It's way better than Risk 2210. Godstorm feels like a lot more solid thought went into it - but it is still total Ameritrash gaming. You know, the sort of game where the board gets smothered with plastic pieces and careful thought gets you almost nowhere because of huge luck swings.
Not that it's a bad thing to have games like that! It simply lies in opposition to Eurogames, which generally have only a small amount of luck and careful planning is well-rewarded.
The game supports 2-5 players and we suspect it would be a fair bit more fun with at least 3 players, to spread out the nasty effects a little.
Some cool mechanics in this game:
- Plague. Four zones are randomly assigned as plagued for the duration of the game. This is a great way to make a random map out of a static game board. In this case, the zones are not impassable, but there's a big penalty for going through them. I spent most of the game lamenting one particular plague zone that, although I owned it, really hurt my ability to build up an invasion force.
- Underworld. When units are killed, they go to the Underworld where they can fight for some minor bonuses (effectively either a bonus when gods fight, or to get extra units on a turn). I really like this mechanic - it compensates someone for a big loss by giving them better odds at gaining these bonuses, and so effectively boosts an underdog to keep them competitive longer. Great way to avoid the death spiral prevalent in many games - where once you start losing, you lose quicker and quicker.
- Death spells. These spells are just as likely to hurt the caster as they are to hurt the enemies. Some of them are great for desperation, though - the randomness tends to hurt whoever is winning the most.
Some not-so-cool mechanics:
- Godswar. When two gods face off, it should feel like epic conflict. It doesn't, though. Instead, whoever has the largest army basically kills off the other god. It doesn't feel like the gods have any power of their own. For such expensive and unique units, this seems wrong. Plus, they are called "gods", so I expect some degree of awesomeness. As a side note, when playing any version of Risk, almost noone ever attacks without a larger army on their side (final desperation aside), so effectively whoever is attacking always wins the Godswars. (We think a house rule might be helpful here, where having the larger army gives +1 die instead of adding every unit present as a bonus.)
- "Swinginess". Planning has almost no impact on the game. One lucky card can sink Atlantis, wipe out an entire continent's worth of armies, or summon a half dozen extra armies. Enjoying this game means letting go of winning or losing and focusing on the delight of mass carnage and vicious surprises. Of course, I say this because I lost. But I still think it is true.
Overall, it is a fun game to play; it is more exciting than Risk Classic and more solvent than Risk 2210.
Plus it has gods and magic and stuff.