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Posted on Jul 1, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

World War 2 Themed Card Game Action! – Arcane Wonder’s “Air, Land and Sea” Card Game Review

World War 2 Themed Card Game Action! – Arcane Wonder’s “Air, Land and Sea” Card Game Review

Rick Martin

Air, Land and Sea Card Game Review.  Publisher: Arcane Wonders  Designer:  Jon Perry  Price $14.99

Passed Inspection:   small footprint, easy to learn, addictive game play, excellent value for the cost

Failed Basic:    would like to have seen a solo module for the game as well as advanced rules, the Withdraw rule needs more explanation

“In the midst of the greatest conflict humanity has ever known, victory will be claimed by the military that can overcome their enemies in every battleground. Do you have the skills to lead your nation’s best and bravest in the Air, Land, & Sea?” says the Air, Land and Sea’s tag line on Arcane Wonder’s website.

 Air, Land and Sea is a new World War Two themed card game by Jon Perry and released by Arcane Wonders.  The colorful cards and easy to learn but challenging to play game play makes this game wonderful for a wide audience.  Beginners will find it fun and approachable while “seasoned war gamers”, such as your humble reviewer, will find it a fun, fast paced game to play in 20 or 30 minutes.

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Air, Land and Sea comes in a box measuring roughly 6 “ x 4.25 “ (15.24 cm x 10.795 cm).  The box art is both beautiful and evocative of World War II propaganda artwork.

Inside the box you will find:

2 supreme commander cards

18 battle cards

3 theater cards

14 score markers

1 10 page rule book

While neither side is delineated as Axis or Allies, you blindly pick a supreme commander card  and are either the Red or Blue Commander.  The Red Commander is the aggressor (assume the Axis) and always goes first.

The game board is created by laying down the theater cards in any order.  There is an air theater, a land theater and a sea theater.  The Battle Cards are your actions.  There are cards that can only be played face up in their specific regions so, for example, a bomber can be played in the air theater, a tank in the ground theater and a submarine in the sea theater. A Battle Card can also be played face down in any theater but you don’t get the benefits and full combat ability of the face up side.

Each Battle Card shows a color for the theater, a large number showing its combat strength and its specific tactical ability.  Some abilities happen once when the card is played while others are on-going until stopped by another card.  On the other side of the Battle Card is just a number which represents a generic, non-theater specific combat strength.  This is the side you play if you need to reinforce a theater with a card that normally couldn’t be played there face up.  For example, I need to counter the other player’s Battleship which is dominating the Sea theater.  My hand only has a howitzer and a fighter plane squadron called “Support”.  I decide to take the fighter plane and turn it facedown to put at least some combat strength  in the Sea theater to try and oppose the other player.

If I decide to stack cards in a given theater, the new card is placed overlapping the old card.  If a player decides to use a special tactic to try and destroy the old card, he or she must first eliminate the covering card.

Here is an example of a Battle Card:

Air Drop which has a combat strength of 2 and a special ability which allows you to deploy a battle card in to a non-matching theater on your next turn.  If you flip it over, it’s also worth 2 points but delivers no other special abilities.

You can gain points either by combat to dominate a theater or by the wise choice of selectively withdrawing your forces from a theater to conserve your resources.

A typical battle follows this turn sequence:

Each player draws a 6 card starting hand.

The Red Commander goes first and deploys a card from his or her hand to the theater of choice.

The Blue Commander then deploys a card from his or her and to the theater of choice (either opposing the theater picked by the Red Commander or in another theater).

You go back and forth placing cards from your hand and using the Tactical Abilities to disrupt or destroy the other side’s cards in their theaters or, depending on the Tactical Abilities of your cards, moving cards from theater to theater.  You may also withdraw your cards from a theater if it is clear that you will lose those cards.  The rules are not clear as to how to do this but it appears that the withdraw option takes the card from the table and puts them back in your hand to be either retained for victory points or re-deployed back on the table.  If you withdraw the cards, the opponent gets the victory points for the theater you withdrew from.

After everyone has played their six cards or withdrawn, you count up the Combat Points in each theater and the side with the most points wins that battle.

You assign victory point counters and if you wish to play again, you take up all the Battle Cards and reshuffle them back in to the deck.  Then you shift the theater cards to the right with the rightmost card becoming the theater on the left.

Wash, rinse and repeat.

While the game appears to be simple, there are many different strategies you can use to win the war.

A game typically lasts 20 or 30 minutes and the table room (known as the footprint of the game) is very small.  This game can easily be taken on trips and set up on a nightstand if you need to.

The game’s artwork is by Stephen Gibson and it’s really quite stunning.  It perfectly captures the propaganda artwork themes prevalent during World War II.

In these days of the C10 pandemic, an important aspect for most gamers is the question “how well does the game play solo”?  While there are no solo rules included, the game can easily be played solo by drawing one card for the solo player and then playing that card to the given theater for maximum effectiveness.  In two of my games using this method, the solo “bot” kicked my butt!  It works very well and I think this system should have been included in the game rules.  In addition, it would be nice to see some advanced rules that grognards could enjoy while still keeping the main game family game night friendly.

Air, Land and Sea is great game for a great price.  There is plenty of replay value in this wonderful game.

Armchair General Rating:  93% (1% is bad, 100% is perfect)

Solitaire Rating: 4 (1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer. He designed the games Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion and Sherman Leader for DVG and designed the solo rules for Forsage Game’s Age of Dogfights.  In addition, Rick can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

box art
a huge battle on air sea and land
submarines stalk a battleship
air and sea battles
land battle

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