Casey McCormick and Ben Stiers have a real winner with Wrathborne Champions, the “boss battle in a box” game from Randover Games. Not only is the concept a fun, fresh approach to the tabletop monster battle, the game promises such a great, unique experience that it was featured at the 2017 PAX South Indie Showcase, where the Randover Games team was constantly busy with excited players wanting to check out the game. If that doesn’t get you excited to learn more, consider that this is the first time I am not shooting my own photos for a review, because it would take too long to set up a chance to shoot and I really want you to know about this game now.
You are a Wrathborne, a champion of the gods. As one of the few people chosen to fight the Minions of Wrath, horrid monsters that are terrorizing your world, you are imbued with powers and abilities that will give you the edge you need to strike down the terrors in your world. The game is fully cooperative, and plays two to six players. Difficulty can be scaled based on the number of players, or based on the challenge you’re looking to face. Because of this customization, you can spend an afternoon battling a monster, or knock out a battle in about half an hour. This is one of the few games I have seen that claims difficulty scaling and actually pulls it off in the way it promises.
- 9 10″x10″ Minion of Wraths miniboards
- 4 Sideboards
- 6 Class decks
- 6 Weapon decks
- 56 Item cards
- 36 Fabled cards
- 12 Ability cards
- 56 card Battle Deck
- 18 Minion Encounter Cards
- Wrath Token
- 60 assorted tokens
- 75 Life Gems
Next, it’s time to pick a Weapon deck. Each Weapon deck offers a different way of dealing damage and smiting foes. Some are built around quick, low damage attacks that hit multiple targets while others land big damage on a single target. The beauty in this game is that you can really combine any Class and Weapon. While there may be some combinations that seem to work better than others, the reality is that the designers managed exceptional balance in this aspect of the game. All that said, dual wield daggers. You know you want to.
Each Minion of Wrath has its own 10″x10″ mini board. Each is two-sided, and has multiple levels of play. The key to defeating the Minion is to strategically pick it apart, attacking points on the 3×3 grid in a way that weakens and finally defeats the Minion. Each weapon card is an attack, and the card’s illustration indicates which point on the grid is the target. In other words, weapon cards let you decide if you are going to slice open the Minotaur’s leg or poke him in the eye.
Your Class gives you abilities you can use in the battle, too. Some may heal, others may change the orientation of a weapon attack. There are a multitude of abilities you can use, depending on your Class. The key to success lies in how well you use your Class abilities in concert with your weapon strikes.
On the four cards you see above, there are important icons which heavily influence the tide of battle. On the Weapon cards, the icons are at the bottom, in the black circle. On Class cards, they are in the top right corner. These represent events during battle. After your attack or action, you will draw the top card of the Battle Deck. Many of the cards have multiple effects listed, with each one being assigned to a particular icon. The effect listed next to the icon on your card comes into play and may help or hinder your efforts. Battle is chaos, and the Battle Deck is a well designed tool to evoke that feeling in the game.
As you damage the Minion of Wrath, you will mark the damage with Life Gems. White gems represent 1 point, while red gems represent 5 points. When a point on the 3×3 grid has accumulated maximum damage, it no longer contributes to the battle. You are, for the time being, safe from the effect of that particular target. The order in which you cripple each target may mean the difference between victory and death. Victory, obviously, comes when you have rendered the Minion incapable of taking action- that is, when you slay the beast.
I know of two ways you can lose this game. The first is for the Battle Deck to run out. If you have to draw a card from the Battle Deck and there are none available, you lose. The second is for all Heroes to be incapacitated. This is where one of my favorite mechanics in Wrathborne Champions comes into play. Heroes track damage using their decks. As you take damage, you remove cards from the top of your deck. They are out of the game. Gone. They are not discarded, they cannot be shuffled in when you need to reshuffle. They sit in front of you and remind you that death is near. When your deck runs out of cards, you are incapacitated. You don’t have to leave the table, as your hero has an ability that may be used to aid your companions, but you can do nothing else.
On the other hand, you might be healed at some point. Should you be healed, whether through an action, a Class ability, or some twist of fate in the Battle Deck, you select cards that were removed and add them back into your play deck. It’s a sort of “deck rebuilder” mechanic, and it’s fantastic. You are healed, but you have to choose wisely on which cards to reintroduce into your deck. Your choice could doom us all!
At the time I am writing this, Wrathborne Champions is at $23,546 of their $25,000 goal. There are eighteen days left in the Kickstarter campaign. Why this game has not already surpassed its goal is beyond me, but I am hoping this little preview I’ve shared will encourage you to back this amazing project. Go check out the Wrathborne Champions Kickstarter Campaign, and let me know your thoughts! I hope to slay some Minions with you!
Well, she wasn’t at PAX South and hasn’t seen the game yet. Sorry. But I bet she’d say the same!