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Warhammer: Invasion - The Living Card Game

Summary of Game Play | Sets and Expansions
Compared to Magic | Online Version | Multiplayer Rules
Most Powerful Race | Misc. and Links

Warhammer: Invasion is a two-player card game of intense warfare, clever kingdom management, and epic questing. Players must carefully allocate their resources as they seek to build their kingdom, complete quests, and attack the enemy’s capital. The Order of Empire, Dwarves and High Elves face off against the Destruction of Chaos, Orcs and Dark Elves in the Warhammer Old World.

First published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2009, Warhammer: Invasion is a Living Card Game (LCG). That means there are regularly released card packs like Collectible Card Games (CCG) or Trading Card Games (TCG), except that there are no blind purchases or randomized booster packs.

Summary of Game Play

Game play is fast paced and lasts around 1-2 hours. Each player has a capital with 3 zones that control your resource stream, card stream and your battlefront. Destroy 2 of your opponent's zones or run out their deck to win. You must balance developing and defending each zone to ensure you have enough resources to play cards, enough cards to play, and enough units to attack. The cards are beautifully illustrated with edge to edge prints. The rules feature fairly simple core mechanics, while all the unique cards bring a lot of depth and strategy to the game. Each race has a very different play style too that makes things very interesting.



Warhammer: Invasion The Card Game (Core Set)

The core set comes with everything needed for 2 players to start playing, including 4 preset decks, 4 capital boards, and high quality damage and resource tokens. You can also build your own custom decks. This set is a necessity, as it is the only one that includes tokens, the core capital boards and rule book.

Assault on Ulthuan Expansion

This set is the only expansion to include additional capital boards and starter decks, 1 each for the High Elves and Dark Elves. Since this rounds out the game's 6 races, this is the first expansion you should pick up. It includes multiple copies of 24 unique cards for each of these 2 new races, as well as 3 new card types for the Dwarves, Empire, Chaos and Orcs, plus 4 neutral cards.

March of the Damned Expansion

Introducing Order Only Lizardmen and the Savage keyword and Destruction Only Vampire Counts and the Necromancy keword, almost half this expansion is filled with these special neutrals. There are also 15 Order race and 15 Destruction race cards, for a grand total of 165 cards (3 copies each of 55 cards). Also includes a short story.

Legends Expansion

Each of the 6 races gets 2 different Legend cards, introducing a new game mechanic to Invasion. They get played right to the middle of the capital and contribute power to each of the 3 zones. Expect another 165 cards from this expansion, (3 copies each of 55 cards).

Corruption Cycle (Expansions 2-7)

The first battle pack cycle features 40 card expansions (roughly 10 cards of 1 copy each and 10 cards of 3 copies each). This cycle has slightly more card types for Destruction than Order, however the number of physical cards for each faction is probably just about even. This most likely indicates that Destruction players will need to make more strategic decisions in the deck building metegame than an Order player. Most packs come with 2-3 truly neutral cards and some Skaven Destruction Only neutral cards.

  • The Skavenblight Threat
  • Path of the Zealot
  • Tooth and Claw
  • The Deathmaster's Dance
  • The Warpstone Chronicles
  • Arcane Fire

Enemy Cycle (Expansions 9-14)

This cycle started including 3 copies of each card (60 total, 20 unique), so players wouldn't need to buy multiple battle packs to be able to include the limit of 3 of certain cards. It includes mostly race cards, evenly distributed between Destruction and Order, with only 7 truly neutral cards total. Some include short stories as well.

  • The Burning of Derricksburg
  • The Fall of Karak Grimaz
  • The Silent Forge (w/ short story)
  • Redemption of a Mage (w/ short story and 3-way alliance cards)
  • The Fourth Waystone (w/ short story)
  • Bleeding Sun

Morrslieb Cycle (Expansions 16-21)

Introduces Wood Elves, Forest Spirits and River Troll Dark Elf infiltrators. Most of them include short stories as well. Each battle pack contains 60 cards, 20 unique. This cycle should wrap up in August 2011.

  • Omens of Ruin
  • The Chaos Moon
  • The Twin Tailed Comet (w/ short story)
  • Signs in the Stars (w/ short story)
  • The Eclipse of Hope (w/ short story)
  • Fiery Dawn (w/ short story)

Capital Cycle (Expansions 23-25)

This expasion cycle is coming soon and each pack will devote half of its cards to a specific race. Each pack will have 60 cards, 3 copies of each of 20 cards. Introduces the Feared keyword.

  • The Inevitable City, half Chaos
  • Realm of the Phoenix King
  • The Iron Rock, half Orcs




Which sets, expansions or battle packs should I buy?

First, you should know that Amazon.com is probably the best place to get the game and expansions online. Some sites have lower prices but higher shipping rates. For example, thoughthammer.com charges a $9 standard US shipping rate overcoming their lower prices, whereas Amazon gives you free shipping on $25 orders or about $4.50 otherwise.
  1. Make sure you get the core set first, because it's the only one that comes with the rules, main capital boards and damage tokens.
  2. Next you'll probably want Assault on Ulthuan, because it has 2 new playable races with full starter decks.
  3. If you're looking for more different cards without spending as much cash, the Corruption Cycle battle packs are the way to go.
  4. Deck building enthusiasts should be aware that the rules allow for 3 copies of most cards, yet some of the earlier sets only come with 1 copy of some cards. So in order to build decks to the limit you would need to buy up to 3 copies of the following sets: core set, Assault on Ulthuan expansion and all 6 packs from the Corruption Cycle. Note that this would also give you up to 9 copies of some cards despite the 3 copy limit per deck. All subsequent expansions so far have included 3 copies of each card.

How does Warhammer: Invasion compare to games like Magic The Gathering (MTG)?
  • Resources are separate from cards, so you don't have to waste money/deck slots on resource cards.
  • Instead of attacking your opponent directly, you have to choose which of 3 zones to attack for more strategic game play.
  • The game comes with high quality damage and resource tokens instead of having to track it in your head or use dice or pen and paper.
  • Edge to edge card prints with beautiful artwork, instead of Magic's black outlined cards with comparatively boring card design.
  • W:I is more limited thematically since most cards are specific races, whereas Magic is only limited by magic type which could be used by many different creatures.
Can I play Warhammer: Invasion online?

Yes, this game can be played online. There's no official online version, but OCTGN and LackeyCCG are free generic card game interfaces with online multiplayer, for which people have made Warhammer: Invasion plugins. Thes programs do not enforce any game rules and the plugin's display of tokens is not perfect, but it works. You should probably play the card game in person and understand all the rules before trying to play it online. If you don't want to play online, OCTGN is still a nice tool for deck building and reviewing cards.

Online Card and Tabletop Gaming Network (OCTGN)
Warhammer: Invasion plugin and sets for OCTGN by eloooooooi
Warhammer: Invasion on LackeyCCG
Apparently there's also a Warhammer Invasion Module for Vassal, and you may be able to use Magic Workstation as well.

3 or 4 Player Multiplayer Rules ("Leader Ruleset")

Yes, you can play 3 or 4 player multiplayer Warhammer: Invasion. There are no official rules for it, but the rules and card text are clearly written with multiplayer in mind, with references to "all opponents" and such. It's also interesting that the back of the core set says 2-4 players, even though it's listed as a "2 Player Game" otherwise, suggesting perhaps it was intended for multiplayer. Players have experimented with their own multiplayer variants, and below is what I consider the best rules for free for all play.
  • First player penalty applies to everyone but the last player.
  • As soon as 1 player is eliminated (2 burned zones, decked out, etc.), the game ends and the leader wins.
  • The leader and winner is the player with the most unburned zones. Among tied players, the player with the most hit points remaining on his capital wins. If still tied, play goes into sudden death between the tied players until a turn ends with differing amounts of HP.
I refer to this as EntropicOrder's Leader Ruleset, since the winner is the leader at the time of any player getting eliminated (as opposed to the last man standing), and since players will frequently target the leader instead of ganging up on the weakest. (The inspiration for the win condition was thanks to Nuno Galhardo Matos AKA vertigo_dream.) These rules have the following strengths:
  • They are simple and don't change the core rules too much, add additional complications nor make you track who dealt which damage. The tiebreaker is closely based on the official tournament rules.
  • They don't restrict who you can target outside the normal targetting rules, for maximum multiplayer interaction.
  • Overall, everyone has a chance to win and have fun right up until the end of the game, unlike standard eliminiation that makes losers sit out while the rest continue playing.
  • Players will not gang up on the weakest player like they would in standard elimination, as only the leader can win by eliminating the weakest. The other(s) will fight to become the new leader instead. This gives the weakest player opportunity to become the leader while the rest vie for leadership.
The trick to this format is surviving a round as the leader while being in a position to eliminate the weakest player. This style may favor some races over others (defensive races like the Dwarves or healing races), but this is likely to be a limitation of any free for all Invasion and not just this ruleset. Another alternative for multiplayer is to have each player only attack the player to the left (thus defending against the player on the right).

As far as 2v2 team play, I'm thinking of the following:
  • Take turns as if players were sitting across the table from each other and playing clockwise.
  • You can target your ally with actions as you would yourself, but you can't play your cards into your ally's zones. You may attack either enemy player, one per turn.
  • The winning team knocks out both opponents, but knocked out players play right until the end.
I'm more unsure about this variant and will need to playtest it.

Which is the best race in Warhammer: Invasion?

In the 2010 tournament, 6 of the top 8 were all Dwarves, suggesting that they may have been the most powerful race in W:I, probably due to their strong defenses. 44% of the competitors played Dwarves, which could have skewed the results but is probably because players know they are the strongest. The other 2 players in the top 8 were both Empire, despite only 8% of the competitors playing Empire class, suggesting that they may be pretty strong too. The second most played race was Orc at 21% of the competitors, suggesting that a good number of players consider them a good race, probably due to their aggressive attack power, but that maybe they aren't as powerful or at least reliable as people think since no Orcs made it into the top 8 spots.

However, battle packs keep being released and changing the playing field and the tournaments are looking to be more balanced and more evently represented according to the 2011 tournament results, won by a Dark Elf deck.

Is this the first Warhammer themed card game?

Warcry is a different Warhammer collectible card game made by Sabertooth Games in 2003-2007.
You can still buy the Warcry Starter Deck and Booster box.

My Wish List

It would be cool if Fantasy Flight Games made a collector's edition metal box with a cool relief on it, large enough to hold 6 capital boards and 4 stacks of cards, maybe with a 4-way divider. It could include a deck-sized bucket to hold tokens too, that fits in place of one of the 4 decks. FantasyFlightGames made one for their LCG Call of Cthulu, so maybe they will for W:I.

Links

Buy Warhammer Invasion Core Set, Battle Packs and Expansions
Rules PDF | FAQ and Errata (update card text and rules clarifications)
DeckBox.org W:I Card List
DBLer.com W:I LCG card database (not necessarily up to date)
Nice updated rules summaer for Warhammer LCG
Make your own W:I card deck tuck boxes with this design pattern by Sonik or these patterns
Latest Warhammer LCG news
Warhammer: Invasion Official Site
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