WolfWalkers - Card Game Review
WBG Score: 7/10
Player Count: 2
You'll like this if you like: Point Salad, Star Realms, Splendor
Published by Value Add Games
Designed by Maja Milavec
WolfWalkers is an animated film, set in Ireland in the late 17th century. The film follows the conflict between a pack of Wolves in the forest and the residents of Kilkenny who are working to clear the woods under the orders of Oliver Cromwell. There was a board game version of the film made in 2020, and now there is this card game version from Value Add Games. The film received critical acclaim for its ethereal and mesmerizing style which is certainly felt in this game with the art from the movie being directly transferred to these cards. But how does it play?
The game can be taught and learnt in a few minutes but has some very interesting scoring opportunities available. The game is a straight out shoot out between two players looking to build the highest value tableau. Each card is double sided, with a scoring and picture side. To set up, simply place four cards showing the story side and two showing the point scoring side into a group on the middle of the table.
Players will then take it in turn to claim one card from the six available. Whatever they take is then replaced like for like. Either a picture card with another picture card, or a scoring card with a scoring card so there is always the same option of four and two available. You can add your card anywhere you like to your grid so long as it orthogonally touches one other previously placed card. Play continues until both players have completed a five-by-five grid. At which point each player scores their collected cards.
Each picture card has one, two, three, or four symbols on the bottom left. The scoring cards then set challenges around collecting certain symbols on your face up pictures cards. This can be goals such as having the same amount of two specific types of symbols in your tableau, having certain symbols positioned in a certain order, shape, row, or column; or having certain symbols not present in certain rows or columns. This is all linked to creating your own story, your own version of the film.
On your turn, you will either be looking to add a new scoring card into your tableau or a certain picture to develop one of your existing scoring cards. On some occasions, neither option will be attractive or available, and you may need to speculate to accumulate. From the middle stages of the game onwards, when you have two or three scoring cards present, it will become a bit of a ‘brain-burner’ trying to determine which card from the six available is the best for you. And then when you have chosen the card, where is best to place it can be equally troublesome. There can be some analysis paralysis issues from this. And not always simply from trying to decide what is the right move, but sometimes just trying to ascertain any move.
The puzzle created from this game certainly has familiar feelings of Azul, Sagrada and Calico to it. But certainly in a lighter way. Trying to line up the symbols and cards in a way to maximise your point return is equally absorbing and challenging. The sense of satisfaction when you make it work is highly rewarding and keeps you coming back for more. Games can run from 10-20minutes. So, very much short enough to want to play again after just one game. As such, we often play a ‘best of three’ when we play.
The game also comes with an advanced game variatiant which introduces ‘Permanent’ and ‘Opportunity’ cards. The ‘Opportunity’ cards give each player different actions they can use once per game. ‘Permanent’ cards change the game for both players. These cards can be introduced at set-up where one ‘Permanent’ card and three ‘Opportunity’ cards are picked at random, and placed face up for both players to see. The ‘Permanent’ cards change the game for all instantly and the ‘Opportunity’ cards are available to select as one-time actions during the game. Players can use these rules or opportunities as and when they see fit. They don’t replace their turn when used but they also don’t have to be used at all. This is like the Scenarios expansion for Star Realms and works very well to add more variation and longevity to the game.
I really enjoy playing this game. It benefits from the gorgeous, detailed, and vibrant art no doubt. I also love the simplicity of the teach and actions. It is nice to get into a game as quickly as this, with one simple rule and action. Pick a card, place a card. The variation in scoring options available along with the advanced variant makes every keep feel a little different. But the key for me is the simplicity. I like games like this but often find them too complicated or that variation has been added to keep the game different because it is not a lot of fun to start with. Some may find that is the case with this, but I enjoy the simple puzzle this creates. I like trying to line up my cards and maximise the efficiency of my tableau. I love games like Azul, Sagrada and Calico but am terrible at them. They have one too many things for my brain to think about. WolfWalkers has just the right amount for me.
Both my children really enjoyed this game too. Even more so after they watched the film! I don’t think it brings any especially new to the genre, but it does hit a nice entry level spot for this type of game.