The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms Review

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Sharpen your swords and ready your Thu’um, the time has come to venture deep into Tamriel once again. Familiar friends and timeless foes await in The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms, all rendered in miniature form and ready to wage wars over your tabletop.

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The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms Review – Summary

The hours will slip away from players of The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms as the province of Skyrim comes to life before their eyes.

Characters from the iconic videogame clash in myriad snow-capped settings, or dive deep into the most dangerous and deadly dungeons in Tamriel, questing for glory and gold – all from the safety of your tabletop. An excellent game for die-hard Scrolls fans and total newcomers alike,

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms is as true to its source material as it is a triumphant addition to any games collection.

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms Review – Introduction

We’re back, and today I get to use this gif again!

Given the success of our World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Board Game review article (which was our most-viewed article of the month it was released), we’ve decided to try and make a bit of a habit of bringing you lovely readers a few other different things every now and then. Not only does this help us spread our FauxHammer Orange tentacles further across the hobbyverse, but it also brings to the eyes of our dominantly Warhammer-focused following other products they may enjoy.

It’s fitting, perhaps, that in the month of writing this (November 2021) Skyrim is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Known for its rich and diverse stories, near-limitless character customisation options, and its living, breathing open world populated by dynamic and unforgettable characters, the legendary computer game has left in its wake a nigh-unfollowable precedent to all RPGs that have come after.

Over the last decade, Skyrim has become the spearhead of a legendary franchise that inspires creative-minded folk across the world to flex their creative muscles. With a vibrant modding community, dozens of tie-in literary publications, and enough merchandise to clothe your entire extended family and fill your home, it is, then, no surprise that eventually Skyrim would find its way to the tabletop.

Enter Modiphius and their The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms wargame.

Modiphius are a British publisher of roleplaying games, board games, miniatures, novels, gaming accessories and more who recently announced their new (jaw-droppingly awesome-looking) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim The Adventure Game. Its progenitor, though, is the expansive Call to Arms series.

Originally released in 2019, the Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms is a skirmish combat-based miniatures game that pits everyone’s favourite characters and factions against each other in the fiery crucible of tabletop warfare. Over the last two years, it has been supplemented with heaps of additional releases – from everybody’s least-favourite arachnid foe and imposing Dwemer automatons to player-favourite in-game followers and tie-ins to The Elder Scrolls Online.

Modiphius have aimed their substantial marketing guns at wargamers, modelers and miniature painters, and die-hard Skyrim fans with their Call to Arms series. So, do their shots connect?

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms Review – Contents

Modiphius were kind enough to send us an absolute boatload of stuff for this review. Here’s the complete list of all the swag we got:

  • 1 x The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms – Rules Box
  • 1 x The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms – Stormcloak Faction Starter (Plastic)
  • 1 x The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms – Imperial Legion Faction Starter (Plastic)
  • 1 x The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms – Bleak Falls Barrow Delve (Plastic)
  • 1 x The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms – Council of the Dark Brotherhood (Resin)
The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review All

Somewhat uniquely, Modiphius offer a lot of their Call to Arms sets as either resin or plastic, which gives modelers and painters the choice to work with whichever medium is their preferred. Whilst the resin sets are more expensive, if resin is your favoured material of choice, offering purchasers this choice is a nice touch.

Anyway, let’s get these open and see what we’ve got.

Rules Box

The Rules Box is the single most important component to the Call to Arms game. It is the grail of the series, the one purchase that you must make if you’re wanting to get into the Call to Arms series.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Boxed

The box is a big one, and contains the following:

  • 5 x Hero cards
  • 13 x Follower and Adversary cards
  • 6 x Faction Reference cards
  • 200+ Quests, Events, Traps and Items cards
  • 13 x Dice Whiter Skill dice
    • 1 x White Skill dice
    • 3 x Green Accuracy dice
    • 3 x Black Effect dice
    • 3 x Red Effect dice
    • 3 x Yellow Effect dice
  • 2 x Perforated, push-out counter sheets
  • 1 x 104-page complete Core Rulebook
  • 1 x Quests Book with 12 missions
  • 1 x Escape from Helgen Quickstart Guide
The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Unboxed

There’s a lot of stuff in this box, and it’s all good quality. The only thing that left me feeling a little meh is that the books are all softback. Looking at the size of the box,, I had pictured a couple of nice hardcover books, but nay.

That said, the books are a very good and convenient size. At A5, they won’t dominate too much space when you’re setting up your game, so you’ll be able to fit them all on your gaming surface.

It is worth noting here that the Core Rules Box does not come with any miniatures. If you wish to play Call to Arms, you will need to purchase some of the additional boxes with miniatures in order to make full use of this set. Luckily, Modiphius do a number of bundles to get you on your way.

Let’s have a closer look at each individual part of this box, as there’s a lot of important stuff here.

Cards

Boy, oh boy, there are a lot of cards in this box. With over 200 cards in the box, spread between fifteen different types of card, you’re undeniably getting your money’s worth with this box.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Cards

On the whole, these are great cards. Everything is printed on glossy and durable card and stamped with familiar art, true to the game’s influences. However, some of the cards are extremely small and have a fair bit of writing on them (here’s looking at that top row), so you may struggle to read some of the stuff printed on these.

Other than that, the cards are clear, robust, and appealing. That they aren’t massive does mean they won’t monopolise your gaming surface and means you’ll have room for all the other stuff included in this bix, but, as said above, this does come with a caveat concerning the size of the printed text.

Dice

Who doesn’t love a decent set of colourful dice in their new board game?

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Dice

So, to recap, that’s a White Skill dice, three green Accuracy dice, nine black, red and yellow Effect dice.

They’re nice dice: a decent size and weight, and printed with images and icons that fans will recognise from The Elder Scrolls.

These are nice touches that just adds a sense of completion to the game. A few clicky-clacky, plain white dice doesn’t have the same gravitas as a handful of specially-printed and thought-out dice.

Can’t wait to give these a spin.

Tokens

I’ve never seen so many tokens across two laser-cut A4 piece of card as there are in the Rules Box.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Tokens

They’re of a quality anyone familiar with Games Workshop boxed releases will be au fait with. They’re firm and glossy, printed with clear and obvious images. They’re cut just right too: I had no rips or damage to any of the tokens, which is about all you can ask for.

Now seems like a good time to mention that the Core Rules box does come with a pinch of plastic baggies, so you won’t have to leave your avalanche of tokens loose in the box between games.

Core Rulebook

Here it is: the epitome of the Call to Arms game. Within its 104 glossy pages are all you could ever need to know to start battling for Tamriel.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Core Rules Book

The rulebook is laid out in a clear and concise manner. Whilst 104 pages may seem like a lot to some people, there’s not an overload of information on any one page. Rules are broken down by chapters and clear headings, and are well-written and easy to follow. There are heaps of pictures too; not just diagrams to illustrate rules, but also photographs of pro-painted figures to inspire you to pick up a paintbrush of your own.

The diagrams in the rulebook are excellent. Often, rulebooks can get too bogged-down in words; writers spend too much time trying to get the point of a rule across in text when a great deal of space and energy could be saved with the inclusion of a timely diagram. The Call to Arms rulebook has diagrams at just about every opportunity, which not only breaks up the text in the book, but makes the game more accessible to those who struggle with reading.

If I’m looking for criticisms, I’d say the book could be laid out better. Whilst it addresses key concepts and core rules first and foremost, the rules to actuall putting a party together aren’t available until the very end of the book. It also doesn’t give you an obvious walkthrough of a Battle or Delve Mode game anywhere, which may perplex newer players. This is the role of the Escape from Helgen book, though, but I do think the rulebook could perhaps be reformatted into a more logical order.

There’s a good, clear contents page as well should you get lost whilst searching for that particular rule, as well as a number of appendices and quick references at the back of the book to help make figuring out just what that token is, or what needs to happen next in the battle.

It’s a good book. Not perfect, but pretty close.

Quests Book

The Quest Book is an extension to the Core Rulebook, containing additional information to enhance your playing experience.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Quest Book

The Quest Book is more or less identical to the Core Rulebook in design and layout, so there’s not a huge amount to criticise there. What the Quest Book brings to the table are additional game-modes to help you get the most out of your games.

It’s also not very thick at all; mall the extra rules you need and compacted down into a very basic format and housed on only a few pages, so it’s not like you need another hundred-page tome beside you in order to start playing a new game mode in Call to Arms.

The book contains a quick guide to the additional scenarios available with the Quest Book – be they Battle Mode scenarios, Delve Mode scenarios, Campaigns or Adventures.

Battle Mode scenarios are game times that revolve around two opposing parties, each searching for fortune and glory, who come face-to-face with their rival. Campaigns string together a number of Battle Mode scenarios into a coherent, story-based narrative consisting of several games.

Delve Mode scenarios are designed for either solo or co-operative play. in this game mode, a player – or a group of players – take on the dungeon-dwelling foes and fiends that lurk in the forbidding places of Tamriel as they search for treasures and fame. Similar to how Campaigns and Battle Mode scenarios work together, Adventures string together a number of Delve Mode scenarios into a coherent campaign to help players immerse themselves in the sprawling narrative world of The Elder Scrolls.

You will find yourself having to flit between both the Quest Book and the Core Rules Book as you are playing. Whilst this can be a bit frustrating, the index at the back of the Core Rules Book does also index everything in the Quest Book as well, which can help you find what it is you’re looking for a bit quicker.

I really like the way the Quest Book seamlessly blends competitive table top gameplay with the solo and co-operative narrative elements of The Elder Scrolls series. Who needs to pay a monthly subscription to The Elder Scrolls Online when you can rope a bunch of buddies into playing Skyrim on your kitchen table? That the book isn’t massive also doesn’t make it exclusionary: with some table top games, supplements and expansions can feel overawing, massive, and confusing to a lot of players – particularly newer or less experienced TTRPGers and board gamers. The Quest Book does not: it’s a gentle, slimline supplement that can take your gameplay in a totally new direction without having to re-learn all the basics.

Escape from Helgen Quickstart Guide

New to TTRPGs and board games, or just want to make sure you understand the basics of Call to Arms before hard-committing to playing a proper full game? The Escape from Helgen booklet is for you.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Core Rules Box Escape from Helgen Quickstart Book

At only 15 pages (three of which are quick-reference sheets) the Escape from Helgen book does for Call to Arms what escaping from Helgen in Skyrim did for new players: takes them through those first few steps of playing the game.

An intuitive, easy-to-follow step-by-step guide through the basics of Call to Arms, the Escape from Helgen booklet provides completely new players with three tutorial scenarios to teach new players how to move and interact in the table top world. Tutorial 1: Exploration, teaches players the basics of moving and interacting with the world, as well as takes the would-be adventurer through their attributes and skills and their Character card – as well as how to make an attack.

Tutorial 2: Target Practice is, as one may suspect, an introduction to combat, spending stamina, and Effects that attacks can have on opponents. There’s also a section about taking and dealing damage, as well as the role or armour in mitigating damage.

Finally, Tutorial 3: Escape the Dungeon, brings everything together. Pitting the Dragonborn against a couple of undead foes, players will need to ensure they have understood all the skills they have learned in the previous tutorials in order to survive the encounter.

Each tutorial is short, to the point, and easy to understand – perfect for beginners. There are plenty of pictures and diagrams too, so key concepts are clearly illustrated for readers to follow. It’s a great introduction for the newly-initiated, and also shouldn’t be overlooked by experienced wargamers who just need to brush up on a few concepts.

Stormcloak Faction Starter

Fed up with the oppression of the Third Empire, and afraid that their way of life is under threat, you can fight for the future of Skyrim with the Stormcloak Faction Starter. This group of stout and fierce warriors will fight to reclaim your tabletop Skyrim from the clutches of their Imperial foes.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Stormcloak Faction Starter Boxed

The Stormcloak Faction Starter Set contains five figures, including two characters from the game (one major, one minor) and three other hardy Nord warriors.

  • 1 x Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced (a Stormcloak officer who hangs around in the Palace of Kings in Windhelm)
  • 1 x Ralof, Warrior of the Resistance (one of the characters you can escape Helgen with in the videogame, and utterer of the now-legendary line “Hey, you. You’re finally awake.”
  • 3 x Stormcloak Soldiers with Greatswords
  • 5 x Bases
  • 1 x Assembly guide
The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Stormcloak Faction Starter Unboxed

This plastic kit – like all the plastic kits we’ve been sent – follow a similar format. Each box contains only a single sprue, but the number of components on that sprue is, to be honest, a bit mad.

Compared to (for brevity and simplicity’s sake we’ll say) Games Workshop sprues and models, there are a vast number of components to each figure for all the plastic kits. On the one hand, this is great as it shows some really excellent levels of detail have been reached with each figure. On the other hand, it’s not so good as, well, there’s just a lot of stuff to stick together.

Anyway, here are the Stormcloaks assembled.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Stormcloak Figures

In spite of each figure having quite a few components (usually broken down into a front, a back, two legs, two arms, a weapon or a weapon and shield, and either a whole head or a head and face that also needs to be attached, as well as a tabard component or two) it’s fairly obvious how the figures are supposed to go together, to you won’t need to rely too heavily on the build guide.

To look at, the figures themselves are great. There’s a good level of detail on each one, and any fan of Skyrim will be able to tell at a glance just who exactly these soldiers are. Their gear is all completely true to the game, and the named characters are spitting images of their in-game counterparts.

A great start.

Imperial Legion Faction Starter

Loyalists to the Third Empire can make their allegiance known with the Imperial Legion Faction Starter. Containing a small warband of loyalist warriors, as well as an iconic character from the Skyrim videogame, you can take the will of the Emperor to the table top with this valorous warband of highly-trained warriors.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Imperial Faction Starter Boxed

The Imperial Legion Faction Starter contains the following:

  • 1 x Hadvar, Hero of Helgen (yup, the other guy you can choose to escape Helgen with, if you didn’t pick Ralof of Riverwood)
  • 1 x Imperial Mage, Spellsword
  • 3 x Imperial Soldiers with Sword and Shield
  • 5 x Bases
  • 1 x Assembly guide
The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Imperial Faction Starter Unboxed
Here they are all put together.
The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Imperial Figures

Assembling the Imperials is more or less exactly the same as building the Stormcloaks. Each figure has a lot of components, but it’s obvious what’s what and where everything needs to go. It may take a while to get the figures built, simply because there are a lot of bits to stick together, but it’s clear what goes where.

Once again, as with the Stormcloaks, the Imperials are a lovely unit that’s about as true to the source material as possible. The gear they wear is a dead match for the equipment each soldier would have in game, and Hadvar is a carbon-copy of his videogame reniditon.

Awesome.

Bleak Falls Barrow Delve

The Bleak Falls Barrow Delve set takes players back to that first dungeon in Skyrim. Fresh from the fires of Helgen, the Dragonborn is sent first to Riverwood, then on to Whiterun to report what’s happened to Jarl Baalgruf the Greater. Baalgruf then refers you to his court wizard, Farengar Secret-Fire, a Nord wizard with a stick up his backside. Farengar demands you enter Bleak Falls Barrow for him to recover the mysterious Dragonstone.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Bleak Falls Barrow Delve Boxed

The Bleak Falls Barrow Delve contains the following:

  • 1 x Dragonborn, Champion of Skyrim
  • 1 x Draugr Overlord, Bleak Falls Guardian
  • 3 x Draugr Greatsword Warriors
  • 3 x Skeleton Archers
  • 8 x Bases
  • 1 x Assembly guide

Sure enough, once together, players of Skyrim will get a serious déjà-vu from these figures.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Bleak Falls Barrow Delve Figures (2)

There are a few things to look out for with some of the figures in the Bleak Falls Barrow Delve box.

The first are the skeletons. They’re a bit fiddly to put together, so be patient. I’d recommend first attaching the legs to the bodies, them moving on to everything else. I found if I worked from the top-down, I kept dislodging other components when I tried to attach the legs.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Skeleton Figures

The next thing is the Overlord: watch his feet. It’s not obvious from the guide which foot goes on which leg. The slightly larger foot (the one with more ankle fur on it), goes on the right leg.

Finally – and the most important thing to be aware of – is that the titular hero, the Dragonborn, is by far the worst figure to assemble out of any featured in this review. The number of individual pieces that go into this one character is mind-blowing (twelve to be precise: a sword-arm, a shoulderpad, a face, a shield, a shield arm, a front, a back, two thighs, two lower-legs, and a scabbard) and they’re all really small.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Dragonborn Figure (2)

But, once again, with everything assembled, the figures look fantastic. Mercifully, the non-Overlord Draugr are only made of three or four components each (probably because the Dovahkiin was taking up so much of the sprue) and are much easier to put together.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Draugr Figures (2)

In spite of the difficulties I had with a few of the figures, I still really like the look of the models in this box – and in spite of the rough start to our relationship, I love the Dragonborn figure. Time and again, these sets capture the essence of the in-game characters so perfectly. They’re really great.

Council of the Dark Brotherhood

The Council of the Dark Brotherhood expansion lets you bring the murderous agents of the Night Mother to your table top battles. it’s also simultaneously both the smallest and most expensive product we’ve got here today, costing even more than the rules set!

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Council of the Dark Brotherhood Boxed

The Council of the Dark Brotherhood box contains six resin miniatures on scenic bases. Eahc miniature represents one of the iconic characters from the Dark Brotherhood questline from Skyrim.

  • 1 x Astrid
  • 1 x Festus Krex
  • 1 x Nazir
  • 1 x Gabriella
  • 1 x Babette
  • 1 x Veezara
The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Council of the Dark Brotherhood Unboxed

The Council of the Dark Brotherhood expansion does not contain an assembly guide – but you won’t need it. Each model is made of only two or three parts, so it’s not like they’re difficult to put together.

Assembled, the miniatures in this set look great.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Council of the Dark Brotherhood Figures (2)

Well, almost look great.

You can see on the images above and below that some of the bases look a little, ah, shoddy. Because this is a resin kit, the sculpted bases come attached to a resin sprue. However, the tabs that attach the bases to the sprues themselves are massive – as in almost as thick as the bases themselves. Removing them from the sprues without taking lumps out of the bases is really difficult – and is a task I completely failed at.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Dark Brotherhood Bases Damage

Oh well, I’ll have to make merry with the green stuff.

That aside, though, the figures are, once again, excellent. Not only do they only come with two or three components so they’re super simple to put together, but the Council of the Dark Brotherhood box captures the essence of these iconic in-game characters on a level hitherto untouched by any of these other boxes. The infinitely memorable murderers are captured in their most macabre and malefic moments: Astrid, ready to plunge her knives into a foe; Festus Krex mid-cast; the terrifying Babette crouched over a victim.

These are really great models, and the sculpted bases look great – they’re just a nightmare to get off the sprues.

Oh, do watch out for Veezara tail. That’s a really difficult part to attach.

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms Review – Playtesting

With tried-and-trusted foe and occasional star of playtesting reviews (as well as better half and life-partner) Lizzie at my side, we decided to pit the Stormcloaks and Imperials against each other in a straightforward 1v1, shirking from too many additional rules in order to just get a sense of how the game played. We each picked our faction, General Elizabeth of Cyrodiil taking the Imperials, and I, Hrodbaert of Windhelm, the Stormcloaks.

The first thing any player – or players – need to do with their setup is gather their party. This is where players decide on who they will use in their adventuring party, and how many upgrades they will be able to equip themselves with in the first instance.

The size of a party and the number of upgrades players can assign to their characters is determined by the Gold Septim limit assigned to a scenario. Depending on the limit of Gold Septims assigned to a game by players determines not only how large and well-equipped a party can be, but in the cases of solo or co-operative Delves, how many activations the “AI” can take in a turn.

Septim count also influences playing area size. As we fell into , we were supposed to use a 36″ square. Unfortunatelhyit turns out I don’t have a 36″ square of playable space anywhere in my house (and I resented setting up on the floor with the cat – known destroyer of board games – creeping around). We decided to compormise and break out the board from the Red Harvest set and use that as a compromise.

Both Lizzie and I decided to field all the Imperials and Stormcloaks available in the respective faction starter sets. With their chosen upgrades, the Stormcloaks came to 171 Septims, and the Imperials 176, so the sides were relatively evenly-matched. We could’ve gone higher, but decided for brevity and simplicity in our first game not to overload ourselves with too much extra stuff to contend with.

We went with the rough board setup described in the Ambush! scenario in the Quest Book, as determined by a roll of the Skill Dice when choosing a setup, and decided to go for it and see where we ended up.

The first round began with the Stormcloak Officer Yrsarald accosted by Hadvar. Whilst the plucky Imperial tried to wound the stout-hearted Stormcloak, General Elizabeth was unable to roll low enough to score a hit.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 3

In Call to Arms, successful attacks and damage are dealt using a number of dice. The first is the white Skill Dice, which players have to roll to try and perform an action. The number they need to roll less than is displayed on the appropriate character/unit card – in this instance, Hadvar had to get less than a 4. His steel axe allowed him to roll a green accuracy dice to help lower the white Skill Dice number, as well as two yellow Effect dice. Unfortunately, he was only able to manage an 8, so his attack failed.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 4

As their final activation of the first round, on the other side of the board, General Elizabeth’s mage decided to cast Firebolt on an unsuspecting Stormcloak soldier.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 7

Spell attacks are made the same way as other attacks: the player rolls the white Skill Dice and the requisite number of other dice dictated by the stats on the weapon. Having successfully cast, and also rolled the Dragonborn’s iconic Iron Helmet icon on one dice, the Mage was able to roll a further effect dice and turn the unsuspecting Stormcloak to a pile of ash in a single turn – whilst all Ralof could manage was to miss with his bow.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 6

The first round ended with things tilting towards the Imperials. Priority also passed to the sons and daughters of Cyrodiil, and they were able to make good their gains in their following turn – Hadvar immediately knocking a hitpoint off Yrsarald – although the Stormcloak blocked another with his shield, he promptly missed his own attack entirely.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 8

On the other side of the board, thanks to a devastating follow-up attack and a failed armour roll, one of the Stormcloaks cut down an Imperial soldier in a turn. The Follow-Up special rule, which al the Stormcloak Soldiers have, allows for units that roll a crossed-swords on any dice to make an attack again immediately afterwards. He himself though, was immediately cut down by another Imperial soldier.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 9

At the end of round two, things were looking pretty even. With the start of round three, priority returned to the Stormcloaks, and Yrsarald attempted to attack Hadvar again – and once again, totally failed. Lizzie’s mage turned its ire on Ralof and cast Firebolt again, but this time did not enjoy so much success. Whilst Ralof was wounded for tow points of damage and set ablaze, at the start of his next activation he passed his agility test to put himself out and even restored some HP thanks to the luck of the dice. The rest of round three passed in a damageless haze, with each remaining figure trying to pick off a foe.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 12

Round four handed priority back to the Imperials. Hadvar knocked a whopping three hitpoints off Yrsarald which he unsuccessfully defended against, reducing him to only 1 hitpoint. The final Stormcloak and Imperial grappled in a nail-biting back-and-forth duel as each figure hit and saved against their opponent’s strikes.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 9

The Imperial Mage, now out of magicka, had no choice but to go toe-to-toe in unarmed combat with Ralof – who had still yet to actually hit anything with his bow. By the end of the round, nothing had changed, and priority went back to the Stormcloaks.

The struggles continued on through round five, with the remaining soldiers still grappling with each other. Ralof knocked a single hitpoint out of the Imperial Mage, whilst Hadvar finally downed Yrsarald and left him incapacitated and vulnerable to attack. It wasn’t looking good for the Stormcloaks.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 14

The draw the Stormcloaks had been clinging to slipped away from them in round 6. In their first activation, the Imperial Mage under General Elizabeth, having regenerated two points of magicka thanks to their Mage robe upgrade, annihilated Ralof, who failed all his saves and was removed from the board as a casualty.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 15

Whilst the final Stormcloak Soldier cut down his Imperial foe, only a few inches away from where he stood Hadvar stuck his sword into the guts of the incapacitated Yrsarald, seeing him plucked from the board as a casualty too.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Review Playtesting 16

The victory went to the Imperials, who decimated the Stormcloaks.

In spite of the fact we played a little fast and loose with the rules and setup of a Battle Mode skirmish, we had a great time. One of the clever things about Call to Arms is that it’s a game with many layers of complexity: on the one hand, it is possible to play a more watered-down version of the game, such as the one we managed to get in before making dinner on a Monday night. At the same time, though, there is a vast amount of other stuff that can be done with Call to Arms.

You’re not just limited to having a couple of figures hitting each other over a tabletop – but if that’s all you want to do, or all you have time for, you can do just that, and the game is fast-paced and intuitive enough to facilitate it. But there is so much more to Call to Arms: there are more items than we could ever get through in a single review, optional rules for scenery that can be purchased from Modiphius, and a pile of quests as high as The throat of the World.

The game can be formatted to be played however you want. You can include traps, magic items and more upgrades than you could find at Beirand’s forge in Solitude. There are imaginative and fun objectives that can span into whole narrative campaigns and adventures for you and your friends to embark on, bending the rules of what can really be considered a wargame.

It’s an excellent game; the only limits are how much time you have and your budget.

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms Review – Price and Availability

As I said towards the start of this review article, Modiphius offer a lot of their products in either hard plastic or resin forms, so prices are variable between units.

UnitPrice (GBP/USD/EUR)
Rules Box£35.00/$48.00/€42.95
Stormcloak Faction Starter (Plastic)£25.00/$41.00/€30.95
Imperial Legion Faction Starter (Plastic)£25.00/$41.00/€30.95
Bleak Falls Barrow Delve (Plastic)£28.00/$52.00/€45.95
Council of the Dark Brotherhood (Resin)£39.00/$54.00/€46.95

Yes, it’s expensive – but it was always going to be. the real question is is it worth it?

If you’re a fan of Skyrim or any other Elder Scrolls title, this game will have something for you. That the game can be seen as a reasonably rules-heavy wargame almost doesn’t matter, and won’t matter to people who love the games that Call to Arms is su8ch a faithful re-rendering of. There’s a real satisfaction to seeing the denizens of the game rendered in miniature format on the tabletop, and there’s so much on offer within the Call to Arms range that you’ll be able to find a few of your favourite characters to bring to the tabletop.

For wargamers, TTRPGers and other board game fans, once again this game will certainly appeal to you. It’s a unique and refreshing tabletop experience, yes, but also not so dissimilar to other things available on the market that learning the game from the ground up is a completely unfamiliar slog. That it is so diverse and caters to all levels of ability and familiarity with wargames also means that it doesn’t matter if Call to Arms is your first experience of tabletop games or your hundred and first, there’s more than enough to keep you happy.

For those interested, Modiphius also have a number of free to download PDFs available on their webstore. These are community-created scenarios and others adventures for players to sink their teeth into – but there’s also a free download of the Core Rulebook and the Escape from Helgen book, so you can always have a glance over these to see if the game takes your fancy before you commit to a larger purchase.

If you’ve been bitten by the Skyrim bug once again, and are beginning to feel like just making a new character and playing through the computer game’s campaign isn’t quite going to scratch the itch for you any more, don’t forget that Modiphius have also recently announced their The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim The Adventure Game, which you can pledge to support over on GameFound.

The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Incredible models – the characters of Skyrim rendered in miniature form
Huge, all-encompassing, and extremely fun board game
Tamriel on your tabletop
Good, clear and concise rulebooks
Some rather complicated assemblies
Resin bases are easy to damage during construction
Rulebooks can be a little difficult to navigate

Well, that was something.

There are a few things that put Call to Arms above many of its competitors.

The first is its accessibility. It is simultaneously a rules-heavy and complex game that will have die-hard dice-spinners cracking their fingers and donning their reading glasses to pore over rules minutiae, and also an easy to pick up satisfying to set up, and most importantly, really good fun to play game. Perched somewhere between Kill Team and Dungeons and Dragons it’s easy to learn but will require a lot of work to master – but when you do master it, there won’t be anything else quite like it.

The second is how well it encapsulates its source material. Call to Arms is about as perfect a representation of Skyrim on the table top that there currently is – and may well ever be. The figures are perfect, the rules are just right, even the packaging on the boxes is flawless. The game is a seamless extension to the Skyrim range, and as at home on the shelf with its videogame predecessors as any follow-up Elder Scrolls title will be. Modiphius are true masters of the Skyrim universe. That they have recently announced their The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim The Adventure Game makes me a little nervous for them, as I honestly don’t see how they can top Call to Arms – but will eagerly wait to see what they do.

The third is its breadth. Sure, it’s a wargame: it’s marketed as such and plays like one. But with a true mastery of all the elements of Call to Arms, it begins to slip towards the territory of D&D, with players able to retain and develop characters across many conflicts, campaigns and adventures. That you can play out these sagas either alone or with or against a group of friends makes the game all the more special. It’s clever, massive in scope, and there’s something for everyone.

It really is quite special. The rulebook formatting can be a bit of a headache for your first few games whilst you learn the ins-and-outs of Call to Arms, but once you’ve got those down the game becomes something awesome. The world of Skyrim comes to life on your table top – and, of course, you get to paint every single part of it.

Nice.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Click this link & buy your hobby stuff from Element Games for the UK & Europe to support FauxHammer.com – Use Code “FAUX2768” at the checkout for double reward points.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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About VoltorRWH 105 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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