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War or Peace

The latest expansion for It’s a Wonderful World by Lucky Duck Games boasts five campaigns that add some depth to the hand management and engine building card game.

Gameplay

The basic setup and gameplay for War or Peace remains largely unchanged from the base game. Players choose cards in the drafting phase up to their hand limit of seven cards, and then begin to decide which cards to use for resources and which to build. After each round, players will then use their completed cards to gather resources and bonus. 

However, War or Peace offers players a bit more strategic goals through its five campaigns. Each campaign is hidden in one of six envelopes (at one point in the game, players will make a decision based on a forking path that will exclude one of the envelopes being opened), with new cards that add new dynamics or challenges to the game. Some challenges ask players to cooperate to achieve a goal, others will allow for resource exchanges or additional bonus opportunities. These collective goals and additional bonus opportunities may benefit individual players or all players depending on how they play out. These campaign additions do little to change up the flow of the game, but add something different to the order of actions from round to round.

After the end of four rounds, the player with the most points will still win the game. However, this may provide additional benefits or consequences for the winner and losers depending on if goals were met.

Review

Integrating War or Peace into the base game of It’s a Wonderful World is seamless. There is little to no additional setup time, and the rush of opening a sealed envelope to find what’s next is a thrill. Very few casual games offer campaign options, so War or Peace sits (nearly) alone in how it expands upon It’s a Wonderful World. The casual and family gamers now have the ability to experience a campaign that does not tack on any additional playing time or fundamentally change how the game performs. 

However, this can also be the glaring issue as people press through War or Peace. Even as a casual entry into campaign gaming, the fact that there is little changeup to the core gameplay of its accompanying base game can be a bit disappointing, especially as the campaign presses into its later scenarios. Likewise, the flavor text for the campaign scenarios is rather straightforward and bare bones. The situations work with the overall story of the game, but do not add color or depth to the story, just the core gameplay. 

War or Peace does not scale down well for lower player counts, as well. At 4-5 players, the campaign offers enough gameplay depth and slight changes that choices must be made whether to cooperate when given the choice, or to be ultra-competitive. However, the competition never becomes cutthroat because the game’s ramp up from the first to the last campaign scenario is slight. Yet, this lack of a ramp up means at 1-2 players, the campaign falls a bit short, exposing the truth that campaign games are largely meant for bigger player counts and gaming groups. Not even a great casual engine builder such as It’s a Wonderful World can nail a campaign for solo and duo gamers. 

But War or Peace succeeds at introducing basic campaign elements to the casual gaming experience without disrupting it. Players who love the core gameplay of It’s a Wonderful World will enjoy dipping into the brief campaign expansion, get their money’s worth, and move on. Without spoiling too much, there’s also some hidden surprises that are worth the purchase price alone.

Pros: Solid introduction to campaign gaming, expansion does not radically change core gameplay, enough gaming depth for the price

Cons: Does not scale well for lower player counts, does not change much of the content from campaign to campaign