"When a child is born, the gods have been honored. When a crop fails, the gods have been disrespected. When the world goes to war, the gods have been called to battle."
-- from the Risk Godstorm rulebook
The gods and goddesses are the star attraction in Risk Godstorm. Each pantheon can call upon the might of four deities, each named for a god in that pantheon. The four deities are, clockwise from the top, the goddess of magic, the god of death, the god of the sky, and the god of war. We'll devote the rest of these columns to the gods and their spheres of influence. This column will cover the general nature of gods in the game.
Like commanders in Risk 2210 A.D., gods in Godstorm bestride the Earth like colossi. They begin the game on a pantheon card but they usually don't stay there for long. Over the course of the game, you'll have the chance to summon each of the deities, some perhaps more than once.
You begin with your god of war in play; he wouldn't miss the upcoming carnage. Thereafter, you may summon deities in the Summon Gods and Build Temples step, right after you raise armies and gather faith tokens. Each god requires the sacrifice of three faith tokens. You may place the god in any territory in which you have at least one army. The god can then immediately start harnessing divine powers for your cause.
The most immediate act of power that a god can confer is the ability to obtain miracle cards. These 66 cataclysmic cards give you the power to change nearly any aspect of the game in your favor. Each deity has his or her own deck; that is, there are Death cards, War cards, Sky cards, and Magic cards. (No, not those Magic cards.)
This Death card, "BLOOD COATS THE LAND," is an example of an interesting naming convention not commonly found in card games. The card titles are sentences. This allows you to pronounce the title of the card as if it was a command from the heavens (thunderous, maniacal laughter is optional). The card also features the runic graphic design of Abigail Fein, art directed by Matthew Stevens. Matt and Abigail channeled the feeling that the power from these cards came from the ancient world. This runic design allows players to interpret the runes as they please; there are some patterns to the runes, but I'll leave it to others to divine their meanings.
You can get miracle cards two ways. In both cases, the appropriate type of god must have been summoned first. You can either:
- Sacrifice two faith tokens during the Obtain Miracle Cards step. You can get a maximum of four cards per turn this way.
- Complete the Labor listed on the back of the miracle card. You can continue to get miracle cards whenever you complete the gods' Labors.
Cards in Risk 2210 cost only one energy token each, so why do they cost two tokens here? Because they're miracles, that's why. You're entreating the gods for Earth-shattering help, and that doesn't come cheap.
On the other hand, if you do what the gods want, they'll give you a miracle card for free. You get the miracle card as soon as the Labor is completed. Each god wants something different from his or her followers, so your choice of deity may dictate your direction for the next part of the game. Once a deck is out of miracle cards, no more miracles of that type can be drawn for the rest of the game.
In the next step, called Play Miracle Cards, you can play most of the miracle cards you've obtained, assuming you have enough faith left to power them. Many cards require a sacrifice of faith tokens. For example, Blood Coats the Land requires one faith token to play. You play the card, sacrifice the token, resolve the card's effect, and discard it.
After the Play Miracle Cards step is the Suffer Plague step, which was discussed last time. Gods are notoriously vulnerable during this step, because faith can't survive amid a devastating epidemic. If a god is in a plagued territory, it is immediately banished.
Gods at War
In the subsequent Invade Territories step, gods and men can fight side by side. As noted in column 1, gods do not fight men, and men do not fight gods. Having a god on your side, however, can empower your soldiers in great ways. Each god has a divine power that affects the results of any combat that he or she takes part in. That is covered at greater length in the next column.
Gods can fight each other in titanic godswars. When gods clash, the gods on one side of a battle will be driven from the battlefield. Once the gods on one side are banished, their demoralized men must still fight. Be careful taking your gods to war, or your men will suffer.
Even after they perish in a godswar, gods are not truly slain. They can be summoned again by sacrificing three more faith tokens. Many is the player who has seen his or her god defeated, only to rise again on the other side of the empire.
A god on Earth may be a temporary thing, but their temples can outlast them. A temple costs five faith tokens, and you begin with one in play. A temple is a massive piece that you would be wise to protect at all costs.
A temple gives you an extra faith token and an extra army in the temple's territory every turn. It helps you when defending that territory as well as serving as a place where you can harness the power of the Underworld (more on that in a few weeks). Twelve temples come in the game, and once they're all in play, no more can be built. A temple can't be moved, and it changes loyalty if its territory changes hands. It's only a matter of changing the statues out front, after all.
The temple gives another bonus: The defender gets to reroll all 1s in combat when a temple is attacked. This can be a major boost to the defending force; if you attack a territory with a temple, bring the house.
(It's a bit early to start talking about house rules for Godstorm, but this one is too good to ignore. As mentioned last column, you can use either random or non-random setup to begin the game. In playtests, players who favored non-random setup often wanted to have the civilizations start with their home territories, such as Babylon for the Babylonians. Some players also favored placing all initial temples in those home territories. Though the game doesn't mandate such a placement, it is very flavorful and highly recommended. Still, this "Homelands" house rule comes with a warning: Every home territory begins just two territories away from another home territory, so expect Minoa, Phoenicia, and Alemannia to be bloody war zones as the game gets underway.)
The gods are so significant to Godstorm that they are going to take over the rest of this series. In half of the remaining columns, we'll examine one deity and the activities it governs. Coming up next is the god of war, covering combat between armies. Alternating with discussions about the gods will be columns that focus on the cards associated with those deities, starting with the war cards. Come on back for a double dose of war.
Catch up on any previews you missed!
- Into the Fire
- The World of the Ancients
- God-Fearing People
- Gods Among Men
- The Warlords
- Miracles On the Battlefield
- The Sky Kings
- Blessings From the Heavens
- The Reliquary Opens
- Pandora's Box
Mike Selinker has been playing, designing, developing, and just plain loving games of every variety for many, many years. He is a gamer in the very best sense of the word. Mike lives in Seattle.