UK Games Expo 2018: Wildlands Preview

UK Games Expo 2018: Wildlands Preview

I don't know whether it's cynicism brought on by an approaching mid-life crisis, or simply that I have a burgeoning board game collection that is taking up far too much space, but with every new game that is announced I ask myself, do I really need this.

And its these questions that come to mind as I go through Wildlands, the new board-based skirmish miniatures game that I went through at the UK Games Expo 2018.  Now at first glance this game would appear to be your run of the mill game that appears to adorn Kickstarter once every few weeks. It's got a board, it’s got miniatures and it’s all card based, but like a racehorse or prize pig it's important to look into Wildlands pedigree, because Wildlands is being brought to us by legendary designer Martin Wallace and publisher Osprey games and that in itself means that Wildlands deserves a second look.

Martin Wallace wildlands preview skirmish game

Wildlands is a competitive miniatures skirmish game based around the concept of capture the flag. You'll send your little team off into mines (and somewhere else I don't know because it was on the other side of the board), grab objectives and attempt to take them off the board. Your opponents will be doing the same, while generally trying to stop you and ruining your day. Your actions are determined by the cards you can play, each card showing a nice little art work of one of your team and a plethora of symbols that can be used to move, shoot, punch and interrupt - more on that last one later.  Your actions will of course be limited by the number of cards in your hand, which means that Wildlands isn't about range, line of sight and cover but about card management.

Card management is even more important when you can consider that you can spend cards to interrupt another player's turn and take actions.  Of course, you will need the right cards in your hand to do so, and spending cards on your opponent's turn limits what you can do on your own. As you can no doubt already understand dear reader, how you use your cards is of utmost importance. Thankfully you are not fully beholden to the draw of the deck as many of the cards can be used in multiple ways.

Martin Wallace wildlands preview miniatures

One of Wildlands most interesting concepts is that you can hide some of your characters at the start of the game. Not all of your team needs to be on the board to begin with, so you can lay traps for your adversaries, hoping to snipe them with a cross bow bolt as they run past or jumping out of the shadows shouting 'boo!' while swinging a big sword.

Although Wildlands was still in prototype stage everything we saw at the UK Games Expo looked very pretty, the miniature sculpts where both distinctive and different and the card art and graphic design was very clear. Also, the miniatures are going to be supplied pre-washed. It's only a bit of dark ink but it does make them stand out on the table and shows off the detail of the sculpts. I have no doubt that this is going to be a very pretty game.

Martin Wallace wildlands preview action cards

There's a lot about Wildlands that feels familiar, so much so that my biggest criticism of what I saw is that it doesn't feel particularly original. Take a handful of Arcadia Quest or Adrenaline, mix in a Martin Wallace card activation system and decorate with some beautiful Osprey Miniatures and artwork. But as we know a game is more than just the sum of its parts and what I saw at the UK Games Expo was coming together very nicely. It’s the combination of simple gameplay with that meaty favourite of ours, the important decision making, that means I'm keeping an eye on Wildlands development.

The problem is, I don't really know how Wildlands plays.  Martin took me through the basic concepts and the game flow at the UK Games Expo but I didn't actually get to play the game, which means its difficult to judge just how its all going to piece together.  What I will say is that this game certainly has potential and is promising some exciting gameplay.  Lets hope that promise pays off.

Wildlands is set for release in Autumn 2018.
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