Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spoils of War (Arcane Wonders)

Vikings are a loud and boisterous bunch with pretty simple interests. They like to sail, fight, eat, drink, and gamble! Arcane Wonders recently introduced a game that focuses on their love of betting called Spoils of War. In Spoils of War, you and your fellow Vikings are rolling dice, bluffing about the results, and betting on whose right. The smartest (or luckiest) Viking will not only have the most money at the end of the game, but have the best loot as well! Spoils of War is a game 3-5 Vikings, age 14+. It takes approximately one hour to play and retails for $40.
Setup
1. Give each Viking a dice cup, screen, and betting disk.
2. The owner of the game is giving the Viking Chief marker, making them the starting player.
3. Distribute dice to each Viking depending on player count. (3 Vikings = 10 dice, 4 = 8 dice, 5 = 6 dice)
4. Choose one Viking to be the Purser (the bank). Have the Purser give each Viking 70 gold to start with. This gold is placed behind each player's screen.
5. Set up the Treasure Piles by making nine equal-sized piles. Do this by separating the cards by the number on their back (1, 2, or 3), shuffling each deck separately, and dealing out a number of cards from each deck to form a pile. (3 Vikings = 7 cards per pile, 4 = 9 cards per pile, and 5 = 11 cards per pile). Place these piles in a line so you have nine piles or three for each stage.
Game Play - The game is played over nine rounds with seven steps each round:
1. Treasure Setup - The Viking Chief takes the next Treasure Pile and spreads them out face-up so everyone can see the contents. (Note: It makes it easier to group like treasures together)
2. Roll Dice - Every Vikings rolls their dice and keeps the results secret
3. Bidding - The Viking Chief chooses who will make the first bid. That player must then announce a quantity of dice and a value of dice. For example, three 2s. (Note: You are bidding on the number of dice you think everyone has rolled, not just your own dice.) The Viking to the left either bids higher or challenges the bid. An example of a higher bid of three 2s would be three 4s or four 1s. A challenge means you think the last person who bid is wrong.
4. Place Bets - All Vikings must now bet on who they think is right and how much they are willing to bet they are correct. This is done by placing your betting disk on declarer or challenger and putting at least five coins on it. (All this is done in secret, of course.)
5. Reveal Bets - All Vikings reveal what they bet.
6. Reveal Dice - All dice are revealed and the bet is resolved.
7. Divide the Spoils - If you lose your bet, your coins are returned to the Treasury. If you win your bet, you keep your coins. The player who bet the most is the new Viking Chief. Additionally, all winning players get to take treasures from the Treasure pile starting with the Viking Chief and going down the line according to amount bet. The Viking Chief gets to pick three cards. All other winning Vikings get to take two. The remaining treasures are placed face-down in the leftover treasures pile.

After nine rounds, the game ends. The Purser gives bonus gold to Vikings if they earned any from their Treasures. Add up all gold coins you have. Add the gold value of every Treasure card you own. Highest gold value is the winner!

Review
Spoils of War is a fun game of bluffing and betting. There have been a fair amount of Viking games lately, but this one seems a bit more thematic and could only be matched perhaps by a pirate theme. To match a great theme, the game offers top-notch components with thick cardboard coins and solid plastic cups. The art is cartoonish in nature, which is a plus for me because it adds to the fun fill. However, the drawback to the art is that items of same name but different value have the same art. I feel like a broadsword worth one coin should be somewhat rusty looking compared to a broadsword worth three coins. (That is just a petty gripe of a spoiled gamer. I understand art is expensive!)

The game play is super fast and super fun. If you are the first one to bid you can play it a few different ways. For example, if you roll four 3s, you can either bid what you have or bet what you don't. Perhaps, you will say three 2s, even if you didn't roll a single 2, just to get the ball rolling and see where people are at. Then, for your next bid (assuming you get one), you bid what the number you really have because you feel confident there have to be at least six 3s between everyone. That means with every bid, you are not only planting information but you are also listening and looking for tells with the other bids thrown out. It becomes a game of not only reading your dice and playing the odds, but also reading your opponents and seeing who is bluffing and who is telling the truth.

If I had one gripe about the game, it would be the player count. For me personally, the ability to five players is generally the most I will ever need. However, there are times when I would want to play this game with more, and in a rare circumstance, this is a game where it seems like the more the merrier. There is a solution to this and it is simply buying a second copy of the game. While this is not ideal, it is at least a solution. My suggestion for those of you who need to play more than five is to buy a copy now and wait for a good sale to buy your second copy.

I am generally not a fan of games that require bluffing, not because I'm not good at it, but because my wife (my primary gaming partner) does not like them, and if she doesn't like the game, it's not getting played! This game, however, is a different animal and gives you more than just bluffing. There's also set collection and betting as well. It makes a great party and family game, because it is just light enough that you can play it with kids, extended family, and your friends who don't own any games other than Monopoly and Yahtzee. So give it a shot, you won't be disappointed!

This game was provided to me for free by Arcane Wonders in exchange for an honest review.