Warhammer Champions Hands-On at UK Games Expo

It’s uncomfortably warm here at Birmingham NEC, right now. It’s not even open to the public but it’s already amass with exhibitors setting up and press chomping at the bit for information. Thankfully, I managed to find a tucked-away room (with air conditioning) which housed a small patrol of the folks from PlayFusion. They were showing off Lightseekers and Warhammer Champions offering demos before the main event over the weekend which would involve Lightseekers predominantly. I found myself sat down waiting to once again give Champions a spin!

I was sat down opposite my opponent who had flown in after waking up at 05:00 the same morning. Not only had I played the game briefly before at Warhammer Fest but my opponent was, at the very least, incredibly groggy. It felt I had this one in the bag with my semi-unfair advantage.

I was fortunate enough to check the game out at Warhammer Fest a few weekends ago. I certainly found the game easier to get my head around the second time playing.

Resplendent Armour Versus Undead Hordes

The game was setup with myself running a deck of Order against my opponents deck of Death. My cards were primarily Stormcast Eternals whilst his held vampires, undead and other such nasties. The area of play is set as four separate lanes with three rows per player. The closest row to the player houses the blessings, the second houses the champions and the furthest is where actions occur. Our champions are placed down face-up first along with our blessings which remain face-down.  The objective is to cause enough damage to your opponent to reduce them to 0 hit points with the use of various cards of units, spells or abilities.

However, each champion has a series of icons on the corners of their cards. As an example, if a Stormcast champion deploys a unit from the deck and this corresponds to the top left corner of the card then you rotate it, which changes the icon in the top left corner and provides a new quest. These could be to have cards removed from play, inflict damage, place units, etc. Once all of these quests are completed the blessing on that champion’s lane is turned face-up. These blessings are incredibly powerful and can even snatch you from the jaws of defeat.

Let Battle Begin!

The way the turn sequence works is as follows. The player going first draws a number of cards which can be abilities, units or spells. Depending on your champions being warriors or wizards determines which cards they can use in their lanes. The trick is to see what your opponent has on the corresponding lane on his mat and play the card that will hamper them or benefit you the most. As an example, I had an ability card called Piercing Shot which dealt 3 “Rend” damage to my opponent. This means playing that card has my opponent suffers 3 damage and  “Rend” means that any damage reduction he might have is negated. He takes the full hit and that’s that.

In my game my opponent and I drew, dealt and discarded cards with wild abandon. I had a strong start thanks to the number of “Unit” cards I had. I deployed units in the lanes that would benefit my champions most by helping them on their quests. Soon, however, my enemy started deflecting chunks of the damage through his own unit cards. Then he completed a quest, attaining a blessing. This blessing had any units I deployed at all over the next three turns be dormant and unable to act! When units act they rotate at the start of the turn and the number on the top left corner determines the damage dealt to my foe. The damage in my case would have increased as the cards rotated. His blessing meant I couldn’t rotate my cards and thus couldn’t inflict damage. Disaster! I was a sitting duck.

Booster packs will absolutely be available on launch if not shortly after, I feel. This will help to give folks a quick fix when they fancy some additions to their deck. Not sure how I feel about grabbing a load of cards for factions I don’t play, though…

However, I spotted an empty action square in my lane where the champion in-situ needed to deploy a unit and use an ability to complete his quest. I summoned a unit of Stormcast Eternals, to the amusement of my opponent knowing they’d be dormant. I then lay down an ability which did some minor damage, thankfully bypassing by his blessing. Upon summoning the unit and using the ability my champion’s quest was complete unlocking the blessing in his lane. Turning it face-up, it immediately dealt 6 damage to my opponent, just enough to bring him down! It was a surprising and exciting result that nobody saw coming and showed the importance of blessings.

My Thoughts on Warhammer Champions

The game instantly appeals to me after my recent infatuation with Games Workshop’s Shadespire. I wouldn’t have looked at card games over a year ago but now I find myself oddly drawn to them. I can see me getting particularly stuck into this once it’s released and I get my hands on a Chaos deck. But it’s not just because it has the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar branding, though it helps. Warhammer Champions looks to infiltrate both the Lightseeker market and the fans of Warhammer in one swift, addicting and effective, strike.

The game itself feels as though it could be versatile and dynamic enough to allow for varied styles of play. Maybe decks consisting of lots of spells for wizard champions? Or a deck that perhaps has a lot of healing cards for sustainability. I want to see more of the champions before I make any sort of call as to how versatile these decks can be. However, I have a feeling that it’s going to do just fine if Lightseeker’s success is anything to go by.

Warhammer Champions is due for sometime in the next few months. If you’re eager to hear more from us on the game, be sure to stick around and don’t forget the check out the Facebook!

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