Preview Review of Vault Wars

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Recently I was given the opportunity to check out an upcoming new game. I received a prototype copy of the game along with rules for play. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Vault Wars is a game by Jon Gilmour and Ben Harkins, published by Floodgate Games. It is for 3-5 players but can be played by 2 players with a few changes. In this game, players will take place in a series of bidding wars for vaults full of various items, jewels and even junk. The idea is to get the most victory points by collecting the most valuable items. The player that is best able to do that will be declared the winner.

To begin, the cards are separated by type. Vault cards are shuffled and dealt to each player determined by the number of players. Contracted Hero cards are shuffled and 2 cards are then dealt to each player. All of the Item cards are shuffled together and placed into a stack that is set out facedown in the middle of the play area. The Loan Shark card is placed near the Item deck. Each player is given 20 gold in coins. The rest of the coins are placed in a stack within easy reach of all players. The remaining Vault cards and Contracted Hero cards should be set aside. It should be noted that this game also includes the Worker expansion as well. I will not be covering that here. For more information on this expansion, please check the rules. Play now begins.

The game is played over the course of several rounds of play. During each round there are 4 phases; prepare the vaults, auction, get paid and end of the round. The first phase is to prepare the vaults. To do this, each player will simultaneously choose one of the vault cards in their hand and will then place it face down in front of them. Once all players have done this, the cards are revealed at the same time.

The next phase is the auction phase. This is where the bulk of the game is played. Players check the vault priority number for their previously revealed vault card. In ascending order, players will become the Auction Master with the other players bidding on their vault. The Auction Master checks their card and draws a number of item cards equal to the number beside the closed chest. They will then look over the cards drawn and must reveal a number of items equal to the number beside the open chest on the card. These cards are placed face up on the table. The remaining item cards are shuffled and passed face down to the player’s left. Each player will then randomly select a number of cards equal to the number beside the spyglass on the vault card. They will then peek at these cards before shuffling them with the others in their hand and passing them face down to the next player to their left. This keeps on going until the cards return to the Auction Master. At this point, the Auction Master announces their opening bid for the items. The amount can not exceed the total amount of gold that the Auction Master currently has. Bidding then continues to their left with players either raising the bid or passing. Once a player has passed they can no longer bid. The Auction Master can not bid after their opening bid. Once all but one player has passed, the bidding is over. The player with the highest bid wins the auction. If the Auction Master wins the bid, they pay the amount of gold to the bank, otherwise the Auction Master is paid by the winning bidder. The winning bidder then takes the item cards, looks at them and places them facedown in front of them in their item pile. The winning vault card is placed in front of the player face up. Play then passes to the next highest vault priority number and this whole phase continues again. Once the last face up vault from the previous phase has been won, play moves to the next phase. One word of note, sometimes there are cards that will change up how items are drawn, peeked at, etc., when that happens the players will simply follow the card text to perform the auction.

The third phase is to get paid. In this phase, players are allowed to simultaneously sell any number of items from their item pile. They will sell them to the bank by placing them face up in the trash pile beside the item deck and take the corresponding gold amount as shown on the card from the bank. Once all players have sold off their chosen items, any player that has less than 10 gold may visit the Loan Shark. They are allowed to take 10 gold from the bank but they also must take a corruption token which give negative points based on how many the player has at the end of the game.

The final phase is the end of the round. Players at this time are able to equip any items that have the equip keyword on them. This is done by placing the item card face up in front of them. They are then able to use the item’s end of round ability. Players must then pay storage fees on any remaining items that are not equipped in their item pile. One gold is paid for each item left in the item pile. If they can not pay the cost, they must discard an item for 1 gold each. The player may also reveal 3 junk items for 1 gold. Once all players have paid their fees, the round is over. Play begins back again at the first phase, unless all player’s vaults have been played. If this is the case, scoring takes place.

Scoring is done by each player adding up their victory points from items in their item pile, bonuses from one of their two contracted heroes and their gold. Players lose points for dragon eggs not in a collection of 3 and corruption tokens. Once all the points have been tallied up, the player with the most victory points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
Since this was a prototype copy, I won’t get really deep into the components. The artwork that was finished looked really excellent. It had a lot of the feel and look of Epic Resort. The cards were really good quality which makes me think that the finished product will be even better. There will be some money and corruption tokens included with the game as well. What I got was some plastic coins that made me feel like a pirate. You can check out some of the art on the preview link at the bottom of this review. In any event, I have a lot of faith that the finished product will look really awesome, much like Epic Resort does.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rules that I received were on several sheets of paper, stapled together. They were in color and had that same type of look as the rules for Epic Resort. That tells me that I should expect to see the same quality in the production quality rules as in it. Everything was easy to understand and explained really well. I really feel that this will not cause anyone any problems at all. I really like that there was a gameplay summary at the back. I hope this remains a part of the finished product as it was nice to be able to look back at. There were also a few added rules for the Worker expansion that explained how to use those cards. Basically it involves a worker market and paying a certain amount of gold relative to the worker you’re paying for in the lineup during phase 1. It should also be noted that there are rules for 2 players as well, but as those are very much experimental at this time, I won’t go into to it here. Overall, I really liked the rules that were presented and expect that the published product will be just as good.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
If you like games of bidding and auctions, then you’ll love this. The game takes about an hour to play, depending on the number of players. It’s really simple to play and doesn’t take long to teach. I really like the randomness of the items. In many ways I feel like I’m playing a fantasy version of Storage Wars. My son loves that show and so this really got his attention when I explained it like that. He was also a fan of Epic Resort so the artwork really pulled us both in. I am NOT a fan of Storage Wars but I like a good bidding game, so there’s that. In any case, as I played the game I realized one thing. There is absolutely a lot of junk cards. I mean that literally. I’m not insulting the game. No matter how good you shuffle, many times you’re gonna end up with Junk item cards in your vault. The good thing is that there are some cards that will capitalize on that junk making it beneficial to bid on those vaults full of junk. I like how that some cards like the jewels increase in victory points the more you have of them. I also love how that the helm, chestplate and shield cards are worth more money if sold together. It makes you more willing to hold on to these cards until you can make the big score from your collection. Many times I found myself running out of money to be able to bid on the vaults. Thankfully there’s always the loan shark to bail you out. It just stinks that it costs you points at the end of the game. You really have to plan when to bid high and when to borrow money. I have to say, I enjoyed playing the game. I assume that there might be some changes on the finished product but for what is already here, it’s great.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Vault Wars is a light card game of fantasy auctions. It’s a really simple game that can be played in about an hour. The artwork and design of the game is really light. Much of the artwork will have the same style and feel as that of Epic Resort. That great as I really love that art style. Fans of auction and bidding games should really enjoy this game. I’d also think that if you liked Epic Resort, you will probably like this as well. There is some randomness on what cards will be drawn from the item deck, but that is some of the appeal to the game, much like the Storage Wars reality show. The game is quite fun and is one that the whole family can enjoy with minimal instruction and a fairly small learning curve. I enjoy it and think most people will too. I would definitely recommend it. I’m positive that the finished product will be just as amazing looking as Epic Resort.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Floodgate Games at their site.

http://floodgategames.com/

Also, you can check out the current Kickstarter page for the game here.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/floodgategames/vault-wars-bidding-and-bluffing-game-by-jon-gilmou

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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