V-Wars pits humankind against vampires in an all-out global war. Scarier still, our most steadfast allies could change sides at any time, because this new breed of vampirism is spread not by bite but by virus, activating junk DNA in its victim, and converting them to vampire. Take command of the included 120 highly detailed sculpted miniatures and battle to save the world, but be careful, players who fight by your side in one round may be at your throat in the next, because in V-Wars, the virus is always spreading.
V-Wars begins as a co-operative game, but shifts as players reveal themselves to be vampires or the virus takes hold in infected players and forces them to change sides mid-game.
In V-Wars, the vampires are trying to infiltrate the world's governments, taking over human cities while simultaneously attempting to sway public sympathy to recognize them as victims of a viral outbreak, not just cold-blooded killers. Meanwhile, the humans are trying to stem the vampire tide, fighting back against their covert attacks and outright rebellions.
The vampires win immediately when they've reached a balance of city control and public sympathy to a point where their Victory marker and Sympathy markers reach each other on the Vampire Victory track or, alternatively, engage in a holding action long enough to exhaust all Player cards. Humans win by placing six cities under Martial Law in different regions of the world or if the vampires' Sympathy tokens are reduced to zero on the Vampire Victory track.
V-Wars is an all out war for control of the earth. The game starts out as a “fully cooperative game”, but as loyalties are revealed (or switched), it’s clear that lines will be drawn and only one side will win.
In V-Wars, each player is either a human, secretly the vampire, or an infected player who’s loyalty may change during the game.
Each round, players will be moving around the board, deploying troops, playing cards into region piles, and resolving events and riots. As the game progresses, the world will begin to sympathize with one of the game’s two factions, possibly shifting the power balance. The first faction to reach one of their game end conditions will rule the globe and be crowed the winner.
Overall the components in V-Wars have their ups and downs. The artwork, as you might expect, looks to be from the V-Wars comic book (which I admit I’ve never read). Overall, I really liked it and thought it to be very well done. As a big comic book fan, I appreciate the style, and a copy of the V-Wars comic actually comes with the game.
The game also comes with a set of miniatures to represent the vampire and human troops. These look pretty cool and come in two different colors each. For the player avatars, each player gets an oversized player card that lists the player’s special ability and they also get a matching standee in either human or vampire form.
So far, everything is great, but then you get to the game board. While it was a neat idea to give the board a red monotone look to really bring that vampire theme home, in practice it doesn’t work so well. There are a number of different regions on the board, and only a slight color variation or shading is used to differentiate them. I can appreciate great graphic design as much as the next person, but this is just too subtle to work in the game. More than once we had to look closely at the board to see where a region ended.
Finally, the game’s rule book could use quite a bit of help. I took two solid read throughs to really wrap my head around the game, and even then I had to hop online to answer questions about the games rules. There are errors, such as mention of a vampire token that doesn’t exist in the game. There were also important bits of information in odd places in the rule book. For example, all the draw piles must always have 3 cards in them, but it only mentions that in the glossary section at the very end. Overall, the rulebook made learning the game a chore and could really use a rewrite.
That being said, V-Wars isn’t an overly complex game. Once players can get the flow of the game down, turns should go by quickly. To setup the game, each player is given a loyalty card and a unique character. A player will be either a human, a vampire, or an infected. In a four player game, there are 2 humans, one vampire, and one infected. The infected is removed for 3 players, and one more is added for 5.
Once the games various piles are shuffled and placed, you are ready to begin. The game is played over a series of turns, and each player’s turn has 5 steps:
- Revelation: If the vampire wishes to become a public vampire, they may reveal now. Doing so will remove half the sympathy tokens on the vampire track.
- Take four actions: The player may take any of these actions, in any order, including repeating an action:
- Move: Move your standee around the game board.
- Deploy Troops: Discard a card to place a troop in a city in your region.
- Play a Card: Play a card into the deck of the region you are in. You also must name another player to do the same.
- Assassinate: Remove an enemy troop from the city you are in.
- Investigate: Turn in your investigate token to accuse another player as a vampire. If the player is correct, the vampire is now public and loses half of their sympathy tokens. If the player guessed wrong, the vampire faction gains sympathy equal to half of what they currently have.
- Awaken: If you are a public vampire and in a city with another player, you can attempt to awaken the virus in an infected player. If that player has the infected loyalty card, they now switch and become a public vampire. If they have a human card, nothing happens.
- Event Phase: There are two event slots, a now and soon slot. The event in the now slot happens. These range from enacting laws for the humans or vampires, to adding troops to the board, to epidemics happening.
- Riot: The riot will occur in the city listed on the card in the now slot. That card is added to the city’s region deck and that deck is shuffled. Cards are revealed, one at a time, with white numbers adding to the human’s score and red numbers adding to the vampires. If either faction has troops present in that city, troops will element opposing cards as they are drawn.
If one side gets a strength total of 6 or 7, they immediately win the riot. There are a few outcomes of the riot, depending on who is attacking. There is a chart to help determine the results. The important thing to note that if a side gets a score of 8 or more, a massacre happens. This can cause swings in sympathy, or loss of bonuses for defending. Overall you really want to avoid a massacre. You want to win, but not by a large margin.
- New Cards: Once the riot is done, the event and city cards in the “soon” slot, slide over to the now slot. New cards are drawn for the soon slot. The player then draws back up to their hand limit.
Turns will go by in this manner until one side achieves a victory condition:
- Humans: Have 6 cites under martial law or no vampire sympathy on the board.
- Vampires: Have no empty spaces left between the Vampire Sympathy tokens and the Victory token. The vampires also win if the event deck runs out of cards.