Imagine it's war - and nobody goes there. It's a bit like that with the strategic board game War for Chicken Island, which was originally published by Draco Studios and has been published in German by Taverna Ludica Games for a long time. The conflict is raging on Chicken Island, but you really have to pull yourself together to argue. The reason: The game concept of the board game has an approach that doesn't quite fit the target groups.
The idea is simple at first, but wacky: One to four players slip into the roles of chicken clan bosses and fight for control of an island. The whole thing is embedded in a thoroughly funny animal scenario with beautiful miniatures and thematically designed maps.
Chaos on Chicken Island
Everything finds its place in an oversized game box, even if the box itself will not find a place for everything. For several reasons: on the one hand, the dimensions of the game box pose a small challenge when storing it, on the other hand, the game concept is quite confusing.
At the second attempt, Draco Studios crowdfunded the strategic board game via Kickstarter, with success: they collected around 160.000 US dollars and equipped the game with a solo mode and additional miniatures, among other things. The latter are plentiful at War for Chicken Island and are of high quality. As is the entire material of the board game, by the way.
Also on the table the look is terrific. The style is wacky and pleasing, the puns are sometimes funny. Card, dice, game board, tokens - all of this is convincing. Now, even with miniature board games, looks aren't everything. A title must also make a difference in terms of gameplay. This is exactly where War for Chicken Island largely fails.
This is not even due to the basic idea, which is actually quite good: Comparatively simple skirmishes with a strategic impact - this is how the wargame, which the publisher describes as beginner-friendly, presents itself. Not much remains of that due to countless - and sometimes chaotic - detailed rules. Three different resources, fueled by additional dice rolls, quickly cause the first frown. Does it have to be that complicated? No, it doesn't have to, it shouldn't. However, in the case of War for Chicken Island, it is. The development step or the idea of the author Ivan Escalante (previously: NecronomiCORP) does not open up.
Otherwise, his playful approach is transparent: the troops fight each other similar to a conflict simulation (English abbr.: Cosim) with units of different strengths with defensive and attacking actions and as clever a positioning as possible.
Good idea, bad implementation
Putting the whole thing in a wacky chicken setting is a refreshing idea. It just doesn't work in terms of the process. Above all, this is due to a chain of random effects that somehow all come together and thus simply destroy a large part of the tactical requirements. Those moments are particularly bad when you as a player even get the feeling that you can no longer properly control what is happening on the game board. In a conflict simulation this is a no-go and even in simple skirmish games you want to keep the luck factor as low as possible. However, War for Chicken Island is far too complex for a pure skirmish board game and at the same time too confusing for a tactical war game.
Worse still, you can't take countermeasures. So these are not rare phases of weakness in the concept, but apparently a game concept that has not been fully developed. How did that get through the test games? Not clear. You remain dependent on your lucky hand throughout the game.
Now, one could argue that War for Chicken Island just needs to get into the hands of the right audience. But there isn't. Occasional players, who might like fast – then sometimes luck-heavy – concepts are pushed aside by the board game because of its obsession with rules. War for Chicken Island is basically aimed at more experienced players, but they can't do anything with the tremendous luck factor. And if you just want to experience a few battles with dice and cards - completely ignoring the outcome of the game? War for Chicken Island would be perfect if the game length weren't too long. And as a pure duel? It could work, but in a game with only two players you can play defensively on the big cards and it's all fun.
So there's no question: If it's War for Chicken Island, then it's best with four players. It's getting tight on the island, and sometimes players are so clever tactically that they can win a game in just a few turns. In such moments, War for Chicken Island even shines - but that depends enormously on the setup and chance.
A lot of things in War for Chicken Island just take too long: collecting resources, building actions, movements. All this costs actions that are missing elsewhere. That doesn't feel rewarding. And board games without rewards are usually little fun. You don't have to overdo it like in a classic Stefen Feld board game and celebrate every action with points, but the feeling of a wasted round should rarely arise - especially if a game can last 180 minutes or more.
At the end of the day, War for Chicken Island is one of those board games where you can physically feel that an enormous amount of potential has been wasted. Just because of the great look and the humor of the board game, you just wish it was different.
Number of players: 1 to 4
Age: from 13 years
Playing time: 45 to 240 minutes
Long-term motivation: low
Core mechanics: positioning, building, fighting, rolling dice, cards,
Author: Ivan Escalante
Publisher: Taverna Ludica Games
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020
Cost: 60 Euro
Since you skin optically on the plaster. And in the end, hardly anything comes across playfully. Damage, opportunity missed - that's how the summary of War for Chicken Island could be summed up. In the end, the author gets bogged down in a jumble of details. What remains is pure chaos.
Modern board games, which rely on a clever mix due to the lack of really new mechanisms on the market, often receive a lot of praise for their courage. With War for Chicken Island it's the other way around: the board game would have done much better if there were far fewer confusions about the rules. Especially since the idea of fighting on the chicken island is quite successful: the theme is refreshing and well implemented, miniatures and cards harmonize, everything is quite charming on the gaming table - and then you etch against the players on a quantitative level mechanics that also seemingly randomly combined. In any case, no structure can be found.
In the end, War for Chicken Island proves to be a bulky board game in the test - in two respects. However, what one has to praise about the game box due to the equipment is a big shortcoming in terms of the bulkyness of the rules.
Can War for Chicken Island still be fun? Yes, if you focus on the topic and the miniature experience and then completely uncritically get involved in a haphazard - sometimes time-consuming - banter. The board game works best with three players, then there is no digging in, the playing time is just about what one would accept for the fun offered.
Last updated on 3.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API