I'll spare you the in depth details. You can get those from some of the other reviews. I just had a few thoughts I needed to share with you about the game.
First, I need to explain to you where I am at in regards to role-playing games. Recently I sold all my DnD 3rd edition stuff and bought some board games and the DnD 4e core rulebooks. I we started a game of DnD 4th edition and it really felt like another board game to me. I purchased decent as well, looking for a board game dungeon crawl experience, but when I bought DnD, I wanted to role-play. It felt like a tactical battle simulator. Everyone played it like one, and the story got lost as our adventures turned from strings of relevant encounters to strings of competitive tactical battles.
I like the DnD rule set. We had a good time with it, but it wasn't what we were looking for. So we decided to play some more narrative indie games. My playgroup is fairly split down the middle when it comes to players having that much narrative control. Some have a good time with it, and some just want to smash stuff. I couldn't get enough people to play those games with me. They needed the crunch and fiddly tactical stuff.... they needed a balance.
When I saw some preliminary articles about WFR3e on this site, I thought it looked a lot like DnD 3e with better components. I thought it was going to be a tactical battle simulator. I wasn't horribly interested because I wanted a balanced game. One that balances the game with the simulation and narrative. All the cards and special dice and printed effects scared me off a little bit. I didn't want another game that played like DND 4e.
I went to the demo, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I was worried that the game components would lead to a combat heavy game of tactical analysis, but that never happened. The custom components just made the game go faster. They allowed the game to be a challenging game, a passable simulation, and allow for creative player narrative all at the same time.
My favorite part is the dice. Most dice mechanics are one dimensional. The results occur along a number line with certain numbers indicating success and some indicating failure. The dice in WFR3e have 3 dimensions! There is success and failure like in other games (indicated by hammers and swords), There are also boons and banes (skulls and eagles?), and a third dimension of the chaos star and the comet. These 3 dimensional outcomes make rolling the dice fun again. Every time i made my dice pool, it felt as exciting as when I rolled a d20 playing AD&D back when I was 12 years old. It wasn't just success or failure, it was a slew of other effects that could happen at merely the roll of the dice.
Some people in our group had fun with the tactics of battle, but they never took long to figure out what they were going to do (thank you abstract mapping system!). I personally had a great time interpreting the results of the dice rolls. The Trollslayer in our party gained a lot of fatigue on a particularly hard swing of his axe that felled a few beastmen, and he also rolled the chaos star. When we explained that roll, we came up with the idea that he cleaved through a bunch of beastmen, but his axe hit the carriage and got stuck for a turn. The story wrote itself from the dice rolls. Even failure was interesting (which imho is the hardest thing to do in an rpg... make failure interesting)
I will be picking up a copy of this game as soon as I can snag one. Good job FFG.