Warning IconNOTE: Custom COG Pack 3 was created by Alex Hajdasz for Gears of War: The Board Game using elements copyright Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games.

As was the case with my previous works, the goal of Custom COG Pack 3 has been to create a new set of 8 characters for Gears of War: The Board Game that feel well balanced and entertaining no matter your favourite mode of play. Below you will find the complete list of all the new characters included in this collection along with a verbose description of their rules and related design notes.

If you want to try these for yourself then you can either save the compressed images below to your preferred mobile device or alternatively print them using the high quality PDFs. The entire collection can be downloaded from BoardGameGeek.

Also available: Custom COG Pack 1 and Custom COG Pack 2.


Custom COG Pack 3 (Version 1.0)

Version 1.0

  • Initial release

 

James Dominic Fenix

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 James Dominic Fenix

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: After rolling the dice for any attack you perform – except for attacks made using grenade weapons or grenade tokens – you may change one of your attack dice from any side (one wound, two wounds, blank) to a side showing an omen symbol.

You may not change a die into an omen when using the Lancer’s constant ability as that is a special ability performed instead of an attack.

Design: JD is our first cast member from Gears of War 4. His ability is simple yet effective and he echoes his father by more easily dealing damage with his attacks.

Strategy: Whilst not as consistent as Marcus in terms of raw damage, James has a little more flexibility in activating the Triggered Abilities of his weapons. As such, there’s not much that players need to consider when playing as this character other than to pay attention to what those omens allow you to do.

Getting a Hammerburst from a dropped weapon marker might be a priority though as that Weapon will significantly increase your damage output. If no other players have dibs on a location containing Weapon equipment, then that can also be a good prospect as an automatic omen with a Random Weapon like the Mortar or Mulcher can turn you into a reliable powerhouse.

 

Kait Diaz

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 Kat Diaz

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: When your Order step begins (but before playing a card), check to see if there is an emergence hole in your area. If there is, you may place a sealed token on top of the emergence hole printed on the map tile. If the emergence hole is not printed on the map, discard the emergence hole token from the map.

Additionally, you may play any Order card from your hand as it if had the same printed actions as the Teamwork card, but only during your turn (you can’t use this ability if someone has played Teamwork on you).

This allows you to ignore the printed actions on any Order card and instead resolve it as follows:

Draw 1 Order card.

Choose another player, [he/she] may immediately resolve an Order card. You then resolve your Locust [Activation] step as normal.

Design: Kait is a special character in Gears of War 4 whose personal connection to the Locust Horde presented a unique design opportunity. Sadly, I’ve always thought of potential abilities involving the Locust Activation step or Locust AI deck to be way too powerful or outright damaging to the intended flow of play. The challenge with Kait was therefore to do something different without being tempted to upset that delicate balance too much.

Kait also had to be consistently useful, so the addition of her second ability really brought the character together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted a Teamwork when playing with others, only to not have one. Kait will definitely be one of my favourite characters from now on for that reason alone!

Strategy: You’ll be able to seal emergence holes with ease and whilst that might sound tremendously powerful, there are a few caveats that keep Kait in check. As the only female COG to carry the Gnasher Shotgun (with one measly ammo token no less), you’ll need to take extra care when negotiating the opening turns of the game. The Gnasher has a very short range, but it will be handy when landing on those spawn points as any arriving Locusts can be reliably blasted to kingdom come. Use the Charge card if you get it to land on emergence holes and clear out a Locust standing there with a powered up shotgun attack.

It will be harder to keep moving when there are more players in the game taking turns, so plan with your teammates accordingly. If you can follow them onto emergence holes then so much for the better. Play it well and you’ll be able to force the Locusts to spawn much further away from your position, thus buying the party invaluable time to regroup. Just remember that in Horde mode the emergence holes reset at the start of every wave. The key will be to keep moving.

Your second ability will be invaluable when playing with more people, but don’t dismiss it entirely when playing solo either. Whilst it is undoubtedly weaker in that scenario, it does give you the unique ability to stall turns without losing cards. A solo player will get a lot more use out of the first ability too, so don’t be dissuaded from trying Kait when playing on your own.

 

Delmont Walker

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 Delmont Walker

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: Some location cards have equipment abilities printed on them and these can be activated if your COG is standing on the equipment tile in that matching area. If you activate one of those cards and it has the title “Ammunition” printed above it (e.g. map tile 16A), then you gain a total of 5 ammo tokens instead of 3.

Additionally, you may play any Order card from your hand as it if had the same printed actions as the Active Reload card, but only during your turn (you can’t use this ability if someone has played Teamwork on you).

This allows you to ignore the printed actions on any Order card and instead resolve it as follows:

Perform 1 attack.

If you spent an ammo token on this attack, you may then resolve a 2nd Order step (limit once per turn).

In games featuring a single COG, you can interpret this ability as also allowing you to discard any card as if it had the follow reaction ability icon (as treating any card like it was Active Reload also suggests that it would have the same icon as that card). Whilst this was not the design intention, it was hard to convey as much with the limited space afforded on the COG card itself. You may choose to follow the card as written in this way if you choose, but this would only affect solo games as the ability does state “during your Order step” and so it wouldn’t behave that way during other players’ turns.

Design: Del’s equipment ability gets more mileage out of Ammunition tiles. It’s very welcome considering how short in supply ammo tokens can be and it compliments his additional ability of playing any card as Active Reload (which requires an ammo token in order to use).

Using a card as if it were any other card is a powerful ability, but I think it’s kept in check here by the fact that Active Reload is considered the weakest Order card in the game. Del’s favourable starting loadout is also balanced by the fact that the Ammunition card may be hard to reach or may not be present at all until further map tiles are revealed.

Strategy: When playing as Del you absolutely need to be the player who activates the Ammunition equipment cards. 2 extra ammo tokens can mean a world of difference in this game and it plays into the second ability quite nicely.

Active Reload on the other hand is a tougher card to get mileage out of (as it forces the discard of an ammo token and another Order card right after it). Nevertheless it does have its uses and you’ll find it an excellent card to use before playing Sit Tight as you can safely perform an attack before instantly replenishing your hand. Getting an extra overkill attack in before playing another card like Slaughter or Pummel is also great when you need to soften up a tough “boss” such as Skorge or the Berserker.

 

Oscar Diaz

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 Oscar Diaz

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: Normally you must perform a dodge reaction ability before an attacker’s dice are rolled, but here you can play one after they’ve been rolled instead. Don’t forget to include 1 extra shield result when totalling up your final defence value.

Design: Oscar Diaz rounds out the cast from Gears of War 4 despite only featuring in that game for the first couple of chapters. Whilst he’s an annoying and generally unpleasant figure in the video game, there weren’t many other significant characters to use, so here I focused on his demonstrable talent for staying alive. As such, Oscar joins Carmine from Custom COG Pack 1 as another one of those characters who can be hard for the Locusts to kill.

It seems that the most intuitive way of creating interesting new characters for board games is to peruse the manual in search of rules to break! Thus Oscar’s ability to completely change how dodge reactions work was born. In practice it’s quite powerful and it’s a lot of fun to use and setup by via good Order card management.

Strategy: This COG has a rather powerful ability, but it does come with a hidden concern. The potential sacrifice of Order cards that have dodge icons on them will include useful cards like Advance and Assault; both of which allow at least 3 spaces of movement. If you’re stockpiling dodge cards, make sure you also keep hold of high movement cards to compensate. Order cards such as Forced Entry, Explore, and Roadie Run might become essential tools if you’re playing a long mission.

 

Marcus Fenix (Old Man Marcus)

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 Marcus Fenix

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: According to the rulebook, a player must discard an Order card to perform one of these 3 different actions during their Order step:

1. Resolve the actions printed on [the discarded Order card].

2. Move up to two areas.

3. Perform one attack.

When playing as this version of Marcus, whenever you choose the third option from this list, you may perform 2 attacks instead of 1 (it’s a bit like being able to treat any Order card as if it were Pummel).

As for the second ability, if you use the Lancer’s constant ability to chainsaw an enemy in your area, you don’t need to move out of the cover space in order to do so.

Design: Yeah, I just couldn’t resist doing one more card for Gears’ poster boy, Marcus. Especially when he’s in his old man get-up. You’ve got to appreciate that.

I trialled a perma-Pummel COG a few years ago, but at the time I wasn’t satisfied with it. After giving the idea more time in playtesting, however, I came to realise how valuable the ability is when you’re half way through a mission and your best Order cards have dried up.

On its own I didn’t think the ability was always that stellar, so I included a favourable ammo loadout (which helps each version of Marcus be more distinct from one another) and a bit of gravy in the form of safer Lancer attacks. Enhancing the Lancer’s constant ability is similar to the vanilla version of Marcus and so that felt especially apt here.

Strategy: Being able to always perform 2 attacks is especially useful in scenarios like Horde or Emergence (where you need to batter that one hole with grenades) and it can also be a lifesaver when you’re down to 2 cards or less and are struggling to find a way out of a sticky situation. Also consider using more Lancer chainsaw attacks because their added safety here can be useful when you’re trying to conserve ammo tokens.

 

Richard Prescott

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 Richard Prescott

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: The Heal step begins at the start of every player’s turn, but this ability only activates when it’s your turn. After you’ve drawn up to 2 cards, look at the top card of the Order discard pile. A single player of your choice (you may choose yourself) may take any 1 card from their hand and swap it with that card on top of the discard pile.

If there is no discard pile at the end of your Heal step then this ability does not activate.

Design: It’s easy to imagine a leader like Prescott having some sort of ability that moves or otherwise bosses other COGs around, but it’s crucial to me that COGs work well independently in case players want to play a solo game with a lone COG.

I think Prescott succeeds at that by being able to target himself and it turns out to be quite a thematic ability when you realise how his entire squad’s available tactics are essentially increased by one.

Strategy: With important Order cards being discarded every turn, it’s unlikely that Prescott won’t have access to something useful in the discard pile. An extra option might not seem like much, but the opportunity to put a Sit Tight or an Ambush card back into circulation could be a difference maker.

Even if the card itself doesn’t interest you at that moment, consider whether any COG at the table could use its reaction icon. Grabbing a spare guard or dodge icon for example could be very useful during the next Locust Activation step.

 

Samantha Byrne (Alternate)

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 Samantha Byrne

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: Whenever you attack with a weapon that requires the use of a grenade token, add 1 extra wound to your results after rolling the attack dice. Also remember that your grenade weapons can target areas that are 3 range away, which is a direct counteraction of the rulebook that states the maximum range for Bolo Grenades is 2.

The second ability here refers to the action of discarding a Weapon card from your play area. Each COG can hold a maximum of 4 weapons and in order to make room for any more, players are permitted to discard any non-grenade weapons at any time. Whenever you do this, you gain 1 grenade token to place on any weapon you have that accepts grenade tokens (in the base game this is just the Bolo Grenades).

Design: Another of my trademark ‘grenade characters’. I liked my previous version of Samantha so much that I decided to revisit the character and give her a more aggressive ability for bombing the shit out of the Locusts.

Finding creative ways to ensure players can always restock on those rare grenade tokens is a challenge I quite enjoy and this method that involves discarding weapons is fun because players can use it whenever they feel it’s appropriate.

Strategy: Get as many grenade tokens as you can and throw them at Locusts when they group up. The increased range should make this play easier and the damage you’ll deal will usually be devastating. At the very least you’ll take the edge off of rolling blanks or omens, so don’t get too stingy with your tokens.

The second ability on this card is where you’ll need to exercise a bit of finesse. Don’t feel shy about discarding the Snub Pistol early as an extra grenade can make all the difference, especially when you need to clear out a spawn point or coax the Berserker towards a door space. If you are about to collect ammo tokens from a dropped Locust weapon that you already possess, discard the one you have and pull a fresh Weapon card out of the deck instead. You won’t get the grenade token unless the old card is discarded first.

If matters have gotten severe, then there’s nothing to stop you from discarding your entire arsenal of non-grenade weapons in order to gear up for one last assault. This is especially deadly when used in conjunction with an Order card like Pummel or Blind Fire as those cards will allow you to make multiple grenade attacks in a row.

 

Benjamin Carmine

Gears of War The Board Game Custom COG Pack 3 Benjamin Carmine

© Microsoft Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, and Epic Games

Rules: According to the rulebook, a player must discard an Order card to perform one of these 3 different actions during their Order step:

1. Resolve the actions printed on [the discarded Order card].

2. Move up to two areas.

3. Perform one attack.

When playing as Benjamin, whenever you choose the second option from this list, you may move 4 areas instead of 2.

Additionally, you may perform a follow reaction ability using any card in your hand. Remember that follow abilities work differently if you’re playing a solo game.

Design: A character focused around speed and falling in line. Quite thematic considering the figure in question. I created Benjamin to represent the missing member of the Carmine family (until Gears of War 4 introduced another one of course!).

Strategy: Carmine is similar to his brothers in that his bonuses are easy to understand and abuse. The ability to always move at least 4 areas is, perhaps ironically, very good for when other COGs want to make significant progress by following you. Benjamin is a bit weaker when played solo because of the change to follow reactions, but being able to move this fast will still have its advantages.