"The god of war lives for battle. He wields a devastating power when his armies attack. He gains in potency as his followers conquer their foes."
-- from the Risk Godstorm rulebook
Every civilization begins the game with the god of war in play. That alone should suggest that the game isn't exactly subtle about encouraging aggression. The war god is most satisfied when he's attacking a neighboring territory. The more you attack, the more the war god will reward you.
Each god has its own personality that you can bring to the game. A team of seven "cosmologists" experienced in Magic and D&D development refined the pantheons and territories to make a realistic yet fantastical world. Instead of following literal interpretations of phrases like "god of war," the team -- Brandon Bozzi, Eric Cagle, Brady Dommermuth, Skaff Elias, Chris Galvin, Brian Tinsman, and Teeuwynn Woodruff -- searched for the most iconic and potent mythological characters. With their help, we ended up with four pantheons that are as awe-inspiring as they come.
Here are the pantheons' war gods.
The Gods of War
The Greeks' god of war is Ares, the son of Zeus. Ares is the hot-headed god of impulse, a vicious deity who finds unreserved joy in bloodshed. He fights with Trojans in the Trojan War, which leads his own father to call him "the most hateful of the Olympians."
The Norsemen's god of war is Thor, the thunder god. (No, not Tyr. I stated that we weren't locked into literal interpretations.) Thor is the powerhouse of the Aesir. He blasts the giants from the battlefield of Ragnarok with his mighty hammer Mjolnir.
The Celts' god of war is Nuada, the Silver-Armed One. The most fearsome of the Tuatha De Danaan had his arm hacked off by giants, yet fights on with a silver replacement attached. His unbreakable sword is one of the most potent weapons of myth.
The Babylonians' god of war is Gilgamesh, the only god in this game with some mortal blood. Two-thirds divine and one-third human, Gilgamesh is the hero of the earliest epic, battling through his saga like a wild bull and leaving destruction in his wake.
The Egyptians' god of war is Set, the bestial god of strife. Set sowed chaos in the Egyptian pantheon by killing his brother, Osiris, in an attempt to seize rulership. He was sometimes depicted in animal form and always with animalistic aggression.
The War God's Domain: Combat
Man-to-man combat in Godstorm mimics that of Classic Risk. To invade a territory, you bring up to three of your soldiers into the defender's territory. The defender can defend with up to two soldiers. Each player rolls a number of dice equal to their soldiers. The players' highest dice are compared; the player with the lowest number loses a soldier, with the defender winning ties. Then the next highest dice are compared, with similar results. Afterward, the attacker can choose to attack again, either in the same territory or another, until all attacking is complete.
When you attack from a territory in which you have a god, you decide whether to bring the god along. If not, the deity stays behind and cannot affect the combat. If so, the god enters the combat. The god's divine power may come into play depending on the nature of that power. If you win, the god follows the soldiers into the conquered territory.
The War God's Power: Hostility
The war god is made for this. When you attack with the war god, you win all ties. That means that when you attack with the war god, your attackers are much more likely to win in combat than they would be otherwise. He doesn't help on defense, though, since you already win ties on defense. Regardless, with the war gods all in play in the First Epoch, a lot of territories change hands quickly.
The problem with the war god is that when you win these early (and sometimes pyrrhic) fights, he may only have a few soldiers surrounding him after the dust settles. There's a step after the Invade Territories step called Fortify a Position, which allows you to move some reinforcements from one territory to another across an uninterrupted path of territories you control. Early in a game with random setup, however, you might not be able to get many men to the front, leaving your war god a sitting duck when his followers are cut out from under him. Sometimes it pays to temper that aggression just a bit.
(In the nonrandom setup, you usually can fortify quite easily. That means the war god is strong early on. This is a lot of fun, but if you want a slightly less chaotic first few turns, the "Homelands" variant I described last column puts the war god in the home territory, often behind the battle lines. This can curb aggression in the First Epoch -- a little, anyway.)
If you eliminate all defenders and banish all their gods in that territory, you must move in at least as many armies as the number of dice you rolled. You always have to leave one army behind, though. Gods involved in the invasion move into the new territory (and it better not be a plagueland or those gods are history). The more territories you control, the easier it will be to win the game.
The war god loves this stuff. Next time we'll learn why. See you then.
Catch up on any previews you missed!
- Into the Fire
- The World of the Ancients
- God-Fearing People
- Gods Among Men
- The Warlords
- Miracles On the Battlefield
- The Sky Kings
- Blessings From the Heavens
- The Reliquary Opens
- Pandora's Box
Mike Selinker has been playing, designing, developing, and just plain loving games of every variety for many, many years. He is a gamer in the very best sense of the word. Mike lives in Seattle.