Armies of geeks descend upon the big convention prepared for war. Armed with the skills of their hobby, each hopes to wrest control of the convention for fame and glory. At least according to the rulebook. Geek Wars is a quick card game with a great sense of humor and good replayability. Future decks should only enhance this.
The first deck available, the RPG Gamer, has 55 full-color cards and an instruction sheet all in a sturdy box. Contained in the deck are Troops, who you use to fight for supremacy, Combat cards, which buff your troops, Effect cards, mostly one-time bonuses, and Spell cards, which can have a dramatic effect at a cost. Play alternates with each player playing cards and sending their troops to attack each other, hoping to drain their opponent’s Wallet. Whoever uses all their cards or loses their entire Wallet loses the game.
The cards are full of jokes and caricatures that anyone who has been to a convention can relate to. The full-color art is excellent and cartoony, easily able to capture the spirit of the game and the layout of the cards is very straightforward and easy to read from across the table. The rules pamphlet is well illustrated and for the most part, the rules are straightforward. One minor quibble is that a bulleted turn order would make learning the game a little easier. The way the rules are set up, there is not a quick summary to reference during play so if a question arises, the players need to read over a few paragraphs to get the answer. The text is well laid out and easy on the eyes, but looking up a rule does require a little hunting. Still the game is not very difficult and the need for rules references quickly goes away.
The game assumes that each player will have their own deck, although perfectly adequate rules for single deck play are included and do work well. Goodman Games plans on putting out more decks, with the next one being Miniature Gamers, and it will be interesting to see if these new decks have a different play feel than the RPG deck, creating even more challenging play.
An interesting aspect of the game is that the RPG Gamer deck has 55 cards but a game requires only 40 cards, giving a collectible card deck-building feel to Geek Wars. Deciding what cards to throw out can be difficult and it allows two players with the same Geek Wars deck to actually play two different strategies.
The gameplay itself is light and fun. In a beer and pretzels-type game the jokes are funny, but if the game itself is not that good then it will quickly find itself in the back of the closet, rarely being pulled out. Also if a game takes too long to finish, it will often be deemed not worth it. Luckily Geek Wars avoids both of these problems. While the gamer jokes are funny, the game itself is still strong. The Troops cards, which are your primary means of attack, are varied enough that even the more generic troops have uses that differentiate them. The Spell cards are especially interesting in that they weaken the player but hopefully weaken the opponent more, creating some tactical decisions. Probably the most impactful cards in the game are the Effects. Combat is a straight comparison of Attack Value versus Defense Value, so the winner of each battle is easy to determine unless a timely Effect Card is played. A successful game will often hinge on playing the right Effect at the right time. This does mean that luck plays a role in the game and an unlucky draw can make it difficult for a player to make a comeback. The game length does help in this aspect as there is almost always enough time to make a comeback from an initial bad draw.
Overall, a game of Geek Wars should take no longer than 45 minutes once players are familiar with what they are doing, making it a perfect filler game or allowing multiple plays of the game in an evening.
Everything in the game tries to support the theme and in the end it does so. Future decks should make the game better, hopefully allowing different styles of play, but even with two of the RPG Gamer decks, the game is fun and funny.