Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

#6: Chaos in the Old World

Designer: Eric M. Lang

There are many territorial control games, but this is the best one where you will regularly scream “Blood for the Blood God!”

Chaos in the Old World is a wargame that involves the four gods laying waste to an Old Earth where, to be clear, it very obviously sucks to be a human. On your path to conquest, you will populate the realm, go to war with your other gods, and kill just oodles of human flotsam that manages to wander in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Interesting Mechanic: High Assymetry. The interesting thing is that the four gods have entirely different mechanics, which are driven by their action decks. Khorne favors the direct approach of just killing everything, for example, whereas Nurgle seeks to infect the world with his plague, Tzeentch seeks to unlock hidden mystic arts, and Slaanesh seeks to help the world get its freak on. Not only are the actions each god can do strongly different, but the objectives they are trying to complete each turn is very different as well, and each is pursuing a very strongly different avenue of victory points.

Chaos in the Old World is a fantastic game – easily my favorite ‘wargame’. It’s pretty quick to teach, but can take a couple games for players to really master it (the assymetric nature of the Gods means its hard to understand what your opponents can and want to do until their second game). The game’s biggest flaw is that it pretty harshly requires 4 – the assymetric sides stumble a bit when one of the Gods no longer has to deal with certain mechanics meant specifically to counter it.

Also, the Horned Rat expansion makes the game even better. FIrst off, it makes the game play 5 pretty well, and it does a balance pass on some of the gods power cards. The new god that is added is just a crazy, crazy sea of rats that just add to the titular chaos.

Image result for board game

(Photo Credit: Board Game Geek)





  1. My favorite game atm.
    Interestingly Gods are not really balanced. Some are stronger and easier to play (Khorne) but what makes this game special is that players, by their actions, create the balance – i.e. gang up on Khorne or rather prevent him from doing his killing.

  2. Also check out Blood Rage.
    it’s basically the same game but with a twist. Sides are asymmetric but not predefined as in Chaos. You build your clan’s power/victory condition via draft.

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