Insider 8-05-13

Will covered quite a bit of the basics of High Command last week, so this week we’re going to look at each of the four card types that make up the game and the various card decks they fall into.

The closing of Will’s blog talked about his desire for a deck-building game that really highlights player interaction. In many deck-building games, it’s easy to focus on your own turns and your own deck with little to no concern about what an opponent is doing. In High Command, however, you cannot simply worry about your own victory points—you must also fight tooth and nail to prevent your opponents from gaining too many victory points.

That brings us to our first major card type, the location cards. There are 15 different location cards in the location deck, and players will fight over these cards throughout the game. Each location card provides a player with 4 to 7 victory points. A player who captures a few location cards will quite handily defeat an opponent who is unable to take his fair share of battlefields throughout the Iron Kingdoms. Location cards also produce resources (the CMD and WAR values in the upper left-hand corner), so they’re resources as well as victory conditions. They also frequently have some effect when they are captured or are used for resources. The pirate’s haven of Five Fingers, for example, is worth 5 victory points toward winning the game, allows you to return a used resource to your army deck for use again later, and is worth 3 resources (CMD or WAR, your choice each time you use it).

At the start of the game, the cards you’ll use to capture location cards are all in your faction-specific reinforcement deck. Four of those cards will be revealed to make up your reserves, the cards sometimes colloquially designated as a “market.” Your initial army deck will contain nothing but basic resources, but those cards allow you to buy cards from your reserves to use in battle. Each time your army deck runs out, you’ll shuffle in the cards you’ve bought, and you’ll have the option to cull one card from your deck. When you draw the cards you’ve purchased, you can deploy them to a location card by paying the purchase cost again. As Will noted, you can also rush a card to a location, moving it directly from the reserves to the battlefield. The Crusader shown below can be used for modest resource gains if you don’t have the resources to deploy it, but it has 2 Power, 5 Health, and Fire, making it a solid combatant. It’s also worth 1 victory point. Army cards are worth just 0–2 victory points, far less than locations, but every little bit helps push you toward victory. The Crusader could be rushed for a whopping 10 WAR, but this is definitely a card better suited to being deployed rather than rushed.

Playing different factions really shakes things up and adds replayability to the game. Yet even within the same faction, play experiences differ from game to game as you change warcaster cards. Warcasters are single-use cards you can rush into battle (much like a feat in WARMACHINE), and these determine which detachments you’ll use to make the reinforcement deck. For example, Commander Coleman Stryker can choose the red or blue detachments. Not surprisingly, these are the detachments with more Stormblades and Ironclads but without Long Gunners or Grenadiers.

So, you build a better army deck using cards from your reinforcement deck while fighting over geographical locations drawn from the location deck. There’s just one more deck to go. Like the location deck, the Winds of War deck is a communal deck for all players. A new Winds of War card is revealed each round to provide a twist each player must follow. These cards are separated into Early-, Mid-, and Late-war cards to better control the pacing of a quick build-up of resources, an ongoing conflict, and a final desperate push for victory. When the Day of Reckoning card is revealed, the game comes to an end, and players tally their victory points. The Escalation card shown here is a Mid-war card from the Winds of War deck.

And that wraps up the various decks and card types of High Command. As a special bonus, here’s a link to the full WARMACHINE High Command rulebook! I know some of you have been excited to see this rulebook for a while now, so I hope you’ll enjoy it and consider your patience duly rewarded. I also hope you’re as excited as I am for the first copies of High Command to be released into the wild at Gen Con.

Join me the next time I blog about High Command to learn more about the different colored detachments and the thought process behind their creation.

Decked Out,