Wildlands is a board game that was getting a lot of buzz a couple months ago as the first copies were trickling out at conventions. I’ll admit that I poo-pooed it. Sure, the designer–Martin Wallace–is famed for tight Eurogames like Brass, but I didn’t really have my eyes on a quick miniatures skirmish game, so I looked right past Wildlands.
I’m so glad I gave it another look, because Wildlands is a GREAT game. So, let me take this opportunity to give you a quick look at it so you won’t overlook it like I first did.
A Peek at Wildlands, a Fast-paced Tactical Miniatures Game
Wildlands features factions consisting of 5 miniatures, each with a unique deck of action cards that determine their tactics on the battlefield. The battlefield consists of a double-sided game board marked off into 40 distinct areas.
Players choose a faction, then are dealt 10 numbered cards. They assign five of these cards to members of their faction and this will determine where those miniatures “enter” the battlefield. The remaining five cards are passed to your opponent, who uses them to place 5 amber tokens. The objective of the game is to get to five points, either through collecting tokens or by eliminating opposing faction members.
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. Over Thanksgiving, I taught my 10- and 8-year-old nephews to play. In the first game, I controlled a faction while they teamed up to control another. They immediately wanted to play again, so I bowed out and they went head-to-head. They had no issue jumping right in.
Granted, when I teach games I streamline rules, then I add them in slowly as we go. An example of this in Wildlands would be that one side of the board features a dungeon, while the other features an outdoor area with elevation. But who needs those elevation rules the first time you play? My nephews didn’t, but after just a single play, they’d be ready for them now.
But don’t let the simplicity fool you. It is not at all a game without strategy. The faction deck cards control the actions you can take on your turn. This adds a ton of tactics to the game. It’s simple, but it’s smart and strategic as well. More, moving around the board is a joy. Players have a lot of fun positioning their miniatures in order to either race to the tokens or to attack an opposing miniature.
Wildlands allows two friends an opportunity to play a smart miniatures game without spending hours learning rules or setting up terrain, or without spending hundreds of dollars on figures. It takes about fifteen minutes to set up, then you’re playing!
Wildlands is a great game. But don’t take my word for it, ask my nephews. They haven’t stopped talking about it.
[Disclosure: Osprey Games provided Nerds on Earth with a review copy of Wildlands.]