Number of Players: 2-8
Time: 120-180 Minutes
Game Type: War
Gamer Type: Anyone (great teaching tool)
“War Games, hump, what are they good for… absolutely nothing (unless they are good for teaching people how proxy wars are a quagmire that punishes puppets and puppet masters alike.” So it is not a catchy tune, but the concept of war games as a teaching tool has been around for a long time, from their humble origins in chess to the masterworks of GMT games, war games show us the cost of war. Proxy War from Amoral Games is the next in the line of war games that show just how bad war is for everyone involved.
The base concept of proxy war is dark, but a darkness rooted in the realism of the game. Players are one of two types: foreign powers or locals. If you are a local warlord, you are trying to make money to buy ammo (the game’s currency). If you are foreign, then you are trying to make as much money and control land before other powers do the same. It is a great breakdown of how proxy wars function. 8 of 9.
Hearkening back to the 1980s with the red and black graphics, Proxy War has great art. The cards, the minis, and the tiles all add to the game to draw the player in. The box is a little longer than a larger-medium box, which can make it a little tricky to store on your shelf, but the box itself is almost a display piece with the stark artistry on the cover. 8 of 10.
Proxy War has players playing the two roles, which means that there are two separate games going on at once. The local forces are fighting for their lives in the actual war. Their goal is to control as much of the territory as possible in their country. Meanwhile the powers are fighting their own economic war. They are fighting for the power and prestige. The two wars go together quite well; unfortunately, in the real world they go together well too.
For the locals, they need to move armies around and fight battles. The dice is the randomizer. They can add to their dice rolls with bonuses they purchase from the foreign powers. The powers, on the other hand, are building and selling supplies with the material generated by the local power’s territories. The integration of two games into one game is masterful, 9 of 10.
In this game, all the options are on the table. You can chose to rush your opponent for an early win or use your influence to cripple a target to remove them as a threat. You can create a long grinding offensive game where you take tiles one at a time, or you can ensure that offense is slow by placing traps and minefields. Traps and minefields also add to the defensive strategy of the game and they can fortify the resources you want. Finally, you can set the locals or foreign powers up like dominoes to ensure that when you spring your trap, you are in the right place at the right time for the win. 8 of 10.
As a game, the two-games-at-once model harkens back to Imperial – but the mechanics are so much better here. It shows the two levels of war, which can be excellent as a learning tool or a way to play away the afternoon. The mechanics complement the idea; whereas the mechanics are dice chucker mechanics as old as gaming, the integration is very novel and new. 7 of 10.
While the subject matter is dark, there is no denying that this is a monster of a game. Whether you play a local warlord or a foreign power exploiting the locals, the game has different levels of strategy that change each time you play. The changeable tiles add to the repeatability of the game. Bringing home a strong score of 40 out of 50, this is a game you should pick up to play with your friends. Just realize: sometimes in this game you are the puppet master and sometimes you are the puppet.
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