Today, the long-anticipated day had finally come for me to try out the Antediluvian Wars: Extermination (AWE for short) prototype which I have had lying around untested and unplayed for far too long.
It was quite tormenting to read and hear about the quite enthusiastic and for the very most part very positive experiences some of my (American) playtesters had reported about AWE and I myself simply not having ANY opportunity at all to get the first AWE prototype version 0.1 to the table.
Yesterday however was the day and the long overdue initial testing of what could be a truly AWE-some game eventually actually came to be, when my good gamer buddy Robin paid me a visit to, well, play some games.
We played only two games since a ton of other games also begged to be played and I must say, after the initial test runs, that I am mighty pleased not only about how nicely the game mechanics, which I had seemingly thrown together in a rather fast and random fashion, seemed to fall into place as well as about the overall balance of the individual cards, with some exceptions obviously, and the balance of the decks against each other in general.
We played only two games, so not every possible match-up was properly tested (but we will see to that soon, probably on this very weekend already when Robin, my current playtesting “victim” number one will visit again) but we at least did try each one of the four decks at least once.
We played with 3 of Rob’s (my good friend Rob Seater of CGF) initial rules tweaks / suggestions:
- Second player starts with 4 guardians (a pretty obvious change if you think about it)
- Aeriel Units (flyers) cannot dethrone a god
- The topmost resource card in a stack determines the resource type, unlike in Elemental Clash where the bottommost does
One observation on the general layout of the game: While the game is really compact and all when in the box, you need considerable table space to actually lay it all out, with basically 5 different rows, namely your front row, support row, resource row, guardians and your god. This makes the game, while you can bring it along anywhere in your very pocket, somewhat less playable just anywhere as it needs relatively much space to be laid out and played. As you can see in the photos, my table was barely fit to support the whole game (due to a ton of other card games and random stuff lying around as I have to note).
Our first game was Lemurians (me) vs Muans (Robin) and I was stomped into the ground by such foul things as 5 Power Resurrecting Razormaws (so basically Zombie T-Rexes) and supporting black magic of Mu whilst trying to get out some powerful, airborne Lemurian Vimana aircraft, for which I had drawn and played a ton of support cards. But what good are support cards if you don’t draw any actual Vimana to support with the former? Anyways eventually the game ended closer than I had initially expected but one thing was clearly demonstrated: Even against superior technology (Lemurians), magic can still win out in the end (as demonstrated by Robin’s Muans in our very first game of AWE).
I have to note that we did have a bit of a hard time wrapping our heads around the non-Elemental Clash style resource system where you still have stacks of resources but instead of the bottommost card in a stack determining its type, the topmost card determines the resource type, which means you have to really carefully plan ahead and also the resource type of a stack can change any turn. Also it was kinda funny how we had to turn around the cards all the time to read what their “Event sides” actually do. It will certainly help a lot once we have unique artwork for all the different cards, as you’ll remember sooner or later, to a certain degree, what each card does once you can associate one particular image or card artwork with it. But hell, I have seen worse looking very first prototypes!!
In the second game, Hyperborans (me) were pitted against Atlanteans (Robin) and the second game ended the same way as the first, with me shamefully losing at my own creation (which I do not mind at all), but this time it was VERY close, as Robin just barely won with his Atlantean army with no guardians left. Overall I think the Atlantean deck is the hardest one to pilot, due to the fact that it is a “rainbow deck” including all four colors / resource types. Robin did a good job though and although my Heimdall’s Zealot, which is far too good at 4 Power whilst Heimdall, the Hyperborean god is unflipped (face-up) on the field, at the mere unit cost of 1, wreaked havoc on him. Heimdall’s Zealot was the only card which we came across in our two games that is definitely far too powerful, especially early on, although of course a lot of cards may need some comparatively minor tweaks as well. It was only when I unleashed Ragnarök, the “Divine Intervention” or flip ability of Heimdall, that the Zealot’s power was broken – well I got to slay (destroy) 3 or 4 of Robin’s Atlantean units by doing so – and I was really astonished that he did win in the end, very closely and with just 2 or 3 cards left in his deck.
Overall I must say we both enjoyed the game, even in its present, very raw state, a lot. It turned out to be really fast-paced, with games taking us about 20 – 30 minutes each even without being very familiar with the rules and individual cards and all the mechanics seemed to fall into place really well. The game’s core engine is really close to being finished already I think as everything more or less worked like a charm.
Obviously, a lot more testing will have to show which cards need fixing and how these should be fixed. I am looking forward to the weekend and coming playtest sessions beyond that, which will enable me and us to make AWE a truly AWE-some gaming experience!