The War of the Worlds is a solitaire board game that puts the player in command of the Human forces in an attempt to mount a defense against the invading Martian Tripods from the famous book by H. G. Wells. There are four versions of the game including England, France, Japan and United States East Coast that all use the same system but offers different challenges with their layout.
In this series of Action Points we will examine various parts of the well laid out Sequence of Play. In Action Point 1 we covered the Production Phase and took a look at the Display Board containing the various regions in England. In Action Point 2 we took a look at the different units, examined the very important and tactical Battle Plans and took a look at the structure of a Battle and how the Land Battle and Naval Battle Cards drive the Tripod attacks. In Action Point 3, we examined the Devastation Phase and took a look into the different types of attacks the Tripods will unleash on the regions. In Action Point 4, we dove into the Human Action Phase and Escape Phase. In Action Point 5, which is the conclusion to this series, we will take a look at the Martian Action Phase where the Tripods will look to move, reinforce in place or build the dreaded Flying Machine and the Assembly Phase that can spawn even more Tripods to destroy your hopes.
Martian Action Phase
The Martian Action Phase is where the AI uses the Tripod Waves on the Strategic Map to take several actions such as Move, Arrival, Repair, or Build a part of the Flying Machine. You will notice that there is no attack among those actions as the Tripods attack during the Devastation Phase, which we previously covered.
And as is the case with this game, the Player Aid is simply amazingly clear on what you need to do and how you need to do it during this phase.
The player will start this phase by rolling a die for each Tripod Wave on the Strategic Map (not those that are in the Staging Areas) and then refer to the Martian Action Phase section on the Player Aid. As you can see in the highlighted section, the results will be determined by the roll, but what results and the color associated are dependent on the Workforce Value of the targeted Zone. As you can see, there is a set of results for Yellow, Green, Blue and even for a Destroyed of Red Weed Zone. I really like this part of the game because the AI is a bit smart about how it decides what to do here.
If an area is mostly devastated, such as a Destroyed or Red Weed Zone, or even in the case of a Yellow Zone which is the lowest producing type, the results are vastly different. A Tripod Wave will never move into a Destroyed of Red Weed Zone unless it has no other options. The AI is looking for targets and cannot do more damage during the Devastation Phase if it is already in a Destroyed or Red Weed Zone.
The various Actions that may be taken by each of the Tripod Waves are as follows:
Arrival – The Tripod Wave will simply gain 1 random Tripod pulled from the draw cup. This result only occurs in a Yellow or Destroyed or Red Weed Zone and is tied to a Yellow result on the die. This means it will potentially happen 33% of the time (due to the die having two Yellow faces).
From my experience, there is nothing worse than seeing the Tripod Wave that you have been attacking and successfully whittling down over several turns as it moves from Zone to Zone add a new Tripod to their numbers undoing your work.
Arrival is not the worst result you can get but it is pretty bad. It takes a lot of effort to destroy a Tripod and be adding a new one, your task is now back to square one and you are basically starting over.
Flying Machine – If you remember from my earlier comments in Action Point 1 about the Flying Machine, you know that I do not like it. I have played games where the dice just seemed to be drawn to this and my game didn’t last long. If this is the result of the die roll, the player will draw one of the 4 pieces of the Flying Machine and place it in the appropriate spot as the Martians are building it. The piece will be placed on the Strategic Map in the Flying Machine space. Once all 4 pieces have been built, the player automatically loses the game.
If you look at the occurrence of this result, it will only generally happen when the Workforce Value of the targeted Zone is Yellow, Blue or Destroyed or Red Weed. When the Production Value is Green, it will never happen so it is important to maintain Green as long as possible for several reasons. In 2 of the 3 Zones this will occur in only a Red result on the die will force a Flying Machine piece to be built. This is only a 1 in 6 or 16.6% change of the time as there is only 1 Red face on the die. But, when the Workforce Value of the targeted Zone is Blue, the highest producing level, 2 of the 3 actions will be to build a piece of the Flying Machine or 50% of the time.
Luckily for the player though, there is only one Blue Production Value in the game and that is London. If the Tripods ever swarm London, aside from the damage done to the Workforce Value of the Zone, the Tripods smell blood and will start to put construction of the Flying Machine as a high priority, even more so than doing other actions. Why? Because there really isn’t anywhere else to go it if they have penetrated to London.
Move – During this action, the player will have to find the Wave’s Zone on the Player Aid. Once you have found the Wave’s Zone, you will notice that there are three different possible Zones that the Wave could move into. Each of the different Zones are tied to a die color result. For example, if you look at Birmingham, a Green result on the die will mean the Wave will move to Southampton, a Yellow result would mean it moves to Bristol and a Red result means Southampton.
Now remember in previous posts we discussed the special ability of the Cavalry unit. If a Martian gets a move result, and there is a Cavalry Unit in the same or adjacent Zone, the player may roll to possibly alter where the Wave will move. The Wave can only be attracted to the 3 move options available to the Wave though based on the current Zone.
Each Cavalry counter located in the same or adjacent Zone can roll once to attempt to Attract each moving Wave.
Green – Rolling Green will result in the player choosing where the Wave will move, but the Cavalry unit will be destroyed. It died valiantly though and performed its duty, although losing it is bad for the resulting Battle as the unit will not be able to pull a Battle Plan.
Yellow – Rolling Yellow will result in the player choosing where the Wave will move. This result is better than Green though as your Cavalry unit will survive.
Red – Rolling Red will result in no effect.
Let’s take a quick look at an example of this. Tripod Wave 1 is located in Norwich which is currently Destroyed. During the Martian Action Phase, a die is rolled and the Player Aid is consulted. The result is a Green which means that the Wave will choose to move into London. But, the player has a Calvary unit located in Southampton and will attempt to Attract the Wave away from London and into its Zone. It can attempt to Attract the Wave because one of the move options on the Player Aid is Southampton.
A die is rolled and in order to attract the Wave into its Zone, the Cavalry will need to roll a Green or Yellow result. The result is a Yellow which means not only did the Attract attempt succeed and the Wave will not move into London but instead will move toward the Cavalry unit in Southampton, but the Cavalry unit will remain alive and will stay in the Zone able to participate in the coming Battle.
I like to think of the Cavalry unit as making a considerable racket, maybe by rearing its horse and yelling or better yet playing its bugle, to Attract the attention of the Tripod distracting it from its real objective in London. I typically like to set up a few Calvary units a few spaces away from the oncoming Tripod Waves and then have my Infantry put out Powder Kegs to set a trap. Once the Cavalry Attracts the Wave it will be moving to its death (hopefully if you roll well enough) as it will take damage from the Powder Kegs and then may be finished off by the awaiting units there in a Battle. Such as very powerful and useful action.
Repair – The final action that we will take a look at is Repair. Any 1 random Damaged Tripod in the Wave becomes undamaged. If the Wave contains no damaged Tripods, there is no effect and you ignore this result. This can be very bad for the player if they have beat up the oncoming Tripod Wave and damaged several units. This one, in concert with the Arrival result. will quickly make the Tripod Wave as formidable as it was at the start once they were spawned.
Zone Destruction and Martian Victory Points
After all Waves on the Strategic Map have taken their actions during the Martian Action Phase, we come to the Zone Destruction segment of the phase and Martian Victory Points where we will see what happens to the Zones that are Destroyed.
The player will now roll a die for each Destroyed Zone on the Strategic Map. On a Red roll, the Destroyed Zone will be converted into Red Weed. There is no effect for the Red Weed other than to generate more Victory Points for the Martians. Once all Destroyed Zones have completed their rolls, and the counters have been flipped, the Martians will now gain their VP’s. The Martians gain 2 Martian Victory Points for each Destroyed Zone each turn during this step. The Martians will also gain 4 Martian Victory Points for each Red Weed Zone on the Strategic Map each turn. This can quickly spin out of control for the player as the Martian receiving 10-14 VP’s for their Destroyed and Red Weed Zones (12 VP’s would mean there were 3 Destroyed and 1 Red Weed Zone while 16 could mean there are 4 Destroyed and 2 Red Weed Zones) per turn will add up very quickly and will bring the game to an end in a Martian victory.
If at the end of this Phase there are any Refugees counters located in the Zone where the Tripod Wave has moved, whether there are Human units or not, they will be Captured and will score an additional 1VP per Refugee Captured.
During the Assembly Phase, every Cylinder located on the Strategic Map will roll a die. If the color on the die face matches the color of the Handling Machine in that Zone, the Cylinder counter is replaced with its Wave counter. This is how new Waves come from the Staging Area onto the Strategic Map.
If the color rolled doesn’t match the Handling Machine, nothing happens.
That is it, the final step in the lengthy Sequence of Play. You now know how to play each Phase of the game. I hope that you get a feeling for the flow of the game, how the different Phases interact with each other, and that the player has a lot of choices about how to deal with each of those Phases. You have to get an idea of what you are doing and this game, like many solitaire games I have played, rewards a good strategy where the player tries to think a few steps ahead. You know that you will have to get past certain phases and then you can attempt to damage the Tripods to minimize their effect during the next Devastation Phase. That is what you are trying to do. Survive from Phase to Phase and score Victory Points.
I have had a good time with this game. I have played it numerous times and it is a challenge for sure. I did just get a copy of the USA East Coast version so I am going to try to play these together and see how that experience differs. But, until then I feel like this game is worthy of a chance. If you enjoy fun. If you enjoy a challenge. And if you like to fail a lot. This game just might be for you.