KS Spotlight: Black Rose Wars

Black Rose Wars

There are an awful lot of boardgame projects on Kickstarter at any one time (currently 270 as I write this), with new ones appearing every day.  How do you keep track?  Well, to help you out, I thought I could do a semi-regular Kickstarter Spotlight, where I pick the one game currently on Kickstarter that stands out the most (to me at least!).

To kick us off (pardon the pun), I thought we could look at Black Rose Wars, which still has a little over a week left.  It’s essentially a fantasy first-person shooter where players run around in a magical lodge throwing fireballs and summoning creatures to cause as much damage to each other as possible.  Let’s have a look…


Black Rose Wars

Publisher: Ludus Magnus Studio

Players: 2 – 4

Length: 90 – 120

Core Pledge: £73 ($99)

Core + Expansion Pledge: £102 ($139)

Ends: 20th May

As you might expect looking at the price point, the game comes with a pile of miniatures.  Each player-character has a miniature and there are a bunch of monster minis for each of the creatures that players can summon during the game.

The miniatures look really nice and they keep adding more with stretch goals all the time.  The artwork is evocative and the graphic design looks clear and consistent.  I watched a playthrough of the game and the whole thing looks like it has gone through plenty of development/playtesting.  It’s an impressive package.

The central mechanism consists of selecting spell cards from your grimoire and ‘programming’ up to four of them prior to each round.  You still have the freedom to decide when to resolve your spells, but they have to resolve in the order you programmed them in (with the exception of one ‘Quick Spell’ that can be played at any point).

Black Rose Wars Laid Out

The modular board is selection of hexagonal rooms, which can each be activated (once per round) for a special effect.  Turns typically consist of moving around the lodge, activating rooms and casting your spells.

Black Rose Wars CardsThere is a large variety of spells from standard attack and defence to control and trap spells to spells that summon creatures to fight for you.  The tactics seem to come from accurately predicting what your opponents will do and where they will be at any one time.  If your first spell attacks everyone in a single room, it’s not going to be very Black Rose Wars Character Sheetseffective if the players spend their first couple of turns wandering in different directions.

When you attack someone, you place cubes of your colour in their damage slots.  If you take too much damage, your character dies and people score points according to how much damage they managed to do to you.  Death isn’t a significant setback though: you simply respawn back at your starting location.

It reminds me a lot of Adrenaline from CGE.  There’s no incentive to hide from people.  The more damage you do, the more points you get, so you really want to charge around blasting people as much as possible, like any good first-person shooter.

One nice twist though is that when you cast spells, they can damage the room in which you’re in.  If the room takes too much damage, the tile flips over and it can no longer be activated.  Again, players will score points for doing lots of damage to the room.  Blowing stuff up seems to be heavily rewarded.  It’s the kind of game my son and his cousins would love.

Black Rose Wars MagesDowntime might be an issue in a four-player game, although there are spells that can trigger off other people’s spells so you might end up doing something on someone else’s turn.  It’s also the kind of game that will speed up quite a bit once people know what they’re doing.

Black Rose Wars is the company’s third major project on Kickstarter.  Be aware that they have yet to deliver the other two projects.  Their first project encountered lots of problems, but they seem to have learnt a great deal through the difficulties they faced.  Delivery is well over a year late at this point, but it should be arriving with backers in the next few weeks.

Personally, I would be happy backing as I think the experience they have gained from the previous projects will allow them to pre-empt any issues that might crop up in their current project.  You will need to make your own decision on this though.

If you’re looking for a medium-weight, light-hearted combat game, I think Black Rose Wars would be a great pick.  The Kickstarter page has lots of detail on it and if you want to see the game in action, I recommend watching the playthrough from Game the Game.


Is it the kind of game that appeals to you?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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