Design: M. Craig Stockwell
Artwork: James Masingo, Alan Washburn
Publisher: Atlas Games
Players: 1-4 players
Duration: 30-60 mins
I had my eye on Witches of the Revolution for some time. It immediately sparked my interest because I am somewhat the witchy woman. I have dabbled in white magic on and off over the years, and whilst I never fully got into a pagan lifestyle there is something about it that I find fascinating. So witchy themes draw me in- whether it’s books, movies or games. There are a few witchy games out there but I’ve been longing for one that’s just a little bit fuller than filler. So WotR immediately went to the top of my wishlist.
Witches is a co-op deckbuilder that allows for solo play, and your coven of witches are freedom fighters during the American civil war. You start with a hand of five cards (six if playing solo) from your starter (Seeker) deck. Each round a new event is spawned, and you must overcome these to sway the Tyranny track in your favour, and meet the objective cards before the event or tyranny track hits game over.
Each turn you may recruit using a card’s pentagram symbol and similar to other deckbuilding games the recruits are far more powerful. But unlike other games of this nature you pay for recruits by permanently discarding the cards spent. The events are overcome when you can match the symbols required with cards from your hand, allowing for the corresponding symbol counter to be removed from an objective. When all objective cards are met then you are victorious!
What I enjoyed about this game, as with most ‘fighting’ deckbuilders (although it’s the events we’re fighting, instead of monsters or each other) is how quickly things can escalate to ‘oh this is going to go well’ to ‘we’re screwed aren’t we?’ As the event cards mount they have knock-on effects to everything else giving the game a great sense of urgency and drive to succeed. In the co-op mode you really have to work together to achieve this and the solo game is equally as challenging in this respect.
I love how the aspects of the game interact, it refreshes those typical deckbuilder traits, and the butterfly effects can shift the game in different directions, keeping you on high alert. The events can represent challenges of their own, e.g.- ‘witches and relics can only be used to overcome this event’, or ‘pay one extra symbol for every event to the left of this card’. But as further events are drawn the moon tracker ascends, and everything becomes more difficult and costly. The event movement will also result in the tyranny tracker teaching inevitable doom and recruiting becoming next to impossible. So you’ve been warned- it’s a tough one!I also like the satisfaction of removing markers from the objectives and inching closer toward clearing them, and once you’ve done so you’ll be rewarded with the card’s ability. There’s also a lot to be considered in Witches. You are not just buying ‘bigger’ recruits and going in swinging, you are really contemplating your decisions carefully. Not only for yourself but also with other players in mind. Because if you’re not careful you will over prune your deck to the point of cycling 10 cards continuously. If you get stuck in the position of being unable to recruit, which happened in my solo game, then it’s a tough spot to escape. Witches is like the thinking (wo)man’s deckbuilder and I like it.
The game is also adaptable, in the sense that you can adjust the difficulty level by creating your own event deck, using the glyphs printed on the cards (and the rulebook guidelines) to tailor your game. If you think it’s tough with the achievable events, wait until you play with the unkinder ones. It’s kind of brutal.
The artwork is superb, from the vibrant board and front cover, to the amusingly illustrated objectives and the paired down rustic feel of the coven cards. I’m a sucker for creepy artwork so the coven illustrations are my favourite.
The box insert is decent, and it’s very straightforward to set up and learn. Some people may find the rounds a little too streamlined and formulaic perhaps, however I think the contemplative nature of the game and all that comes with it more than makes up for it.
My only criticism of Witches would be that the theme is perhaps a little lighter than I would of liked, but there’s a chance that further intricacies would have over cooked the broth. However I think this also leaves the game open for future endeavors that could play around with the theme further, and with my former witchcraft experience my brain goes into overdrive thinking about potential expansion packs.
You’ll love Witches if you enjoy co-oping, or are hankering for a new solo game. If you want to be challenged and on high alert at all times then this may be the game for you. And if you love deckbuilding games that get you thinking then WotR is a must have.
I’ll see you soon for part two, where I’ll be delving into a very different witch themed game.