So me and the partner decided that we wanted to play a game together. He had a look through the board and card games that we have, and we both decided on playing the Gears of War board game. This board game has been with him since his university years back in Groningen. The games usually take between 1 to 3 hours, maybe even longer. This was my first time playing, and I honestly cannot wait to play more!
The game has many different components to set up. There are 32 different plastic figures, all of which can be hand painted if you are artsy enough. These include Drones, Wretches, Tickers, Boomers, Theron Guards, Kantus and a Berserker. You also get 4 COG soldiers. Even though our little plastic figures are not painted yet, they still look super cool!
You also have several cards. 168 normal sized cards and 38 mini cards. These are divided into different decks. The Locust AI cards, Mission cards, Order cards, COG Character cards, Enemy cards, special weapon and random weapon. The mini cards are the locations and reference cards.
In the box as well, you will have 7 punchboards (these are where you remove tokens etc.) These include the map tiles, seal/emergence hole tokens, wound/drop tokens, ammo/grenade tokens, 2 doors, 2 locked tokens and finally a line-of-sight ruler.
Finally you get 1 mission reference sheet alongside 5 attack dice (black) and 4 defense dice (red).
The set up
When the cards, boards and tokens are organized, a first player is selected. We did this by just rolling dice, however it can be done in other ways. Whoever had the top roll was the first player. That was me! As the first player, I got to select the character I wanted to play throughout the campaign. The character I decided to go with was Damon Baird. Each character has their own special ability as well as weapon load out. You then receive ammo and grenades and the starting weapons for the character you selected.
A mission is then selected. Since this was the first time I was playing the game, we played the Emergence mission. This is recommended for new players. Missions in the game have various stages assigned to them. The cards for the mission must then be organized and placed on top of the ‘Mission Deck Space’ which is on the Mission Reference sheet. The enemies must also be organized along with their enemy card (which is placed on top of the board), the AI deck and enemy health tokens. We just placed these to the side for ease. The cards must be organized for the particular mission that is currently being played.
The location deck then must be sorted. This is created by looking at the reference sheet for the mission, then placing the correct locations (deck 2 and 3 in the appropriate spaces.) Deck 1 then gets put to the side this will be the deck we use to create the map.
Talking about the map, we now get to create it! To start this, the first player draws the first location card from deck 1. The map tile that is assigned to the location card is then placed on the board alongside the location card. Once all locations have been placed, enemies are then spawned and placed at each of the holes on the map in accordance to the location card. For example, one location would have 1 boomer and another would have 1 Drone.
COG figure set up
FINALLY, the COG figures get placed right at the beginning entrance to the map. The players then have to draw 6 Order cards, and the game can begin! Yes, I know this seems like A LOT. It’s totally worth it!
The game play
Now I will talk about the game play, but I’ll try to make it simple. There are a bunch of different rules etc when it comes to turns. Along with your character card and weapons, there will be a reference card. These help with information that will be needed when it comes to turn orders.
First of all, the first player if they have less than 6 orders cards in their hand will draw up to a maximum of 2 order cards. The order cards count as the players life points.
The first player will now pick an order card to play. The player then acts out their order card on the board. However, if the player has an order card they do not like, they can do one of two following actions instead:
- Move two areas
- Perform one action
An order card must be used each turn, even if the order action is not performed. This card is then placed to the side and used.
There are also special actions that the player can discard an order card to act out. These MUST be done before the player acts out an order. The special actions are either:
- Reviving a COG player on the board that is currently in their area.
- Picking up a dropped weapon that is in their area.
- Activating the areas equipment. This is shown by a red ? on the location. The item that the player receives is marked on the location card.
Once the special action is finished, the player discards the order card that was used to act out the special action, then continues to resolve another order card. The special actions have to be played before or after resolving an order card.
Example: I want to pick up an item on the board. I discard an order card and collect the item (in this case, a grenade). I then act out an order card action which is to move 2 areas. After finishing this action, I then discard another order card to revive my partner on the board, leaving me with 4 cards in total.
Attacking the enemy
When ordering an attack on an enemy with an order card, the player then selects what weapon they would like to use, if they want to use ammo to go alongside it, and which enemy they are attacking. There are rules when it comes to line-of-sight and cover. Cover areas in the game where you get an extra defense bonus, but this also counts for enemies too. Also, on the board there are black walls where players and enemies cannot shoot through.
If the enemy is damaged, a damage marker is placed under the Locusts figure. When the enemy dies, the figure is taken off the board. The damage marker is then flipped over. These markers will either have a weapon on the back, or a discard. Discard means just remove from the board, and the weapon is left there for the COG players to pick up.
If the player gets damaged by the enemy, they remove 1 order card for each damage point they take.
Finally, the Enemy phase is triggered. The player draws an AI card and places it on the table face up and acts it out. The AI cards have various rules, some making the player spawn more enemies, or redrawing another AI card. During this phase as well, the player can look to the reference sheet to either play a Guard or Dodge card. These are indicated by the icons at the top left of the order cards.
A guard card will allow the player to attack the enemy before the enemy attacks him. A dodge card will allow the player to use 2 extra defense dice when the enemy attacks them. Another player can also play a guard card to attack an enemy before the enemies AI card is played out. There is also a Follow card which can be played in order to go to the area of a player who just left your area.
Once the AI phase is over, the next player will then start his turn with the heal phase, and the game continues from there.
Final thoughts on the game
It is possible that I may of left some stuff out of the explanation of this game. That’s because I have only done one of the missions. There may be more rules when it comes to various different missions but I am not aware of them.
Even though this is a lot of stuff to take in, once the game is underway and is being played, it’s super simple to play along, and before you know it you’re fighting for your life against the enemies trying to complete the main objective. For our first game, we succeeded in completing the objective! The game took about 3 hours to play in total, but the time just flew by. We were having so much fun playing it! There were some near death experiences, however we managed to overcome them, kill the enemies and win.
I really do highly recommend this board game to anyone who loves the Gears of War franchise, board games with miniatures, or even just a love for long board games. This game can be played from 1 to 4 players, so I am super curious about how it will be played with more players, or even on my own.
Have you ever played the Gears of War board game? What did you think of it if so? Or if you haven’t, do you think you’ll try it at some point? Let me know!