Gears of War 3

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Tabletop Co-Op: Gears of War the Board Game
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Tabletop Co-Op: Gears of War the Board Game

A cardboard and plastic bromance


It’s time once again for Tabletop Co-Op, our new column dedicated to cooperative board and card games. Today, we’re taking a look at one of the many board game versions of a video game franchise, Gears of War: The Board Game. How does the war between the COG and the Locust translate into cardboard and plastic form? 

Gears of War is obviously a popular video game series. All three installments of the Xbox 360 trilogy have been best sellers, and they are among the best games available on any modern console. A board game conversion would seem like just another marketing tool on the surface, but there’s much more to it than that. The folks over at Fantasy Flight Games have taken almost every aspect of the video game and translated it into a cooperative board game that is oozing with the Gears of War feel. 

All your favorite Gears are here: Marcus and Dom are joined by Baird and Cole. Each of these characters have special abilities, differentiating them from one another. Marcus does extra damage, and Baird can hold extra weapons. The iconic Lancer and frag grenades as well as other weapons like the shotgun or boomshot all make appearances, too. Ammunition tokens, which can be spent to deal increased damage, are included, which mimics the ammo management that is so important to the video game.

Each player has a hand of cards, which represents possible actions that can be taken, as well as tracking health. When your soldier is hit, you must discard cards equal to the damage. You do get to draw two cards a turn, but you must play one, so avoiding damage is a key to success. Luckily, you can hide behind cover, just as in the video game, though cover is not as highly effective at preventing damage in the board game. If a COG runs out of cards, and takes more damage, they are considered to be bleeding out, and can be revived by other players. If Marcus, Dom, Baird, and Cole are all bleeding out at the same time, the game is over.