Publisher: Self Publisher
Designers: Michael and Adeev Wohl
Artists: Jason Juta, Damien Mammoliti, Timofte Silva
Play Time: 15 to 45
Player Count: 2-4
A copy of the prototype for Psi Wars was sent to me by Michael Wohl. I’m thankful for his patience with this preview and wish him the best with this campaign. Every picture you see and the components are in prototype form. The 3D technology used on the cards is amazing and I could not do those cards justice by taking pictures.
What is Psi Wars ?
It’s a collectible card battle game that’s set in the 37th Century. You and your opponent are Galactic Warlords, fighting to take control over the planet. Players will create Beings, Robots, and Cyborgs in their lab to destroy their opponent’s lab. If you’re familiar with Magic: The Gathering, you’ll be right at home with some of the core mechanics in Psi Was, but there are a couple things that make this a slightly more evolved card battle game.
The goal of the game is to build creatures and equipment to take out your opponent’s lab. When one player’s monster or monsters attack, the opponent will have a chance to defend and possibly counter attack to defend their lab. Players have the choice of starting their lab at 20 to 40 health, depending on the length of game they decide on. When a player’s lab has zero health points, the game is over.
Creation Units make everything in the game. All Equipment, Battle Units, and Powers are created by tapping the require Creation Units to bring them into a player’s lab.
There are three types of Battle Units in the game. Players will create Beings, Robots, and Cyborgs to form their own army and fight it out. To bring a Battle Unit on the field of play, you must exhaust specific Creation Units. Each Battle Unit has a Cyber (Green), Psionic (Blue), and Physical values (Red) stats towards the bottom of each card. As you read the numbers for each color, the top number is the attack value and the bottom number is the defense. There are some cards with zeroes for defense and attack, which is something I will touch on later. I forgot to mention this, two Battle Units can combine their stats by stacking together. That’s pretty cool, cause thematically speaking, players are like mad scientists that make these freakish creatures for combat.
Equipment cards are used to boost your current cards in play. Equipment cards focus on defensive and offensive stats on a Battle Unit card attributes. Hyper Power cards provide some huge advantages in the game when used correctly. Hyper Power cards set traps for their opponent, which stops specific unit types from attacking for a round. Some of them also help the player dig through the deck for specific types of cards. Just like other card games, the timing is so important to turn the battle in your favor. Hyper Cards could be a game changer.
Getting Ready for War
A game of Psi Wars is played over a series rounds until one person is victorious. To begin a game, players will draw a hand of eight cards from a shared deck. The first phase is Creating Units Phase. You are able to play one Creation Unit card, which is used to create every other card type in the game. I spoke with the publisher and he stated that you can start with three Creation Units in play to learn the game or just make a full game go faster. Either way, you can only play one. Sometimes the luck of the draw can leave one player with a lot of options and the other play gets a little bad luck drawing Creation Units, so you have at least one solution.
In the Build Phase, you can use each Creation Unit card one time, by tapping them and fulfilling the requirements on all other types of cards. All the Creation Units and cards placed in your lab (field of play) are depleted (played sideways) until the next round during the Create Units Phase. The active player has an opportunity to play a Hyper Power card, IF they have the Creation Units available.
So now it’s time to get it on! Before entering the Battle Phase, you can attach any Equipment cards or an additional Battle Unit you have in play to boost the stats of any cards and then you’re off to battle. The Battle Phase can be a little complicated, but after the first go around, you should be really comfortable with how it works. The Battle Phase is what separates Psi Wars from other card battle games on the market.
Once a Battle Unit is able to be activated (replenished), you may declare an attack. The attacker doesn’t declare which Battle Unit they are targeting, but they can prepare using equipment and Hyper Power cards to present their offense to the opponent. The opponent has a choice to let the attack go through and damage their lab or defend with a Battle Unit already in play. Attacks take place using two or three of the stats on the Battle Unit card. The offense and defense stats on the Cyber (Green), Psionic (Blue), and Physical (Red) stats could all be used in any particular battle.
Let’s assume you have an attacker and a defender ready to go. The next thing for the attacker to do is decide if they want to attack using the Psionic or Cyber attack value. If the defender has a defense value of the same type of attack, then we move to the actual battle. You can’t fight using a Psionic or Cyber battle if the defender does not have values there. That’s a strategy that’s important to take note of. Having the right cards in play to counter the abilities of potential threats is key for every round. You could save your hide by having a Battle unit without a Psionic offense or defense, to protect yourself from an incoming attack from a strong Psionic Battle Unit.
Battle Matrix Combat
The Battle Matrix will determine the winner. The attacker (Column) and defender (Row) values are on the chart. Where the attacker’s and defender’s strengths meet up will determine the needed value for a successful attack. The attacker rolls two D6 dice and if the value is equal or higher than the number required, then the attack is successful. If an attack is successful, then defender is disorientated, which means they are turned sideways. The attack advances to the physical stat and the battle is repeated in the same fashion. With another success the disoriented Battle Unit and anything attached is removed from play.
Swing and A Miss
Let’s say the attacker did not hit the roll value needed. If the attacker misses, then the defender can counter attack. The Counterattack rules are the exact same as the attacker rules. If the counterattack is successful, the now counter attacker will disorient their opponent. The only way you cannot counter is if you’re already disoriented. Let’s say the attacker misses their attack and the defender misses on their attack. You move on to the other stat, Psionic or Cyber, that kicked off the battle. Then the same rules battle rules start over. A little confusing at first, but easy after the first time.
Remember the following:
You win Psionic or Cyber attack, move to the Physical attack stat
If you lose, the opponent has a chance to counter using the same battle rules
If both the attack and counter attack miss, then you have to use whichever stat (Psionic or Cyber) was not chosen first and battle again.
The loser is disoriented and can be killed if they lose again to a physical attack
You will always battle using two or three stats during a full battle
The winning condition is you opponent’s lab reaches zero
Why Should I back Psi Wars?
Innovate combat system (Battle matrix)
Really cool card technology
More strategy than I expected
I really like the theme and they were definitely on point with the art and card mechanics to sell you on it
Too many rounds of combat for one battle. Maybe one round of combat and counter attack is enough
Com user will probably roll their eyes at this game without reading
The card technology is cool to me, but the older card sample I had were a little blurry. Prototype, prototype, prototype. FYI, I’ve seen improvements to the card on the KS page already.
If you don’t like rolling for combat then this might not be your jam
Psi Wars gets points in my book for trying to set itself apart from other games in this genre. I think overall the game does a good job of that. I had fun once I figured out the rules of combat and that’s what the majority of the gem is so, mission of funness accomplished (Yep, made that up!). The biggest negative is how much battling takes place for one final result. Some games can be too long because of the back and forth that can take place. Sometimes you’ll have one get all of their Creation Units out and always have Battle Units in play, which leads to one sided victories. This can easily be remedied by starting with three Creation Units in play. Overall, there’s more positive going on here than my minor nit-picks. I would take a look at Psi Wars if you enjoy a family weight card battle game or you’re looking to branch away from familiar territory and change it up. I decided to try something I generally wouldn’t play and I was pleasantly surprised. I will leave a link to the KS page below and I hope you enjoyed the preview.