Warfighter – Card Game Review
Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game. Card game review. Dan Verssen Games. $59.99; expansions $19.99 each; a Warfighter Combo Pack that includes the core game and all four expansions is available for $124.99
Passed Inspection: Immersive game that can get you to make challenging decisions
Failed Basic: Tactical Display Sheet is a little on the light side and might wear quickly with repeated use.
Juan hated this duty. Stuck out on the trail again, at night, the bugs like a cloud around his head. Raul had it out for him, just because Juan came from the barrio and had a dream to be somebody big one day. Juan thought it would be a quicker way to the top if he learned how to manufacture product rather than stand on the street corner and sell it. One day, one day he would show them all. He would be the one in the silk shirt with the bikini-clad girls jumping to his every whim, Yeah, one day. Juan lit up a cigarette, as he’d found it helped to keep most of the bugs away from his head. He stared at the flame of the lighter as he puffed to get the cigarette burning. He might have noticed the “cough” of the silenced rifle if he wasn’t already falling dead to the ground before the sound arrived.
If you ever had the desire to go out on a patrol to conduct a hostage rescue, nab a high-value target or destroy an enemy HQ, the game Warfighter can get you there. Part boardgame, part card game, and with some miniatures thrown in, it is a slick packaged product from Dan Verssen Games that can be played solitaire or with up to six players.
The game comes complete with everything needed to play. The game’s counters are just for marking information on team members or enemy combatants. There are a set of two different types of dice, d6 and d10, that look like bullets. (Yes, you read that correctly—the dice are shaped like rifle rounds). The Tactical Display sheet, (map sheet) is universal and does a good job of laying out the area of operations (in conjunction with the cards); it also has a set of charts and guides so you can play without having to refer to the rulebook for minor items. There is a set of six miniature figures in six different poses. I found the figures to be a bit slight in their build and larger than 15mm but smaller than 20mm. They look like they can be painted if desired. The final components are the cards and you get a fistful—240—that are all easy to read and sturdy, ready for lots of gaming abuse. The cards are the heart of the game and have to be separated into eight different piles for play: Soldiers, Missions, Objectives, Weapons, Equipment, Skills, Hostiles and Actions.
The rulebook is richly colored and well organized. The actual rules of play take up about 14 pages; there is also a four-page introductory example that walks you thru all actions in detail for the first turn of the game and a five-page extended example of play that covers a whole mission for eight game turns. Finally, there is a little over a page of optional rules and instructions on how to do a campaign using the game.
Setting up a game requires you to select a region for the mission, Middle East Desert or South American Jungle. Choosing a Mission card will then determine how much time your soldiers have to complete the mission, how far away the objective is, how many points you have to equip your team and any possible restrictions on how much a team member may be equipped with. Missions carry names like Going Deep, VIP Sit Down, and Short and Sweet. Once the Mission is selected you choose an Objective, which tells you what you have to do; e.g., the Hostage Rescue requires you to reach a structure and eliminate all hostiles, but you also have to beware of collateral damage. Also on the card is the information to determine how many hostiles you will encounter at the objective, based upon how many resource points you spend. Once you have chosen the Mission and Objective you can select your soldiers and equipment.
Soldiers come in three types: Player Soldiers, Non-Player Soldiers and Squad Soldiers. Player Soldiers get a hand of Action Cards to play. You have to equip Player Soldiers with weapon(s), gear and skills. Each of these soldiers has a loadout value, which determines how much they can carry. Non-Player Soldiers are already kitted up with specific weapon(s), gear and skills. They do not get a hand of Action cards. Squad Soldiers have a specific attack table on their card, as they just carry basic weapons and equipment. They do not get a hand of Action cards.
This is the first difficult set of decisions the player must make. You always must take at least one Player Soldier so you have Action Cards to play. Your Action Card hand limit will be determined by the current health of your Player Soldiers. Two Player Soldiers with health of 6 and 7 will create an Action Card hand of 13 cards. However, the cards belong to each specific soldier, so if one gets injured badly you will lose the cards that come with that soldier.
Everything costs resource points, and as you spend them the threat level goes up. Extra ammo is represented by counters placed on the Soldiers card.
Once you have your soldiers selected, it is time to saddle up and head to the line of departure. The Action Deck is full of items that may help or hinder the mission. It is where you will find terrain cards. Sometimes you will need to discard a hand just to draw new cards to get a Terrain card—which can be painful as it might mean you discarded a choice card like Sniper Support. Some Action cards require the discard of additional cards in order to play an event. An example is a Stealth Attack card, which requires the discard of an additional card. Action cards also get discarded to pay entrance costs (listed on Location cards) for the soldiers. Some soldiers are more agile than others, thus lowering the cost to enter a location, but some Hostile cards add to the cost to enter.
Every turn soldiers are allowed to perform two actions, in no set order. Actions are: Remove 1 suppress, Attack, play a Location card that has an action cost, Reload, Move, or Discard and Draw new cards. Unless specified, the playing of Action cards does not count against the number of actions a soldier performs. So, if you have a Reload card you can use it instead of expending a soldier’s action to accomplish the reload.
The final batch of cards in the game are the Hostiles. Each card can have anywhere from one to four threats that you might face. When a Location card is played it has hostile information on it. You basically blindly draw Hostile cards until the card(s) value meets or exceeds the resource value you spent to assemble and equip your team. Spend 100 or more resource points and you might have to face 15 points worth of Hostiles. Counters are used to mark suppressed and killed hostiles on cards. You gain experience points as you kill all targets on a card. Certain Action cards require the expenditure of experience points to either play the card or to retain the card for future use (like the Sniper card).
Combat entails rolling a d10 to attack the target and, if successful, a d6 to defeat the cover of a target so to achieve suppression or a kill. For your soldiers, you might get to select firing in semiautomatic or burst mode, using weapons from grenades to shotguns to knives. Once you have completed your part of the turn, the Hostiles get to attack.
The game has a slick way of assigning a point of focus to a Hostile card. Once a Hostile card is drawn, a chit is drawn from a cup to see which soldier that Hostile will target. The Hostile will then focus all of his attention upon that soldier until the soldier is out of range or the soldier is Downed as a serious casualty (i.e., health reaches zero). Hostiles will only acquire a new soldier target if their previous target is Downed. During the Hostile turn, if their target is out of range, they will move one location closer each turn until they can engage their target. Hostile cards have attack data on them and the more personnel on a card the greater the chance that they can inflict harm upon your soldiers. If things are getting too hot, you can always choose to lighten your load by dropping equipment. Dropped equipment comes off of the resource point total, thus lowering the threat level. Once equipment is dropped you cannot go back to get it.
Once you reach the objective the Objective card will have the information needed to successfully complete the mission. An example is the VIP Helicopter that needs to be destroyed and you have only 2 turns on site to accomplish the task. The game ends when you complete the objective, the time limit has expired or all of your soldiers are Down.
I found the missions challenging, and no two are ever the same as there is a vast wealth of cards to be used in the course of play. It has a bit of the feel that one gets when doing this with real people, and you will come to care about the soldiers as they go out on a mission.
There are three expansion decks available that add even more cards to each area of the game. If you find the initial version of the game going stale, just add in an expansion to spice things up; each one is an asset.
So, are you ready? Lets go kick some doors!
Solitaire rating (1 is low, 5 is high): 5
Game rating 88%
About the Author
Michael Peccolo is a retired Armor Major from the US Army with overseas duties, Company commands and additional assignments in recruiting and ROTC. He lives in Tennessee where he raises horses with his wife. He volunteers at Ft. Knox to be a Civilian on the Battlefield.