By late 1994, it was clear CCGs were around to stay — and it was clear to the onetime industry leader TSR it would have to broaden its presence in the field. After Spellfire had been rushed to press to lukewarm reviews, an interest developed in bringing out a more thoughtfully designed CCG, making better use of the Dungeons & Dragons mythos. For Blood Wars, TSR crafted a multiplayer CCG simulating political battles in its latest campaign "world", Planescape, home to various deities and demigods.
In Blood Wars, two or more players use Warlords, Legions, and Fate cards to seize Battlefields, thereby winning victory points. A "mustering period", during which no Challenges may be launched by players, is set, and players build "battle hands" ready to fight for Battlefields. In the action phase, a player may play a Battlefield card from his "command hand" and issue a challenge to try to win it, either through Intrigue or Combat, two significantly different resolution systems. If the player wins his challenge, the battlefield goes to his victory pool. There are several different ways for players in Blood Wars to interact, and the system rewards using more than one set of tactics.
Blood Wars turns seemed to take forever, and not entirely due to the multiple players, since the busy turn sequence held perhaps one bell and one whistle too many. And while a card game featuring the subtleties of politics might be rewarding, it ran counter to CCGs' most popular feature in 1995 — quick play leading to quick resolutions so you can get another game in, quick. (This writer, in fact, led one of the playtest teams for Blood Wars — and this complaint was front and center in his team's report.) And while the production design improved upon the often garish look of Spellfire cards, the browns and tans of the Planescape source material gave the game a drab appearance that drew few players in.
Anticipating strong demand, TSR ordered a second printing — and then quickly increased its size. Half these cards were labelled "II" and half "III", giving the appearance (but only the appearance) of a third printing. Plans were laid for at least six expansions to Blood Wars, but TSR caught on quickly that this was not to be the company's magic collectible bullet and only the initial set of three releases came out.
No, this isn't the smallest CCG expansion in history — it's actually how TSR packaged the booster packs for the initial Blood Wars release. As with Spellfire, TSR had the beginning booster packs include the 300 cards from the basic edition as well as from a special set of rares that could be found only in the boosters - in this case, 34.
Spellfire caused confusion by numbering its expansions from that initial set of boosters — a few collectors wondered where "Set 1" was before realising it was the premiere release. Blood Wars fixed that by naming this first batch of boosters Escalation Pack I: Rebels & Reinforcements (which may puzzle people today searching for the nonexistent basic set boosters). The idea was sound: If multiple expansions on the market gave the appearance of a healthy game, it doesn't hurt to give yourself a head start.
Factols & Factions adds Warlord and Legion cards representing forces from Sigil, the nexus of the Planescape setting. Sigil Warlords can stack up to six Legion cards of various alignments if they are members of that Warlord's faction.
Powers & Proxies was by no means intended to be the last Blood Wars expansion. Three more expansions had been announced for 1996 and 1997 by the time TSR stopped production on the game: Escalation Pack IV: Insurgents of the Inner Planes, Escalation Pack V: Weapons & Warmongers, and Escalation Pack VI: Hand of Fates. But a reference guide, Warlord's Tactical Manual, did make it out before the end came.
— John Jackson Miller
(Scrye Checklist and Price Guide 2nd Edition)
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