A review by AG (Adult Gamer), ANG (Adult Non-Gamer) and LPG (Little Pre-Gamer)
AG: Hogs of War: the name seemed familiar. Claims of reliving the glory of a Playstation cult classic were lavishly brandished on the box, and I snickered. But, deep in my hippo-thingie, a spark ignited: I'd played this game! A Worms-style game, with a decent cuteness and humour factor. Fine, says I, let's put my rose-tinted glasses on.
LPG: I don't like the look of the box -not sure if it's a rock or a tornado on it?
ANG: Ah, it's an explosion mushroom in the shape of a piggy. It's a good cover!
AG: Why don't you like it LPG?
LPG: Dunno...the title writing is very shiny though. And the instructions, they look prettier!
ANG: Hm, definitely sharper.
AG: You're right, the same picture on them seems oddly more vibrant...but, I digress: inside the box, you get a ton of cards, and the usual cardboard tokens to signify...stuff.
ANG: Looks like one of those card games that AG really likes...
LPG: Love the tokens! Oooh, the cards feel nice, very satisfying!
AG: Truth: they have a lovely dotted and matt feel to them; very tactile. Again, though, strangely muted palette - I'd say pastel, but no, it's muted.
LPG: I want to have this and that piggie on my team!
AG: I don't think they're on the same team...er, what are the teams? Time to delve into the mechanics of this Stone Sword game: your two player, card duel game (four players, 2 vs 2, with the expansion) sees two armies of piggies duking it out. Each army is comprised of five pork-chops, each of them is of a specific class (such as sniper and engineer) with their slight gameplay advantages, and for reasons unclear, there is no clear demarcation as to which one is part of which.
LPG: That's annoying - took a long time to figure it out!
AG: Indeed: after scrutinising carefully the subtle differences in the muted palettes and helmet patterns, I think we got it.
LPG: But, the set-up was fun - I like how my piggies are set-up.
AG: That's definitely interesting, as you place all yer sausage soldiers down in a row right at the start, randomly, arranged in columns with the opponent's, so that each piggy faces another. Players then take it in turns activating each soldier until each is exhausted, a round ends and the merry-go-round begins anew. Hogs can hide (harder to hit), move (swap columns with an ally), remove stun (surprisingly, that) or use various cards, which is where the tender meat of the game resides. These range from weapons, melee, equipments, deployables (permanent structures in a soldier's space), or skill cards (which can be used only by a specific class). You get to refresh cards at the end of each round, but they all come down to one thing: eating the other salami. Or, un-poetically, killing it. Tactics can and should be involved.
LPG: Tell them how I defeated one of yours!
AG: Yes, that was neat: LPG positioned a mine field -a deployable that damages a soldier if they move- onto my piggy's space. Then, another of her piggies threw a grenade, which not only hurt my piggy but forced it to move due to knockback, which triggered the mine field, and some lovely, crispy bacon.
LPG: It was awesome!
AG: Indubitably: so, there is defo some aspect of tactics. I liked how each attack had a specific range (1 opposite, 2 the columns to the side, etc.), making you think about what you'd want to use when. A grenade can only hit at range 2-3 but a melee attack is range 1 and also stuns; later on, with perhaps 2-3 pigs down, the choice of weapon could be very important, as you may not be able to hit where you need to... But beyond hiding and moving in the later game due to a lack of options, it seemed that staying put and just focus-targeting one pork cutlet from all sides seemed the best approach - greatly aided by luck... Y'see, there are a whopping 162 cards present (the expansion contributing 44 of these), and all are used in each game. In truth, though, there are only 39 individual cards, repeated several times; but for the super weapons, there is but a measly two. Of the skill cards, arguably the most fun ones, there are only 10, exactly one per different class plus 2 for the Grunt. Dynamite, which gets its own status token, there be three plus a super one, and only two detonator cards to trigger them. Add in weapons and whatnot that for the most part are fairly generic and forgettable, and you get an unsatisfactory, luck-based approach where a good hand will wipe out an opposing hot dog on your first round of activations, and an un-ideal one will leave you floundering the whole time.
The game is trying to do something different and go for a 'chaotic war' approach, what with your units already all fielded, but it feels like it would benefit from a more 'planned war' approach: deck building springs to mind, with, say, cards divided into their categories and each player choosing from the pile of their choice each turn - although, inevitably, I feel that all would aim for weapons, which makes me think that fewer cards, yet with more variety, would be ideal - perhaps, after an expansion or two...
Lo! What is that I see, thundering over the horizon? Why, it's the Hogs of War Miniatures Game, which seems like it could potentially capture much more capably the feel of Hogs of War and which leads me to believe that the card game was but a preamble to the main meal. What did you think of it, LPG?
LPG: I didn't like it: didn't feel...adventurey enough.
AG: Well, it is a duel card game, which is more focused around quick games...
LPG: Well, I prefer an adventure.
AG: Fair enough: and I prefer other card games. The mechanics for range and columns are interesting, but for a card game featuring heavily the suidae family, it lacks too much meat for my liking - and, by the looks of it, is not going to get any more fat on its bones.
(Review by Stefano Ronchi)