3-4 players, Competitive, Area Control
Designer: Eric M. Lang
Artwork: Tim Arney-O’Neil
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
This review comes very late as the game has been out of print for years now. However I finally wrangled me a copy and have had the pleasure of playing a few games so I figured I would write out my thoughts.
Overview of Gameplay
In Chaos in the Old World three to four players play as each of the four Warhammer Chaos gods in an effort to ruin and generally decimate the world in the best way they each know how. Starting out a player draws a single world event card of which in a four player game there are only seven in the deck to draw from out of a large amount of different cards total that can be used every different game played. Some event happens which alters the board state in such a way that more than likely have an effect on the players. After that players will take turns placing cultists or demons on the board or playing a card on their turn (new cards are drawn before this step). This uses up some of their precious power that is reset each round and once every player reaches zero power then the next phase of the game begins. Then the battles commence. In order you resolve battles throughout each region by an amount of dice based on your invading armies strength. Demons will be lost and again the board state will change. From there you need to determine who dominates the land based on your remaining army strength in each region and the amount of corruption you place based on how many cultists you have worshipping. Going forward you then check a few things such as if the land is ruined because of acquiring 12 or more corruption tokens, resolve some other tokens on the lands, move the threat tracker for the demon gods if needed and check for any end game conditions.
Now all that sounds like a lot and I’ll admit the first time through it there were quite a few steps to digest. I can tell you though it’s quite easy to play this game and I can attribute that to the awesome turn order layout on each player mat. I just followed the player mat and referenced the rulebook for any intricacies. Halfway through the first game I had a very good grasp on the game. By the second game I could focus on each of the demon lords special abilities so I knew what they should focus on and how to counter them and play each of them more effectively. The win conditions are actually really fun as well because there is just so much in this game that mimics the lore of the chaos gods. You can win by either climbing the vp track to 50 or by getting your threat dial turned all the way around. Another win condition activates when five regions are ruined (fully corrupted). If this happens then the player with the highest VP takes the victory immediately. HOWEVER if none of the players can achieve any of these diabolical conquests before the seven world event cards are exhausted then the world has fought back against the Old Gods and won, resulting in a loss for all players.
There are numerous tokens depicting the differing effects from events such as heroes and lords of the lands. All the cardboard tokens are thick and durable. The cards are a great quality as you would normally find in any Fantasy Flight product. The minis are pretty good……I like the differing looks each faction provides and the colors make them stand out from each other on the board.
The real big winner here though is the gameboard, holy cow this game board is fantastic. The artwork on the board is amazing and very eye catching with the meat hooks stretching some flayed skin over half the board. On said skin is drawn the map of the land where all the players demons will be rampaging. The other part of the board is a small section for the world event cards and ruination cards. Above that are 4 large dials that are affixed to the board. These are super cool. As your played Chaos God completes their specific ability each round you can turn your dial a tick or two. This unlocks new upgrades for your army or for your faction in general. Get this dial turned all the way around and you win!
Nothing really stands out about the box. It’s your pretty standard Fantasy Flight box, no insert that’s any use and you will need to bag up everything. All in all it serves as a box to store your game in simple as that. It is much thinner than I had originally guessed the game to be but that’s totally fine with me.
Visual Appeal /Theme
Visually the game hits all the right notes with me. I love the art on the board and the depiction of the Chaos Gods in their miniature format. The cultists and demons look really cool as well although I think it would have been an improvement to have each factions cultists look different as well. The theme is extremely interesting and going into the game I had a cursory knowledge of the Chaos Gods. After playing a few games my interest peaked and I started reading up on them more, super interesting lore behind them for sure.
For the most part I had little trouble with the rulebook. Even though there are quite a few steps to take each round, everything is laid out very simply. The one thing that, at first, I had trouble with was the “order of the lands”. Basically the order you solve battles and such in when it comes to the regions. Eventually I saw the little black arrows on the board between each land and at first I thought those were for movement between lands, the borders. Then I finally put the pieces together that those were actually for the order you solve battles and the like. Not sure if that was listed in the instruction manual, I could have easily missed it.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
Tons and tons of table talk and fun. Each turn a player takes will alter the game board in some way and the way the asymmetric Gods are setup you WILL face off with each other. Khorne himself revels in battle and death so that player will actively try to fight other players. Nurgle wants to spread that corruption in populated regions, Slaanesh also wants to spread corruption but to lords and heroes and Tzeentch needs magic power and warpstones for his spread. Some or all of these things will be altered every round during the events phase and this will ultimately shape the decisions that each player will make. Ultimately the players will face off, it’s just a matter of how each does so.
Add the intricate card playing to regions and you have a recipe for destruction. Each region can have a max of two cards played to it each round that will further alter the battle ground whether through battle or corruption.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
Four players Is the perfect balance you need for this game. Each God balances the next and even taking one out will tip the balance. That said you can play the game at three players, I would suspect Khorne would be the ideal candidate for removal as his powers all deal with combat more so than corruption like the others. But again I feel that Khorne is vital to the balance of the overall gameplay as a pure battle character is needed to tip the scales against so many that focus on corruption.
They did a great job of replayability here as well. There is a whole stack of event cards that are shuffled before playing and you only use seven in a four player game. I mean every game will throw something new and exciting at you at the beginning of each round to shake things up so you and your fellow players don’t get stuck trying the same proven strategy every time. The board state will always be different with every game and that is amazing. Plus if you ever get bored playing as one of the Gods you can move over to a different one and find a different playstyle to try and master. They each have the same basic rules but each have completely different chaos cards to play and strategies to employ if you want to win with them.
Positive Final Thoughts
I started my area control journey in gaming with Blood Rage then moved to Rising Sun and more recently I have delved into Mysthea. Of those I preferred Blood Rage the most as it was the most simple and straightforward, just flat out FUN. However I can proudly say that Chaos in the Old World has officially dethroned Blood Rage as my all-time favorite area control game. This game has an excellent and interesting theme, an incredible and unique board, strategic and variable gameplay and asymmetric characters to play as. If you enjoy area control style games then I cannot recommend Chaos in the Old World enough.
Negative Final Thoughts –
It is out of print.