War Chest from AEG is my sleeper hit of 2018. A small, unassuming game with a colorful aesthetic that packs some serious tactical and strategic depth. After a half-dozen plays with my brother Matthew, I can confidently say that War Chest is one of my new favorite games.

Theme

War Chest is presented as an heirloom passed down from generations of kings. The fluff on the box lid describes an old adviser gifting the War Chest to the heir to the throne with the goal of providing an opportunity to learn battlefield strategies and the fundamentals of unit command. The theme works – everything from the names of the units to the graphic design of the board evokes a feeling of playing a relic from ages past.

Components

One of the standouts in War Chest is the Unit Coins. These hefty poker chips act a lot like Chess pieces. But instead of starting will all your Unit Coins on the board, you are constantly adding a removing Unit Chips to your bag, moving them on the board and grabbing them from your supply. The Unit Coins have a real weight to them, are colorful, contain wonderful graphic design and just feel good to hold.

The board is fine. I like the design but the board itself feels wimpy compared to the Unit Coins. The Control Markers are a bit of an issue. They are the same size as the Unit Coins and are made of a medium weight cardboard making them feel a bit cheap in comparison.

Gameplay

The object of the game is to place your six Control Makers on the board before your opponent. You can only place a Control Marker on the marked spaces. So, you need to position your Unit Coins on the board to move, attack and control the spaces to allow for Control Marker placement.

At the beginning of each round, all players draw three Unit Coins from their bag and use those Unit Coins to deploy, recruit and activate units. You can only activate a unit on the board by playing a matching Unit Coin. You have to keep a close eye on the makeup of Unit Coins in your bag. Too many and you won’t pull the ones you need, too few and you won’t have tactical options.

War Chest is a lot like Chess with a bit of deck building thrown in. If you place with the Advanced Rules the game starts with drafting your Unit Coins and that adds another layer of strategy as you’ll want to pick unit synergies.

Final thoughs

War Chest if quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Two-player games that play quickly and offer both strategic and tactical depth are hard to come by. With just a few minor grips, and they are truly minor, War Chest gets a hardy recommendation.