Warhammer Elector Counts & Fantasy Roleplay
Long before Warhammer Elector Counts, I first saw Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) in 1986 on a hobby store shelf. Unlike the fighters and magic-users of Dungeons & Dragons, WFRP offers careers like ratcatcher and wizard’s apprentice. Monsters like Skaven (ratmen) tunnel beneath the cities of men, Greenskin Orcs rampage in a mighty horde, and Chaos Knights and Daemons wage war against humans and their allies.
WFRP was first published by Games Workshop Ltd. as a spin-off to their successful Warhammer: The Mass Combat Fantasy Roleplaying Game (1st Edition) miniatures game. Both games were set in the Old World, a dark Renaissance Europe corrupted by Chaos and subject to the weakness of venal men.
In early 2022, Cubicle 7 will release Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – Elector Counts Card Game. This card game depicts civil war in the mighty Empire of the Old World.
A Quick Background on the Game’s Story
Cubicle 7 was kind enough to send me a copy of the Warhammer Elector Counts game. I took command of a Grand Province. I waged war. Here is my battle report.
The Empire reigns as the greatest nation of the Old World. Founded over 2,500 years ago by Sigmar Heldenhammer, the Empire has withstood Chaos incursions and Greenskinned invaders to forge itself into a mighty kingdom. Ancient tribal lands, now Grand Provinces, are each ruled by an Elector Count.
The Empire, strong for so long, has been struck by the forces of Chaos and the corruption of its own leaders. It is now embroiled in a civil war of deception, brutality, and luck. You are one of up to four Elector Counts seeking the throne of the Empire. Each Elector Count must rise myriad armies, lay siege to opposing Elector Count lands, and defend their own lands in vicious combat. Only one Elector Count will emerge victorious to claim the crown and become Emperor.
Contents & Components
Like all of Cubicle 7 Warhammer products, Elector Counts combines well-made components with easy to understand rules and stunning art. The sturdy box holds over 100 full-color cards and dozens of tokens. There are five zip-lock baggies included—one for each player and another for the shillings (money). A rulebook and player aid card are also included.
Cards are divided into Attacker, Defender, Location, and Support cards. Each Elector Count starts with a Location depicting a famous settlement of their Grand Province: Altdorf, Middenheim, Salzenmund, and Ubersreik. Other Locations include settlements and notable terrain like forests and rivers.
The number above the name of each starting Location determines turn order. All Locations note the number of shillings it produces in the upper left corner and the Victory Points it awards to the controlling player at the end of the game in the upper right. Locations are fought over using the other cards.
Attacker and Defender cards depict Warhammer army units. Each card has Attacker Strength or Defender Strength in the upper left corner. Some cards also have keywords. Keywords have defined rules summarized on a handy sheet of turn order and important rules.
Support cards provide a variety of options from gaining shillings to defeating an Attacker to discarding and drawing a new hand.
Set Up and How to Play
In my Elector Counts battle for the Empire, I faced two other opponents. I drew Middenheim, but went last because the opponent to my left had Altdorf which always goes first. I received only three cards in hand, because the opponent going first passed me three cards at the end of their turn. Every player passes three cards to the player on their right each turn. This rule leads players to attempt to move the worst cards they have to an opponent and introduces a large element of uncertainty to the game while still allowing for planning and scheming. Every player also started with three shillings each.
Each player takes three steps on each turn. First, they play as many actions as they wish (but must keep three cards in hand when finished). Next, they pass three cards to the player to the right. They then draw cards based on the number of players. And the turn passes to the player on the left.
Players can play Defenders to protect their own Lands or to attempt to push out an Attacker who has taken the Land. Attackers are played to lay Siege to a Land, and if the Attackers have more Strength than the Defender, the Attacker wins. If the Defender wins, the Land is reinforced with a Fortification token which must be defeated before the Land can be taken by an Attacker.
Other actions include playing a Support card, putting up to two cards in Reserve (for later play), buying a card for four shillings, and/or selling up to two cards for one shilling each. Many Support cards also Earn the player shillings in addition to other effects.
Game End and Scoring
Elector Counts ends immediately when a player has a certain number of Siege and/or Fortress tokens on the battlefield. If instead the End of Game card is drawn a final period starts to finish the game. Each Location card is worth Victory Points depicted as skulls. The Elector Count at the end of the game controlling the most Lands that total the most Victory Points is the winner.
How the Game Plays
My hand had Defenders and Support cards. I did not draw Lands, and Lands bring in shillings. However, several of my Support cards had the Earn keyword, netting me two shillings. These cards also brought in shillings for other players with Siege or Fortification tokens on the battlefield depending on the card.
I put Defenders on Middenheim (face down because no Attackers were laying Siege). I also played a Support card to get more shillings and this allowed me to spend four to get an additional card. No Land, just another Support card—so I played that as well for two more shillings, and play continued.
I eventually drew several lands and I was able to make a successful Siege against Altdorf. I lost a Land to an Attacker but played a Defender to take the Land back and play a Fortification token.
Turns went back and forth quickly. Players have to balance shillings and how to earn and spend them, Attacker and Defender cards and where to deploy them based on Lands in play, and keep in mind what three cards to pass to the player on the right. Turns are fast but with just enough moving parts to keep things interesting.
Alas, I was not victorious in my pursuit of the crown, but I fought well. The game plays in under an hour so I could always try for the crown again easily enough!
The only Elector Counts rule I struggled with is playing a Support card when it isn’t your turn. The rules don’t cover this specifically but do explain that specific card rules trump general game rules. So if a Support clearly shows it works against an Attacker for example, we allowed the card to be played on another player’s turn. Other than that, the rules were clear.
The game also felt like Warhammer. Battles in the Old World happen in strategic locations as well as the occasional brew up when two enemies just blunder into each other. Combat is violent with a large dose of chaotic action juxtaposed against careful planning. The Support cards in particular introduce a surprise element that a player can use against the strongest Attacker to win the day.
We recommend it!
Elector Counts offers fun and fast play. I played both a two player, and a three player game. It felt more enjoyable with more players. The game would be fun to play on its own or if a player is late to RPG night it could fill the gap in time. It is also fast enough to play at a restaurant or bar if the place isn’t too busy!
If you enjoy Warhammer, you will feel like you are back fighting in the Old World when you play this game. If you enjoy a fast-playing card game of violent and unpredictable conflict tempered by strategy and a dose of luck then try Warhammer Elector Counts. See if you can win the day and seize the Crown to the Empire of the Old World!
Written by Charles Dunwoody
Charles discovered a nexus point where various dimensions that break the laws of science can be observed. He built a castle there and writes night and day of the awesome wonders he sees.