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Orcs Must Die Board Game- Initial Impressions

So I finally had a chance to sit down with Orcs Must Die to play through it a couple of times. So far my first impressions have been pretty positive but there are definitely some negative things that temper it.

I have only played the vanilla game so far so haven’t had a chance to use Bosses or the Critter Pack, but the game is pretty fun. You have to balance immediate defense with long-term gain and more expensive upgrades. Your heroes progress with their upgrades, attacks and special abilities while minions pour in. Everything is scaled, with Tier 1/2/3 cards all being separated…

… Except for the army cards. The army cards are all random so you are at the mercy of these. For a 20-30 minute game (like Pandemic), not a problem. However, if you don’t get enough minions early and ┬álarge minions later, you don’t earn enough to upgrade and kill them. I am not sure how this didn’t come up in playtesting, but having scaled army cards or at least even cards would be good (as the minions auto-scale between rounds). My solution would be having them even, and then draw 1 on Round 1, 2 on Round 2, then shuffle and 3 on Round 3 (so you know what is coming). Or just have them as Tier 1/2/3 as per the items and traps.

The other thing is that most the abilities and traps are simply ‘boost damage/dice rolled for damage’. There are not many wacky, out there abilities to play around with. The monsters have some good variety although they have this same problem, so I am hoping adding in Bosses and the Hero Pack and Critter Pack may improve this. Also it looks like a missed opportunity to have different Critters in each pack (and then, instead of a separate critter pack, you can combine these for more variety).

Overall, I am still happy with the purchase. However, I think the extra’s are going to add the variety (particularly Bosses, Heroes and Critter pack) that will really give this game legs. I guess it is similar to Cthulhu Wars in that regard, which is potentially worrying trend with Peterson Games.