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This War of Mine v1

This War of Mine

Sad to have a dream you know won’t happen.

Explore the grim realities of war zone survival in the unique game experience This War of Mine.

This very unusual game takes itself seriously, and that’s a good thing, because they picked a hell of a serious theme – survival in modern city torn apart by war. Based on the successful video game by 11 Bit Studios and created with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, the Polish company Awaken Games has created an astonishingly professional and thought-provoking game for their debut. Yes, it can be grim and depressing, but there are also small victories and moments of great humanity, and I’ll happily sacrifice a bit of ‘fun’ in exchange for such a different game.

The beating heart of This War of Mine is the almost 2,000 paragraphs in the Book of Scripts, an achievement that rivals Tales of the Arabian Nights, and in my view surpasses it, because the stories are far more coherent. In several plays I’ve come across some gut-wrenching decisions and horrifying situations, and frankly I applaud the publisher for not shying away from the grim realities of their theme.

While there’s a rough rule about passing around the book and having a ‘leader’ at particular stages of the game sequence, the characters are controlled as a group, and I’ve found the game works better if the players all discuss the options together and take arbitrary turns at reading out paragraphs and moving components. In fact, it enhances the feeling of us all being involved in a shared struggle to survive.

It’s quite an astonishing game, beautifully produced, and gets my vote for most thought-provoking of the last few years. No, it’s not particularly ‘fun’ – but it’s a fascinating experience, and you really should try it at least once.

The only misstep concerns the rules. In an attempt to create a ‘play as you go’ system, they buried many of the rules among the paragraphs of the Book of Scripts, and it only makes the game more confusing and difficult to understand. Thankfully, this rules summary and reference includes all those rules – so be warned, you’ll lose the advanced rules surprises if you use it, but I think it’s a price worth paying for understanding what’s going on.

5 Comments

  • CK Lai says:

    Yikes. What buried surprise rules in the Book of Scripts? Do you have any examples?

    I’ve played it twice and it’s been pretty smooth. But we’ve always used the app as it’s so much easier than flipping through the book. (Not downloading your summary so as not to read any spoilers)

    • Well, I’m not sure what you define as a spoiler, but there are some ‘advanced rules’ in the Book. I don’t think it spoils the game at all to know them all at the start of the game; in fact I think it’s silly to reveal extra rules as you stumble across them. But others may feel differently, hence the warning.

  • CK Lai says:

    Ah, OK then. In that case I *think* we played it right… 🙂

  • gull2112 says:

    I was pretty excited about this game when I saw the kickstarter. I ultimately didn’t jump in because sadly, the core group of friends that would have been awesome to play this with are no longer around/available, and I had to admit it would just sit on the shelf. I’m being quite selective about what games I buy now. Mostly I just game vicariously through your videos!

    • Glad to be of service! this is an interesting game, and worth getting some people together to play. Have you tried advertising for like-minded people, or finding out if there are any public game nights in your area? When I moved to NZ five years ago I didn’t know anyone, and now I have two gaming nights a week. One group I just met by going to a couple of public game nights (one in a shop, one in a hall) and happening to meet someone who invited me to his regular group. Now we’re all good buddies of course.

What do you think?