Comical Battles on a Changing Terrain: A Review of PWNs

PWNs

Giant hungry earthworms, freeze rays, and power punches — PWNs has it all in this crazy (fun) strategy game.

Gameplay

Four terrain tiles make up the game board. Each tile has 16 spaces on it and each space can be one of four terrain types. The four tiles are double-sided and can be placed in any order, which changes up the terrain between games. Each player then selects a team of four matching colored cartoon characters. Each character has space for two special abilities, begins the game with one, and starts the game with four health. You randomly draw an ability tile for each of your characters. These abilities are things like increasing their projectile attacks, allowing them to move one space further on your turn, or making them immune to effects.

Players place their characters on the game board. On your turn, you have three movement points which you can divide among your characters in any way you want. Moving onto a space with another character makes both characters lose one hit point. After movement, you may play one attack card. Most attack cards require you to be within a certain number of spaces of your target, some will apply negative effects, and some will move a target. After attacking, you may play one health card to heal your characters’ damage. Finally, everyone draws up to five cards (as an opponent may have played a card in response to your attack) and your turn ends. You may skip any part of your turn in order to discard a card and draw a new one.

There are also cards in the deck which affect the terrain. There can be fires and ice. Characters can drown if pushed into water, and if knocked into a hole your character is immediately out of the game. There are tiles which can fit over each terrain space to keep track of the shifting landscape.

Once a character loses all its health, it is considered knocked out and removed from play. The character who knocked it out gets to take its special ability. The game ends after one player’s entire team is knocked out. If it’s a two player game, the other player automatically wins. If you are playing with three or four players, everyone scores three points for each of their characters still in the game and one point for each health point their character has. The player with the highest score wins the game.

PWNs Components

Review

PWNs has a great cartoon-y esthetic that really fits the over-the-top cards nicely. The game also has a great sense of humor in its artwork. Even though it’s a game about fighting each other, it feels more like wacky nonsense in the best possible way. If you have ever played the video game Worms, PWNs feels like the board game equivalent of it. It’s silly, it’s fun, but it’s still highly strategic.

There are a lot of little rules to keep track of since there are so many different cards and situations that can come up, and while playing we ended up having to check things fairly frequently in the rulebook. The rulebook could also use an edit, as there are one or two situations where things just aren’t as clear as they should be, and the layout is a little confusing. However, the basic rules are pretty straightforward: you move, you make one attack, you heal, and that’s it. This keeps the game accessible and quick enough to pick up.

One of the best features of the game is the changing terrain. It’s a lot of fun to see how the battleground evolves over the course of the game and using it against your opponents.

If you enjoy going head to head with other players, and vicious fights mixed with humor, PWNs would be a great fit for you. Check it out.

Pros: Great artwork and theme, the terrain system is fantastic

Cons: A lot of little rules to keep track off, rulebook could be better

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.