War of the Worlds: The New Wave

RRP: £34.99
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RRP £34.99
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War of the Worlds: The New Wave is an asymmetrical deck-building game with a playing board for two players. The game events unfold several years after the original “War of the Worlds” story by H.G. Wells. The extraterrestrial invasion is occurring once again, but this time the Martians have arrived on a giant spaceship that lands in one of the backwater districts in Scotland. Du…
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Category Tags , , SKU ZBG-GFG96727 Availability 1 in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Asymmetrical gameplay feels thematic
  • The rules are straight forward and card instructions are generally clear
  • Games feel tight and are usually close affairs
  • Gameplay is quick once you get the hang of it. It doesn’t outstay its welcome at all
  • A good introduction to deck building and asymmetrical games

Might Not Like

  • Not sure it will appeal to those who aren’t fond of the source material
  • It’s a deck builder, so success relies somewhat on the luck of the card draws
  • The Martians don’t feel as powerful as they should
  • The game board is a bit dull
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Description

War of the Worlds: The New Wave is an asymmetrical deck-building game with a playing board for two players. The game events unfold several years after the original “War of the Worlds” story by H.G. Wells.

The extraterrestrial invasion is occurring once again, but this time the Martians have arrived on a giant spaceship that lands in one of the backwater districts in Scotland. During the game, one player commands the alien forces, and the other one leads the UK self-defense units. The main objective of the invaders is to completely annihilate the population of Great Britain, while the opposite side needs to deal enough damage to the Martian army.

HOW TO PLAY

In War of the Words: The New Wave, two players deck-building game with a game board. During the game, one player commands the alien forces, while the other leads the UK’s human forces.

Each player spends their turn playing cards from their hand to execute their effects. They’ll also have the opportunity to improve their deck by adding more cards. The Alien forces win by removing all UK civilian tokens from the game board. The humans win by dealing 30 damage to the alien invasion forces.

In the original War of the Worlds, The Martians take over the Earth swiftly and brutally. They leave the Humans scrabbling – not to win a war, but to simply to survive in the aftermath. By the end (one-hundred-year-old spoilers ahead) the Martians meet defeat. Not by Humanity, but by the unlikeliest of saviours; the Common Cold.

In War of the Worlds: The Next Wave, the Aliens return a few years later to finish the job they started. Unfortunately for us, they have brought their warmest winter coats and stocked up on extra strength Lemsips. It turns out, however, that Humans have not been idle in the intervening years. This time, the Martians are not going to have it all their way.

Overview

War of The Worlds: The Next Wave is a two-player asymmetrical deck builder. In the game, two opposing forces fight for control of Great Britain. The Human player starts with 30 civilian tokens on the board and must aim to save as many of these as possible throughout the game. The Martians start from an Alien Mothership in the north of Scotland. They slowly make their way down the map, with the aim of wiping out the civilians. The humans must work to put together enough combat units, such as tanks and Battleships, to drive the Martians back to their icy homeworld.

Deck Building and turn actions

As with many deck builders, each player in War of the Worlds: The Next Wave starts with a deck of ten low-strength cards. They will also have access to an individual faction deck with unique abilities and units. Each turn players will deal themselves five cards, which they can use to take actions. They can move their forces, inflicting combat damage, or purchase new and more powerful cards from their offer pool (a “shop” made up of 6 cards from their faction decks). Crucially, these new cards, once played, will enable players to place combat units on the board. Tanks and ships for Humans, Tripods and UFOs for the Martians – as well as buildings that can boost the players’ combat or purchasing ability.

Asymmetrical Play: Alien Nation

In addition to the unique cards and units available to each player, the opposing sides must employ very different strategies if they want to win. The Martian player begins the game with two Tripods and one UFO on the board. These will likely do significant damage early on, as the Humans start only with civilians in play. For the Martians, their units and buildings are also indestructible. Once purchased and placed, you cannot remove them. This means that once they establish themselves on the map, those areas become lost forever to their opponent. The Martians slowly spread down from the North. Playing against the Martians can feel demoralising at first, especially in combat. Even when you inflict decent amounts of damage on Alien forces, there is no discernible difference in the board state to show for it.

Run Away!

For the Human player, War of the Worlds: The Next Wave is essentially a tactical retreat. Conserving your civilians is essential, but knowing when to sacrifice them for the greater good is just as important. The Human forces are flimsy in comparison to their Martian counterparts. The civilians seem to die with unnerving regularity in the early rounds of the game. However, they are tactically more flexible. Units such as tanks and battleships will keep re-spawning as the Human player cycles through their deck. You can place them wherever you have civilians on the board without aliens present. Effectively, this means that, while the Human forces may appear to be weaker, they are much more mobile. They disappear and appear where needed, while the indestructible Aliens lumber slowly around the board.

Winning the Game: Alien Overlords

The objective for the Martian Player is deceptively simple: exterminate the last Human civilian on the Board and victory is yours. As mentioned, there are thirty civilian cubes and they take one hit each. Tripods can do two or three points of damage each when they attack and, combined with other sinister Alien weapons of mass destruction, Martians can do massive amounts of damage in the space of one or two turns. This is made more difficult, however, by the fact that civilians can be defended. If they share a space with buildings and other combat units, the Martians must dispatch these first. And it must be done in the space of one turn. Damage doesn’t accumulate from turn to turn. If you have a civilian in a space with a fort with a defence of four, plus two tanks, you have to do six points of damage before you can touch the brown cube. But it can hit you. And believe me, it will. Effectively, this means that while the first ten civilians fall with ease, the last three or four cubes are painfully stubborn. They could even cost you the game.

Winning the Game: Plucky Human Resistance

For the Human player, there is a track along the right edge of the board. When the marker reaches 30, the Humans have driven the Martians away and they win the game. Despite the early turns being typically bloody for the Humans, the Martian damage marker moves surprisingly quickly. The downside of Alien units being indestructible is that they can’t be easily redeployed. And since even civilians can inflict damage, the cost of invasion can quickly mount up. This is especially the case when Battleships finally come out to play. These can attack coastal regions from the relative safety of the seas. They can do massive amounts of damage if not taken out quickly by UFOs.

Gameplay

In War of the Worlds: The Next Wave we have a game where two completely different factions can compete fairly to win the game. For such a light and simple game with a relatively brief teaching time, that is impressive. While the Humans and Aliens are by no means evenly matched, they can each deploy tactics and strategies to lead them to victory. The Humans must win by chipping away at the Aliens while slowly retreating, building up their weapons and forces to slow down the Martian assault. The Alien player, on the other hand, is in a race to defeat the Humans before they can muster resistance to inflict significant damage. As a Martian player, your greatest enemy is not the Humans. It’s time. Take too long wiping out the Humans and you face an uphill task. Tanks and ships respawn, turn after turn, to chip away at your damage meter.

Balancing Act

In terms of gameplay, it is an excellent balancing act. Both sides feel dissimilar enough to present a different kind of challenge, but neither is significantly advantaged. If pushed, I would suggest that the Martian forces might be easier for beginners. They start from a stronger position and their aims are fairly straightforward. The Human player has to weather some tricky early turns while building their resistance. But to be honest, this is marginal. Both sides can win and they will both need a degree of luck, as with any game that relies on card draws and skill, but it doesn’t feel unbalanced or unfair.

How the Game Looks

The presentation for War of the Worlds: The Next Wave is generally very good. The components are good quality. Each side has cardboard standees to represent the combat pieces, which look good on the board. The brown, wooden civilian cubes are… well, brown. The cards are on good stock, although one minor niggle is that the red and yellow icons on the Human decks weren’t as easy to read as the Martian deck. Still, this could be personal taste. The rulebook is well written, with plenty of illustrated examples of gameplay, and easy enough to follow. I can’t remember many occasions when we had to stop the game to try and search the rules for guidance. When this did occur, it was usually around how various cards interacted – which is to be expected when first playing, and didn’t detract in any way.

One disappointment, however, was the game board itself. For some reason, the board presents the map of Great Britain in darkness. As such, it comes across as murky and featureless. The artwork on the board is obscured by the drab colouring, apart from Scotland which is depicted as covered in ice. Whether this is to add atmosphere or to ensure that the pieces on the board stand out I am not sure. But, while it doesn’t detract from the gameplay, it certainly doesn’t add to the appeal.

Final Thoughts

War of the Worlds is a decent deck builder which succeeds in invoking the themes of War of the Worlds while not being limited by the source material. The rules are simple. I would recommend it to inexperienced players as an introduction to both asymmetrical games and deck building.

But I wonder whether the game will stand out for gamers who are not familiar with War of the Worlds or have no love for the theme. As for the gameplay, there is a pleasing puzzle in learning how to play each of the factions well. But I don’t know if there are sufficient playing styles and strategies here for more experienced players to discover, as with the best two-player games.

Overall

I think whether you want to buy War of the Worlds: The Next Wave will depend very much on how you click with the theme and with the source material. If it leaves you cold then there is not much here that will convert you. If, however – like me – you hear the immortal strains of Geoff Wayne’s famous anthem at the very mention of War of the Worlds, then this is well worth looking at. The gameplay is engaging but light enough to be something you take out occasionally to play along with the soundtrack in the background. And frankly, if you aren’t singing “Fairwell Thunderchild!” at the top of your voice every time a ship is destroyed, then you are not getting your money’s worth.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Asymmetrical gameplay feels thematic
  • The rules are straight forward and card instructions are generally clear
  • Games feel tight and are usually close affairs
  • Gameplay is quick once you get the hang of it. It doesnt outstay its welcome at all
  • A good introduction to deck building and asymmetrical games

Might not like

  • Not sure it will appeal to those who arent fond of the source material
  • Its a deck builder, so success relies somewhat on the luck of the card draws
  • The Martians dont feel as powerful as they should
  • The game board is a bit dull