Wednesday, December 19, 2018

REVIEW: Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions

You may have heard of this little game out there right now called Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions. I'm generally not a huge fan of card games. I tried Magic when I was in Middle School, but quickly gave up on it. With the free App version of the game though I figured I would at least give Champions a try and I'm definitely glad I did!

So, first off, this review is about the App, not the physical card game. They play exactly the same though, with all of the same rules and cards, so there really is no difference as fas as gameplay goes. I'll probably buy into the physical cards sometime soon since I think it would be fun to take with me to events to play at night and such, but I don't really have the time to dedicate to playing the card game in person on a day to day basis. At the moment, if I have time for games I would rather be playing Age of Sigmar, so the App version of Champions is perfect!

The basics of Champions is that it's a card game where you control four champions, who then play different units, spells, and abilities to attack your opponent. The way it works is really pretty cool, with each card rotating while in play and each of its corners has an effect. For example, a basic unit that just does damage may have the number 1 in the top left corner, then another 1 in the next corner, a 2 in the third corner, and lastly a 4. This would mean that on the first turn the card is played it does 1 damage, then it rotates and does another 1 damage, then on the third turn it rotates again and does 2 damage, etc. Some cards do stuff like heal you with one corner and then deal damage with another. It's hard to properly explain so I would just recommend downloading the App and giving it a spin to get a true sense for how it plays.

It's a ton of fun, and once you get the hang of it it's hard to put down. The game is divided into the four grand alliances, so you can either build your deck to be Death, Destruction, Order or Chaos. At the moment Order only has Stormcast and Deepkin in it, while Chaos is mostly Khorne and Tzeentch. Destruction has a lot more variety in it when it comes to orruks and grots, but it just added Beastclaw Raiders and Ogors in as well. Death is probably the most diverse, with a little bit of everything in it, including Nighthaunt which were also just expanded upon. There are a bunch of different champions in each alliance for you to pick from, but you can only have four in your deck. Each champion costs a certain amount of "points" as well, and you can only have a total of 20 "points" worth of champions in your deck. This can mean if you take someone like Nagash, who is 15 points, then the rest of your champions will be much weaker and lower level cards. Besides the champions, you also get four Blessings, which are special cards that unlock if you complete your champion's quest, and 30 other cards consisting of units, spells, and abilities. The quest is designated by the 4 symbols on your champion's card. So in the case of Nagash above I would need to deploy a Risen unit, then cast a spell, then deploy another Risen unit, and then cast another spell to complete his quest and unlock the blessing. The four blessings are randomly deployed beneath your champions, so you don't know which of the four you're unlocking until you flip it over.

What I really like about this game though is that it feels like it's set within the universe of the Age of Sigmar, not just a card game with AoS art slapped on it. While the different alliances have a variety of factions in them, you're rewarded for focusing your decks on certain builds due to the synergies between the cards. In my different Death decks (yes, I have made several), I have a Flesh-eater deck, a Nighthaunt deck, and a Nagash deck. While they play somewhat similarly due to them all being Death, they also all feel unique. My Flesh-eater deck led by a Ghoul King, a Varghulf, a Crypt Flayer Courtier, and a Crypt Ghoul Courtier, plays very differently from my Nighthaunt deck led by Olynder, Keldrek Knight of Shrouds, a Spirit Torment, and a Skeleton Champion (I ran out of points for Nighthaunt champions). It benefits you to play a bunch of Mordant (Flesh-eater) cards together, because there are abilities and spells that will affect all Mordant cards in play for example. It just feels like it's really embraced the background of AoS and the synergy that's in effect on in the tabletop game.

That's further reflected in the different ways you can play. The defaults are Casual matches or Ranked matches, which just pairs you up against a random person, or if you know your friend's ID in the game you can play against them. There are also AI campaigns to complete. Currently there is a campaign called Prime's Stormhost where you must battle through four different decks, culminating in the Celestant Prime (this has already changed to Archaon), and the God King's Chosen which sees you fight through three decks as part of a storyline about the ongoing defense of Hammerhal and gives you pre-made decks to use. I had previously fought in a campaign to take on Archaon, where I got through all of his lieutenants' decks, but couldn't take down the Three-eyed King himself, and something similar with Nagash. These campaigns usually break the rules of the game a bit in the construction of the decks you'll be facing, such as having way more points in champions then what's normally allowed or more duplicates of individual cards (you can normally only have 3 of each card in your deck). These push your skill and tenacity, but are also fun narrative hooks. There's a special pride in knowing you were able to take down Volturnus for instance. These always reward you with digital booster packs or war chests which have a smaller amount of cards in it.

The digital card part of this is awesome too. When you first open the App you need to play with, and win a game with a starter deck for each grand alliance against the game's AI. This helps you learn the basics of the game, but you also then get each of those starter decks to use. If you physically own a card for the game you can scan it in with your phone and unlock the digital version. You can also "buy" individual cards in the game. This can of course be done through in App purchases with real world money, but it can also be done using digital currency you earn through playing the game. I haven't spent anything on it yet and have been able to get pretty much every card I want to try for my Death decks. Every time you win a game you earn a little bit. Also, when you win boosters or the daily free card, you can turn around and "sell" those back to the game for currency. I went through and got rid of a lot of my Order, Destruction, and Chaos cards to get the currency I wanted for my Death decks. So while you can certainly spend your actual money on this game to get what you want, you be no means have to.

The best thing about the Champions App, is that games only take about 10 minutes and you can play it anywhere. Waiting around for 10 minutes with nothing to do? Hop on an play a casual match or try your luck at a campaign. You can even just build different decks to try out. Just because you've used a card in one deck doesn't mean it's not available for another deck. This game is fairly new and they've already released a pretty major expansion with Onslaught, which brought in Beastclaw Raiders, Olynder, and expanded Order and Chaos as well. They also do digital updates pretty frequently. Today when I logged on there was a new update for the Fists of Winter event, which has new campaign and prizes to win. Basically it'll never get stale.

Since the App is completely free to download I definitely recommend you give it a shot. It's a great trial run too if you're considering the physical card game. You really have nothing to lose and I think this is the most fun I've had with a licensed GW phone game since Warhammer Quest!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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