Designed by Christian Sauer and published by 3-Headed Dog, Warigin is an abstract asymmetric war game expressly designed for three players: one vs two. You wouldn't necessarily know it from the title, but there is a theme to Warigin that is represented in the engaging artwork by Anna Kersten: it's a tussle between the forces of Heaven, Hell and the Void. Best not dwell on the fact that that means that often Heaven will be allying itself with the denizens of Hell to battle the Void, but the theme nevertheless adds welcome colour to this abstract game.
As you might expect, each player controls one of the ethereal factions. Players each start with a hand of nine action cards, and a further nine cards are laid out for all three players to see. To determine which player will be the challenger (the player who will be taking on the other two), players go round the table in a Contract Bridge style bid. They will each be weighing up the strength of their own hand and working out how many cards they would need to take from those laying face-up on the table in order to beat the other two. The first bidding round will be to see if anyone will take on the task with no additional cards from the table. Subsequent rounds add one, two, then three cards from the table, and so on, until someone finally takes the plunge. As with airlines offering incentives to passengers to give up their seats on an overbooked flight, players all pass until the number of cards they can add makes the offer tasty enough to accept. We often found nobody bit at all until the number hit 4 or 5, at which point two or even all three players would have wanted to be the challenger. The right to accept or pass follows strict order, however: clockwise from the dealer.
The action cards all have an indicative value shown in triangles. This helps players evaluate the strength of their hand and what additional cards they may need from the table to give them a good chance of defeating their allied opponents. Again, this is reminiscent of point counting in Bridge. In Warigin, the rules suggest that, to have a decent prospect of victory, the challenger will probably need at least 40 points.
Players place their pawns out on the hexagonal board so that each surrounds their faction's fortress. The challenger's objective is to capture (occupy) one of the allies' fortresses. The allies win if they capture the challenger's fortress or if all the challenger's units are eliminated.
Among the very positive features of Warigin is the fact that the game offers a choice of methods of resolving combat. You can battle using eight-sided dice or you can use use the battle cards that are supplied for each faction. The dice version plays faster but the battle decks allow for more table talk, bluffing and tactical play.
At the start of each round, a random Event card is revealed. This affects all the players. The challenger then takes three actions, including moving and battling with pieces and playing at an action card; the allies each take two actions. Some of each player's units have a crossed swords symbol imprinted on their undersides. These roll two dice in combat so are much more powerful than regular units which roll only one dice. If you are playing with battle cards instead of dice, the two swords units have of course an equivalent advantage. Action and Event cards can, however, modify dice rolls and card plays, so this is a game that involves a surprising amount of depth and strategy. Guessing and knowing where your opponent's double strength units are, and remembering where you placed your own, adds a Stratego element to the game.
The rules allow for a two-player variant. This involves the player who is challenged controlling both of the allied factions. This is certainly very playable, and its inclusion is another big plus, but Warigin remains at its best with three players. Better still, the game can be played over several matches, with scores for winning each match modified to reflect the difficulty of the challenge: you will of course score more points for taking on the challenger (single-player) role the fewer cards you took from the table.
Warigin is on Kickstarter right now. Check it out at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/3-headed-dog/warigin-a-rapid-pvp-focussed-board-game-for-2-3-ta/description.