Published on December 11th, 2013 | by Nicole Jekich
World War II: The Card Game
Summary: If you like CCGs that don't make you buy random packs of cards and/or you are a World War Two buff, you should give this game a look.
The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo.
As kids we all played with army miniatures at least one time in the sandbox or on the living room coffee table. Fanfare Games has created a card game taking that two player, army men experience and they have turned it into a tactical combat and war-resource management card game.
WWII is similar to an LCG, or Living Card Game, format where the base set contains all the pieces for a complete game, but there are opportunities for expansions in the future. WWII more than delivers on the amount of cards in the base game, which features 400 cards, only 60 of which are needed for a starting deck. There are currently countries and forces missing from the base set but Fanfare Games plans on releasing expansion content, all of which can be seamlessly incorporated to the base set.
(The cards featured in this article were the ‘print and play’ version and printed on colored paper to differentiate the Axis and Allies cards. Fanfare Games has stated that the art sampled for the Kickstarter campaign, and on their print and play files, is not finalized art and is subject to change.)
Fanfare Games has made a solid effort to make a card game set in the WWII era and they keep a style reminiscent of that time period. Players can expect all the usual design motifs like camouflage, spray-paint fonts and black and white photographs from the war. I would recommend following Fanfare at their website or Kickstarter page to keep up to date on any changes or updates.
What I also appreciated about the print and play files were that all the pieces were rectangular with hard corners so mounting and cutting out the cards and pieces was much simpler than the beveled or circular pieces we have tried to construct in other print and plays. The art on the cards at this point is very basic, but the layout and the design of the cards worked well, even when we printed them in black and white on colored paper. That level of layer and design is rare at this point in the development process.
Like most complex war games and LCGs you need to commit a lot of time to the game, even before playing it. The learning curve is fairly high, so I recommend this game for seasoned gamers or history enthusiasts who don’t mind spending a couple hours customizing a deck and testing it in a trial-by-fire situation. I was not prepared for, or expecting, the high barrier of entry which led to much head scratching and a couple “do-over” games before we had completed a session. Realistically the game isn’t much more complicated than Magic the Gathering, but it’s different enough from what I’m used to that it was hard to learn on my own.
WWII: The Card Game is a two player game so there must be one Axis player and one Allies player. Each player starts with a 60 card deck, and 10 of those cards are placed under the Homeland card as a Reserve deck. Players reveal their starting locations simultaneously and then the game begins! A player wins when they successfully rid their opponent of all cards in their Reserve deck (draw deck) and their Used deck (discard deck). The decks are customizable just like they would be in a collectible card game, so you can always deploy exactly the kind of forces you want, but only if the locations have the right keywords. This means if you make a deck full of battleships, but if you opponent never places a Sea location, then you may a sitting duck.
Turns are divided into phases and gameplay feels like a combination of the World of Warcraft CCG, a game where players use their deck cards a resources, and Blood Bowl: Team Manager where players compete for control of an area. There are also various cards like leaders and industries that affect the board state and give players resource and combat advantages. These many features, key words, phrases and card types that you need to pay attention to can be really cool and are potentially helpful in possible future expansion content, but they can also be distracting at times. There are a lot of details to pay attention to that will help accelerate gameplay and give players advantages to win the war!
Truthfully this complexity of tactical combat and finite customization of a player deck does not hold a personal interest for me. I know gamers that have spent a Saturday afternoon setting up Memoir ’44 in preparation for a 5 vs 5 real battle reenactment that lasts hours, and this game might appeal to them a little more than it does to me. For those looking to play a game with complexity similar to Magic the Gathering but in a historical warfare setting, WWII: The Card Game will fill that niche. This game doesn’t seem like it was made to be in any way approachable by those just getting into the hobby- that isn’t a bad thing, just be aware that WWII: the Card Game is on a higher level than your casual deck builder.
What Fanfare Games has done well with WWII is create a war-themed card game which fits the LCG model perfectly. Since there are many cards to choose from, the re-playability is dependent on the player and their decks. And while there is room for expansions, WWII doesn’t suffer the rapidly growing card list of a collectible game like Magic the Gathering. A game is slated for 60 – 75 minutes but for a first game, I would double that time to have a more realistic idea of how long things will take. Honestly, the two things Fanfare could do to rekindle my interest here would be to cut the game length in half and add a concise how-to-play video that lasts no longer than 10 minutes to their page. There are a lot of great ideas in this game, it just feels like it needs some editing.
If you are interested in playing but not sure where to start, Fanfare Games did recently add a beginner’s deck list on their site which is very helpful. WWII the Card Game is available on Kickstarter by Fanfare Games and the campaign ends on December 21st.