Published on November 25th, 2013 | by Gregg Miller
Warlord: Saga of the Storm
Gregg Explains, Retro!
If you’re a fan of Dungeons and Dragons, and you like to play skirmish games and collectable/trading card games, then Alderac Entertainment Group’s game Warlord: Saga of The Storm will probably strike your fancy. This very different CCG was initially released in 2001 and had an official run that lasted until 2008. Set in a bleak fantasy world where the Medusan Lords torment the land, the various warlords of the Accordlands work to wage destruction on their enemies and crush the generals of the opposing factions.
Simply put, the point of the game is to kill the opposing Warlord. A player’s deck consists of 50 minimum cards that had to have the following conditions:
– Only 1 Warlord of Overlord per deck.
– Actions, Items, and Characters make up the three card types. Any one of these can not be over 50% of your deck.
– From your deck, you must be able to build a legal Starting Formation
– Unless there’s an exception granted by the Warlord, they must all be of the same Faction as the Warlord
– You can only have 3 copies of any card in your deck.
– You may only have 1 copy of any Unique or Epic cards in your deck.
The game is divided into Turns that are broken down into Phases.
– The Ready Phase allows both players to change the status of Stunned cards to the Spent status, and any already Spent status cards into the Ready status. This is like “un-tapping” in Magic the Gathering.
– The Draw Phase allows both players to discard any cards they don’t want to keep, then draw up to their hand size (usually 5). If you have over five cards, you don’t need to discard, but you can’t draw any additional cards either.
– Initiative Phase has both players rolling a twenty-sided die (d20). Whoever rolls the highest gets to take the first Action in the following phase. If there’s a tie, only the player(s) who tied re-roll. Plays goes clock-wise from the first player.
– Decree Phase is where the majority of play happens. Each player may take one Action. This continues until all players sequentially pass. Tactically passing, just to come back with another action later, is allowed.
– End of Turn Phase is where all the effects that last “until the end of the Turn” are removed and ended, followed by all the effects that happen at “the end of the Turn”.
Actions in this game tend to be roleplaying trope references as well as feats and spells from Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. The characters on the cards helped tell the story of the setting, conveying the ideals and attitudes of the faction they belong to. Items are usually stock pieces of adventuring equipment that a war-ready adventurer would need to slaughter their enemy: armor, weapons, even mounts!
Action resolution was unique in that you roll a d20, add your mods and try to hit the target’s Armor Class- just like you would in D&D. Natural 20’s always succeeded, and Natural 1’s always failed, regardless of modifiers. The game was a bit more about playing odds, rather than doing the most efficient action possible. Speaking of resources, the game used the Rank and File system to determine if you could legally play cards. What this means is that there was a specific method to playing your army on the board area- positioning mattered, unlike almost every other CCG. The method consisted of having a pyramid-looking infantry formation, with the widest part at the front of the army. To bring in Characters, they had to come into the rank (aka row) equal to their character level. However, there has to be a number of characters in the rank “in front of” the new character, basically meaning that you had to keep the pyramid shape or suffer consequences. Equipping items was similarly based on your level, but being further away from the action helped: you added the character’s current rank to their level to determine if they could equip an item.
Luke and I played this game fiercely until about the end of the 1st Edition. Around the time that Campaign Edition (2nd Edition) began, Luke was out of the country and the local Warlord community was losing interest. I still own many of the cards from the first collection, and a sizable amount of the first set from the release of Campaign Edition. In writing this article, I did some digging around on what happened to the game I remember so fondly. From what I found, AEG continued to make later Editions, reseting the game along with some of its rules at semi-regular intervals, similar to Magic: The Gathering’s minor rules changes through the years. Later, the license to publish the game was sold to Phoenix Interactive, a group of fans and tournament organizers based out of Europe who tried turning it into an LCG for a time. Currently the license has expired, and AEG currently has no present plans for publishing future Editions. The long standing internet community The Temple of Lore seems to be fairly active, and they participate in tournaments during GenCon.
If you can get a hold of enough cards to build a deck, I would say this game is worth trying out. It was like playing a simplified miniatures skirmish game, while using CCG/TCG deck building mechanics.