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Card Game Review – World of Tanks

WOT_3d-1024x1024I want to be annoyed at this thing where people take a video game and turn it into a physical game. It seems like it should cheapen the experience, and that you would wind up pandering to a crowd to try to bump sales. But the problem with hating the idea is that the execution tends to be kind of cool, like Doom or Gears of War or World of Tanks.

Yes, I said World of Tanks. No, that does not seem like the kind of title that would be popular as a card game. But having played it, and enjoyed the hell out of it (not that there was hell in it in the first place, outside the old ‘war is hell’ adage, and let’s face it, you don’t use tanks to build peace-loving biodomes), I heartily endorse the translation.

I know absolutely nothing about the online game World of Tanks, outside the fact that it has tanks in it. And I mostly know that because if it did not, it would have been called World of Ocelots (assuming, of course, the presence of ocelots). I don’t generally enjoy online games, since there always seems to be some 15-year-old twit waiting for an opportunity to call you names related to his mom’s undergarment wardrobe, and if you manage to beat him he just forgets to take his last turn for two days until the game lets you claim the win. So not only am I ignorant of how the video iteration of this game works, but I have no desire to find out.

However, you don’t need to know anything about the online game to enjoy the card game version of World of Tanks. It’s a deck-building game, because every fourth game created today uses deck-building somewhere, to the point that I have spent a small amount of time researching how to type deck-building (one word? two words? divide with a hyphen? [yes, that last one]). It’s also a game where you attack other people while trying to protect yourself while trying to secure the most points and the best stuff, all while hoping nobody else can buy that bad-ass Russian super-tank before you get to it.

Here’s the concept for World of Tanks. Each player has three bases and a starting deck with a small number of cards. You will use those cards to buy cards from the common stack in the middle of the table – and most of those cards will be tanks, because again, no ocelots. You can use the tanks for the cool powers, like drawing more cards or buying more cards or making other people discard. Or you can use them to defend your bases from tanks your opponents are buying. Or (and this is the most fun) you can use them to blow the crap out of other people’s bases. Then at the end, you get points for a whole bunch of different things – how many tanks you killed, how many bases you blew to pieces, who had the most Russian tanks, who had the most medium tanks, and so on.

So the result here is a deck-building game with lots of attacking things where everything is important. You can’t just buy the best tanks, because then someone blow holes in you. You can’t just attack, or you’ll never have the resources to buy the best tanks. Should you buy that killer German tank, or get the less impressive French tank because you’ve already got four French tanks and you’re building a collection? Should you spread yourself wide and get tanks from every nation, or focus on just one? There are actually lots of tricky decisions to make, and to me, that makes for a fun game.

There’s also a lot of attacking other people and breaking things, but without the kinds of hard feelings you might usually get. Mostly because if you’re attacking someone, it’s because they’re the best target, and they usually just go, ‘yeah, I get that,’ and merrily bash the piss out of your tanks. You can get all vendetta if you want, but that’s counterproductive because it’s almost always obvious who you should be attacking, and hitting the wrong person because you’ve got your shorts in a bunch is a nice way to lose the game.

The great part here is that while there are smart decisions, World of Tanks still moves incredibly fast. You’ll throw down cards, decide on the fly what to do with them, and move on. The whole game lasts maybe half an hour. So if someone hates it, don’t worry, they can stop in a few minutes and go watch reruns of Magnum PI while the rest of you play again.

And you probably will want to play again, because World of Tanks is just plain fun. It’s not so hard that you can’t pick it up in a hurry, but it’s not so shallow that you’ll be bored. There are lots of options as you play, and your early-game strategy will guide your decisions for the rest of the game. It’s smart and fun and easy to play, and frankly, I can’t wait until it starts being distributed in America (Asmodee will be slinging it State-side) so that my reference cards are in English. It’s a Russian game right now, and that means my reference cards were full of Cyrillic characters, and were thus quite a bit less help than you might imagine.

So World of Tanks is out of the way. Let’s pick another game franchise that needs to be a board game. Just not Angry Birds, please. I think we’ve got that one covered by games designed for kids with Down’s Syndrome.

Summary

2-5 players

Pros:
Fast and easy to learn
Surprisingly deep for being so light
Great art, if you like pictures of tanks
Subtle nuances that will have you coming back for more

Cons:
Russian reference cards are completely useless to me

Want to get more information about World of Tanks? Hope you speak Russian.

SERIOUSLY, THIS IS IN RUSSIAN

2 Responses to “Card Game Review – World of Tanks”

  1. MLDSC says:

    Glad this is a good game, I’ll buy it. I’ve got hundreds of hours in World of Tanks, but tend to avoid licensed products on first glance.

    BTW, I think you would realy like the computer game. It’s really a thinking man’s shooter, got a fairly simple interface, but learning all the mechanics to succeed takes some real attention. Yes, there’s some nerd rage, but it’s mostly of the “what the fuck are you doing/not doing” variety, not, “I owned j00 *facehump*” Call of Duty variety. If you ever do decide to try it, look for me in game (mld0806).

    And it’d be cool if you reviewed it, but it’s free-to-play, so no free shit for doing so.

  2. Matt Drake says:

    Hell, I review TV shows all the time, and nobody gives me anything for that. For that matter, I buy lots of the games I review. I might check out the online game.

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