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This War of Mine Characters: A Closer Inspection

This War of Mine is a truly multi-faceted game. With so much going on, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the rich world building and survival experience. You play as a group of survivors looking to make it through the war, because in war not everyone is a soldier.

This War of Mine is a board game based on the video game series of the same name. The board game adaptation was designed by Michał Oracz and Jakub Wiśniewski, and does an incredibly good job at conveying the feel of the original video game. This War of Mine is difficult, but if you want something gritty and tough, with a fantastic story telling element, This War of Mine can easily rival games like Tales of the Arabian Nights. Personally, I really enjoy the storytelling that This War of Mine puts in place, and all of that storytelling revolves around the characters.

In This War of Mine, characters form the basis of what you do. Each day you give them actions to do, you have to feed them, give them water, and each night they can scavenge, rest or guard. What is more, characters have their own Spirit, with things that make them feel better or worse, giving them personality, and helping bring the game to life.

One of the really interesting things about This War of Mine, however, is that the characters are completely asymmetrical. You can find survivors who are amazing and great at everything. Likewise, you can find survivors who you really wish you hadn’t. They will test you – both due to their personalities and due to their stats. These are characters who will push you to your limit.

I’ve been playing This War of Mine a fair amount recently, and wanted to take a closer look at some of the aspects of the game. Today, in this article, we are going to take a closer look at the This War of Mine characters to see what they are like on the table.

This will be in the same kind of vein as what we did with the Dead of Winter characters, and the characters in Betrayal at House on the Hill and Betrayal at Baldur’s Gateso if you like looking closer at board game or video game characters then be sure to check those out afterwards!

This War of Mine Characters: A Closer Inspection

This War of Mine has a whole host of rich characters that help populate the game. In alphabetical order those are:

  • Anton – Professor of Mathematics
  • Arica – Cat Burglar
  • Boris – Warehouse Worker
  • Bruno – TV Host, Chef
  • Cveta – School Headmistress
  • Emilia – Lawyer
  • Katia – Reporter
  • Marin – Garage Owner
  • Marko – Firefighter
  • Pavle – Soccer Player
  • Roman – Deserter
  • Zlata – Music Student

As you can see, those characters are already oozing with a certain type of personality. They have names, yes, but they also have professions. Six of the characters have grey borders, and six have red. This is because the red characters are generally better to send scavenging, and thus when you deal random characters at the start of the game, you start with two grey rimmed characters, and one red. I’ve coloured the above to determine which ones are which.

One of the really nice aspects about This War of Mine is how each character has their own unique miniature. This is in keeping with the absolutely awesome artwork and production design by Paweł Niziołek, Michał Oracz, and Piotr Gacek.

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This War of Mine – The remote is not part of the game, but rather because I was also watching Mad Max 2 last time I played.

Stats

Okay, so now that we have the basics covered, each character has three statistics that are useful throughout the game. The first of these is Prowess. Prowess is used, quite simply, when players enter combat. They higher a character’s Prowess, the more rerolls they can have when determining the outcome of combat (etc.).

Empathy is the tricky statistics. Generally speaking, high Prowess in This War of Mine is a good thing. Empathy, taken at face value, is a more varied stat. Whenever a character dies, an Empathy check is done for each character, and if that check is failed the character becomes miserable (or more miserable).

Just quickly, there are five types of negative condition in the game – Misery, Hunger, Wound, Illness, and Fatigue. Those stats have four levels of each, with actions per day being restricted based on how hungry, miserable (etc.) you are. Level 4 usually sees the character die.

Back to Empathy, Empathy is tricky as it can be called on when exploring as well. Sometimes, when exploring, a character has to take an Empathy check, and different outcomes happen based on the result – Misery can be raised or lowered. Low Empathy generally means that character stands a lower chance of becoming miserable when other characters die; however, it also means they won’t necessarily get bonuses when out and about.

Case and point, I had a character die earlier today (at time of writing) due to failing an Empathy check.

Finally, there is Inventory. Inventory is how much heavy stuff a character can carry. High Inventory is good.

So, to summarise –

  • Prowess = High is good
  • Empathy = Different effects depending on score
  • Inventory = High is good

Now, regular readers of this blog know that we like putting things into graphs. As such, I’ve graphed each character out to show the stats as below.

This War of Mine Characters

As you can see, there isn’t a pattern between characters. The character with the most Prowess is Roman, the Deserter. The character with the most Empathy is Cveta, the School Headmistress. The character with the largest Inventory is Boris, the Warehouse Worker.

Now, what we can do is work out the average for each, and this will give us an interesting understanding into the characters. What we can then do is plan the characters out, to show how they relate to that average.

To put this into practice, the below three graphs show each character and their relationship to the average. The average is the “0” on each graph, where the coloured line is. This is to demonstrate who is above and below average for each of the core stats –

This War of Mine Characters Prowess

So, when we look at Prowess, the average is actually 1.08 Prowess. This means there are a lot of characters below average on Prowess, but some are only just. Instead, the characters who are truly below are Anton, Cveta, Katia, and Zlata.

This War of Mine Characters Empathy

Before exploring the above graph, I do need to point out that, although I have played the game a fair few times, I haven’t worked my way through all 1947 dialogue options in the Book of Scripts.

Based on my understanding, however, average Empathy needs to be taken somewhat differently. Since Empathy can sometimes lead to good effects and sometimes lead to bad, this graph is best used to see who will give the most consistent game. The average Empathy is 5.5, and so Boris, Marin, and Marko, having 6 Empathy each, will lead to the most (in theory at least) consistent game. Meanwhile, Cveta and Bruno will lead to the most inconsistent experiences.

This War of Mine Characters Inventory

Inventory wise – Boris can hold the most, whilst Cveta can hold the least.

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Bruno

Special Abilities

Of course, statistics aren’t the be all and end all of the This War of Mine character base. If we look at the characters, there are a selection of characters who also have special abilities to help with playing the game. Interestingly, however, it isn’t every single character who has a special ability – but rather 2/3 of them.

Yes, in This War of Mine, 8/12 characters have special abilities.

This War of Mine Abilities

So, what does this mean? Well, it means that 67% of the time you draw a character card, for whatever reason, you stand the chance of getting a nice bonus as well as the character. Those abilities are –

  • Arica
    • Sneaky – Can lower the noise by 5.
    • Burgular – Can reroll when picking a lock.
  • Bruno
    • Voila! – Sacrifice an action on your turn for the chance to get Vegetables.
  • Emilia
    • Journal – Can increase Fatigue to reduce Misery.
  • Katia
    • Bargain – When trading, trade commission is lowered to 0.
  • Marin
    • Handyman – During the day, when doing the “Poke About” action, Marin can add +3 to his dice roll.
  • Marko
    • Break In – Can use a hatchet to open closed doors.
  • Pavle
    • Fleet of Foot – When fleeing from combat, reduce the number of backstab wounds by 2.
  • Roman
    • Military Training – When in combat, Roman always rolls the Yellow dice, unless he has a better weapon.

Some of those abilities are amazing, some less so. Some are active abilities, and some are passive. As you can also see, Arica gets two abilities. Lucky ol’ Arica.

Analysing the Spirit

At last we come to the final aspect of the characters – their Spirit.

Spirit, in This War of Mine, refers to how they keep their morale up. It refers to how well they deal with war and the people around them. Spirit also determines the outcome of some of the Fate cards, and so when a certain letter is drawn, players need to resolve that letter.

Ultimately, I’ve read through the character cards around 20x during the course of writing this article, and have been trying to think of a way of analysing Spirit, and I think the answer comes down to making certain aspects quantifiable.

There are, essentially, three outcomes for each character with Spirit – A/B/C. Sometimes there is the same outcome for either. Sometimes nothing happens. In order to analyse this, we need to look at the types of actions.

  • Discard Item or Raise Condition
    • Eg. Arica has to discard a cigarette or raise her Misery by 2.
  • If Someone Else is [Condition], Raise [Condition]
    • Eg. Cveta has that if any character is hungry, she raises her Misery by 1.
  • If Character or Environment has [Condition], Lower [Condition]
    • Eg. If Boris is wounded he can lower his Wounds by 1.
  • Raise and Lower Conditions
    • Eg. If there is a book in storage, Anton lowers his Misery by 1, but increases his Fatigue.
  • Special
    • Eg. Zlata has a Comforting Presence and can lower the Misery of 2 chosen characters.

To simplify these we are going to call them:

  • Influence by Items
  • Influenced by Others
  • Influenced by Conditions
  • Influenced by Storage
  • Special.
  • No Effect

Now we can quantify them –

This War of Mine Characters by Conditions

So, one thing worth keeping in mind is that there are a lot of characters who are influenced by Conditions. Those characters, in particular, are worth keeping an eye on during the game to ensure they don’t start a chain reaction of conditions.

Likewise, a lot of characters are influenced by items – so keeping Coffee and Cigarettes in storage is worth doing. Likewise, a guitar and a book are also worth having.

This War of Mine Characters - Board Game

This War of Mine: Characters

Throughout the course of the past 1,800 words, we’ve taken a fairly deep dive into the characters in the hit game – This War of Mine. Those characters vary so much and are so interesting, that it is near impossible to turn around and say which characters are best overall. That being said, it is possible to devise a strategy for the different characters by assigning them personality types, and this is something we’ll look closer at in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, if you like games with a lot of story, and if you enjoy challenging games, then I recommend you take a look at This War of Mine. It’s a fantastic game, and one that I enjoy playing time and time again. It’s also a fantastic solo game (which is how I play it most the time) so be sure to check it out.

In the meantime – you can check out the This War of Mine review and let me know your thoughts on the characters in the comments below.

4 Comments »

  1. Luke what do you think about each character having their own unique miniature in survival games? I haven’t played This War of Mine but I have played Dead of Winter. I think it makes me feel more invested in each character to have something that resembles an actual person. It’s something that I think adds a lot of value to a game genre that wants players to be immersed in a narrative. If one of my characters die in Dead of Winter it feels a lot worse than trading pawns in a game of chess!

    I think this is the reason for the popularity of Pokemon Nuzlocke challenges. Players feel attachment to their “pawns” all because of a simple nickname! I bet the survival genre would do really well to have RPG elements for their characters. If you could customize and develop your character and see them grow it would make the prospect of risking their “life” seem much more daunting. It could lead to tragic losses. However with higher risks there would also be higher rewards; the glory of triumph would be that much more!

    Like

    • That’s a really interesting question! I think it can help with the immersion; however, it’s kind of the icing on the cake. Minis are great, but if the mechanics aren’t there to back them up they can fall flat.

      Dead of Winter is an awesome game! Are you playing the original or The Long Night?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you’re absolutely right. A game needs to have a strong body of mechanics to support the frills.

        We played the original Dead of Winter. I’ve only played once and the most experienced player ended up being a traitor. The rest of us forgot exiling was an option. Oh well!

        Like

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