Designer of Wildlands, Martin Wallace, is normally known for economic ‘Euro’ games like Brass, but every now and then he surprises us with games like AuZtralia and, well, Wildlands. Described as a skirmish game, that is a game where players are fighting each other usually with miniature figures across a map, Wildlands brings some of Wallace’s Euro experience to the genre.
Typically a skirmish game, like Warhammer Underworlds, will use dice to resolve battles and therefore contains a high amount of luck. There are ways to mitigate this luck but it remains present. Fans of skirmish games enjoy the tension that comes from everything hanging on one fortunate roll. Wildlands somehow maintains that tension with no dice present.
In the core box there are four factions of five figures each. Each faction also comes with it’s own deck which specialises in a certain action, ranged attack for example. This, added to the varying health of the different figures, adds a different feel to each of the factions. This means that if you have a figure with a lot of health for example, you can use them to protect weaker figures.
You will use the cards to move around the map, attack other players and pick up crystals. There is a strict hand limit of seven cards, which sounds like a lot until you remember it takes three cards to pick up a crystal and you are only allowed to draw three cards at the end of a round. So do you make a bold play leaving yourself less options in the next couple of rounds, or do you save cards to use defensively? Somewhere inbetween? These kinds of decisions really make the game as you not only make your own plans but react to others actions.
Wildlands works well at all player counts, and this will be improved on further with the planned expansion factions. The first of these, The Unquiet Dead, can be used as a faction or play as another feature of the board. The second faction are rumoured to do the same.
In Wildlands you have a smart, easy to get in to skirmish game that does away with some of the luck and collectability of rival games, without sacrificing the fun. If you haven’t gelled with other skirmish games then this ‘Euro skirmish’ may be the game for you.