Warlords of Europe (Conquest Gaming The Quick Rundown:
T for Teens:
|More to see than just the d6!|
My kids really get into the Middle Ages setting. I suspect most other children will, too. They delight in battling with swords, storming castles, and sending forth their knighted hero to rescue the princess...only in this case, it's a warlord, which actually is kind of awkward. No matter. I share their enthusiasm for the theme. Playing the GameMaster series as teenagers, my friends and I dreamed that Milton Bradley would give us the opportunity to use our strategic wits, honed on the fields of ancient Rome and medieval Japan, in the fiefs of Western Christendom. Sadly that was never the case. But this oversight has now been gloriously corrected by Larry Davis' spiritual successors at Conquest Gaming, LLC.
Outside of wargamers, downtime and game length are probably the biggest turn-offs in this genre. Warlords has two mechanics that seem to address both problems, yet do not alleviate them completely. Though honestly, I'm not sure that's possible for a game of this nature without removing its heart and soul. It would be unfair to ask for evangelical titles to convert the light hobby or Euro gamer to the wargaming faith. So how does its mechanics connect with kids?
While still an afternoon affair for 3-4 player games, the victory condition mechanic and scenario options go a long way to help reduce overall game length. Rather than conquering every last square inch of land or completely eliminating all enemies, your goal is to capture and hold a majority of castles (all of them in a 2-player game). That is still no easy task - which accounts for the games 2-4 hour span. Yet it provides a finite goal in what might otherwise turn into an exhaustive marathon of give and take. This measurable victory condition will also guide players' strategy and is conducive to streamlined game play. Castles are extremely important in this game, which makes sense given their political, military, economic, and social dominance of the times. You must own one in any given kingdom in order to collect taxes from its fiefs. If you control a majority, or all, of the fiefs in a kingdom, you are awarded bonuses in the form of extra taxes and free levees. Losing your last castle means you no longer collect money, nor can you hire knights - and that's a tough slog. On another note, suggested scenarios scale the playable map area to a smaller number of kingdoms, eliminating the slow and boring build-up and forcing players into early confrontation.
|Six to seven fiefs comprise one kingdom (highlighted in yellow).|
Own them all and reap the rewards.
|An unfinished castle.|
Okay I'll Shut-Up Now:
In the end, I personally give Warlords of Europe an 8 on the Board Game Geek scale (Very good game. I like to play. Probably I'll suggest it and will never turn down a game). It would not be the first wargame I recommend introducing to your children, especially younger than junior high. But kids, like adults, will be hard pressed to resist its sweeping historical narrative and epic theme. While most mechanics will be familiar to even moderate wargamers, top-notch components and fresh tweaks create a fun medieval experience. Simply stated, if enjoy conquest games you must have this title.
|Card examples (from top): Conquest, Papal, Merchant|