WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2
Published by: Steamforged Games Ltd.
Godtear is a tactical arena battle skirmish game that pits two players against each other in a game of hidden depths. As first glance, this will feel like a rush up to your opponent and smash-em type game. But on closer inspection of the cards and character powers, you will realise this is a highly strategic game that offers players the chance to build to some very exciting and rewarding turns.
Godtear was first released in 2019. There are two starter sets, The Borderlands or the one I have, Eternal Glade. You can find more out about these here. Both sets come with two champion sets and all that is needed to play a game of Godtear 1v1. By that, I mean one person controlling one group of fighters against another with just one set too. This game is always a two-player only game, but can be played with one to four sets of fighters each. But you will quickly learn that one Champion versus one another champion only scratches the surface of this game. The full experience comes with a 3v3 match up, which requires additional Champions being acquired. They can be bought for around $30/£20 per set so with four extra of these acquired, plus the base game, this will a significant investment in the three figures. But is it worth it?
Place the board on the table. The boards are double sided but this is just aesthetics. So, pick which ever suits you. Then chose a scenario to fight in. There are six scenarios in the rule book. They bring four main variations for each one. First, where you can place your warbands at the start of the game. Second, the additional hexes you add to the board where the Champions can place their banners during the game. Third, the starting position for each player's Warband tokens. And finally, the variable set-up seen at the end of each phase.
Once you have chosen your scenario, place the hexes used in this set-up onto the board and the round token beside the midline on the battle ladder, one space closer to the first player. Each player must then choose their warbands, either one, two, three, or even four depending on what game length and complication you want. Players will choose who is first player and then one by one, add their war bands onto the board on the chosen scenarios starting hexes. Each player will gather their three cards for each of their war bands. One that represents their Champion. One for their Followers. And one that shows their Champions unique one-off power and factions extra scoring opportunity. The board itself is gorgeous, but the art is deformational rather than causing any affects sadly. I suppose there is enough going on already!
How To Play
To start each player will work through the Plotting phase. This is done in order, warband by warband, player by player, taking two actions each time. There are a few basic actions such to advance (move) claim (place your banner down on a hex) and recruit (add an additional follower to the board if one had been knocked out). And then the skill actions unique to each champion and follower. For example, in a game where each player has two sets of champions and followers, the first player would activate all of their followers and both champions within their Warband, before the second player would do the same for all of theirs.
In the plot phase, you cannot hurt another player, but you can move your troops into position, and add status tokens to add positive affects to your fighters and negative affects to your oppositions. In this phase, Champions adjacent to the objective hexes that scenario can place one of their banners onto the board. This will let them move the turn token for that round one step closer to their warband token, and if the banner is still there at the end of the clash phase, a further four spaces. As players activate each unit, they flip the card of the unit they just used to show it has been expended and ready for the next phase. The cards have two sides, one for the plot phase and one for the clash phase. The actions on each side are specific to each phase they are used in.
Then all players move to the clash phase where you can now attack opposition followers and champions, remove opponents' banners, add or remove status tokens, and try to win the round. Each time you remove an opposition follower by adding damage tokens to it beyond its current health, you can move the round token one space closer to your warband token. Plus, an extra space if you are playing as one of the Maelstrom champion classes. And of course, the other player has one less follower to use against you if you timed the order of the attack correctly. Attacking your opponents followers before they have activated in clash phase is a key part of the game. Setting this up in the Plot phase is crucial to doing well in the game.
The clash phase works in turn like the plot phase, but with one player activating one group of followers or one champion each turn rather than all of their warband. This continues until both players have activated all of their followers and champions. Players will score additional points for each remaining banner, and then the player who has the round token closer to their own warband token will take this, flip it and score the points on the reverse. In round one and five, the token is worth one point. Round two and four has a two-point value. In round three the token is worth three points. The game is won as soon as one player has won at least five points. So, a minimum of three rounds must be played but you could play up to five.
The dice rolling in this game is a key part of the fun. But as with any use of a dice in this way, there is a fair bit of luck in this game. But you can try and mitigate your luck by making sound choices. When one player attacks another, you will roll dice equal to that characters specific power you chose. For example, the Fireball attack for Blackjaw as seen below uses five dice. You need to roll hits equal to or higher to your targets dodge score. As such, it would be risky to attack another player with this skill if their dodge was higher than four. You could waste your turn with a failed attack. Each dice face has either one hit, two hits, or zero hits.
If you roll high enough, you can then roll for damage In the case of Blackjaw's Fireball, you will roll four dice against your targets armour. So, again, you need to plan ahead and look at your intended targets stats for both dodge and armour before you choose who to attack, and what to attack with. You can also affect your luck by targeting enemies with negative status tiles, or by using Champions or Followers of your own with positive boons. You can increase the number of dice you roll to attack or damage and reduce your enemy's dodge and armour value.
The cards and powers for each character is so different. It takes a few minutes each game to familiarise yourself with your skills. Each class has a different power, this is another actor to consider when building your team. The Shapers get an extra step on the battlefield ladder when they place their banner. The Guardians get the extra step if their banner is still in play at the end of the clash phase. The Slayers get their extra step from knowing out opposition Champions. And as we mentioned above an extra space for knocking our followers for the Maelstrom class.
When a champion is knocked out, they are not out of the game. Rather they are moved two hexes by the player that knocked them out, and they must then use a rally action on their next turn to remove all wounds from their player board to start again. Generally, they will then need to move back into position. So, essentially you just miss a turn wasting two actions getting back into the mix.
As you can only win or lose a round, as in, you cannot win high, or lose badly; this is a game of strategy over the multiple rounds. There is no difference to losing a round by one point or six. If you are in a position of weakness one round, use it to manipulate your positions and positive boons to come back stronger in the following round. There is no point trying to get a few points to reduce your loss. As each round has a different points reward, you need to pick and choose when you will do this, and which rounds you will really go for. Loosing round one is irrelevant if you then win round two and three and win the game. But winning two rounds in a row is tough.
Taking out a Champion generally takes a few rounds to achieve. They have higher health and can usually take a few blows before they are knocked out. Apart from Mournblade who has only one health, but in turn, only rewards the other player with one movement of the round tracker rather than the usual four.
Mourneblade is also my favourite Champion to fight with. I like the ability to move your followers with your champion and visa-versa. Mourneblade has this power. It means you can drastically change the look of the battlefield in one plot phase. You have two actions each turn but cannot do the same action twice. If you want to move twice, you need to use a skill power as well as a basic power.
Each character has a Ultimate skill that only the Champion can use, and then, only once per game. Mourneblade's ultimate skill allows it to pick up and move three of its followers to any hex three spaces from where it is currently located. The followers for Mourneblade, the Knightshade's, have a special power of their own which stops any enemy model from being able to move when using the advance action when they are adjacent to it. It's a powerful way to quickly change the dynamic and control the board by moving your Knightshades into multiple positions which stop your enemies from being to move as freely.
Learning how each champion set works, and more importantly how each one integrates with each other is a fascinating and rewarding experience. The rules suggest you start with a 1v1 set-up which I agree with. It can be a lot to take in on game one if you try to master more than one champion and group of cards in your first game. But after a few plays, it will become natural to you. The game flows so quickly turn by turn. And you will find the real joy in this game comes from working out the best strategy for which group of fighters you have chosen. 3v3 is a great fun way to play. 4v4 is epic if you have the numbers, but 2v2 is my favourite. The game is quick, around 30 minutes one you become familiar with the cards, but still offers a lot of fun, strategic decisions.
Some fighters can move faster and further than others. Some warriors are all about brute force and high yielding attacks. Others benefit more from tactical movement and strategic placement of their banners. Helena as a champion does not have a separate banner like the other champions, and instead carries her banner with her at all times. So, you must manipulate the board so that your champion ends each round on an objective hex, but of course your opponent will know this is your goal and try to thwart you.
There are certain classes that work better with others, but it also depends on what style of game you enjoy and what strategy you want to deploy. It makes each game feel quite varied as you work your way through the different classes, but of course, this does add to the cost of the game. So, to go back to the question I posed at the start, is this any good? Well, yes. It's excellent. Playing Godtear is so much fun. But you do need multiple champion and follower sets for the full experience. It's up to you if you want to invest in this. So, it is good, but is it worth it? That really is the important question. But what I can say is that with eight sets in the house already, I am very keen to get more! I will collect them all as soon as I can, as I think this game will get to the table a lot. So, for me the answer is yes. Yes, this is very much worth it.