Lonely Gamer: Warcraft the Boardgame, a Blast from the Past

Fantasy Flight Games has come a long way. Warcraft the Boardgame, released in 2003, is almost unrecognizable as an FFG game, with wooden, abstract pieces rather than the detailed plastic miniatures that FFG is known for today; with rules that were considerably less complicated than most any non-Silver Line FFG game in modern times; and stored inside a box that’s not the gargantuan 48″ oblong box of many of today’s Ameritrash ((Ameritrash is a style of game that’s typically more concerned with deep thematic detail and complex mechanics, versus the Eurogame, which is more concerned with elegant gameplay. One usually has a multitude of plastic figures, the other often has a collection of colored wood pieces, although neither is a necessary characteristic. Both kinds of games can be good, and both kinds of games can be insufferable. Naturally, a religious war of sorts has cropped up around the terms, even though the Ameritrash/Eurogame “divide” is actually a much more nuanced spectrum.)) games.

A simpler Ameritrash time. If you replaced the resources with
wooden cubes, this would take on a strong Eurogame feel.

The problem with Warcraft was that its target audience was interested in more thematic detail (and do I mean detail) than the game initially offered: the different fantasy factions (Orcs, Night Elves, Human Alliance, Undead) played too similarly, with a slight difference in player deck composition and unit strength numbers. And even with the decks, there weren’t that many special abilities or spells bestowed by the cards or possessed by the units themselves. Fans of Warcraft were not amused.

Fortunately, an expansion came out the next year, not excitingly named but using the artwork from The Frozen Throne expansion for the video game. And this expansion added almost all of the bits that were missing from a deeply thematic game, apart from plastic pieces, and showed quite a few lessons that FFG learned quickly from gamer reactions to the original game.

And now, pretty pictures.

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