Reviewed by Chris Kovac
WARFIGHTER: THE TACTICAL SPECIAL FORCES CARD GAME (Dan Verssen Games, 1 to 6 players, ages 12 and up, 30-45 minutes; $59.99)
Warfighter (The Tactical Special Forces Card Game) is a moderately complex co-operative card driven wargame for one to six people simulating the missions of American special forces in the 21st century. The game is by the very prolific wargame designer Dan Verssen and is published by his company. The review is base on a second edition of the game with the first expansion.
To set up Warfighter, you put the tactical display sheet (game board) on the table. You have eight decks of cards in the game: soldier deck, weapons deck, equipment deck, action deck (location cards should be sorted separately by region), objective deck (with a subset deck for jungle or the Middle East), the mission cards (again with a subset for the jungle or Middle East) and finally, the adversary decks (one for the jungle and two for the Middle East depending if you wish to fight insurgents or the military).
You first decide which region you wish to fight in (jungle or Middle East). The appropriate location cards are placed in the action card deck, shuffled and put face down on the action card space on the board. You then take the chosen adversary deck, shuffle it and put it face down on the adversary board space. Next a mission and objective card are chosen for the appropriate region. The mission card will tell you how much time you have for the mission (put the timer counter on the appropriate space on the timer track), how many objective points you have to build a mission team, which space on the objective track to place the objective card, a modification(if any) to your soldiers’ load out number and, lastly, any special conditions for the type of mission you are undertaking. In order to win the game you have to make a trail of location cards between the starting mission space and the objective space, traverse them with your team, and fulfill any special conditions on the objective card before the time runs out on the time track.
Now you build your special forces team for the mission and equip them. First, soldiers from the soldier deck are chosen to go on your mission. In the soldier deck are player soldier cards, non player cards and squad cards. Only player soldier cards can be dealt and use action cards. You also have to equip player soldier cards with weapons, equipment and skills. Non player soldier cards come equipped and have a certain number of actions based on the character’s health. Squad cards only have a hit table and a limited number of actions, again based on the health of the character/squad. Your player soldier cards can have any number of weapons, equipment and skill cards (each costs varying amounts of objective points) being only limited by your load out capacity shown on your character card. For each weapon, the appropriate type and number of ammo counters are placed on the ammo space on the weapon card Overall, you cannot exceed the mission point amount as shown on the mission card. With your team created, for each player soldier card, you receive a number of action cards equal to your health (this will be reduced if the player is wounded). Now you assign each soldier card in play a pair of identical identification numbers (one you place on your character card and one on the mission start card), give them the appropriate number of action chits (two for the player soldiers and what is stated on the soldier cards for other types of soldier cards) and put target chits with your squad numbers in a blind draw cup which will be used by the hostiles during the game to decide which soldier card they will attack. Now you can start the game.
The game alternates between soldier turns where each soldier can use actions and adversary turns where active adversaries attack the soldier cards. In a soldier turn, a player can perform an action using one of his team soldier cards (you do not have to play all soldier card actions consecutively). The actions are:
- Remove a suppression marker from a soldier card. Soldier cards with suppression markers cannot due any other action until the suppression markers are removed
- Play a card which requires an action (mostly locations and some action cards)
- Discard and draw any number of action cards up to the soldier cards health strength.
- Reload a weapon. You discard the token on the top of your ammo stack marked empty. Weapons with an empty ammo counter cannot be fired until this action is taken.
- Move to another location on the objective track. Each location card has a movement cost to enter the card. Each soldier card has a movement value and the difference between the entrance cost on the card and this number must be paid by discarding action cards. Location cards also have a reinforcement number, an adversary table and possibly text describing special conditions associated with the card. When you play a location you place it in the next open space on the objective track then you turn over cards on the adversary deck until cards equal to or greater than the adversary number on the adversary table (this number changes depending on how many objective points your team is currently worth) are shown. These are then adversaries you have to fight on this location.
- Attack an active adversary card. In order to attack an adversary card, you must have a weapon with the appropriate range value to hit the adversary card (you can also perform a stealth attack at range 0 using a soldier’s stealth attack number). You then choose on the mode of fire for that weapon. You roll a d6 and a number of d10s equal to the fire mode you have selected. If the d6 is equal to or greater than the cover value of the adversary and you equal or exceed the kill number for your weapon, you can put a black kill counter on an reticule space on an adversary card. If you cover all the reticule spaces on an adversary card, you discard the adversary card and get experience points based on the value of the adversary card. If you succeed only with the cover roll or the attack roll, you put a blue suppressed marker on an adversary reticule space on the card you are attacking. Also, if during an attack one of your d10 rolls is equal to or less than the reload number for your weapon, you must turn over the topmost ammo counter on your card that you are firing to empty. All these actions can be supplemented by the use of action cards which can give you things like free moves or attacks, increased attack roll numbers or the edibility to eliminate adversary cards.
Once a player has performed his actions for any currently active action cards which have support retention numbers, the player must discard that number of action cards from his hand. After all players have played all the actions they can, it is the hostiles turn.
The hostile turn does the following in order. First, the top card of the hostile deck is revealed to see if its hostile value matches the reinforcement number on a location where soldier characters currently are. (This is done for each location where soldiers are on a location card). If it does match the reinforcement number, add it to the specific location; if it does not match, discard it. Next, a targeting chit from the draw cup is pulled for each hostile which still has at least one reticle without a suppress or kill marker. The hostile will then attack the soldier card indicated on the targeting chit if it has the range. As with a soldier attack, you roll a d6 for the cover roll but only one d10 for the attack roll. If you succeed in defeating the cover roll and roll for a wound(s) result on the hostiles attack chart (on the hostile card), you cause one or more wounds to that soldier. If the number of wounds exceeds the health of the soldier, that soldier is eliminated. If you succeed at only the cover roll or the attack roll, you put a suppress marker on that soldier (they can have more than one). Next any hostile card which needs to move closer to a particular soldier card to attack can move one location closer. Now, one suppress marker is removed from each hostile card with suppression markers on them. Finally, the time marker is moved by one. All of these actions can be modified by events within the hostile deck.
The game alternates between the soldiers’ turn (players) and hostiles until either the timer runs out (hostiles win), all players are eliminated (hostiles win) or the players reach the objective and succeed in performing the winning conditions (have successful explosion attacks, eliminate the hostiles on the card, etc.) as listed on the objective card before the timer runs out.
Warfighter is about choosing the right team and equipment for the mission and then managing the hostiles and events as they appear, all the while advancing towards your objective and playing the best locations you can to reach the objective. This is a fun game for both gamers and casual gamers alike with sort of a video game-like feel and plays very smoothly once you understand the basic game mechanisms. The components are clear and easy to read with a nice touch being the photos on the action card and soldiers cards are actually from active service personnel. However the game does suffer from two flaws.
The first are the dice that are cute bullet shaped hexagonal dice which do not roll particularly well and the numbers rolled can sometimes be hard to decipher. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the rule book is a bit of a mess. It has no index making looking up particular rules awkward. Also, it seems to try and merge an example of play with the rules making it much harder to understand the rules as well as making it hard to find particular rules you are looking for. However, as mentioned, if you can work out the rules, the game does flow very well and gives you a strong sense of fighting your way with an elite team of fighting men towards an objective.
The game has a number of expansions which add new weapons, soldiers and adversaries. This, along with the basic variability of mission and objective, means lots of replayability. So if you like a moderate level co-operative wargame with minimum downtime, Warfigher: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game is for you. An 7.5 out of ten (mostly due to the poor rule book rather than game play). – – – – – – – Chris Kovac
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