Spoils Of War
Game Design: Jason Medina and Bryan Pope
Game Artistry: Nick Deligaris and David Kegg
Published by: Arcane Wonders
Reviewed by: Jason Elliott
Edited by: Stephanie Elliott
Number of Players: 3 to 5,
Time of Play: 45 to 60 minutes
Age recommended: 14 and up
Year of Release: 2017
The story so far: You and your Viking Clan have finished some very successful raids! You have brought that treasure back to the Chieftain's tent, but now who gets what? In the heat of the moment it is decided that a game of chance will be the only way to settle this. Get your dice ready, and make sure you are ready to have the skill to bluff, bid, bet, or to publicly challenge those you think are bluffing! All of that wonderful treasure is at stake, so you must be ready to claim your share of the Spoils Of War!
Our final thoughts on the game: So after several plays, I have concluded that this is a game that many people love, or are very frustrated and still love it. I am joking here, because my wife, and myself on more than one occasion have said things out loud in frustration as we picked the wrong side of a conflict. In this game, the conflict happens when someone has challenged a bid. The other players choose to support either the Declarer or the Challenger. You can hear much cheering or sounds of anguish during this game, especially if larger bids have been made and/or there are really valuable treasures out (such as the final three turns of the game).
We love that this gives us a little bit of that gambling scratch, you are rolling dice, bluffing, and trying to be the one that comes out with the most. This is a game where the tides could turn on one single round, it could jockey back and forth between players, it is never decided until everyone reveals all they have at the very end of the game.
Scores can be across the board, so be prepared for trying to read other people correctly, and seeing if you can choose the correct side. Was that bid that said there is a total of ten 4's on the table actually right, or should I call him/her out on it? This game has that fun tension that is going on when people are trying to figure out if the others are bluffing. On top of that, you may be able to sway the outcome through the use of Artifacts.
No one is ever left out in this game, as you have to decide what you are doing every step of the way. Do you go for the straight points from your cards, and work on getting set bonuses? Do you go after as many artifacts as you can for those special powers (some are one time use, others for as long as you have them)? I have to say this is a game I will play every time with people who enjoy the gambling and/or bluffing aspects. If you have gamers like that then this is 10 out of 10, and should be played 100% of the time it is mentioned. If you have gamers that shy away from those mechanics, then this is a good way to introduce them to it, and show them it can be highly entertaining. For those who don't normally enjoy such things, this will be a 9 out of 10, as it doesn't get to much better to show them a richly themed, super enjoyable experience that involves this type of interaction. You have to remember that you have great people who have helped push this game even further, such as Tony Gullotti (who is Director of Sales for Arcane Wonders, a father and husband, and a family man) along with Kevin Burkhardsmeier (who is President of Game Toppers, also father, husband, and family man). These are highly talented people who help the gaming industry everyday, who put a lot of their talent into the promotion of this game. In other words, great people came together to create, develop, promote and support this wonderful game. You must play this at least once, because you will very likely come away with a highly enjoyable experience.
Mechanics and concepts found in this game: We found that you need to pay attention to set matching. This refers to the cards you have won, as you can get additional bonuses from partial or complete sets, and having complete Conqueror Hoards (one of each color type of card). There is tons of dice rolling, so if you enjoy that, this game has plenty of it! You will have lots of bidding, betting, bluffing, and challenging those who are employing the same tactics, so get your poker face on! Being able to confuse others and bluff is an advantage, because that makes it all the more fun! This is Liar's Dice ramped up to a new, more fun, better themed, and more treasure filled level!
The game components:
-126 Treasure Cards (Weapons, Jewelry, Armor, Artifacts, and more- these will be marked as levels 1, 2 or 3)
-1 Viking Chief marker
-35 six sided dice
-5 Viking dice cups
-5 Viking player screens
-93 Gold coins (18 that say 10, 40 that say 5, and 35 that say 1)
-5 Betting Disks (red side says Challenger and the blue side says Declarer)
-4 Markers (1 saying Copy, and 3 that say Cancel)
-1 set of instructions
-1 game box
You can try to track down the limited Gold dice cup that was offered for obtaining the game at conventions, along with some promo cards. These are NOT required to play the game in any way, but just mentioned as a note to those who are completionists with their games.
Winning conditions of the game: Having the most victory points at the end of the ninth round. These points come from the gold you have: from coins and from your treasure cards. Every gold is 1 to 1 as a victory point. In addition, you will need to check on Conquerer's Hoards(one of each type-color) along with partial and complete sets (3 different cards of the same color is partial, and 4 different cards of the same color is complete). If there is a tie, then whoever has the most treasure cards wins, if it is still tied then whoever has the highest single valued treasure wins, and if it is still tied, keep comparing treasures (who has the second highest single valued treasure and so on).
Game setup: Each Viking player will need 1 screen, 1 Declarer/Challenger disc, 1 dice cup, 70 gold (as each player gets 5 of the 1 coins, 7 of the 5 coins, and 3 of the 10 coins) Dice depend on the number of players-
-3 Viking players each get 10 dice
-4 Viking players each get 8 dice
-5 Viking players each get 6 dice
One person will always be the money handler (Purser) and will handle giving the money, and making change with the bank (Treasury). The cards get shuffled by level, and there will be 3 stacks of each level (3 stacks of level 1, 3 stacks of level 2, and 3 stacks of level 3). The number of cards in each stack breaks down the following way-
-3 Viking players mean each stack has 7 cards
-4 Viking players mean each stack has 9 cards
-5 Viking players mean each stack has 11 cards
All remaining cards go back to the game box. Make sure the stacks make one continual row so that it is easy to track how far along in the game you are (1,1,1,2,2,2,3,3,3). Elect who will be your first Viking Chief, and he or she takes the Viking Chief token. You can decide how to do that, maybe by who last held treasure, who was last dressed as a Viking, etc. You are ready to play!
How to play: Here are the 7 steps that make up each game round.
1. Treasure- Whoever is the Viking Chief takes the current round Treasure stack and deals them out for the players to see. Artifacts (denoted with a crystal ball) stay face down so nobody knows what they are until they are picked, while the remaining Treasures are face up so everyone can see them.
2. Roll Dice- Everyone uses their cup to roll and flip the cup down to keep your dice together and hidden.
3. Bidding- The current Viking Chief decides who will start the bidding. Remember with Bidding you are using all the dice rolled, not just yours! You will then proceed in clockwise order, and you can do one of three things
-raise by using same number of dice but higher pip ( I raise your five 2's with five 3's)
-raise by using a higher number of dice ( I raise your five 2's with six 1's)
-Challenge, you lay out your chip on Challenger side, the person who made the last bid lays out their chip Declarer side up. You are basically saying I think the table doesn't have what you bid.
4. Place Bets- The Declarer and Challenger will secretly bid gold, while the remaining Vikings will secretly bid which side they think is true along with gold.
5. Reveal Bets- Everyone reveals simultaneously how much Gold they bet.
6. Reveal Dice- Starting with the Declarer, and then in clockwise order, everyone will reveal the dice they rolled.
7. Divide the Spoils!- If there are at least as many dice as bid or more then the Declarer wins. If there is less than the Challenger wins.
-the bid was ten 5's, so if there are at least ten 5's rolled total the Declarer side wins, and if there are nine 5's or less then the Challenger side wins.
The amount you bid is important for a couple of reasons. If you are on the correct (Winning side) your Gold will come back to you, while the losing Vikings will give their bid Gold to the Treasury. On the winning side, whoever bid the highest amount becomes the Viking Chieftain, allowing him or her to pick 3 Treasure cards, while remaining winning players will pick two Treasures in clockwise order.
Treasure Card sets:
-Jewelry has Crown, Armband, Ring, and Pendant
-Armor has Helmet, Chain Mail, Shield and Bracers
-Dragon Eggs have Dragons in the Mountain, Fire, Storm, and Sea types
-Weapons have Battle Ax, Longbow, Great Spear, and Broadsword
Having three of the four in a type will give you 6 bonus gold, having all four will give you 12 gold.
-Conquerer's Hoard will be for having one of each type (Jewelry, Armor, Dragon Egg, Weapon, and Artifact)
Having this Hoard will give you 8 bonus gold. You can repeat these sets more than once if you have enough of the correct cards.
Each card will tell you how much Gold it is worth in the bottom right of the card. Artifacts will also have a symbol depicting if it can only be used once (showing 1x) or stays in effect as long as you have it (a circle that is a continuous arrow).
You will also have Copy and Cancel effects from these Artifacts, so just place the corresponding tokens wherever they are needed.
Endgame: The ninth round is the final round. It will be the 3rd round of level 3 treasures. Once this round is completed, everyone should total up everything they have to see who has the final score.
Thank you so much for reading my review of Spoils Of War from Arcane Wonders!