According to the postscript, Kamiya was set to write a 40 page story set about the end of the Great War. Well, his editor was stunned when the first draft was 180 pages! And that led to No Game No Life: Practical War Game, which is 230 pages (in English). He says he had so much to cover, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kamiya was more inspired by the thought of all the yuri-ness he could add.
Practical War Game is made up of several different stories. There’s a brief opening segueing into the first real chapter about an Elf named Think, who became Grand Magus, and her successor, Nina. Then Stephanie tries a new strategy to take down Sora and Shiro. Next up is a Chlammy and Fiel chapter about their relationship and goals, and finally, Jibril during her days in Avant Heim with fellow Flugel sisters Azril and Rafil. All tales have an underlying theme of challenging someone strong or stronger. Think wants to take down a Dwarf, Stephanie Sora/Shiro, and Jibril keeps launching attacks on the Flugel’s creator, Artosh and, later, a Dragonia. The chapters aren’t balanced in terms of length, with the Think/Nina story and Jibril’s past making up the bulk of the novel.
As I alluded to earlier, fanservice abounds here. Think puts little (or rather, no) effort into putting on clothes, and Stephanie busts down the siblings’ door wearing a pair of underwear on her face and another stretched over her body — both of which are a part of the opening full color illustrations. But girls’ love scenes are the star here. Think and Fiel grope and dote on Nina and Chlammy respectively, much to the latter two’s embarrassment. Both couples are not in full-blown girl x girl relationships by the end of their chapters, but still expect a lot of borderline consensual nibbling by Think/Fiel and Nina/Chlammy wondering what it’s like to kiss their boss. Yes, boss. Chlammy is still a slave for Fiel in much of their story, and Think is an upperclassman of Nina who ends up recruiting Nina as her stand-in for Grand Magus. So that age/power gap dynamic adds to the yuri atmosphere, and even Azril’s obsession over Jibril can fall into this category.
No Game No Life can be a hard series to read past the ecchi elements, and Practical War Game is no exception. However, since Flugel rely on their magical prowess, the battles can be more enjoyable than Sora/Shiro’s 23459D chess matches where they somehow knew everything that was going to happen. The series’ lore continues to be complicated with space-time manipulations and sentient fog, but the fights still end up being rather thrilling with Think and Jibril hungry for glory.
While challenges abound and the protagonists here get some sort of victory, as these are all side stories, readers will need to refer to No Game No Life for their ultimate fate. For some, like Stephanie or Fiel/Clammy, their aim of defeating Sora hasn’t happened yet and may very well never happen. For other outcomes, you may have to dig deep into your memory archives. Think is first mentioned in No Game No Life volume 7, which came out allll the way back in July 2017. Between all the lore, the twisted game and power explanations, and the infrequent releases, it may be hard to recall what you already know versus new information.
No Game No Life: Practical War Game is, in many ways, fairly typical of a side story spin-off volume in that it adds to the main series but isn’t essential, with most of the story set in the far past. But since No Game No Life volumes release so infrequently, fans have plenty of time to read this before volume 11 comes out. The abundance of Flugel-on-Flugel and Flugel-on-Immanity action is just going to be the deciding factor as to whether Practical War Game will be at the top or bottom of their reading lists.