"You are the high priest of a proud and ancient people. You must rush to control the ancient world by summoning your gods to earth, by overrunning foreign lands, and by painting the land with the blood of your enemies."
-- from the Risk Godstorm rulebook
The previous column explained the god of war and how he can affect combat. This column will describe the war cards that may become the backbone of your early game strategy.
War cards are cheap but effective miracles. All war cards state, Play on your turn. They are played in the Play Miracle Cards step, which occurs right after you obtain cards. About half of them cost no faith tokens to play. The war god can be monomaniacal in his desire for conquest but that means he needs a deck of cards that gives him a wide variety of effects. The card titles are all confident and hopeful.
The War God's Labor: Conquest
The war god loves conquest. In fact, his Labor is based on lots of conquest. If you conquer three or more territories on a turn and you have the war god in play anywhere on the board, you draw a free war card. You can only get one war card in this manner per turn, and conquering empty territories doesn't count toward the three territories.
Given how easy it is to conquer lightly defended territories with a war god at your side, you should expect to achieve this Labor as often as not. But there's a rub: If you get the card by achieving the Labor, you will receive it in the Invade Territories step, which comes after the Play Miracle Cards step. If you get a war card this way, you won't be able to use it till your next turn. Because war cards are most effective when played before the Invade Territories step, consider paying the two faith tokens necessary to get them.
Here are a few basic types of war cards (with graphic design by Kate Irwin).
Many of the war cards give you tools to work with. The war god is generous to those who feed his bloodlust.
Heroes are Born is just about the most basic card there is. Its text is: Gain 3 armies in the territory of your choice.
There are many variations on this theme. A card might get you a free temple, or cards, or faith tokens. Having one of these cards will give you more opportunities to attack or defend in places where your opponents didn't see you coming when they made their moves.
There's really only one thing a builder card can't get you, and that's a god. These cards are miraculous effects, and merely arriving isn't, even if you're a god. It's what you do with that power that impresses the faithful.
A second category of war cards contains those that reallocate resources, whether yours or your opponent's. The war god will move heaven and earth to stir the tides of war.
Eagles Take Wing, for example, allows you to move some of your forces to the front lines. Its text is: Sacrifice 1 faith. Move any number of armies and gods from one territory you control to another territory you control.
The mover cards change the assumptions of the players you attack. They may well have seen your aggression coming but they were in error when they decided what they needed to defend with. When you border a territory of a player holding a bunch of war cards, you have to assume that on that player's turn, the player might well attack with a different, unexpected arrangement of his or her forces.
The most stunning of the mover cards is Time Stands Still. For four faith -- the highest cost of any war card -- you move the epoch marker back one space on the epoch chart. At the end of the game, if you're not going to win, you can give yourself one more chance to win. If a player's been sitting on a war card for most of the game, don't overextend yourself before his or her final turn, because you might be playing another one.
You didn't think the war god's cards would leave out the most basic aspect of his personality, did you? The last category of war cards contains those that destroy your opponent's resources before he or she can use them against you. The war god loves to rain down destruction on his enemies.
Storms Rage is a basic destroyer card. Its text is: Choose a territory. Roll one of the dice and destroy that many armies in the territory. If you plan to attack a well-defended territory, this card lets you tenderize it first.
These destroyers cards can hit almost any resource a player might have but none of them directly target gods. The other gods know there's a god of war walking the Earth, and they take pains to prepare for his fairly obvious intentions.
Now, the sky god -- he can put fear into other gods. Next week, we look to the heavens.
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.