Category: Review

Game Review: Warfighter by DVG


Game Title: Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game

Publisher (Year Published): Dan Verssen Games (2014) – 2nd Edition

Designer: Dan Verssen

Number of Players: 1

Maximum Players: 6

Game Type: Cards and Counters

Average Game Duration: 30 – 180 minutes

Has Expansions? Yes (a lot)

GamingSolo’s Overall Rating: 

4 Star Review Rating


The Rulebook

The rulebook weighs in at 28 pages long, with the first page being a table of contents and the last page is an advert for DVG’s other games. As far as rulebooks go, that’s what we’d call a middleweight.

The rulebook begins by laying out the different elements on the cards, explaining the purpose of the cards. Then it gets into how to choose and equip your squad, which flows into how you move and take actions.

So far so good. Sounds all nice and logical, right?

Well, no.

Rather than distinct sections for each action, rules tend to be mixed into card explanations. So when you are being told how you choose equipment for your squad, you also find the rules on how you fire weapons at hostiles.

This means that you will need to do some digging when you can’t remember a rule (as it is also likely you won’t remember where to look for it).

However, the rules are written in clear and easy to understand language, and also contain plenty of examples to help you follow along. Two read-throughs and we were ready to play.

Warfighter rulebook
The Warfighter rulebook – 28 pages of easy to follow rules, despite them organized a little strangely.

The inclusion of five pages dedicated to a detailed play example really gives you a feel for the game, and the fact they are taken from the very first mission allows you to follow along nicely.

The last two rules pages show all the keywords used in the cards and give detailed explanations of them. This makes for an excellent reference when you are playing.

It is nice to see that DVG went full color with the Warfighter rulebook. There are plenty of color pictures on almost every page, making identifying components and following explanations easy.

The Components

DVG’s Warfighter is primarily a card game and there are 240 cards in the box. The printing is nice and sharp and the cards are good quality. You will be doing a lot of shuffling with them so I do suggest sleeving them as the black borders will show wear quickly.

In a nice touch, the artwork on the cards uses photos of real soldiers in their gear. The photos are all credited and also have the name of the serviceman that shows in the photo. It’s a really great way to add to the theme.

There are also two sheets of counters that come with the game. These generally focus on ammo for your weapons, tracking actions, marking enemies as killed, and keeping track of how many experience points your team earns.

Warfighter counters
There are nice counters in the game.

The Warfighter game board is mounted and contains reference charts printed on it so you always have them handy as you play. In addition, it also has areas for all the card decks you use during gameplay. That keeps everything nice and organized.

Warfighter gameboard
The Warfighter gameboard is nicely laid out, has room for all your card decks, and has reference charts handy.

The footprint is not huge. Ther gameboard measures 17 inches x 33 inches, so easy to fit on a dining room or kitchen table. You will need some extra space for your soldier cards, weapon cards, and counters, although you’ll rarely have more than 15 or 20 cards laid out for a game (and often no more than ten).

Theme

The game has you take charge of a small group of special forces soldiers, kit them out with some great weapons and equipment (sniper rifles, silenced submachine guns, under-barrel grenade launchers, assault rifles, and lots of other goodies) and then head off to complete a mission.

What’s not to like about that?

There are three “theaters” of war you can undertake missions in. You can go after cartel bosses and drug labs in the jungle, or else engage insurgents in the Middle East. The final theater is also in the Middle East but sees you face regular forces rather than insurgents.

The missions and objectives are all nicely thematic and range from an attack on a drug compound to escape and evasion. It all feels very much like being in a movie, and that’s just great with me.

Gameplay

Gameplay in Warfighter begins with you selecting a mission. The mission will set the parameters of what equipment you can take, how much time you have to complete the mission (measured in turns), as well as how many locations you have to travel through to reach your objective.

Warfighter mission card
A Warfighter mission card

Once you have your mission you must equip your squad. The “Resources” figure shown on the mission card reflects how many points you have to choose your squad and your equipment.

It is important to note that you will start the game on your mission card.

You must choose at least one “player soldier” for your squad. A player soldier has a hand of action cards that are used to move, get free actions, deploy support, and generally be awesome.

Warfighter player card
Giacomelli can hold six action cards as noted by his health of six. He is worth nine points and has a move value of zero.

Non-player soldiers are cheaper and come packaged with some cool equipment and skills. Finally, squad soldiers are the cheapest addition to your team and come with a generic attack.

Your soldiers get a limited amount of actions, usually two, which you use to move, shoot, reload, remove suppression, or replenish your player soldier’s hand of cards.

Once you have your team assembled, you can choose your objective. This represents something you might have to destroy or capture. The full instructions are on each objective card.

Your player soldier draws his hand of cards and, if you are lucky enough to draw a location card, you can play it and begin moving towards your objective.

But wait. The enemy might want to stop you.

Warfighter location card
Fighting in other people’s houses

A location card has a column showing the number of points worth of hostiles you draw from the hostiles deck when you play that location. The number drawn depends on the points you began the mission with. So if we were playing the “Short And Sweet” mission shown above and used 27 resource points to build our team, we’d draw at least 5 points of hostiles when we played “Private Homes” as a location (as 27 is less than the minimum of 29 shown on the card).

If we had built our team with 120 resource points, we’d draw at least 13 points of hostiles and we’d be hoping we packed the tactical nuke along with the kitchen sink.

Some hostile cards have a zero point cost, meaning you can end up with a lot of enemies.

Warfighter hostile card
Generic gunmen armed with their weapon of choice – the AK-47

Once you have drawn all the hostiles triggered in the location, you get to use your remaining actions and ammo doing your best to kill them. You can also try and move through them, maybe because the turn counter is running down and you are concerned you don’t have enough time left to complete the mission.

Once your actions are exhausted any enemies remaining will do their best to kill you, or move to get in range of their weapons. Combat is conducted with the roll of a D10 to determine a hit, and a D6 to determine if the opponent’s cover is defeated.

In the “Gunmen” card shown above they will score a hit on one of your soldiers by rolling four or above on a D10 as long as they are both alive. If one is dead or suppressed, they’ll score a hit on a six or more. Their cover value is three, so if you shoot at them you’ll need to roll a three or above on the D6, in addition to scoring a hit on the D10.

If you score a hit on both the D10 and the D6 you get a kill result and one hostile goes down. Don’t celebrate though. A single hostile card can have up to four enemies that must be dealt with (and that’s where grenades come in useful). The “Gunmen” card above shows that you must defeat two hostiles before the card is removed (indicated by the two crosshairs on the card’s picture).

If you score a hit on one die but not the other, you get a suppression result. This ensures the bad guys keep their heads down while you do important things such as reload. A miss on both dice is obviously a complete miss and your soldier should go back to the training ground.

Even when you’ve wiped the board clear of hostiles it might not stay that way. Locations can be reinforced with new hostiles popping up when you least want them to. So don’t linger and keep moving towards your objective.

All of this action can be influenced by the use of the player soldier’s hand of cards.

Warfighter support card
Sniper Support – always appreciated

These can be played to get modifiers to combat, take out enemies, get free actions, and all kinds of other things that make the special forces soldiers seem as tough as they should.

They are also used to move and you’ll find yourself having to discard cards to move into the next location. The more difficult the terrain, the more cards you discard. This can result in some tough choices when you are holding a good hand.

The only way to replenish your hand is to take an action to do so. That leads to hard decisions as there are never enough actions to go round.

Finally, when you do actually kill hostiles, you gain experience. That experience is used to power up your action cards, and you can use it to have some helpful cards stick around over multiple turns.

The gameplay is pretty fast and furious. You never know what’s going to pop up in the next location, or if you are going to get ambushed as hostiles come up behind you. Combat is simple, yet you’ll find yourself agonizing over decisions of what cards to play, whether to use up experience in boosting cards, or cursing when your ammo runs dry and you have to spend a precious action to reload.

Managing your hand (or hands if you have more than one player soldier) is a big part of the game. Just like actions, there never seems to be enough cards to go round. Add to that the action cost for replenishing your hand and you’ll often find yourself struggling to do what you want to do (or need to do).

Smaller missions, once you have a firm grip on the rules, will take you 30 minutes or less to play. The larger ones can take a lot longer because you will generate a lot more hostiles and thus have a lot more combat.

Challenge Rating

DVG’s Warfighter will challenge you. This is not a game you can breeze through. You will have to make many decisions as you play, and often those will be the “What hurts me the least” kind.

The jungle missions are fairly easy. Start with these, get used to the gameplay and the various weapons, and how the hostiles appear and work.

Smaller missions are still challenging because you have a shortage of everything. You often have just a two-man team which means you probably only have four actions to work with a turn. If you waste an action, you’ve lost 25% of your resources for the turn which can be fatal for your team.

Combat can be brutal. Your player soldier can absorb some damage, but your non-player and squad soldiers will die faster than a red shirt in Star Trek if you are not keeping the enemy suppressed.

Warfighter hostile deck event
Life is made even more difficult by events that eat up your resources.

Once you move into the Middle East theaters the difficulty ramps up very steeply. I played a dozen jungle missions and completed every single one. I then played a dozen Middle Eastern ones against insurgents. I have yet to have one success.

The jungle hostiles are often armed with SMGs and grenades, meaning they have to close range to attack you. The insurgents have LMGs, rocket launchers, and even suicide bombers. That makes for a far greater challenge and I would often find my team being suppressed and overrun.

Certainly, there is enough challenge in Warfighter to keep you playing for some time.

Overall

Warfighter from DVG is a great solitaire game.

It has a solid theme, the components are all nice, and there is quite a lot of game in the box.

You can attempt the same mission three times and the randomness of the card draws and hostiles will mean you will have a different experience each time. You can also equip and build different teams to keep the experience fresh.

The rulebook could have been laid out a bit better, but the writing in it is clear and easy to understand. I was playing after one read through, and by my third game I was hardly looking at the rules at all.

The small footprint and quick set up time make this a game you can pull off the shelf and be playing in 30 minutes. The rules are easy to remember and in over a dozen games I never ran into an instance where I thought, “Hmmmm, the rulebook doesn’t cover this clearly.”

The few instances I did need to reference the rulebook was where the layout niggled me the most. I had a lot of flipping back and forth to find the rule I was looking for.

I am a big fan of DVG’s games and Warfighter is no exception. It’s a game that hits my table regularly and I greatly enjoy.

For that reason, our review of DVG’s Warfighter awards it a very solid four stars.

4 Star Review Rating

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’d like to see if I can finally beat a Middle East mission.