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Subject: First Impressions From First Playthrough rss

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Ryan James
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**I just got this game tonight, and played it once. I wanted to provide some insight as there is nothing on the page yet for anyone to peruse, but please understand this is a first impression review. Also, I say 'flashed' a lot. Giggle where appropriate.**


VERY brief rule breakdown:

So this is a 2p tactical simulation of the battle room in Ender's Game.
Each player has eight units, represented by round cardboard discs, at their disposal. They are numbered 1-7, and the eighth is the leader, which is Ender for the Dragon Army, and Bonzo for team Salamander. The seven units each have one hit-point, and the leaders have four.

The board is made up of hexagonal spaces, and scattered among them are stars, which are basically barriers that block movement and (can block) line of sight for attacking. At either side of the board there are three gates. These are where you spawn your Armies at the beginning of the game, and capturing your opponents' gates triggers one of two winning conditions.

On a normal turn you activate a unit (in order from 1-7), which means you must move the unit (if able), and then you can attack with the unit (again, if able). You activate all of your units, and then your opponent activates all of theirs. The game ends when either the leader on either side is fully flashed or either side's gates are captured.

Throughout the game, your units will be getting flashed, or defeated. Once they take one hit-point of damage (which happens if a six is rolled on dice), they are considered frozen and are not able to be activated anymore for the rest of the game, but instead are left static in the space which they were frozen, acting now as a star. The exception to this is the leader of each army, which as I said previously has four hit points.

Those are the basics that should help you understand the rest of this review.


Starting off with things I didn't really like:

Things I didn't really think were thematically accurate were the fact that you HAVE to move before you can shoot. In the book, part of the strategy for some toons was camping behind stars or in groups and shooting the other team as they float by. Also, if I start my turn adjacent to an enemy, why can't I shoot them first and then push off of their flashed body? Salamander Army has a special ability that lets you do that if you're directly adjacent to their own team member, but it's not quite enough. It's weird that you have to first move away from someone and then possibly shoot them from afar. It might not work as well mechanically if that wasn't the case, but thematically it's a bit wonky, in my opinion. I guess maybe they have you move first each turn so you don't just camp in front of your gates and block the other team from being able to capture them, though that's really an issue with units that are flashed being static, which I will talk about next...

I find it weak that when you flash a unit, it just stops moving, essentially becoming a star. There should have been a mechanic to have the flashed unit move one space in the direction it was hit each turn until it hits a wall or a star or something. When you run into a flashed unit you should be able to move with it. I realize there is a 'push' ability on the B side of each card, but it's not enough to satisfy me.

The three gates thing is weird, but I don't have a problem with it. It kind of simulates how everybody pushes the buttons in the book, and they obviously made more than one gate to give the players more options to spawn from on the board.

Each leader having four hit points is also weird and not thematic, but again, I don't have a problem with it. It adds another layer of strategy to the game.

There is really nothing in the box. When I opened it, I seriously thought my copy was missing components. Two characters is all we get??? There should definitely be other units within your toon that have special abilities other than just Ender or Bonzo. No Bean or Petra??? Insane. Also no deadline mechanic? No being able to just flash certain body parts, like the knee flashing? Damn. Certain things should probably have been included.

Things I did like:

So all that sounds like I don't like the game, but in fact it's the exact opposite. I really enjoyed it! It's not a perfect marriage or integration of the theme, but it's there enough that it does feel like you're playing in the battle room. The game is very light. If you're going into it expecting a super deep experience, it's not going to give you what you want. You're rolling dice after all, and ONLY hitting on a six. Strategize all you want, then roll 2,3,1,1 and get screwed. It's hilarious, but can be maddening, so you have to expect that going in. That's not to say there aren't decisions to be made. Making sure you don't position yourself so that your opponent can attack you directly from behind is paramount, as that's the best way to get defeated quickly. Do you go straight for the leader, or do you try a strategy to close the gates? It's definitely fun trying to think multiple moves ahead.

The game is still extremely tactical with some strategical elements thrown in. A game should probably only last about twenty minutes. It can definitely go a bit longer if you both are playing very defensive, but it probably won't go much longer than that. It's a blast, literally. You can think ahead and work for your leader's ability, but plans can definitely go awry quickly. Think of it as a light and fun filler game, and you'll enjoy it thoroughly.

To recap:

Cons
A lot of missed opportunities thematically.
There's nothing in the box. MOAR characters!!! MOAR abilities!!! It doesn't feel complete in a lot of ways.
I'm not a fan of the way flashed units work.

Pros
Very quick and simple tactical battle game.
Intuitive and tight mechanics.
Very light, yet some strategical decisions to be made.
Very fun.


Final Thoughts:

I would say overall, my first impression would be a solid 7/10.

The game is fun, that's for sure, but it just seems like there were opportunities missed that could have brought it to another level of awesome. Things that don't even seem like they would be that difficult to put in. I'm sure an expansion or two could do it, but it's a shame they couldn't get it right in the base game.

For what it is, a quick paced and simple tactical battle game, it does its job just fine, and I'm excited to play it more and possibly revise my rating. I'm pleasantly surprised and honestly thought it was going to be a complete waste of time (which is what I found the movie to be). I'm happy to find that's not the case. It's just a bit light on everything, which is good in some aspects, but bad in others.
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Toms Leikums
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It seems they have left out too many things for expansion(s).
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Lance McMillan
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Sandmanx82 wrote:
MOAR characters!!! MOAR abilities!!!


I'm unfamiliar with this accronym. Could you please define MOAR?

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Ryan James
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Sandmanx82 wrote:
MOAR characters!!! MOAR abilities!!!


I'm unfamiliar with this accronym. Could you please define MOAR?



Haha! I'll do that just as soon as you define "accronym."

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Darrell Hanning
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Sandmanx82 wrote:
MOAR characters!!! MOAR abilities!!!


I'm unfamiliar with this accronym. Could you please define MOAR?



It's in the same nickel book as "EVAR".
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Buddy and I found the same problem with lack of characters and that flashed troopers pretty much become stars, and that troopers can't be partially flashed
We are working on a variant alrdy to make it tie in more with the theme (more characters, partial flash, more troopers to play with)
We don't think that there is too much problem with firing after movement, just gotta plan a bit more and it would solve camping near gates
Deadline mechanic should only be given to Bean, he was the only person to use it, so I don't see any problem with not having it in the base game (don't see Bean, such a shame though) hoping that they will release an expansion in the future
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Ryan James
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stoneagewar3 wrote:
Buddy and I found the same problem with lack of characters and that flashed troopers pretty much become stars, and that troopers can't be partially flashed
We are working on a variant alrdy to make it tie in more with the theme (more characters, partial flash, more troopers to play with)
We don't think that there is too much problem with firing after movement, just gotta plan a bit more and it would solve camping near gates
Deadline mechanic should only be given to Bean, he was the only person to use it, so I don't see any problem with not having it in the base game (don't see Bean, such a shame though) hoping that they will release an expansion in the future


How awesome would it have been to have one of your units be Bean with the ability to suddenly change direction while moving? Petra would obviously use more dice at further ranges, etc... It would have been so easy. Ugh.
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Ryan James
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citizen wrote:
Sandmanx82 wrote:
How awesome would it have been to have one of your units be Bean with the ability to suddenly change direction while moving? Petra would obviously use more dice at further ranges, etc... It would have been so easy. Ugh.


Keep in mind that with licensed products the game designers don't always have access to a lot of movie resources. The studios often don't have the images the games need in time.


I would have been happy had the game had NOTHING to do with the movie. Stay true to the book. It's not about resources to make the images look good. It's about designing the game around that which it's based.

EDIT: I do see what you mean, but if they couldn't get the image for Bean or Petra, then they should have waited to make sure the game was properly done, if that's what they intended, either that or not use any movie image, and just had original artwork.
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mads l. brynnum
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All the cool strategies that Ender and his team use in the books (and the ones that the opponents try against him), could easily have been implemented through a deck of command cards or some such. As it is I'm afraid it's an at best okay game with next to no flavour to it.
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Eric Etkin
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I'm just saddened this isn't called "Ender's Battle School Game."
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D Conklin
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Thanks so much for the review!...the unopened box has been staring at me for a week (picked it up on a whim), and I've been trying to decide if I should open it or return it.

Couple of specific questions:

1. How big is the hex map?
2. Does it come with scenarios (ie, templates of where the stars are placed), or are they randomly placed....or strategically placed by players?
3. Are the stars plastic, or some cheap card stock?
4. Does it have any "advanced rules" to improve the game, for example with simultaneous movement, etc?
5. Does it support the concept of "formations" of units as seen in the movie?
6. Does it mention a "campaign" mode where you keep track of win/loss records between battles?

Assuming answers to most of these are "no", in general, how hard do you think it would be to put together a house-ruled extension to cover some of the deficiencies? I mean, are we talking complete overhaul or do the rules as written seem "modular" enough that you can just expand? Seem like it would be easy to add other leader cards with new/different abilities?

Thanks in advance!

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Ryan James
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dc0nklin wrote:
Thanks so much for the review!...the unopened box has been staring at me for a week (picked it up on a whim), and I've been trying to decide if I should open it or return it.

Couple of specific questions:

1. How big is the hex map?
2. Does it come with scenarios (ie, templates of where the stars are placed), or are they randomly placed....or strategically placed by players?
3. Are the stars plastic, or some cheap card stock?
4. Does it have any "advanced rules" to improve the game, for example with simultaneous movement, etc?
5. Does it support the concept of "formations" of units as seen in the movie?
6. Does it mention a "campaign" mode where you keep track of win/loss records between battles?

Assuming answers to most of these are "no", in general, how hard do you think it would be to put together a house-ruled extension to cover some of the deficiencies? I mean, are we talking complete overhaul or do the rules as written seem "modular" enough that you can just expand? Seem like it would be easy to add other leader cards with new/different abilities?

Thanks in advance!



1. Here's a pic of the map -


2. There are a few suggested setups in the rulebook for star placement. You can also definitely place them wherever you want.

3. The stars are thick cardstock hex tokens (you should be able to see them in the picture) made of the same sturdy material as the other tokens.

4. There is a variant included in the rulebook that says when one player activates a unit, the other player then activates a unit, so it goes back and forth each unit, rather than an entire army going, and then another entire army going.

5. The only way you can really make formations are if you plan your moves ahead. At the beginning of the game you have to send your units out of the gate, and the rules for movement state that you must travel as far as you can in a straight line until you hit something that impedes your path, so you can't just stop wherever you want to make formations.

6. No campaign mode, tho you could create one simply enough.

You can probably house-rule the game to add things in that were left out, the game is pretty bare-bones in terms of rules and mechanics, though I will say that they work very well as they are. The game as presented is fun and nice, but I would like them to add things in to increase the thematic flavor, so if they don't address them in expansion(s), I would think house ruling will become pretty standard practice.

My advice to you is to break it open and see if you like it! I'm definitely keeping it, as I think it's a lot of fun!
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I love Cryptozoic to death and I met the designer at BGG con (cool guy played Gravwell with him which I liked much better), but I wasn't really impressed by this game.

I should start by saying I haven't read or seen Ender's Game so that may skew my opinion, but the game just wasn't that interesting to me. There's a good amount of strategy and replay ability to me, I just wasn't a huge fan of the game.

There were cool aspects of the game and it feels like it should be really deep, but Ender's team ability is just stupidly powerful. Just send most of your guys to distract your opponents main force. With that extra dice you will win out easily.

While your opponents forces are being waddled down, just use Ender and someone else to take the gates.

It was a fun play, it's just something I don't see myself buying.
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I personally don't like Ender's ability either, made formations useless and introduced a blizt type attack
Yet his ability is all about attacking up close when his army has their greatest advantage at a distance where the opposing army got nothing more than their feet to shoot at

Definitely need some house rules or an expansion
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