I finally managed to get my hands on Gorechosen, the latest board game/spin-off from Games Workshop (should have arrived on Friday, but deliveries have been quite shaky of late…).
So, is it any good?
The Box Set
Well, it is a decent price. In these days where boardgames can easily (and greatly) exceed £50, Gorechosen’s £35 price tag feels reasonable. Add to that the four character models you get inside, each normally weighing in at £17-18 on their own, and this is going to be a must-buy for any Bloodbound player who does not have the full spread of leaders in his force.
The set itself is not overloaded with components, but those present are all of good quality, both in terms of materials and presentation. The insert tray to keep everything in its right place is a nice touch – all very standard, but it has been a while since GW has done that (though, it has to be said, they normally pile in too many miniatures to have such an insert!).
The gameboard itself is double-sided, giving you at least a little variety beyond the characters fighting upon it. And speaking of which…
These are the four characters you get in the set; a Slaughterpriest, Skullgrinder, Aspiring Deathbringer, and Exalted Deathbringer.
I could say that I painted up all four really quickly… but that would be a complete lie. These are four I did earlier…
The gameplay is a nice blend of simplicity and player choice. At its core, you will be choosing cards to make actions, and you get a number of ‘goes’ every turn according to how angry you are (the Wrath Counter). Everything is very characterful (you will know if you are trying for a sneaky backstab or going all out in a berserk fury) and, frankly, you will know everything you need to play after just cycling through a single turn.
So, how did we get on?
Who Will be the Gorechosen?
I rallied up four players to try things out, volunteering to keep notes and take photos for the rest of you. The players (and their characters) were:
James: Redarg Bloodfane, the Exalted Deathbringer
Andy: Heldrax Goretouched, the Slaughterpriest
Ed: Vexnar the Reaper, the Aspiring Deathbringer
Amy: Kore Hammerskull, the Skullgrinder
The models were all set up by the players, cards were dealt, and then we leapt into the first turn.
Amy was the first to act, springing into the fight before anyone else could move. She swung her flaming anvil with all her strength, battering James’ armour. Meanwhile, Ed taunted Andy, calling him out for some imagined cowardice. Enraged, Andy sprinted for the Aspiring Deathbringer, promising retribution.
Emboldened, Amy swung again at James, but he was ready this time and she received a painful jab from the Skullgouger in the face for her trouble, before James followed up with a crippling blow.
Ed launched into a berserk attack against Andy, who calmly dodged it before trying a cautious attack himself. Ed parried this feeble effort with contempt, then kicked out to drive Andy hard into a wall. Finally beginning to feel Khorne’s anger swell within him, Andy called upon his god to boil the blood in Ed’s veins.
Ed swung a crippling blow at Andy, dazing him. Through a pain-filled fug, Andy surged with anger and tried to boil Ed’s blood once more, though its effect was much less than before.
Trying to create enough space to swing her anvil properly, Amy pushed James backward and then howled at the crowd feeling the power of the Blood God flow through her. Taking advantage of her momentary distraction, James closed range once more with Amy, charging her and delivering a mighty strike that sent her spinning away. Staggered by the ferocity of James’ attack, she did not realise her back was wide open to a crippling attack until it was too late.
On the other side of the Arena, Ed and Andy traded blows, but it was Ed who was very much getting the better of the clash,.
Seeking to claim back her initial advantage, Amy circled James warily but did not see Andy duck under one of Ed’s blows as he rushed across the arena to backstab her. He delivered a heavy wound and Amy was stunned by the force of the strike.
Feeling surrounded, Amy lunged at James but missed and, once more, felt his Skullgouger tear into her face before James followed up with a powerful swing of his axe.
Not wanting to let his first foe escape, Ed charged Andy from behind, but a single blow was all he could land before Andy ducked under his guard, effectively swapping places.
The melee was beginning to get very tight and confusing now, and Amy was distracted just a fraction of a second too long. James’ massive axe swung once more and sent the Skullgrinder’s head spinning into the roaring crowd, much to their bloodthirsty joy.
The arena had seen the blood of its first victim!
Amy was not destined to be one of the Gorechosen.
With one combatant fallen, the others felt their chances for victory increase. Andy concentrated on Ed, but the Aspiring Deathbringer managed to fend off a succession of blows, blocking, parrying and then blocking each one, much to the frustration of the Slaughterpriest.
One of the crowd, a supporter of Amy’s could not contain himself and hurled an axe down into the arena at James. The pain of the axe biting into his back fuelled James’ fury and he howled back at the crowd, feeling the warmth of Khorne’s anger flow into him.
As James dashed towards Ed, Ed began circling Andy. Behind them all, no one noticed Amy lurch to her feet to stagger across the arena floor, eyes intent on James’ back. She hoisted her anvil up once more, but the effort proved too great and she crashed back into the blood and dust, never to rise again…
Seeing Andy as a mere obstacle between him and becoming an Exalted Deathbringer, Ed threw a mighty strike but was thwarted by a parry. Incandescent with rage now, Ed made a strong attack, and this one hit home, his axe slicing through the thick neck of the Slaughterpriest. As Andy’s horned head sailed through the air, the crowd all but deafened the two Deathbringers with their howls of joy.
Another of Amy’s supporters hurled an axe at James’ back in retribution for his slaying of their hero, but he barely noticed the cut it made. He quickly sidestepped behind Ed and then delivered a vicious blow that left Ed stunned.
Ed tried to get some distance between himself and James before charging back into the fray, but James calmly stepped aside, avoiding the worst of the Aspiring Deathbringer’s rage. The he proved why he deserved to be the Exalted Deathbringer.
One swipe of his axe left Ed staggering under the blow, before James then raised a heavy boot and kicked the Aspiring Deathbringer into a nearby pillar, leaving him winded. Yet another of Amy’s supporters hurled an axe at James, and this time he noticed – he turned to roar back at the crowd, promising death for each and every one of them when he was done putting Ed into the ground.
As Ed staggered back towards James, the Exalted Deathbringer feinted in one direction and then sprinted past Ed to take position behind the pillar. Ed was having none of this and quickly pursued, thinking he had his archenemy on the run. However, James had been planning for this.
As Ed skidded to a stop behind the pillar, he realised the mistake he had made as the hulking shape of the Exalted Deathbringer emerged from the shadows. A series of punishing blows drove Ed to his knees, and the crowd roared with bloodlust as James raised his huge axe high. Ed looked up at his enemy just in time to see the axe fall with all of James’ strength behind it, burying itself in Ed’s chest.
James had retained his position as Exalted Deathbringer and proved to the entire Bloodbound tribe that he was destined to be among the Gorechosen!
It has to be said, this is a fun game! There is no deep strategy here, and you won’t be playing it week in, week out. However, it has just the right balance of simplicity versus the ability of players to really screw each other over! Right from the first turn, there were plenty of rivalries going on that developed (simmered?) nicely throughout the game.
If you are looking for variation and extended play, there are three game variants suggested in the rulebook, which you probably won’t use, and rules for four more Bloodblound characters (the Bloodsecrator, the Bloodstoker, and the other Exalted Deathbringer and Slaughterpriest) which you will, plus the recent White Dwarf has rules for introducing Skarr Bloodwrath and Valkia the Bloody into the arena!
So, should you buy Gorechosen?
If you are a Bloodbound player who does not have all the characters yet, there really is no reason for you not to. On the other hand, if you are looking for a quick knockabout game to be played in between bouts of Age of Sigmar or 40k, you can certainly do a lot worse for £35.