At this point, if I see “game by Prospero Hall” on a board game box I know I’m in for something good. Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons, a cooperative Wonder Woman board game from Ravensburger, is no exception to this rule.
In this programmed movement board game, players take on the role of Amazons from Themyscira teaming up to protect the island from threats including Ares, Circe and The Cheetah.
Each of these threats poses a different challenge, brilliantly using the same game components to provide a different game experience.
Disclosure: Ravensburger North America was cool enough to send us a review copy of this game. Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What is the board game Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons all about?
Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons was designed by Prospero Hall and features artwork from Jenny Frison. It’s a cooperative, card-driven, board game for two to five players with each game taking an hour to an hour and a half depending on how much planning the players do. It was published in 2020 by Ravensburger and has an MSRP of $44.99 USD.
In Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons, the players each take on the role of one of DC comic’s Amazon characters, including, of course, Wonder Woman herself. Players will use their Amazon to defend the island of Themyscira from an outside threat. Threats included in the core game box include Ares, Circe and The Cheetah. Gameplay consists of players using cards to program three actions each round. The twist is that players only know two of the five cards they will get to choose from when discussing plans.
For a look at what you get in the box, be sure to check out our Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons unboxing video on YouTube.
In regards to the components in Challenge of the Amazons, I have to say I was mostly impressed. The one thing that I was a bit disappointed by is that the miniatures are plastic that has been painted to look like metal. When looking at pictures of this game I thought it came with metal miniatures and I was a bit disappointed to find that they were actually plastic. Either way, they are really nice looking minis (or Movers as Ravensburger likes to call them).
The quality of the cards, the board, the cubes and other components are all excellent and the game features a really well-designed plastic box insert to hold and keep everything in place.
How do you play Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons a cooperative Wonder Woman board game?
When starting a game of Wonder Woman Challenge of Amazons the first thing you need to do is pick which of the three villains you will face, Ares, Circe or The Cheetah. While there currently aren’t any expansions out for this game, I can easily see them releasing more villains in the future.
Each of the three villains plays very differently and changes the overall feel of the game. Ares is considered the easiest to defeat. The rules are written assuming you are fighting Ares as he is the villain they suggest that you use for your first few games of Challenge of the Amazons.
Once you’ve chosen a villain, each player picks one of the five Amazons to play, each with their own unique ability. Characters available include Diana (Wonder Woman), Nu’Bia, Artemis, Mala, and Philippus. Each Amazon has their own player board with their unique ability listed on it and a spot to place three cards. The miniatures for the characters are then placed at The Palace region on the game board.
Next, you will add four random relics to the hero card deck.
Finally, you will set up the rest of the board according to which villain you are playing against. This includes setting your starting defence, the villain’s health, shuffling the appropriate villain deck, placing the villain standee on the board and placing some cubes.
Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons includes plastic cubes in four colours. White cubes always represent Amazon Warriors that you can recruit to aid in your defence of Themyscira. The other three colours, purple, orange and green, represent different obstacles. Exactly what these obstacles are depends on which villain you are facing. When facing Ares purple cubes represent Corrupted Amazons, orange cubes are Ares’ Servants of War and green cubes are Blockades. If instead, you are facing Circe, the same cubes would represent Magic Beacons, Wolf Amazons and Pig Amazons.
No matter which enemy you are facing the goal of Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons is always to defeat the villain before the island’s defence is reduced to zero.
Each round in Challenge of the Amazons is broken into four phases. Here’s what happens in each:
Start of the Round – At the start of the round, the enemy acts. You will draw cards from the enemy deck and move the villain on the board as well as place one or more obstacle cubes. These obstacle cubes may replace warrior cubes. Depending on the villain you are facing, cubes already on the board may move. For example, when facing Ares, Corrupted Amazons (aka orange cubes) move towards the Palace each round.
Strategize Together – Players each get two hero cards and discuss their plans. Each hero card has a thematic name, like Nimble, Confident or Adaptable. In the next phase, players will receive more cards and will then choose from all of the hero cards they have available to program three actions. So during this planning phase players will not have all of the information they need to make a perfect plan.
Battle Begins – During this phase, players decide which three actions to take, picking three hero cards to place face down on their player board. One important part of this phase is that players are no longer allowed to communicate with each other. They have to choose their actions without any inside input and it’s up to each individual player if they follow the plan that was discussed in the last phase.
Take Actions – Players reveal the cards in the first slot on their player boards and each takes one action based on that card. Once all players have taken their first action, players then reveal their second card and take a second action. Once the second actions are done, everyone completes their third action.
Each hero card will feature from one to three icons on it with a rating from one to four for each icon. These icons represent Wisdom, Vigor, Agility or Leadership. To complete an action a player spends the points from one and only one of these icons.
Two of the available actions are the same no matter which villain you are facing. Players can spend Agility to move between regions or Leadership to recruit Amazon Warriors (white cubes) when on certain regions of the map. Note that when moving regions players can bring Amazon Warriors (white cubes) with them.
The remaining actions that can be taken will depend on which villain you are facing. For example, when challenging Ares you can spend three Wisdom to remove a Corrupted Amazon from the region your character is in, or you can spend two Vigor to remove a Servant of War (orange cube), or you can spend three Agility to remove a Blockade from a road (green cube), or you can spend four of any one icon to damage Ares by one point.
In addition to this, many of the hero cards have special effects that can double the value of a symbol if played in a specific slot or can double the values on an ally’s card if you are in the same region, etc.
Along with this, players can also work together. When players are in the same region they can combine the values of their symbols to complete one big action. This is useful for getting up to those harder to reach higher totals, especially when trying to damage a villain.
Finally, players also have the option to spend Amazon Warriors to aid them. Players can spend any white cubes in the region they are in to give them one additional point in a symbol for each cube spent.
If during their action phase the players reduce the villain’s health to zero they win the game.
End of the Round – The enemy attacks. The island’s defence is reduced based on which villain you are facing and which obstacles are on the board where. For example, when facing Ares the group loses one defence for every region with a Servant of War in it, two defence for each Corrupted Amazon located in the Palace and three defence for each region with five or more obstacles located within it. If Themyscira’s defence rating ever hits zero the players lose the game.
In addition to this, there are a number of special rules based on the villain you are facing. For example, each time you actually manage to hit Circe she summons new Magical Lanterns onto the board that increases her defence.
Along with action cards, the hero deck is also seeded with four relics. When one of these relic cards comes up, the players get to choose if they want to discover that relic or if they’d rather just draw another card. If they choose to discover the relic, a token is placed on the map showing the location of the relic in a spot determined by the card. If you move onto a region with one of these tokens you can pick up that relic. Each of these relics breaks the rules in some way. For example, the Girdle of Gaea lets you double the symbols on any Nimble card you play going forward and the Lasso of Truth lets you move obstacles with you as you move around the map (handy for herding Amazon Pigs when fighting Circe).
Play continues, round after round, until either the defence of Themyscira falls to zero, and the players lose, or until the players win by reducing the villain’s health to zero. If your group is finding the game too easy, each villain also offers a difficulty mode with increased health.
Should you buy Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons from Ravensburger?
I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this game. With all of the buzz around Prospero Hall, and the growing success of some of their other board games like Horrified a cooperative game featuring the Universal Monsters (which we’ve reviewed previously), I expected to hear a lot more about this game, but there’s been almost no buzz at all. I haven’t heard the game mentioned on any of the tabletop podcasts I subscribe to nor have I seen people really talking about it on social media. Now that I’ve played this cooperative Wonder Woman game I’m even more confused.
Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons is a very solid game. It features excellent production values (even if I would have preferred metal minis), a great rulebook and very engaging gameplay.
One of the features of this game that impressed me the most is the way it uses the same set of components in different ways mechanically to change the feel of the game. Each of the three villains uses the obstacle cubes in totally unique ways and that’s brilliant. These are not just surface rethemes or name changes, the gameplay itself is significantly modified.
When facing Ares, you will be running around the board defeating Servents of War (orange cubes) and trying to convert back Corrupted Amazons (purple cubes) while Ares will be making this harder by placing Barriers (green cubes) onto pathways between regions.
When facing Circe, purple cubes represent Magic Beacons that buff her defences, making her almost impossible to damage while they are on the board. Orange and green cubes now represent Amazons that have been turned into pigs and wolves and trying to keep those two type of cubes separated becomes a major part of the game.
I’m extremely impressed by how the same set of components can lead to this kind of variety in play.
I also greatly appreciate what Challenge of the Amazons has done to reduce any chance of quarterbacking (quarterbacking is where one player takes over the group and tells the other players what they should be doing — something that can be a huge problem in any cooperative game). The way that Challenge of the Amazons presents the players with incomplete information during the planning phase helps to eliminate the ability to take over and guide another player’s actions.
That said, I have seen a few people on social media point out that the imperfect information aspect is what they don’t like about this game. They want to be able to make definite plans and don’t like it when the group plans one thing and then one player ends up doing something else due to the cards they have drawn. Personally, I see it as a positive feature. I love it when I come up with something even better than what we planned, due to getting just the right card, but I can see how other groups may find this to be a flaw. If someone doesn’t like this aspect, I think it would be pretty easy to house rule a change and allow open communication during the Battle Begins phase.
Another complaint I’ve seen about this game is that the difficulty may be too high. This isn’t something we’ve experienced ourselves, but I think the difficulty level may be a reflection of how much board game experience the group playing the game has. This is not a light gateway cooperative game. This game isn’t as simple and easy to understand as say Pandemic. The card play and planning here is closer to Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion, though not quite that heavy. Challenge of the Amazons has a bit of a learning curve and that curve is repeated each time you face off against a new villain. Figuring out what actions to do where and when, how to best utilize the relics you find, and how to maximize the use of each character’s unique power is key to winning and these things won’t be obvious at first.
Overall I was very pleasantly surprised by Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons. This is one of the better cooperative games I’ve played. It does an amazing job of eliminating the alpha gamer problem that many cooperative games can have through the use of a very unique programmed movement system. The game offers great replayability, with three different villains of different challenge levels that brilliantly use the same components in different ways to create three rather varied gameplay experiences. One thing Challenge of the Amazons is not is a gateway game. This is a cooperative board game for experienced hobby gamers who are used to planning their actions together.
While Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons isn’t a game I would break out with a new group of gamers, even if they are hardcore Wonder Woman fans, it is a great game for groups who already have some cooperative gaming experience and are looking for a new challenge. It’s going to go over even better with those groups if they are fans of the DC universe and Wonder Woman.
At this point, I have to declare Wonder Woman Challenge of the Amazons a hidden gem. I honestly have no idea why more people aren’t talking about this game. It’s an excellent cooperative experience from the great design team at Prospero Hall (who were also responsible for Disney Villainous, the Funkoverse Games and Minecraft Builders & Biomes, among others).