VOR the Maelstrom

box cover


Lordbunny (lordbuny@shiatel.tds.net)
I am finding it hard to get this review started simply because I am so stoked about VOR. I can not remember the last time I have played a game with so much imagination, playability, and down right fun. The background history sets itself up for endless possibilities of battles, and a true understanding of where each of the forces are coming from on their points of view, tactics, culture and motivations of survival. The game play is fast, furious, and downright deadly, and the special rules for terrain, scenarios, and CUSTOM FORCE CREATION makes VOR truly stands out in front of the pack. VOR breaks the mold! The best way I can think of to explain the game is to break the initial box set down for you, but my suggestion.... stop reading this review and get yourself a copy of this game. You have the opportunity to get into VOR in its initial launch, and FASA even has opportunities for you to take part in the on-going history of this remarkable game....

I don't have enough room here to go over the entire history of VOR, so I will simplify it as best I can. Earth is in the space age of its technology, the U.N. is mostly U.S.A. orientated (The UNION) , and is creating "peace" if you want to call it that world wide. Simply granting "freedom" to the civilians as a way of getting support (or masking) for its world wide military. There only opposition of complete world domination was in the west. A new power has risen from the ashes of old mother Russia the Neo-Soviets. The neo-soviets practice the old Stalin brand of communism. The Neo soviets own the western hemisphere of the world as far east as Asia, North to Poland, and as far south as Pakistan. Their might is strong, but their country is poor barren wastelands, mostly due to the Union nuclear strikes against them. These two powers in constant conflict had no idea what was about to happen to our precious world.

.......enter The Maelstrom.

The Earth was pulled into the Maelstrom is a cosmic vortex of vast proportions, a pocket universe where the laws of physics are warped and twisted into an obscene parody of reality. It is a voracious singularity that exists only to consume and destroy. to make it simple.... they were screwed....

Days and nights no longer are set by the light of the sun in an expected time frame. Mountains disappear, and are replaced by huge lakes, or simply cease to exist. New life forms awaken or evolve from no-where. Whole cities are destroyed by asteroids, or simply disappear from existence only to awaken at another time or place. Our planet is swirling towards its doom towards the center of the Maelstrom, we could shift to immediate destruction at any give moment.... But this is not the bad part..

We are not alone... In the maelstrom we are accompanied by other doomed planets and some of them are inhabited by other races of creatures, all fighting for the same thing.. Escape and survival of their own race... and they said it could not get worse...

VOR the Maelstrom sets itself up for endless campaign ideas, and interesting history. FASA is also releasing novels for the VOR universe real soon. The novels are great and are usually incorporated into the games. FASA also loves to hear your "well thought" ideas for their games, and have been known to incorporate them in their game systems.

The Rules

The rules are creative, and well laid out for a very "realistic" sci-fi battle. We had no trouble with understanding them or applying them to battle, in fact some of their rules made more sense to game play then some of the other war games we have played, as well as making for a fast paced game.

The Features of VOR

Flexible game mechanics for skirmish games as well as large scale battles. Not to mention if you and the other players decide to, you can play models separately or as squads. Both ways of playing are excellent, and loads of fun.

  • 2-4 player rules: Rules for up to four player engagements, bringing true meaning to "war is hell"
  • Custom Force creation: What exactly does that mean? You can use their rules to create your own force! Using models from any range you desire... (Imagine that, a game company that says... use any models you want to.) They have an excellent set up for this rule system, you won't be disappointed, and it almost guarantees a different battle every time, and it means if you are a war gamer, you already have an army for this game !
  • Miniatures: Produced by Ral Partha who have been in the model making biz for over 25 years now, and they are pulling out all their experience and expertise in creating these outstanding mini's !
  • Random terrain generator: Okay, I know that most of us have seen these in the past, but these ones really do rock. They add outstanding life to this game. here is an example my brother and I were playing a scenario/campaign that we had made up for play testing and in one of the battles we had rolled for the random terrain generator. When we rolled we had got Induction, which is where a new planet was being pulled into the Maelstrom, unfortunately this new world did not make it and had exploded into an asteroid field. On the second turn we rolled again, and this time we rolled collision. and this resulted in a huge portion of the doomed planet crashing into us and killing us all. Though I doubt this could ever happen again with the dice rolls needed to accomplish this result. it was pretty damn funny to know our war was over in the blink of an eye. It is a dangerous place this Maelstrom.... :-) Another result we had that was interesting was phasing... all of the terrain had twisted in reality and phased out and then in again. but with different terrain on the board! These kind of happening may be rare... but they do happen, and create a great atmosphere for sci-fi wargaming with in the Maelstrom.
  • Low Cost: Considering the fact that you can use any model range for custom force creation, and the fact that Ral Partha has very low competitive prices, and the amount of fun we had with just a small force all adds up to a low cost game, at least from our point of view. We were looking at the price list for the mini's in the game and their was only one small handful of blisters that cost over $5.00 and most of the blisters come packaged with two mini's a blister. And as we said above they encourage you to use your own force if you so desire! So you probably already have an army! Myself though I am extremely attracted to the Growlers and the Pharons.. so I will be getting these armies!


Concept-Design  5 
Playability     4 
Quality         5 
Lasting appeal  5 
Fun             5

0 - sucks
1 - needs improvement
2 - fair
3 - average
4 - above average
5 - Awesome

The Final Word

VOR the Maelstrom is genuinely a great game. Its rules and background set it apart from other war game systems. Examples of some great rules would be the machine gun template, and the Neo-Soviet commander can kill one of his own troops, to get the point across and "get results!" The fact that you can customize your own force (and use any model range) should be appealing to any war gamer out there, and not to mention the different types of play that are involved, being able to play huge point system games, or playing small unit level games and having equally as much fun with both. The fact that Ral-Partha is really out doing itself with some great mini's to support the game, and FASA's encouragement of player feedback makes this game even better. FASA is also going to back the game systems history up with novels real soon (upcoming months), as well as force books for each of the armies, so keep your eyes on that. The other thing I find appealing is that I get to be here at the launch of this great title, and watch it grow, and be apart of the history.

Gamers - I encourage you to check this game out! It is truly awesome! If you don't, you are missing out on a great game!

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Last Updates
2 November 1999comments by Lordbunny
4 October 1999page first published
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