Sunday, September 28, 2014

Quick Review - Risk: Godstorm

Risk: Godstorm
Designer: Mike Selinker
Publisher: Avalon Hill
Quick Review - Risk: Godstorm
Last night's new game was Risk: Godstorm, a game in the same vein as Risk, but this time you control one of five ancient civilizations as they try to conquer the Mediterranean region: Celts, Norse, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks.  The basic mechanics are the same as in standard Risk - players build armies and march across territories trying to conquer the main continents (Germania, Europa, Africa, Hyrkania (Eastern Russia), Asia Minor, and Atlantis).  Battles are conducted by rolling dice just like in standard Risk.  However there are a number of differences from standard Risk that, in my opinion make the game much more interesting and fun to play.

Each player also has four gods (the gods of sky, war, death, and magic) which are loosely based on those gods in ancient mythologies.  Each type of god has a different power, like the god of war lets the attacking player win all ties instead of the defending player, although all five civilizations' gods have the same powers. When the gods face each other in battle there is a gods war before the armies battle, resulting in one or more gods being banished.  There are also miracle cards that give players special benefits, like being able to destroy opponents armies or giving a player special powers.  There are also plagues that can be placed on some territories that, as we found out, aren't always bad.  And then there's the underworld.  The underworld is where armies go after they are defeated (usually).  There they get to battle again, against other players' defeated armies.  Some of the territories in the underworld

The game is also played in a series of five rounds.  This is a huge difference from standard Risk and one that I feel is a huge plus.  It ensures that games don't go on and on for hours.  Although our game lasted almost 4 hours (we did have a break for dinner) it went a lot faster toward the end once all of us were familiar with the game.  I'd expect a future game to take about 2-3 hours instead.  That's much better than Risk, which I've known to take well over 5 hours on many occasions.  After 5 rounds players add up their score, which is based on a number of factors, but mainly the number of territories each player controls.

It seems like we've been playing a lot of Avalon Hill Amerithrash games (I refuse to call any of these games trash, thus the addition of that extra h) and they usually aren't my wife's preferred style of games.  She usually likes resource management type Eurogames, tech-tree civ building games, deduction games, or  pattern/tile/number matching games like Qwirkle or Mexican Train Dominos.  She doesn't usually go for war games with complex battle mechanics or games that rely heavily on dice rolls.  But surprisingly she really enjoyed Risk: Godstorm.  That may be because the women creamed the guys in the game we played, but once the game got moving and everyone was familiar with the mechanics everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

Because of the Risk style battle mechanics there is a bit of luck in the dice rolls, but also some strategy since rolls are limited to 3 dice for attacks and 2 dice for defense.  The inclusion of the gods in the battle effects and the effects of the miracle cards also had a big effect on the gameplay, sometimes giving weaker players a fighting chance - although they didn't help me in the end =)  I also liked how players could still battle in the underworld even after their armies were defeated.  While this didn't really change the outcome of the game much, if at all, it did add another level of fun to the game mechanics.

In all I think the game was a lot of fun.  I definitely prefer it over standard Risk, however I can't compare it to other versions of Risk since I haven't played them.  If the game has any weakness (and I think it's an issue in standard Risk, too) it's that once the balance between players becomes too great it's very difficult for a weaker player to stage a comeback.  It is possible, but very unlikely.  You can see how in the pictures below, once the women's forces started growing they were able to just snowball right over the men's armies.  We did do quite a bit of damage with a lot of lucky 6s, but it just wasn't enough.  You can see in the pictures below how a few well-played miracle cards wiped out the Babylonians and my starting scattered territories never let me build up enough strength to control a decent area.  SO the women just marched over our lands, destroying everything in their paths.  We ended our game a round early because after the wives wiped out the husbands they made a truce and decided to not fight each other.

So this is definitely a play again game.  It's a war game that the wives seemed to enjoy as well and have also agreed to play again.

Preliminary Rating: 7/10

It's early in the game and my forces are all divided (light brown Egyptians).
It was impossible to fight battles on so many fronts.

Things didn't look too bad for me at the end of my turn, but then the
Greeks stormed out of Iberia and cleared me out of Germania.

Battles in the underworld were fun, but largely ineffective in the overall game.

Because I kept getting killed I actually had a decent
foothold in the underworld.  It didn't help much though.

I thought I was going to be a goner at this point.
Somehow I held on longer than the Babylonians (blue).

A few miracle cards nearly wiped out the Babylonians.
Guess who's going to march across Asia Minor and
finish the job?  Yup, the Greeks.

The Babylonians are gone and now my 3 Egyptians have to face
the Celtic horde that's about to storm through Africa.

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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