Quick Look: Instant Warfare: Military Battle
Designer: Taylor Gittins
Publisher: Instant Warfare: Military Battle
It can be rather amazing how easily it is our initial perceptions can be way off from reality.
A few weeks ago, when I signed up to review a prototype of Instant Warfare, I was partially influenced by the apparent “size” of the box, which looked to be at least an adult shoe size from the angle of the photograph of it that I saw.
Now, imagine my shock when what I received ended up being smaller than the size of my favorite VW coffee mug!
Cue the double shock discovering this game is designed for 2-8 players. Absolute madness, I tell you!
Inside the box are 3 game dice (Weapon, Attack and Defense) 8 player cards, a big action deck of cards, and dozens of tokens/chips that will come to represent your division of troops, a few players aids and a teeny-tiny instruction manual. And that, my friends, is it!
The directions and rules could not be simpler. Although gameplay is mostly about dice chucking, the action cards will be there to offset some of the bad luck. More on this later.
To start out the game, each player takes a Board Piece that depicts various types of troops they may possess during the game. Since the focus of this particular game variant is “military”, the troops you may have in play are:
You may divide 24 of your initial troop tokens in any way desired among the troop types listed above. What do these differences in troop types mean? Initially,it may not seem like much, as counter to what you may think you aren’t going to be necessarily “attacking” with a chosen type of damage each round…again more on this later.
Each player will also take 3 action cards, which contain instantaneous effects that often negate the need for dice rolls determining the outcome of certain (and very specific) actions. You may never have more than 3 of these at one time so at the end of your turn when you always get to draw an action card, you may have to discard down to 3 of these!
Each player takes turns in a clockwise order. On your turn, you decide one other player you may want to attack. You take the weapon die, and roll it. Outcomes can include Miss, Hit (for one damage) and Deadly Strike.
If you scored a miss…well…self-explanatory.
If you managed to score a Hit or Deadly Strike, your enemy has a chance to defend. They can either defend successfully and take no damage with their roll, get retaliatory damage done to their attacker or even trigger a Special Defense ability, to trigger zero damage for them and a special counter strike for some cool effects.
The Weapon Dice from Deadly Strikes can trigger the following:
Bullets—3 damage to a single target type
Missiles—2 damage to all troops of the type (except for yours) that you attacked on the board, regardless of who they belong to.
Torpedos : Unblock-able, 2 damage that ignores defense.
Pistol : Allows you to steal 2 units from the troop you attacked, placing them on your board
Bombs : Does 1 damage to all of the troop types remaining for the player you attacked
Grenade : Steals 2 troop tokens from a chosen troop. Cannot be reflected or revenged (retaliated against with another steal action)
The types of Special Defenses that you will activate when defending will depend on the type of troop your opponent had attacked :
Infantry : Steal 2 Troops from Opponent
Air Force : 1 damage to all remaining enemy troop types
Tank : Heal 2 (gain them back into your pool of troops)
Submarine : Counterattack for 3 whopping damage
Gun Ship : 1 damage to all other players
Helicopter : If you are damaged, reflect 2 back to the source.
Play is pretty straight forward, and continues with players attacking, defending, and using action cards (whenever they can, as indicated by the card itself) until there is only one player left surviving—this is a game of global domination after all!
To toss further chaos into the game, the game can introduce “Politics” into the game once you have 4 or more players. This randomly assigns each player a card at the start of the game infuses them into the role of a different political party, which can range from “moderate” alignments such as capitalist and socialist in 4-5 player games and even allowing “extremist” allegiances such as “anarchist” when employing larger player counts. Each faction has some unique abilities, and the addition of extremist factions (with the most powerful abilities in the game) adds a new level of coordinated efforts that must be undertaking to weed out the strongest factions first.
Given this is a prototype, please keep in mind that rules and components are subject to change.
All in all, everyone was really surprised by how much punch Instant Warfare carries for such a small size. While I own many games that enjoy a small space index (see my reviews of Sushi Go!, Dwarf, and Maeshowe: an Orkney Saga for examples), we found that Instant Warfare took up the least amount of space of all the games that we own when looking only at the “center” of our playing space (not players individual areas, cumulatively). What makes this so especially surprising is that this game comes with enough components to support 8 players, which is equally astonishing for its size.
We recently encountered a dilemma about a week prior to receiving Instant Warfare where we were vacation in a hotel we frequent at least once a year.
We had come to expect our usual large table in our hotel room, and brought all sorts of board games, large and small, to be able to play when recovering from our day’s activities each night, but were rather shocked this year to find there was no such large table this year—just a small end table that really could not allow us to do much of anything.
After we arrived home the subsequent week, Instant Warfare hit my doorstep, and its appeal became apparent to me, as it became immediately apparent to me that where all other games had failed over our vacation, Instant Warfare would have emerged as the only success in terms of being able to get to the table.
For three players at least, it takes up the virtually smallest space profile that we currently enjoy-even when fully set up—and as such, would have been one game for sure that we could have enjoyed while on our trip.
As for other observations, it may initially seem there is not strategy, given that the troop types you allocate at the beginning of the game have no special, direct attack abilities. However, you later realize that it does in some sense become learning to “play the odds” to your strategy and what you know about the enemy layouts and configurations/allocations of troops, and how to maximize your damage should you be fortunate enough to land Deadly Strikes and Special Defenses.
Best of all, the game could be enjoyed by a wide variety of ages. Even our 5-year old was able to play—and win multiple times in a row, might I add!
This game can be taught and learned in under 5 minutes for just about anyone, and best of all, it is a blast if only because of the banter it provokes—you will form uneasy alliances and team up against the current leaders of the game, only to turn on your allies as soon as you realize that they are gaining power!
All in all, I would say this game has great value. In case this wasn’t enough incentive, the folks at Stiltskin Publishing are also coming out with other travel-sized variants of Instant Warfare, each with their own theme and unique mechanics. While I was not able to play these, they look intriguing, with more than just subtle variations between the new incarnations. Among the new variants that are forthcoming are the following expansions, each with their own respective new cards and dice :
Mythical Warfare has weather cards that you can place in front of an opponent and it debuffs them (cannot use action cards while affected, cannot use a block, etc.)
Cursed Warfare has damage cards that compound on each other. Draw a ‘mark of the beast’ and play it immediately (mini game where each player drops damage cards on your head before the next players turn)
Feudal Warfare has a nobility system which enables non radical players to trade political cards with radical players. This is basically a fight for the best character mechanic because the Emperor political card does crazy damage.
There is even a cooperative RPG fight against a dungeon boss!
Instant warfare is coming to Kickstarter on September 15. If you are fan of dice-chuckers, or fun that you can pull out in a flash, check it out—it isn’t just Instant Warfare, it is Instant Fun and Gratification that can be carried anywhere for the gamer on the go!
Check out Instant Warfare: Military Battle and Stiltskin Publishing on:
Jazz Paladin- Reviewer