Chaos in the Old World

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

(Fantasy Flight Games, 3 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 1-2 hours; $59.95)


chaos1Chaos in the Old World by Eric M. Lang is a gamers game of area control through the use of cards and figures with a theme of battling Demon Lords based on the Warhammer Universe from Gamers Workshop. Do not let the heavy fantasy theme turn you off since there is a very good Euro gaming lurking underneath.

The players in the game play one of four Demon Lords battling it out for domination and control of the Old World. Each Demon Lord has different powers and goals. The Demon Lords are:

Khrone – Demon of War
Nurgle – Demon of Pestilence
Slannesh – Demon of Pleasure
Tzeentch – Demon of Magic and Cunning

In order to win the game a player has to either advance their threat dial to the win box or get over fifty points. The players can lose if too many event cards have been played (the people of the old world win).

After the player chooses a demon faction he receives the faction card outlining the draw limits for the faction, the strength of its figures, a power point track, counter information, dial advancement conditions and a turn order. Each player also receives figures, a power deck and upgrade cards unique to its faction. Before you start the game you randomly seed the highly stylized map board with a set number of tokens representing peasants, nobles and warpstone (magic rock). Tokens representing Heroes, Events or Skaven (rat men) are put on the board through event cards. There are nine regions on the board of which some are populous. Each region has two places to place power cards and a point value which players can fight for during a round. Next, you count out a set number of event cards (depending on the number of players) face down on the event space. These event cards represent the actions of the people of the Old World against your demon invasion. The players then draw a starting hand of five cards from their respective power decks and the game is ready to start.

The turn starts with an event card being turned over and its affects applied. Next, in player turn order (Khrone, Nurgle, Slannesh and Tzeentch), players use power points to play (summon) either a power card (in one of the two card spaces in a region) from their hand or place a figure on the board. The figures are:

Cultists – Used to corrupt regions

Warriors – Used to defend Cultists

Greater Demon – A super warrior used to defend or attack key regions during the game

You are placing a figure/card in order to either meet you threat dial advancement conditions (I.e. Nurgle needs to place two corruption tokens in a Populous region in order to get an advancement on his threat dial) or to dominate certain regions in order to get victory points. Players continue this until all players have used up there power points or have passed. The summoning phase of the round is then over. A battle phase now occurs where two or more warrior/demon figures from opposing demon factions occupy the same province.

Combat is resolved in region order. Combat dice is equal to the warriors combat value (sometimes modified by cards) and for each 4-6 rolled an attacker scores a hit with any six being a free additional roll as well as a hit. The attacker then can apply the hits to any opponents figure(s). The defender rolls simultaneously then applies his hits to the attacker. A figure can be eliminated if the number of hits exceed its defense value. After this Battle Phase there is a corruption phase where each region is checked to see if first a players has exceeded the region’s domination value (the number on the board plus one for each Noble token in the region) by having a combination of cards and number of figures greater than the strength value of the region. If a player does dominate a region, he gets that region’s point value and moves his score marker accordingly. Then, for each cultist in a region, a corruption token of the appropriate color is added. If there are twelve or more corruption tokens in a region, that region is corrupted and receives a ruin card from the ruination deck. All players who contributed corruption to that region the turn it was ruined get a set number of points. The players who contributed the most and second most corruption to a region will receive the first and second place bonus points accordingly. A ruined area scores no more points nor can any tokens be added to the region. So one must be careful when and what regions are ruined. If five are ruined by the check game end phase, then the game ends immediately and the player with the most points at that moment wins. The last phase of a round is an administrative phase where played power cards are cleared from the board, hero tokens make the player with the highest threat value remove a figure from an area where a hero is, you score threat dial advancement tokens (allowing for the advancement of the threat dial by one for a player or two if have more threat tokens than other players), ruined region bonus points are scored and you check to see if any game ending conditions occur. Dial advancements give you upgrades, tokens which help your side and victory points.

Overall this is a challenging, highly themed, game with very good production values. With the exception of cultist figure (which tends to lose the head of its staff), the figures are good and customized for each faction. Board and card production is good though the cards will most probably tend to wear fairly quickly due to handling. The rule book is well written and illustrated though occasionally you might find some rules hidden in places you do not expect them.

The strategy in the game varies depending on which faction you play and balancing playing cards and figures both in attack and defense throughout the game in order to advance both your score marker and threat dial closer to victory. This game is a good game to learn with three but plays best with four. Chaos in the Old World has a bit of a learning curve but if you like lots of player interaction as well as a bit of back stabbing in a game, this game is for you.


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