|Gears of War: The Board Game | Published 01 July 2011|
The Locusts, so named by human scientists for their immense numbers, are a race of humanoids from deep within the subterranean tunnels of Sera. These relentless killers seem bent on destruction, and all attempts at negotiation with them have ended in violence. As mankind approaches its final stand, what new horrors does their mysterious enemy hold in store?
In May, Fantasy Flight Games announced the upcoming release of Gears of War™: The Board Game, a fully cooperative board game for one to four players. Designed by Corey Konieczka, this action-packed battle against a cunning AI opponent is based on the wildly popular series of third-person shooters by Epic Games. In our last preview, we looked at the chief protagonist of Gears of War, Marcus Fenix, and we saw how his COG Character card conveys his unique stats and abilities. We also examined several Order cards, discussing how these versatile components are used to execute a broad range of tactical options.
Today, we’ll look at the forces of the Locust horde, and we’ll see how the ingenious AI system in Gears of War: The Board Game keeps the pressure consistent, delivering a dynamic and satisfying cooperative play experience.
Unique Locust Combinations
The first step in understanding how your enemy adapts in Gears of War: The Board Game is understanding how each mission’s unique setup dictates Locust behavior. First, players consult the Mission Setup card for the scenario they’ve selected.
On the right, you’ll see the Mission Setup card for Emergence, an introductory scenario. This card displays any special rules the mission might have, it assigns a letter (A, B, or C) to each of the scenario’s enemy types, and it gives players information needed to build the AI Deck.
Under the “Enemies” heading, the Mission Setup card lists three Locust types, in this case the Wretch, Drone, and Boomer. This scenario-specific combination of enemies is important in that it helps define the unique atmosphere of each mission; will your team most often face close-quarters attacks, or clever foes who engage from a distance?
Also important is the letter assigned to each of these Locusts, as it dictates factors like the frequency with which they spawn, how often they move, and when they receive helpful boosts from the AI deck. This is because several AI cards refer to a mission’s Locusts by letter, elevating certain types to a more tactically important role within that mission.
The Mission Reference Sheet, which keeps track of the game’s necessary cards. The enemy cards are placed on its left, next to the letters indicated by the Mission Setup card (on the right sit the Weapon, AI, and Order decks). Each enemy’s assigned letter, as well as its special abilities and pertinent stats, can be easily referenced at a glance.
As we learned last time, each player draws the top card of the AI deck at the end of his turn, a step that controls enemy actions and presents various other challenges to the COGs. The AI deck is shuffled at the start of the game, and consists of cards specific to each of the mission’s three enemy types, plus a selection of General AI cards (like Reinforcements) listed at the bottom of the Mission Setup card.
So what tricks does the Locust horde have at its disposal? Each Locust subspecies has its own distinctive patterns of behavior, making their tactics as varied as they are. The Wretch tends to spawn and attack in numbers, coming in close to prey on COGs that are already weakened. The Boomer, on the other hand, prefers long range attacks, and will even move away from his target before taking aim.
All Locust-specific AI cards present a condition that, if met, results in an action by that Locust (typically an attack). If the condition is not met, these cards also present an “otherwise” effect, which often involves spawning more Locusts or drawing a new AI card. In short, the Locust horde is always active; if they aren’t attacking, they’re bolstering their numbers for an upcoming coordinated assault! And since each player draws a new AI card at the end of his turn, there’ll be no rest until your mission is complete.
Keep checking back for more in the coming weeks, and look for Gears of War: The Board Game on store shelves later this quarter!
Gears of War: The Board Game, designed by Corey Konieczka, is based on the wildly popular third-person shooter by Epic Games. One to four players take on the roles of COG soldiers cooperating to destroy the Locust horde, and must work together to complete missions against an ingeniously challenging and varied game system.
I'll be buying this for the figures alone!
I sure hope the game is at least somewhat playable...
Wow, this looks like Castle Ravenloft advanced (and in a SciFi setting).
I wonder how this will compare with Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon from Wizards. I don't really care for the Gears of War setting so I guess that will be a try before buy.
The AI seems really impressive. I like that the AI deck contains enemy specific cards and that you create mission specific decks.
That's will be another ***** autobuy wow can't you give us some rest ! (my wallet speaking)
[ADMIN: Edited for language]
This is a buy at GENCON!
Looking better and better. Hope it's out before the summer's done.
AUTOBUY. For sure! :)