Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Card Game: Edition Wars (3-5 players)

"Edition Wars is easy to learn, easy to teach and full of laughs."

When I first flipped through the short rulebook, my impression was that the game was too simple. Then I read the Gamemaster personalities, the Swag (equipment) cards and the Critical Effect cards and couldn't stop laughing.
The card art is simple, appropriately evoking memories of 1st Edition AD&D artwork and issues of Knights of the Dinner Table. The card backs are designed by veteran RPG cartographer, Christopher West, and show a graph paper background with bullet holes and a cracked d20 impaled like a meteor strike.


Each player represents a Gamemaster of significant repute and the goal of the game is to collect 6 Gamers for your gaming group, whether by finding them in the deck or stealing them from other GMS. You can steal Gamers by plying them with Merchandise, dressing down their GM with Snarky comments, or impressing them with your Blog skills. Along the way, you can play Swag cards like "3D Terrain" that allows you to attack with both Merchandise AND Snark at the same time--because when you have detailed 3D terrain you've clearly got the toys and you're allowed to be snooty about it. At one point I "Spilled Soda" on an opponents "Full Set of Minis" to take them out of the game. Another player drank a "Super Caffeinated Energy Drink" to play twice.

On the Table

In style, Edition Wars reminds me of Munchkin in that it has clearly been created by people who love the genre and know how to make fun of it. Any RPGer will know exactly what these cards mean and laugh when they read them.

Gameplay is simple, involving the bidding of cards to steal Gamers. Each Attack card (Merch, Snark, Blog) has both a low and a high number value attacked to it. The low number is always used unless another card or GM power activates the higher number. For example, The Grognard GM (an experienced and jaded gamer) uses the higher number whenever he is Defending with Snark Cards, because whatever you throw at The Grognard, he always has a comeback. The Celebrity GM uses the higher number when Attacking with Merch cards because he has all the best toys. The Game Store Owner GM uses the higher number when Defending with Merch cards; he owns a store full of gear after all.

The attacker chooses a Gamer he wishes to steal and Makes a Threat by bidding cards FACE DOWN. Any card can be bid to attack, even cards that have no number value. The defender plays their own cards FACE UP. The attacker then reveals their cards and declares which type of Attack card (Merch, Snark, or Blog) he will use (all other cards are discarded). Playing cards FACE DOWN allows the attacker to bluff by, say, playing 2 Snark cards along with 4 other cards in order to scare the defender into giving in. Once the attacking and defending cards are determined, the GM with the higher total steals the Gamer. You might attack with Snarky words, but if the GM you're attacking has great Merch, his Gamers will stay with him.

The first GM with 6 Gamers in their group wins.

Final Verdict

Two things reduced the game from 5 stars to 4. First, it sometimes takes a while for the first Gamers to hit the table in order to steal them, so several rounds can go by without anything to battle over. Alternately, four or five Gamers can hit the table in the first round, causing a scramble. This will depend greatly on the shuffle. Second, in our first game, the winner won when he drew his last two Gamers from the deck, making the game feel like more luck was involved than skill. Now that we know that's possible, we concentrate our attacks on making sure opponents don't have more than 3 Gamers for very long. Still, a mechanic or house rule that requires the final Gamer to be stolen and not drawn from the deck would be welcome; similar to Munchkin's rule that your 10th level must be earned from killing a monster and not from playing a "Gain a Level" card.

In conclusion, I loved this game. Edition Wars is easy to learn, easy to teach and full of laughs. Games are relatively quick at around 30 minutes and will probably get faster as we become more familiar with the cards. Also, with blank cards included in the basic set, you can be sure friends, NPCs and our favorite gamer gear will be making appearances.


Please remember to support your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) whenever possible. Many FLGSs have demo copies of their most popular games available to flip through. They may also have game nights, tournaments and open demos as well.

Living in the San Diego, California area? Visit my favorite FLGS: Game Empire. You can also check out gaming organizations like the San Diego Board Games Group, the College Area Board Games Group, and Geek Girls of San Diego.

Living in the Owensboro, Kentucky area? Check out my new favorite area store: Big Bang


  1. A great and fair review! I love your proposed house rule of only winning with a battle over a gamer, and am likely to implement it in my own games. Thanks for the shout out! :)

    1. Just posted a suggestion for a House Rule for that. Sounds valid in my head, but I'd have to playtest it to see if it works okay. Puts the Freelancer and the Mastermind at a slight disadvantage, but they already had the disadvantage in direct threats anyway.

  2. House Rule Suggestion:

    A GMs 6th and final Gamer must be won in a battle. Once a GM has 5 Gamers in his group, any additional Gamers he draws from the deck go into a central "Game Store" where they are waiting to find a new gaming group. Any GM can initiate a threat for these players on their turn (they are still limited to initiating only one Threat on their turn). Once a GM initiates a Threat against a Gamer in the Game Store and places his/her cards face down, any other GM may also bid cards FACE DOWN. Once all GMS who wish to participate in the bids have put in their cards, all cards are turned over and each GM declares what category of card they are using. The GM with the highest total wins. If there is a tie, the Gamer can't decide which group is best and stays at the Game Store--unless the Gamer Grrrl was involved, then she wins.

    During these threats, any GM ability that normally improves the value of a Merch, Snark or Blog card on Defense can be used to Attack Gamers in the Game Store. This does not apply to Swag, Critical Effect or other cards that increase defense.

    For example: The Game Store Owner GM may attack a Gamer in the Game Store using the higher value of his Merch cards, but he cannot use his 3-D Terrain to use both Snark and Merch in the attack because the 3-D Terrain is only for defense.

  3. I would say the Mastermind can also switch Ganers between another player and the Game Store.