Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Designed by Eli Mamane, with art by Hal Laren, Vector Wars is a two-player combat game that has a lot more depth than first appearances might have you believe. Set in a neon Tron-like world, each player has a unique deck of nine cards representing their clan, chosen from the four available different clans. In a mixture of card laying and dice placement, players battle to control the 3x9 grid to gain Zetta Orbs and defeat their opponent.
A turn consists of one action, in which you may lay a card face down on an empty grid space, attack, pick up shields or credits on the space, buy a market card or fortify the cards you've already laid. A number of free actions are also available, one of which is the flip action that activates a one-time special power on the flipped card but then also leaves the now exposed card vulnerable to attack.
Combat is the heart of the game. Cards all have a combat value on each edge. When an attack is declared the card is flipped (if it hasn’t already been) and the attacker chooses which adjacent opponent to attack first; you have to attack all possible opponents. Combat is resolved by adding the value on the card edge to any of your adjacent fortification dice and a die roll. If this exceeds the opponent, their card is removed and added to your victory pile, and you gain a valuable credit.
Market cards add a variety of bonuses but can be hard to come because 'credits' (the game's currency) are in short supply. That's no bad thing; the market cards are very powerful and too many would probably make the game unbalanced. The game comes with a lot of different market cards, which greatly adds to Vector Wars' replayability. The game incorporates 'expansions' (optional rules additions) and three different styles of play. Coupled with the asymmetry of the four clans, this is a game for which you won't quickly tire.
The longer we played this prototype of Vector Wars, the more depth was revealed and an extremely strategic and almost Chess-like game emerged. Assuming players resist analysis paralysis, you can expect a typical game to take around 30 minutes.
Vector Wars is definitely worth checking out when it returns to Kickstarter. We'll add a link to the campaign when that goes live.
(Review by Greg White)