surprisingly straight forward, with a lot of the complexity sitting on the cards just like Warmachine itself. If you have the PPDigital App you can download the rules to have a look. Sorting out the cards was a complete pain the nether regions with so many decks and sub decks! The cards were not sorted in any way that I could quickly discern and it took the two of us quite some time to organise them by faction and then by colour etc.

Decks all sorted out
Once the hard work was done we played through the quick start version in about 40 minutes and did not have any major issues that we could not quickly sort out with a brief look at the rules. We were a little perplexed by the lack of one card, although this has been errata'ed now (nothing like last minute changes in the design process). The game was fun, although Victor did win - he was playing Cryx so it was expected! I wont go into how the game plays etc as there is a great video from PP explaining everything so just watch that.

Once the game was complete I sorted the cards back into their decks. Another time consuming process that is for sure! I do like how the interior of the High Command box is organised though with enough slots to keep all of your mini decks organised and separated. Not sure how useful this is because it does seem like an awful waste of space for both packing/shipping, and for storage. It is still a very cool idea though and I take my hat off to whoever came up with it.

All sleeved up and sorted by colour
The other reason I think it was well planned is that once you put sleeves on the cards (as any self respecting card player would do within moments of opening the box) they fit quite snugly into the slots, making it more stable for transport etc. However I am still not convinced it is a great long term storage solution as it would be easier to buy a $5 card box and just store your decks in there.

There is one word of caution I would give if you are planning on sleeving your cards. The location deck (which you capture over the course of the game) can end up mixed into your Army Deck, which players could use to help with a little deck shuffling shenanigans if you just put a traditional clear card sleeve on. Simple solution... only play with friends and it is not an issue!

So, initial thoughts - game looks fun, plays fast (we have had a second game that took 35 minutes with full decks etc), has some cool mechanics, keen to play a multi player game sooner rather than later, but frustrating at the amount of faffing around tidying up after a game. I'd put this down as a fun diversion when you want to play something Warmachine related, but not Warmachine itself. The Hordes version is on sale later this year and perhaps this is the most telling point about the game, I am not sure I see the point in buying both the Warmachine and Hordes versions - pick whichever one floats your boat and go with that I say!

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