Review: Sword Weirdos

Being big fans of Casey Garske‘s Space Weirdos, we were thrilled when Sword Weirdos, its fantasy pendant, has recently been released. We supported the game during it’s kickstarter and were eager to see what the final product would look like.
We decided to run a test game of Sword Weirdos, using the “Kill’em all” – scenario from the rulebook. So, here are our first impressions.

sword weirdos
Sword Weirdos, Cover Art by Lukasz Kowalczuk.
the artwork sums pretty much up, what the game is about… mayhem.

1. Concept

Sword Weirdos is a very minimalist fantasy skirmish game. Unlike most games, it is not set in a specific fantasy setting, but allows players to emulate whatever setting they like and create their ideal/”dream” warbands. Thus you could use the rules to play games in high fantasy, lovecraftian or grimdark fantasy.

Sword Weirdos is meant to be a fast paced and (as we learned in our test game) bloody game. The basic rules are limited to less than ten pages. The rules are intentionally simple and straightforward, allowing the player to focus on the game. The rest of the rulebook covers warband creation, some basic scenarios and sample warbands.

2. Game mechanics

Sword Weridos Game board
We played our Sword Weirdos test game on a 3×3 table. As you can see, it is densely packed with terrain elements. Line of sights are intentionally kept short. Before starting the game, we agreed which areas were difficult terrain, impassible and so on.

Warband creation

The players warband is composed of a relatively small number of models, which may be customized to ones fancy. Unlike most games, a models stats are no set values, but indicated in die types (2D4, 2D6, 2D8, 2D10 and 2D12). Depending on the equipped weapon, the model may benefit from special rules (properties and maneuver), which grant either boni or extra action.

Sword Weirdos is a miniature agnostic game. Dusting of my old goblin miniatures, I decided to create a marauding goblin gang.
Every member of your warband has a certain class (archer, knight, barbarian, alchemist…). Every class has access to specific types of weapons, equipment or special abilities.
Stats, equipment, spells and traits are bought with points. The sheer number of choices might seem a bit overwhelming. But Sword Weirdos proposes a “what you see is what you get”-system. You adapt your stats and gear to the actual model. That way, some choices are done quickly.

sword weirdos spy
Take Sticky for example. A model with a bow and quiver.
After choosing the movement and combat stats, I paid for a bow and a dagger, according to the WYSIWYG-principle. Had the model been sculpted with a crossbow or gun, I’d have to buy them instead of a bow.
As class I chose spy, which gives him stealth-like abilities.

It took some tweaking and experimenting, but once I was familiar with the most common special rules, it went rather fast. It took me about half an hour for the first draft of the warband.
If you are in a hurry (looking at you Eric), you may use or adapt one of the sample warbands provided by the rulebook.

There is no (official) warband roster available yet, but it can easily be done with your favorite tabulator- or writing-computer program… or you may use a pen and a sheet of paper, like I did.

Actions, Combat and Dice

Sword Weirdos is a turn based game. Each turn, players alternate activating a model from their warband. The player may then choose from the usual selection of actions (move, melee, shoot, spell casting…).

The outcome of fights, spell casting or other action is decided by rolling of dice, either against the opponent or against the game. You always use two dice of a specific type, according to the stats of your model.

For example: your archer shoots at a spearman. The archer rolls 2D_X (according to its shoot stat) while the spearmen rolls 2D_Y (according to its defense stat). The player who rolls highest wins.
The above example is the simple version. Depending on your gear and equipment, some special rules need to be applied.

Where are the hitpoints?

Sword Weirdos does not use traditional hitpoints.
Once a hit (caused by combat or otherwise) is confirmed, the target must roll on a table (aptly named “attack result table”), which determines the outcome. Consequently, the target is not necessarily out of action, but might just be down, pushed back or could even strike back. This adds another factor of (entertaining) randomness to the game.

Sword Weirdos fist blood
Smasher charged into Eaglewyn, the human captain. The goblin fighter was equipped with a two-hand-axe. Due to the weapon’s “powerful”property, a lot of luck on my behalf and Eric’s usual bad luck, the captain was instantly slain.
The delicately placed red token simulate the blood splatter… because we can.

A word on maneuver

As mentioned above, items and weapons allow the player to use special abilities called “maneuver”. These can be activated by spending maneuver points. Usually a warband begins every turn with three maneuver points. Thus they need to be spent judiciously.

Players familiar with Space Weirdos might notice some differences to command points, which are either used to empower your models or grant extra actions.

3. Final impressions

The game was indeed fast paced… and bloody.
By turn 3, most of the human warband was already out of action. I have to admit, that Eric was extremely unlucky with the dice. Yet, at the end of turn 4 (and the game) he still managed to take out two of my goblins. However to late, to turn the game in his favor.

Our test game ended with a (narrow) 74-68 points victory for me.

We greatly enjoyed Sword Weirdos. It took us a moment to familiarize with some of the special rules. The diversity of gear and special rules added to the fun and mayhem during the game.
Some of the basic game mechanisms are close to those used in Space Weirdos. But since Sword Weirdos relies mostly on close combat and introduces new game mechanisms like maneuver, it is distinct enough from it’s sci-fi cousin.

A major asset of this game is the freedom the player gets in choosing the setting and the design of the warband. The rulebook comes with three basic scenarios, but the game mechanics can easily be used in homebrew scenarios and multiplayer games… which we are looking forward to do in the future.

happy gaming

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