Wartime: The Battle of Valyance Vale is a light weight wargame for 2 players. Players will take command of the Valyance and Firebrand armies and try to outwit one another in quick 10 minute scenarios. What makes it so special is that you issue commands to your army in real time. No more waiting for your turn, simply announce your actions and move your units.
Setting up a game of Wartime couldn’t be any easier. To set up a game, players will grab different units to add to their army and place them on their side of the board. Terrain tokens can also be added onto the board to add a bit of variety to the map. For players that don’t want to worry about the specifics, the game comes with a few pre-generated scenarios which can be played individually or together as a campaign. Players can then grab their set of sand timers and they are ready to go.
The game also plays nice and quickly. You choose one of your units, declare your action, and flip one of your timers next to it. If you do not have an available timer, you will have to wait for one of your other ones to finish. For movement actions, you push the unit to its new space. And for attacks, you remove health tokens from your target’s stack equal to your damage. The game ends when one side satisfies their win condition. This could mean eliminating the other team but there are also objective based scenarios for you to play.
All units in the game use the same design with name on the top of the tile, movement (normal or charging) stats are in the middle and combat stats at the bottom. Health is just a small number below the attack values but it will only be used during set up; stacks of unit tiles will be used to keep track of each units health during the game. Visually, the game is pretty boring to look at. No matter the unit, the tile used are all the same size. Even so, this works out well in Wartime. Units are constantly being pushed around the board and this design makes everything available at a glance.
When I first opened the box, I was quite happy with what I saw. Filling up the box are sheets of thick tokens. Its too bad they did such a poor job creating the punch out tokens. A lot of sheets had problems with them. First problem that I noticed was that there were tokens that have been printed off-center. It is a little disappointing to see that the pieces don’t line up nicely when they are stacked together on the plastic stands. A bigger issue is that some of the sheets have been damaged during the die cutting process. It looks like an incredibly dull blade was used as many pieces could not be easily punched out. The worst pieces were also slightly warped. Fortunately, a bit of pressure on the side can fix it up a bit. For a game of its price, I expect a bit more care to be put into the quality of the pieces.
I love the idea behind Wartime. We’ve had plenty of real-time games that have you race against the clock. With Wartime, it pulls you back a bit and gives you those extra few seconds to really think about your moves. Unfortunately, this is also the reason why I don’t like this game. With the shortest timers going for 30 seconds and longest one going for 90, there is just too much waiting in between actions. If I really wanted a more strategic game, I have plenty of other games that could fill that role. I would have enjoyed things a lot more had it captured the chaotic nature of other real-time games such as Captain Sonar.