Vector Wars, by Eli Mamane, is a two-player head to head card game where you choose one of four different factions vying for supremacy in a war over a world troubled by dwindling resources.
You are working to be the faction to gain the most Zetta Orbs, a powerful energy source, in the hope that this could bring unity and a lasting peace.
Vector Wars will be coming to Kickstarter in July and is the brainchild of Eli Mamane. Eli has managed to create a game beautiful in many ways: the 80's sci fi design is consistent throughout and comes into its own in the upgrades you can purchase for your faction in the market place.
However, this game is not just aesthetically pleasing, it is so carefully balanced. Each faction has clear strengths that become clear the more you play. Play as the red loyalist faction who are the remnants of the elite and are able to provide you with plenty of credits, the in game currency, throughout the game enabling you to spend up in the market, purchasing upgrades and additional weapons.
Choose the green Necro-techs and play cards with secretion at their core. Here your powers are a little more two-faced and you are able to do damage when you should not and hurt a player before they can hurt you. If you prefer all out war and a classic power race, choose the blue crusader faction who are great in combat or if you have a spiritual leaning you can play as the yellow Divi-nation who are able to control their opponents and they are difficult to kill.
The asymmetry of the factions is the key to the fun in the game, you have to play each faction differently to utilise their strength and provide you with their specific route to gaining Zetta Orbs.
So, how does the balance work out? Each card has three key aspects, a rank which is vital in end game scoring, a value on each edge of the card which is used in combat, and a specific flip ability. So, not only do you need to consider careful placement, but the game now requires you use your memory. Knowing which cards you have placed where and what specific abilities the cards have is vital in timing flips and combat challenges to maximise the potential of each card.
On your turn, you have one action. You can deploy a card onto the 3x3 grid on the board, you can attack a player's card, you can use an action card purchased from the market, including gravity wells which allow you to move your own or your opponent's cards on the grid. You can buy upgrades from the market or pick up credits or other objects from the board.
There are additional free actions you can use on your turn as well, one of the most important being the flip. Here, you flip your card and receive the flip action, a specific bonus described on the card, so it is important you remember which card does what. However, make sure the bonus is worth it, as in flipping your card, your opponent learns the attack value of each side of your card so can deploy a card capable of beating yours.
How can you defend yourself in this position? Here is where we learn yet another beautiful addition to the Vector Wars gameplay; you can spend an action and a credit to protect your card either by rolling one of your dice to augment the whole card, placing the result in the centre of the card and receiving the bonus to all sides, or fortifying a particular card by placing the die on the side you want to improve.
If you prefer a more 'take that' mechanic you can also play a negative augmentation on your opponent's card reducing values by the result down to but not below zero.
Once you choose to attack, you compare the value of the adjacent cards then you each roll a single die, adding the result to the value of the side of your card. The highest score wins the battle and the opponent's card is added to your trophy pile. In the event of a draw both cards are removed to the void. You then attack any other adjacent cards on that same turn. Each successful attack gains the victor an additional credit.
The game ends if a player controls all the squares or when both players have passed, this can only happen when all nine cards have been deployed.
At the end of the game, all Zetta Orbs are counted, players gain additional orbs for cards in their trophy piles 1-3, orbs depending on the rank of the card and then remaining credits are converted into orbs. The player with the most orbs wins.
Final Thoughts on Vector Wars
With so many options in the marketplace and four factions each playing so differently, there is already tons of replay-ability but Eli has not stopped there. In the Vector Wars box you will get two additional game modes that can be added to the base game: Capture the Flag and Light the Grid.
In Capture the Flag the player who has the flag at the end of the game gains additional orbs, and in Light the Grid a player who completes their hidden agenda, a specific arrangement of cards on the board, gains additional orbs.
With an amazing price point, Vector Wars is a great addition to any gamer's shelf. There is plenty of strategy involved, the balance in combat along with the carefully balanced credit system means you always feel like you need just one more turn to get what you need!
However, the game is fast, taking around 30 minutes to play, and is easy to learn. With the different strategies required to win with each faction there is plenty of replay-ability and this is enhanced with the options in the marketplace and the additional game modes. Eli has created a game that is just so neat, great artwork combined with a great mix of gameplay and perfect balance.
Be sure to check out Vector Wars when it hits Kickstarter on July 9.