“The Wolves” was a big hit at SPIEL 22 in Essen. The game was quickly sold out at Pandasaurus Games. Skellig Games is now launching the hit under the name "Die Wölfe" in German-speaking countries and is already popular can be pre-ordered in the publisher's own shop. We kindly received an English copy from Skellig Games in advance and were allowed to test the game extensively. Find out how we liked the fight for dominance in the wilderness in this review.
Warning: Since we received the English version of the game as a review copy, there may be different terminology in this article compared to the German version of Skellig Games.
In "The Wolves" 2-5 players take the lead over a pack of wolves that is spreading through the wilderness. Over the course of a lunar cycle, we stalk prey, recruit lone wolves to expand our pack, and battle rival packs for control of territory. Only the pack that is the most cunning, and perhaps acting with stone-cold killer instincts, will reign supreme over the wild.
Interesting action system
The goal in "The Wolves" is to get the most victory points by the end of the game. For this you fight for the highest presence in a region, hunt different prey and strengthen the attributes of your wolf pack. The regions are divided into 5 different terrain types. Each wolf pack has an advantage in one of the five terrain types. This benefit is represented by the respective faction-specific terrain tile. This allows you to get certain actions for the specific area faster.
To better understand this advantage, we first need to look at the flow of a turn. In your turn you can perform 2 of 5 different actions (move, howl, build wolf's den, upgrade wolf's den to wolf's den + dominate) by paying the costs associated with the action. You pay the cost by turning over the required number of double-sided terrain tiles. For example, if you turn over a forest terrain tile, you can use an action on forest terrain. Flipping the forest terrain tile over will now reveal a different terrain. This prevents you from being able to perform the same action on the same terrain every turn. An exception is the faction-specific terrain tile. This has the same terrain type on both sides, giving you more control over actions on that specific terrain.
Bonus action tiles give you the opportunity to carry out additional actions in addition to your two standard actions. There are also bonus terrain tiles that can be used to pay for additional terrain to cover action costs. For example, this is useful for performing the strongest action in the game Dominate, which requires three terrain tiles of the same type. Since you only own two tiles of each terrain (apart from faction-specific terrain), you can still activate this action with the bonus terrain tile. You collect bonus tiles by improving various attributes on the pack board or by hunting prey in the wilderness.
control is power
There are a total of four types of characters that you use to fight for dominance in the game. The wolf dens, pack wolves, alpha wolves and wolf dens (ranked from weak to strong). In order to get the highest presence in a region, you try to have the highest number of your own characters in the region.
In addition, you can use your alpha wolf to howl at lone wolves to join your pack. You build wolf dens and improve them into wolf dens or dominate opposing pack wolves or wolf dens. With each of these actions you improve the attributes of your own wolf pack and place the corresponding marker (lone wolves, wolf dens or opposing pack wolves) on a moonlight calendar. This symbolizes the progress of the game and activates three regional scoring phases. If you place a marker on one of the three moon phases, the region that has a tile of this moon phase is activated.
Then it is counted which wolf pack now has the most control over the region. While you get one checkpoint each for wolf dens, pack wolves and alpha wolves, wolf dens give you three checkpoints. If there is a tie, the pack that has the most alpha wolves in the region wins. The pack with the most control points then receives the tile with the victory points associated with the moon phase. The second-placed pack gets half the points. If the third and last moon phase was activated, all victory points are added up afterwards. This also includes unlocked improvements on your own tableau. The pack that now has the most victory points has supremacy over the wilderness.
Good for 2 game ends
“The Wolves” also worked surprisingly well for two. We particularly liked the scoring phases here much better than in games with more players. While there is only one scoring phase per region with 3 – 5 players and this region no longer counts for subsequent scoring phases after it has been scored, there are two regions in 2-person games that are scored twice. These are particularly popular and give some focus.
Material between Wow and Ahhhh!!!
The material of "The Wolves" is great in itself. The characters and artwork is really great. The game looks just beautiful on the table and is a real eye-catcher. Also haptically everything really fits!
Actually, we also thought it was nice that an inlay is included, into which all the material fits well. Actually... Since the box is much too big and the game has so many small tiles, they like to fly wildly through the box. Since the inlay has no cover, the region plates also like to fly through the box. This means that all the game material is scattered wildly in the box after transport and the structure of the game is lengthy due to the gathering of the individual tiles. If you still have small bags from other games, we advise you to use them. These help a lot to keep order. We cannot say whether the German version will have the same packaging problem.
Information about The Wolves
|Number of players: 2 – 5
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 75 minutes
Long-term motivation: medium
Classification: Area Majority
Author: Ashwin Kamath, Clarence Simpson
"The Wolves" is an area control game that has a simple structure in its basic rules, but still requires a lot of tactical skill, because nothing is left to luck. From our starting position to the finish, we have everything under our own control. However, even the smallest mistakes are quickly punished.
In "The Wolves" a clear change in the course of the game can be observed with the duration of the game. While we try to build up our pack slowly at the beginning, it gets really hard towards the end. Collecting bonus tiles leads to an intense fight for supremacy in the last remaining areas. That's really fun. However, it is also a pity that once an area has been scored, it becomes practically useless and no longer earns any points for the rest of the game. This makes fighting for territories feel like an unnecessary waste of time, especially early in the game. We liked the two-player game much better in this respect, since certain areas are counted twice and it somehow makes sense to fight for these areas right from the start.
In general, however, the games gave us great pleasure and provided interesting decisions. We particularly liked the system, how we activate actions and how the packs react asymmetrically to terrain types depending on the species. All in all, "The Wolves" is a rock-solid game that doesn't knock our socks off, but doesn't disappoint either. Especially the simple, but tactically demanding game design and the short duration of 75 minutes are big arguments to let the game wander to the table more often.
|Pandasaurus - The Wolves - English board game - strategy game... *||55,28 EUR||Buy|
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