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Worldbreakers Advent of the Khanate Preview

Worldbreakers: Advent of the Khanate Preview

Worldbreakers Overview

I get a lot of emails asking me to cover upcoming board games on Kickstarter. I don’t usually do previews. In fact, this is my first one, I don’t cover them for many reasons. Because of Kickstarter fatigue, the fact that I don’t like using Tabletop Simulator for videos and well, I’ve got my hands full with other types of content. I made an exception for Worldbreakers, however. Why? Because of Netrunner.

You can find a video version of this article on my YouTube Channel.

Android Netrunner

Android Netrunner is what really got me into hobby gaming. It was my first living card game after I swore off trading card games when I sold my Magic The Gathering collection and I adored it. Well, so did Elli Amir, the designer of Worldbreakers Advent of The Khanate.

Worldbreakers is an upcoming card game that’s neither the trading nor living variety. It’s much closer to your standard boxed board games with plenty of room for expansion and much of it is inspired by Android Netrunner. Just have look at Mythium Fund and Hedge Fund!

Mythium Fund and Hedge Fund cards

Don’t get the wrong impression, however. While Mythium Fund is a delightful nod to Netrunner, the two games are nothing alike. That’s what makes Worldbreakers even more intriguing. Worldbreakers isn’t a reskin or Netrunner copycat, but its influence can be felt through its mechanisms. Elli took the parts that made Netrunner so great and skillfully reimagined them into an entirely new game.

You are a Worldbreaker, an individual in the late 13th century capable of harnessing the power of Mythium. You stand against another Worldbreaker wagering you’re wits and followers against each other in a literal power struggle.

A Game That Clicks

In most card games, your turn solely consists of playing cards. You often have to use cards, to pay for other cards, most of the time cards themselves even take the form of resources. Such as Mana in Magic or Energy in Pokemon. Netrunner proved there was a better way. Netrunner gave you an action tracker called a click tracker. You could perform many actions by spending a click. You could gain credits (resources) draw a card, and of course, play a card. Each turn you had a limited number of clicks to use.

Khutulun and Mahandasat cards

That click mechanic meant that you were rarely strapped for resources because of an unlucky hand. You could gain them without needing a card that specifically says so, and that blew the gameplay potential wide open.

Worldbreakers has a click tracker of its own but takes it one step further. The tracker is placed between players. After one player takes an action, the click tracker moves toward the other player, and they take an action. Each turn consists of only one action.

Click Tracker
Wolrdbreakers take on the click track.

That action can be anything from drawing a card, gaining Mythium (resources), buying standing with a guild, or even attacking. It has all the advantages that Netrunners turn structure had, but the continual back and forth has several other advantages.

Worldbreakers Actions
One action per turn

Turns flow quickly back and forth between players, and the game is very easy to learn. Taking one action at a time is very intuitive and allows you to grasp the rest of the game in real-time. It’s very easy to start by going..”Uh..I guess I play this card?” And immediately watch the pieces fall into place after your opponent takes a turn. Only, worrying about one action, at first, makes the game digestible despite its depth. Worldbreakers has plenty of depth.

Moves & Counter Moves

The thing about Worldbreakers is that once you have gotten your feet wet, you’re thinking about far more than just one action. The back and forth between players is a continual set of moves and counter moves where each of you is attempting to grip some kind of advantage over the other with an equal action economy.

Winning in Worldbreakers means acquiring 10 or more power, then having more than your opponent when victory is checked during the rally phase. The most common way of earning power is by attacking your opponent and developing locations. This is where Worldbreakers really shines.

Humble Underpass card

Two of the actions you can perform are attacking or developing a location. Location cards enter play with some counters on them. Whenever you develop a location, you remove a counter and receive the benefit listed, sometimes that benefit is power.

Another card type is called a follower, these cards have effects on them, but also health and attack stats. When you attack an opponent you choose which followers to attack with. Then your opponent chooses which of their followers will defend against which attackers. Both followers that are engaged with each other will take damage, then be removed from the combat.

Swift Messenger and Tengris Calvary Cards

Anytime an attacker gets through uncontested, you receive power for each attack that got through, but you also may remove a token from one of the other player’s locations, effectively negating that bonus.

Keep in mind, each player only gets one action per turn, so it’s a constant back and forth of when to be aggressive, defensive, or economical. With a crucial moment always present in the back of your mind, the end of the click track.

Flipping the Board

When the click tracker reaches the end of the track, the track flips. Meaning the player who took the last turn, takes the first turn after the flip. They get two turns in a row. These moments play a vital role in winning the game. Two turns could mean two attacks in a row, two location developments unabated, or any combination of two actions that would normally allow your opponent to react in between.

Click Tracker
Side one
Click Tracker Alternate side
Side two

These sorts of tactics aren’t just reliant on your ability to play effective cards and manage your economy. But also to keep your intentions obscured from the other player. The mind games you play are rarely direct, but always there. Baiting an attack at the right time, only to do nothing and end the game the next turn with a power-play is incredibly satisfying.

The ability to perform a variety of actions regardless of what’s in your hand takes one of the greatest strengths that Netrunner had. But the single action turns with a double turn at specific intervals elevates Worldbreakers to its own pedestal of potential. It captures the spirit of Netrunner while being radically different. Netrunner was all about secret information, and Worldbreakers has none.

Moonstrike and Lay Siege

At the same time obscuring your true intentions and planting false flags into the mind of your opponent is just as important. You don’t do it with honeyed words or a silver tongue, but a tactical back and forth of actions and card play. I always envision that ending scene with Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in a Game of Shadows where they continually counter each other in an envisioned mental fight. The difference is that you’re commanding a battle in a duel of wits instead of fisticuffs.

What Really Sold Me on Worldbreakers

Everything I’ve mentioned is all well and good using premade decks. But upon first trying Worldbreakers I did feel that something was missing. Many Cards are associated with one of four guilds, while others are considered neutral. Guild cards can have a requirement that you have a certain level of standing with that guild in order to play them. Each of the four Worldbreakers grants you 1 standing in a guild, but you can buy more as action, and some cards also alter your standings.

The guild element is largely irrelevant using the preconstructed decks as each of them consists of a single guild + neutral cards. It’s still fun, but where the game really shines for me is the draft mode.

Worldbreakers Winstone Draft
Draft mode via table-top simulator.

In draft mode, each player takes part in a Winston draft, a term that should be familiar to old-school Magic players. Once the draft is finished, you pick a Worldbreaker, add three cards to your pool that are specific to that Worldbreaker, and then construct a deck from the cards you drafted.

Every bit of Worldbreakers design lends itself well to this mode and making a deck out of the various guilds while keeping in mind all of Worldbreakers’ specific gameplay mechanisms is what really sold the game in my eyes. The game also features a solo mode, which is always nice to have, although I haven’t tried it myself yet.

Submerged Brilliance card

I swore off Magic, and I’ve gotten hooked on several LCGs including Netrunner that died, mostly due to licensing issues. I’m knee-deep in Marvel Champions, so I’m not sure I was ready for a deck construction game, regardless of how well it played. But drafting in Worldbreakers very much feels like a draft of freshly opened booster packs and all the interesting variety that it offers. Without the sunk cost of intentionally bad cards to add value to other ones like in a trading card game, and to me, that’s brilliant.

Worldbreakers Advent of the Khanate launches on Kickstarter on March 1st, 2022.

You may also enjoy my preview of Divine Dungeon!