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Chaos in the Old World

Chaos in the Old World board game title

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Game developers Eric Lang, Jeff Tidball, and Andrew Navaro give an inside look.

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What hope can there be for the mortal world?
— Liber Malefic

In the Warhammer world, four Gods of Chaos battle for supremacy. Khorne, the Blood God, the Skulltaker, lusts for death and battle. Nurgle, the Plaguelord, the Father of Corruption, luxuriates in filth and disease.Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, the Great Conspirator, plots the fate of the universe. Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure and Pain, the Lord of Temptations, lures even the most steadfast to his six deadly seductions.

Chaos in the Old World contents
images © Fantasy Flight Games

In the Chaos in the Old World board game, each player takes the role of one of the malevolent Lords of Chaos. Each god’s distinctive powers and legion of followers give the controlling player unique strengths and heretical abilities with which to corrupt and enslave the Old World. Yet, as the powers of Chaos seek domination by corruption and conquest, they must vie not only against each other, but also against the desperate denizens of the Old World who fight to banish the gods back to the maelstrom of the Realm of Chaos…for now.

User Reviews (10)

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Unicorn Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
Gamer - Level 6
Novice Reviewer
62 of 65 gamers found this helpful
“Conflict heavy board control, excellent components”

Chaos in the Old World is a military board control game. Much like risk or Cyclades, players bring their forces into play on a map from their reserves and move into conflict with opposing players in an effort to control regions. That is a very basic generalization, but is an accurate foundation before considering the theme. The theme of the game is captured very well in the unique aspects of board control. Each player plays one of the four Chaos gods: Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch or Slaanesh. As one of these evil gods the players summon cultists and demons onto the board. Each type of figure has different stats in keeping with their deity. For example Khorne’s demons have high combat, while Nurgle tends toward higher defense. Some even vary in number, with Korne having the fewest cultist because combat is far more important to his game play and story.

If a region has figures from multiple players in it during the combat phase, each play will total their combat values and roll that many six-sided dice. Each result or 4+ is a hit that can be assigned against an enemy figures defense to kill it. Combat happens simultaneously in each region so everyone with figures will get the chance to attack their enemy. Each region on the map has a numerical value that is associated with victory points. If a player has more figures than a given region’s number AND has the most figures in that region, a corresponding number of victory points are scored. The Empire has a resistance of FIVE; if Slaanesh had SIX figures in The Empire he would gain FIVE victory points.

Every cultist a player has in a region adds one corruption token to that region at the end of the turn. When a region has twelve or more corruptions tokens in it at the end of a turn it becomes Ruined by the forces of chaos and the players who contributed the most corruption to the region score victory points. The Chaos gods also have dials that are rotated clockwise throughout the game when certain conditions are met. Many rely on placing corruption tokens in certain regions, like Nurgle who must place two corruption tokens in a populace region to advance his dial. Each player could win by advancing their dial many times or scoring 40+ victory points.

There are a number of cards in the game. There is a deck of ruination cards that list the number of victory points awarded to players for ruining a region. Each god has their own deck of chaos cards that can be played to assist themselves or hinder their opponents in a variety of ways. Lastly there is a deck of events called the Old World deck that functions as a game timer. Depending on the number of players participating, a given number of Old World cards are randomly selected to make up the Old World deck. Each old work card have a global event that effects the game in some way, usually negatively for the players. One Old World card is revealed at the beginning of each turn. If the Old World deck ever runs out, the world has resisted the forces of Chaos and all the players lose.

The game has a large number of tokens and high quality miniatures. The tokens each add some effect to the game like Nobles adding to the victory point value of a region or Heroes killing one chaos figure each turn. The miniatures are unique for each god except for the cultist who all look the same, save for color. The boards has an amazing print, though it is sometimes hard to see defined lines between map locations. All of the components are of the highest quality. The game is a lot of fun, with excellent lore backing it up from the Warhammer franchise. Fantasy Flight did an excellent job with the license. The game does suffer a bit from the huge amount of token pieces and somewhat complex and ponderous turns, but the instructions are all very clear and easy to follow, and reference sheets are provided for each god with their powers and the turn order. Recommended at 3+ players for the consistent player-vs-player conflict.

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Professional Reviewer
I play black
Silver Supporter
28 of 29 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A race for who gets to torch the Old World”

Bias disclaimer – I love Warhammer. The grey morality, grim atmosphere of the setting, the constant moral struggles of fighting pure and absolute evil with methods that are just a tinge less brutal – all of it makes for a rich and dark word. And – did you know? It always rains.

In this (highly) competitive 3-4 player game each player gets to act as one of the four well-defined unique Chaos Gods – the brutal Khorne, the power-hungry Tzeentch, the traitorous Sllanesh and the pestilent Nurgle. Before you, etched on cured human skin stretched on gnarly bone hooks, lies the map of the Old World. You play for who gets to inflict the most suffering onto unsuspecting peasants and gain supremacy among your peers.

Turns consist of deploying your demons and cultists onto the regions of the map and playing spells. At the end of each turn, conflicts are resolved with a simplistic battle mechanic and depending on which minions survive, players get to spread their corrupting influence. When any given region contains a certain amount of corruption – it is desoltated and all players who contributed score a certain amount of points.

Game victory is determined either through pure number of victory points, or through achieving unique goals specific to each Chaos God. For example Nurgle, the god of disease and decay seeks to corrupt the areas that are most densely populated, while Khorne the Blood God draws his power from massacres inflicted by his demons.

The game has a bit of a stuttering flow, as the many possibilities and considerations can lead to heavy analysis paralysis. In fact I would argue that at least one demo playthrough is required before players can meaningfully engage each other. Once the awareness settles in, however, the incredible richness of the game comes through.

The best thing about Chaos in the Old World is the highly individualized styles of play attached to each Chaos God through their personal abilities and goals. Moreover, their interactions with each of the opponents are also unique, leading to a complex and satisfying pattern of factors to consider before making your move.

It’s slower pace and necessity for strategic approach might turn some off – sitting down to play this is 1.5-2 hours for an experienced group. It has an element of luck present in battles that might frustrate some players. It is utterly inappropriate for children. It is rich in conflict so if you have people prone to being offended in your gaming group – beware.

Highly recommended for mature strategy fans though, especially Warhammer lovers as the game captures the setting in all its dark glory and leads to intense and meaningful decision-making.

The interplay between characters and a variety of cards at your disposal offer a rich (but not endless) replayability. The components, including the plastic minis are fantastic even by FFG standards (and that’s saying something).

Finally – if through a certain amount of turns no single Chaos God gains supremacy – the “good guys” win and the Old World is safe. But you’re not going to let that happen on your watch, are you?

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Miniature Painter
I Play This One a LOT
47 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Best. Game. Ever.”

Maybe its my warhammer background or my dark side slowly taking hold of me but this is by far my favourite game. A must have.

First of all, the components are beautiful (if somewhat grim) – the board, the tokens, finally the miniatures – they’re all colourful and finely detailed making Chaos in the Old World a very visually impressive game. The only downside is that the banners on the cultist models tend to break. Not that they need them, though.

Setup is fast: pick a chaos god (each one is different), put a random token in each region, draw 3 (chaos/action) cards – GO!

The gameplay is quite easy: draw an (old world) card that sets rules for the turn, draw action cards, use power points to either play cards or palce deamons (one action at a time, rounds until everybody is out of points), fight (rolling dice), score victory points for being the most dominant force in a given region, place corruption (this gives bonuses: upgrades or more vp’s later on), wrap up any end of turn stuff (heroes, cards), check if anybody won (either more than 50 vp’s or end of upgrade dial track).

It took us about 2-3 games to get the hang of it. The good thing is that, as opposed to many other area control games, Chaos in the Old World plays quite fast – 60-90 min on average. This way you can fit 3 games in one evening without any problems and, believe me, you’ll soon want more…

The best about CitOW?
1) All the Chaos Gods are different – different deamons, different cards, different upgrades, different style. This way every game you play is different even when its with the same 4 players every time. Just rotating the gods makes it a very replayable game.
2) Great theme. Ok, pretty objective, but the game reeks of character.
3) Sneaky, underhand and backstabbing – the game revolves around conflict and stopping your opponents from winning is just as, if not more, important than winning yourself. All players have almost unlimited means of making others life miserable – there’s rarely a clear leader at the end of the game. Beware however – if nobody claims the old world in 7 turns you all loose!

The downsides?
1) May seem unbalanced – depending on the metagame Khorne or Nurgle tend to dominate early games. This changes as you figure out the tactics for more demanding gods.
2) Doesn’t scale well. This is a 4 player game – period.
3) Some cards/deamons are rarely played. Tzeench and Slaneesh only play the weakest cultists and all the gods have one upgrade card that is clearly better than the others. I guess the designer could have figured it out better but it doesn’t really make the game worse.

Who will like it? – IMO, almost everybody (most of my friends love it)!

Who won’t? – gamers not into conflict. If even one of the players is not into direct or indirect conflict the game will often be imbalanced and boring. This is not Ticket to Ride.

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Critic - Level 1
43 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Excellent, complex and very tactical!”

One of of my current favourite boardgames! I gave it an 8/10, for a couple of problems that I’ve detailed below, and that it’s hard to find 4 players to play with (the game is NOT as much fun with fewer players).

First off: Theme. Honestly, playing a god of chaos powered by human emotion is, to quote a player, “friggin cool!”. Chaos in the Old World (COW) makes you feel like you’re slowly seeping the life out of the Warhammer world, unleashing hordes of demons and corrupting the people towards you. Kinda fun…

Components: Very nice components. Each Chaos God has some unique components which are gruesomely attractive. One thing: the cultists’ banners break off a lot, so you need to be careful with that. Also, COW would do well to emulate Mage Knight or Lords of Waterdeep, which have nice compartments for each type of piece. And some small, fiddly bits are a little annoying… However, the board and artwork is top-notch! Woo!

1) While the first few rounds might be slow because of the rules complexity, the gameplay soon becomes pretty intuitive. Each player has the same core gameplay but vastly different styles, goals, units and spells (“Chaos Cards”). So if you get bored of playing one God, just change over the next time! to be fair though, I’m a narrative nut, and I tend to pick Gods based on flavour…
Also related to this: some people complain that some gods are overpowered. I disagree: while the expansion DOES make things more balanced (See my review), I have played many games of the original where different Gods have won…

2) You have to be DEEPLY aware of what other players are doing. Every move you make WILL hep someone and hinder someone else. This is also thematically cool, because it seems like the evil gods are always trying to out-evil each other. The game is a constant struggle between “Will this move help player X too much?”, “If I mess up player Y right now, will he be able to retaliate?” and “Who is least threatening right now and stands to gain the least from my move?”. I LOVE it; some games (even awesome ones like Dominion) have very little inter-player interaction, making it feel like a single-player game. COW is definitely an INTERACTION-HEAVY game.

3) Some games have a clear winner very early game. While this COULD happen in COW, it’s unlikely. At certain points, people will shoot forward, and the endgame is always very tense. On the other hand, I have often felt that the last round can be a kingmaker round, where two players are battling for supremacy and the other two just have to let someone win.

4) The random events (“Old World Cards”) are fun, but can sometimes cripple a single player. When that happens, it’s SUPER unsatisfying to be that player.

On the whole, an awesomely fun game! I’ve actually converted a few non-gamer people with it (Proves the old saying: “The Dark Side clouds everything…”).

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Scorpion Clan-Legend of the Five Rings
67 of 72 gamers found this helpful
“The best 4 player game on the market”

Before I begin, an anecdote – Last winter, some friends and I got together to play Chaos in the Old World (CitOW) on a Friday night. We started around 9pm and did not stop until 5am. We played 4-5 consecutive games and would’ve played another had we not been starving. The game hits the table very often in my group and we always have a blast with it.

Components: Normally I’d just say “It’s Fantasy Flight” and be on my merry way to the next segment. CitOW has a fantastic set of components. The cards and tokens are top notch, sturdy stock. The board is a work of art consisting of a large map of the Old World that has been etched onto pieces of skin stitched together (the game is very grimdark) and the innovative dials that track the progress of each of the Chaos Gods. However, there is one black mark against the game in this category and that is the figures – specifically, the cultists. Each of the Ruinous Powers has their own set of figures and the daemon and greater daemon models are very well modeled. The cultists figures, however, are the same sculpt for each faction and have a long banner pole that is topped with a very fragile 8-pointed Star of Chaos. This banner is very thin and fragile and after a few games, you’ll likely notice that many cultists are just carrying a stick rather than a banner. I have still given the game a 5/5 for components because everything else is so good, but those cultists pieces are worth pointing out.

Rules: CitOW stands out as one of the first Fantasy Flight games that has had an easily comprehensible and well laid out rulebook. Of particular note is the incredibly well written section that gives players pointers on how to play each of the Chaos Gods and how to deal with their rivals. The mechanics for this game do an amazing job of creating a setting where dark gods plot and scheme against one another and after a turn or two, everything makes sense. I’ve had a chance to bring this to the table multiple times and not once has anyone I’ve played with before faltered with the rules – it’s like riding a bike.

Gameplay: One of the best features of CitOW is that each of the four Chaos Gods is unique. Though they all follow the same rules, each one has a particular flavor and sphere of influence that they can focus on for victory. After my first play through I got a good feel for how each Ruinous Power played and in subsequent games my group and I were able to leverage our strengths to their fullest. Even with new players, the game never feels like it’s dragging and the unique dual victory conditions of the Chaos dials and the victory track give players strategic options for pursuing domination.

Overall: I really don’t have enough good things to say about CitOW. The game has never let me down and is probably played more than anything else within my circle of friends. Being a fan of Warhammer definitely doesn’t hurt, but unlike other Fantasy Flight/Games Workshop games, CitOW doesn’t suffer from being exclusionary to folks who don’t know their Nurgles from the Tzeentches.

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Mask of Agamemnon
The Gold Heart
Cooperative Game Explorer
33 of 37 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 4
“A tribute to Evil”

In Chaos in the Old World, each player takes the role of one of the four malignant and horrible Ruinous Powers who are fighting to corrupt, dominate, or destroy the Old World. The Ruinous Powers are also sometimes called Chaos Powers, Powers… or even if you have a more practical sense to call these guys … simply by Infernal Lords. They are:

Khorne, the Blood Power, the Skulltaker, lusts for death and battle, taking delight in fury and slaughter, rage and butchery.

Nurgle, the Plaguelord, the Father of Corruption, luxuriates in filth and disease, spreading a tide of pus and pestilence across the land.

Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, the Great Conspirator, is the architect of the fate of the universe, weaving strands of confusion and manipulation as slippery as silk.

Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure and Pain, the Lord of Temptations, lures even the most steadfast to the seductions of avidity, gluttony, carnality, paramountcy, vainglory, and indolency.

Aided by hidden cultists, armies of daemons, spells and men dedicated to the ruinous powers seeking to destroy all that is good and pure in the world. In Chaos in the Old World, you become one of the four Infernal Lords. Command the secretive cultists, the powerful warriors, and even the Greater Daemons as you spread despair and destruction through the realms of Old World. There are two routes each player can take to victory in this game: on the victory point (VP) track and/or by own Threat on the Old World.

Rules of understanding relatively easy, which after one or two games are completely recorded in the minds of the players. It takes about than 20 minutes to explain all the rules.

This game is the main dish of a day. You will have lots of fun and will spend some of their neurons fighting other players in pursuit of their own goals. You’ll have to boycott the other players in his plans without them realizing. Game extremely rewarding to win if you play against great strategists.

Game Components and size of the box:
– The box containing the game is large and weighs slightly because of the plastic miniatures. Game recommended to carry in backpacks or large shopping bag. Fits inside the box:
• A Rulebook;
• A Game Board (too crazy!!!);
• 4 Threat Dials (one for each Power);
• 4 Sets of Two-part Plastic Connectors;
• 4 Power Sheets (one for each Power);
• 196 Tokens;
• 149 Cards (and of these cards, 96 cards are small);
• 5 Dice;
• 45 Plastic Followers (some infernal lords have more followers than others).

The tiles are made of durable material and well made, the proper standard of FantasyFlightgames.

The game gives for 2-4 persons (4 persons recommended for greater dynamism in board).

Playing time 60-120 min, but depending on the complexity of the mind (distorted) some players may take another 30 to 60 minutes of play.

The Family Gamer – 0/5 – Seriously, it’s a game of demon lords. Not recommended for children nor for that your aunt or grandmother religious. Moreover, neither show the game to them if you do not want to see it burned.
The Social Gamer – 3/5 – Fun to use with a group of people known to you fairly and with an open mind.
The Strategy Gamer – 5/5 – Dude, this is your game. Field of intrigue, negotiations, combat, magic and corruption. Numerous possibilities if you love strategies.
The Casual Gamer – 5/5 – If you want to see a different game, it is worth at least you play once or twice.
The Avid Gamer – 3/5 – My recommendation is you call people with a minimum of common sense, responsibility (to differentiate a game of reality) and not be prejudiced.
The Power Gamer – 5/5 – The power of a lord infernal, power to destroy humans in wars and intrigues with the great demons… Need I say more?

– Dynamic strategy game that is not only war;
– Many ways to which you can evolve your Infernal Lord to win the game;
– Dynamism of cards that appear in the game rounds and tiles that are part of the setup of the game are always changing.

– Prohibited for people with a religious mindset exacerbated;
– Prohibited for people who do not know much separating a game of reality;
– Prohibited for people who are highly clueless.

Game for responsible adults who simply love strategies.

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Novice Reviewer
44 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war...for exactly 4 players...”

I do not normally start out reviews this way, but I wanted to stress at the beginning just how awesome this game is. This game is easily the best Warhammer-based board game on the market today, I say this with the understanding that Space Hulk has been remade recently. This game is awesome. I will now commence my review.

The Rules The object of this game is to assume the role of one of the four gods of chaos, the bloodthirsty Khorne, the fateweaver Tzeentch, the Beautiful Slanesh and the corpulent Nurgle to gain complete domination of the Old World. Each god has his own set of minions and magical abilities and you will utilize them to defeat/outsmart your foes. This game is played in a similar fashion to a specialize game of Risk. You will deploy your troops, you will invade locations and/or defend a strongpoint and you will have table talking for strategy. Each player will taken turns, determined by how much ‘threat’ your god commands, casting magical spells, invading, defending and interacting with the board. Then you will determine if you ruin an area, you ruin an area when you leave too much of your influence around it. Then you will determine the score for the round. There are two ways to win the game. Each god has a spin dial that can be advanced through completing certain objectives each turn, spin the dial enough and you will win. The other way is to gain points through ruining areas, invading and controlling territories. However, there is a catch, the people of the Old World are actively fighting against all four of you. Each turn, there is a new ‘Old World Card’ flipped over to reveal a hindrance to you, there are a finite number of cards (depending on the number of players) and once the last one is resolved, the game ends in a loss to all players.

The Art The aesthetic of this game is very much inline with what you would imagine a bunch of chaos gods fighting over a map would look like. The map is etched into leathered human skin, with similar features strewn about in the various interactive pieces of the board. This makes for a very gruesome feel, which is great and adds to the gameplay experience. The pieces are pretty simple, plastic molds of the various minions of the gods, but they are nice. Each god has a greater daemon that is very well detailed. The board is well put together and sturdy.

The Gameplay The game flows very smoothly. Turns go quickly despite having a lot of things to accomplish each turn. You never have a lot of downtime as you are always engaged in either performing your actions, defending against opponents, upgrading, calculating scores, talking with the other gods about who to gang up on, etc. You’re never bored playing this game. There is a caveat to this, though. The game flows optimally with four players, any less than that and the game feels clunky and awkward, despite having less complexity. The game is clearly designed to have four at all times. You can tell this because with less than four, the game unbalances itself and Khorne becomes very happy. With four, however, each god has a rival and two neutrals. Despite this, the game flows nicely and you’re never bored playing it.

The Opinion This game is awesome! It combines two of my favorite things, complete global domination tactics with asymmetric gameplay. Each god has its’ own strategy and mechanics and the way you play the game is very different depending on which god you are. I like that. Everyone is not equal, yet the power levels are balanced (but only if you have 4 players). I have a lot of fun just watching the interaction of the gods. I find the game to be satisfying in every phase and is one of the more complete games out there. It does have it’s black spots, though. As I’ve said before, the game seems unbalanced with less than four players which does decrease the fun. My group has house ruled that if there are less than four players, no one can play Khorne because he needs to be kept in check by the other gods. Also, since the game is asymmetric and each player will have completely different abilities and strategies from the others, there is a learning curve. Despite all of these, I’ve had a lot of fun playing this game and my group loves it. It is a perfect game for a group of four that love a strategy game set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. Fantasy Flight does it again!

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Gamer - Level 2
24 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“A good game, but a single mechanic brings it down for me...”

I REALLY wanted to like this game a lot. We had a great game with a good experienced group of players. Everything seemed to be going well, and then one player won… rather quickly.

We couldn’t exactly figure it out until we realized that his dial (one of the methods of winning is advancing a dial) was a shorter path to victory than the other players’ dials.

I really like games that give you a single indicator as to who is winning from turn to turn. With this game, there’s a lot to keep track of and unless you’re paying close attention to what all other players are doing and how well they’re accomplishing their goals, you’re likely to lose.

Some may find this a strength of the game, I just found it a bit tedious. Rather than having many paths to the same measure of victory, this felt like many players with many paths to different end goals. Just didn’t work for me.

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15 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Poorly designed”

In this game while everyone should have a fair shot, they don’t. Khorne players have a HUGE advantage if they play spread out assaults and because of that have about a 70-80% chance of winning, even on their first game. Nurgle is next in power with all the point gen for the win that Nurgle can produce, Slaanesh can sometimes win if they are lucky and everyone else is not, but if you love to lose play Tzeentch, worst odds and some of the worst powers mixed with many good ones. All in all, fun to play once but not much more, Do Not Buy It. I did and regretted it, and I’m probably the biggest fan of Chaos in warhammer fantasy(own ever book and shortstory that has ever hit the black library). This game was a huge letdown.

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6 of 51 gamers found this helpful

“A euro on ameritrash skin”


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