Full disclosure: A review copy of World Changers was provided by Korea Boardgames.
Another KBG title! I’ve been reviewing Korea Boardgames titles off and on for a while, and it’s always been a blast trying some of these! I think my favorite remains Eco-Links, but I’m still a big fan of Showdown Tactics, of the recent games I’ve played coming out of there. World Changers caught my eye given the cover art. I’m simple like that. So let’s see what’s going on!
In World Changers, you’ve got to get a crew together to populate a new planet now that Earth isn’t available anymore. What happened? That’s another game probably. Thankfully, you have just the right idea of who to recruit! Using your time devices, you can recruit famous figures from across human history. Probably the best bet if you want to bring in a new golden age of humanity on a new world. Will you be able to recruit the ultimate team?
This one’s dead simple to set up. There are 32 cards. You’re going to use a certain number of them based on your player count, leaving the remainder in the box:
- 2 players: 12 cards
- 3 players: 18 cards
- 4 players: 24 cards
Give each player a Player Chip as well:
Set the Reminder Tokens aside, for now:
Deal each player two cards, and reveal three additional cards, placing them face-up in the center to form The Void. You should be ready to start!
A game of World Changers is played over a series of turns. In each, you can do one of two things: Invite, or Pass. To start your turn, flip your Player Chip so that the Rocket Side (the passive side) is face-down.
Passing is simple. Flip your Player Chip over. Your turn is over. Also, any Crew Members that have abilities that activate when you Pass, activate.
If you choose to Invite, take any card from your hand or from the Void and play it face-up in front of you. Generally, Crew Cards have three types of abilities:
- Invite: These abilities activate when you use the Invite Action to take this card. Note that other abilities that add cards to your tableau don’t Invite them, so they don’t activate subsequent card effects.
- Trigger: These abilities activate when the stated condition is met. If you are worried you won’t remember it, place a Reminder Token on the card or wherever you need.
- End of Game: These abilities activate when the game ends. They usually award additional points.
End of Turn
At the end of your turn, discard cards from your hand into the Void until there are three cards in the Void. If the Void already has three cards (or more), don’t do anything. If you don’t have enough cards in your hand to refill the Void place as many cards as you can and then refill from the deck. If the deck runs out, then there’s not much you can do about that.
Then, draw cards to refill your hand to two cards. Same rules.
End of Game
If all players Pass in succession or the deck and the Void are both empty, the game ends!
Players total the points from their cards, and the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
The only thing you’ll really notice as player counts increase is that more players can gang up on you, should you pull too far ahead in points. There’s more churn in the Void from turn to turn, as players pull cards and activate cards and use more cards, so you should be somewhat worried about that with increasing players. That said, the game is short enough that even if every player teams up against you to knock you down, you can just spin up another play of it and try again. Plus, generally, players don’t behave like that in this game. World Changers may be short, but it’s a tight game, and if you’re not in the lead after your turn, you’re usually falling even farther behind by the time the game gets back around to you. With more players, that’s more keenly felt, for sure, but that means at two players you’re essentially just hitting your opponent back and forth as it switches from your turn to not. I generally prefer this game at a bit higher player count, for that reason; it’s rare for all eyes to end up on me, and having more players to help me deal with the player currently in the lead can sometimes shake out for me (though it’s rare). I think it helps that more players doesn’t necessarily make for a longer game, so I’m glad to have another short game I can play with a few of my friends.
- Don’t get too many points too quickly! You’ll just end up with a target on your back. It’s very easy to immediately draw every players’ attention with a big play. If you do, it’s decently likely that other players will look to dunking on you to deny you the big points that you just pulled. Taking a 5 point card early in the game is a great swing, but it might eventually cost you big time as well if everyone goes after you. There are plenty of cards that have weird effects or let you take or swap cards, so players can really pick apart your tableau.
- The combos are pretty key. There are a lot of available pairings and such of cards that really work off of each other, so if you can find some cards that synergize well, then you can score some major points. One combo makes it impossible for you to pass, so having that card in your tableau and adding a bunch of cards with negative abilities that occur when you pass is a decent combo. The problem is, that means your entire strategy hinges on other players not getting rid of that card that blocks passing. Keep an eye out for combos, but also keep an eye out for when particularly brittle combos will leave you vulnerable to big losses.
- There are many ways to add Crew without activating their abilities; for the higher-value ones, it may be worth exploring those routes. Like I said above — that’s a good example. Most of the highest-value cards have particularly unhelpful abilities. Figuring out ways to get those cards into your tableau is great, but losing all the things you’ll have to lose in order to get those points isn’t worth it. For instance, there is a card that dumps all your other Crew Members to the Void when it’s invited. However, there are cards that let you add other cards to your Crew, which would bypass that effect. This also allows you to steal your opponents’ good cards without having to activate their pesky effects.
- Even if you learn all the cards, a solid chunk of them won’t be in play, so you cannot rely on the same combo every game. This is the challenge of combos! There are a wide variety of combo synergies, but they’re decently brittle, since they rely on specific cards playing off of each other. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of cards that work for certain combinations, so even if the card you’re looking for is out of play, you can usually find a card that works similarly. The more elaborate combos may not be doable
- It’s rare that ending the game quickly is a good idea, unless you trick or trap your opponents into it. It’s hard for ending the game quickly to be a good idea unless you’re in the lead and the game ends instantly. That’s usually not something that happens, but if you can set up a situation where you can end the game immediately and win, you should take it.
- Taking negative points may be worth it for big combos. There’s a -5 card that doubles your endgame score, which can be pretty huge, provided other players allow you to actually keep it or get enough points that the doubling will help. I’m not sure that most players can pull it off (especially if you take it early in the game), but it’s a good example. There are plenty of other “good” cards that are worth negative points, just by their nature. High-value cards tend to have bad effects, and low-value cards tend to have good effects.
- Also, figure out ways to protect your high-value characters. Other players will go after them immediately, so try to keep yours on lock. There are a few different abilities that can block cards getting removed or taken, so keep an eye on those and take them when you can.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- A very quick little game. You can really just bust through World Changers in like, 10 minutes or so, tops? Especially as players learn the cards and their effects. That’s the primary slowdown, early on.
- The combos are relatively easy to identify (and decently easy to block). It won’t take long for players to start seeing synergies between various potential Crew Members (and antisynergies). Both are fun to notice, and even more fun if you start planning for certain Crew Members to try and boost your potential strategy (or to block the negative effects of other high-value Crew you want). As players play more games and see more options, these higher-level strategies start really unfolding for them, and it’s really satisfying to see players learn and get more comfortable with combo play.
- I love the art style! It’s cartoony but not in a way that undermines the legitimacy of the figures being featured, but it allows the game to be very colorful and engaging, which is perfect for a short card game.
- I also really like that the game comes with a booklet giving more information about each character and why they were given the ability that they have. This is just a nice piece of informational add-on. I love it when games do this kind of thing. It’s even better that they attempt to justify why each character was given their ability based on their historical context; it’s a nice way to connect the history and the gameplay. It works generally pretty well, too.
- The token quality is also really nice. I was pleasantly surprised by the tokens! They’re nice poker chip-level quality and they’re fun to handle. The art is also nice on these, as well.
- Relatively diverse array of characters, which I was pleased with, as well. A lot of folks from a lot of different times, places, and areas of influence. I appreciate that; these games have the tendency to be kinda Eurocentric, and I think that would have been a grievous oversight, in this case.
- Also very portable. Honestly, you can even ditch the box, if you want, and just take the cards and you’d probably have the bulk of what you need. The player tokens and the reminder tokens are helpful but not strictly necessary, if you’re trying to travel light.
- I’m generally lukewarm on games where you can forcibly skip other players’ turns, but that’s a somewhat difficult combo to execute. And, frankly, it’s kind of funny if you can set it up correctly. Usually, skipping a turn as an action kind of sucks, since turns are tightly planned, but for an otherwise pretty-short game, forcing a player to pass isn’t terrible. It’s also pretty hard to set up a circumstance where you can force a player to pass (even more difficult if you can force them to pass and end the game), so it’s honestly kind of impressive if you can set something like that up.
- It’s a bit of a bummer that both prominent Black characters in the game are worth negative points, initially. They have useful abilities! It’s just … weird? Just seems odd? This is all to say I feel like this wasn’t the only way this could have shaken out.
- It’s a short game with a fair bit of reading, given all the cards have unique abilities. This problem goes away after a few plays with the same group as players eventually start recognizing the cards and their abilities, but it slows the first few games down a bit, not a lot.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, I think World Changers is fun! A lot of what makes World Changers fun, for me, is its relative simplicity and its art. I haven’t played a good, quick drafting game in a while, and I think World Changers does a really nice job making a simple and streamlined experience from a handful of cards. Naturally, World Changers is helped with a fun and bouncy art style, even if the core premise (recruiting famous people from across history to crew a spaceship) is a bit goofy. I’m side-eyeing that “10 minutes” playtime on the box, but I think with the right group and a decent amount of plays, you can probably get it down to around that point. The thing that slows it down for the first few plays is just having to learn all the Crew Abilities of the various cards; that much reading is going to impact the pacing and flow while players are learning the game. Beyond that, though, I think World Changers is a solid little game! If you’re looking for something quick and light, you’re just a history buff, or you want more games from outside the US, World Changers is a good bit of fun! I liked it.
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