Welcome to our Learning Champions series! In this first chapter, we are covering the basics of what is Warhammer Champions, when it arrived on the scene, and how it flew under everyone’s collective radar on release. In the following chapters, we will explain how the game is played, suggest buying strategies, and list a number of helpful resources.
What is Warhammer Champions?
Champions is the brainchild of PlayFusion, a relative newcomer to the tabletop gaming space, whose other title, Lightseekers, funded on Kickstarter in late 2016. Lightseekers was designed to be an entire “fantasy ecosystem” with a linked catalog of toys, cards, video games, comics, and apps. Of those initiatives, it looks like the Lightseekers card game was undoubtedly the most successful – successful enough, seemingly, to get the attention of Games Workshop.
We have no idea how the license came about, but at some point PlayFusion began work on a card game project for GW that utilized the Lightseekers “card rotation” mechanic and “scan your cards into a digital game” feature. That game, Warhammer Champions, released on August 2nd at Gen Con 2018 and worldwide through GW stores.
And then the weirdest thing happened. The vast number of tabletop gaming shops and websites, at least in the non-GW sphere, knew nothing about it – and it still sold out almost immediately. This led to an immediate reprint of the first set, and undoubtedly became a strong impetus for future development. Which is probably why you are reading this.
A modern trading card game
The first thing to note about the game is that it is remarkably good – like, unexpectedly, mind-blowingly good. It is rare that such a young studio can design such a well-honed, unique game system, one that easily rivals Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Hearthstone, Star Wars: Destiny, and the rest. While you can judge this for yourself fairly well in the next chapter, know that we have logged over 500 games of Champions collectively (that app…) and it has the goods entirely.
The average game lasts around 20 minutes and is filled with thematic interactions, challenging decisions, and explosive moments that force both players to adapt. Inside of that framework is a game that is future proofed against some of the more egregious problems – like endless combos – through clever rules like “you cannot play more than one copy of a specific card in a turn” and the natural limit of 4 deployment lanes.
A game being well designed is only one piece of the “modern tabletop” puzzle, though, as our world is more interconnected than ever and entertainment is readily available at any moment. Fortunately, this exact landscape is why Champions shines.
It is a trading card game, and there are physical cards, so Champions is at its core a basic TCG. You buy booster packs, those booster packs contain a random assortment of rare, uncommon, common, and foil cards, and then you build a deck out of the cards that you have and play against other people. A Champions Booster Box contains 24 Booster Packs, and has a suggested retail price of $96 (though we sell them for $76.80 with free shipping through our subscription service, which is the lowest price you will find – more on that in the Buyers Guide chapter).
The best part of this, though, is that owning the physical cards is actually relevant and rewarded in the app. Every single card in your physical collection can be scanned right into your digital collection, and those cards become immediately usable in the digital game. Additionally, playing those cards and winning with them in the app causes them to “level up”, which does not affect your games but does earn you bonus gold.
Think about the fact that your entire physical collection is always available when building and playing decks in the app, and how much that rewards players who are buying boosters and meeting up for face-to-face play. Even better, scanning other player’s cards earns both parties additional rewards, so community is a natural result. On the flip side, you might earn cards in the app that you do not yet own physically, which allows you to test deck ideas before trading or buying singles.
Champions’ physical/digital integration is the perfect balance between encouraging physical play and competing in the digital card game space. Those who prefer traditional in-person, community-based tabletop gaming experiences can collect the physical cards, trade with others, draft, etc. without double-buying to play digitally. Those who prefer digital experiences can play on the app without any significant drawbacks for not owning the physical cards, and can even build their digital collection by purchasing or earning digital packs.
The next step
Better to show than tell, right? Now that you know what the game is, we need to dive into the mechanics of how to play.
If at any point you just want to dive right in, you can always download the app via Apple’s App Store, Google Play, Steam, or Nintendo Switch and get started. Come back and finish this series, though! It will be worth it.