A Bit of a Preamble
I am new to board games. And as it so happens my of my good friends happens to be the owner of one of the largest game distributors in the US. His inventory makes me salivate, and a few months ago it propelled me to the internet.
I checked out the web for game info. I found Tom Vassal’s site, and then I found OZ, Board Game Geek. I begin to research games online (Dice Tower and DGG) and overall both sites list games with the same general ratings.
I decided to buy Battle-Line. It is inexpensive, and highly rated. (I have bought about 50 games since). On opening the box (and including hindsight) I appreciate the box being designed to store the game board and accoutrements. While this is not a big point, or a major part in evaluating the game’s rating, it does help create an overall positive feel for the game. (I have too many games sorted in Ziplock bags)
I had never played this game before. This was the first game I was learning without help or any real gaming experience. (Milton Bradley does not count). I understood the basic concept at once (it is not a complicated game) but there was something missing. Experience that would fill the gaps.
And I turned to BGG. The reviews were helpful, but what brought clarity were the pictures. And thus the pattern was set. Now, before I buy a game, I check out BGG and Dice Tower. As I learn the game I have the laptop at hand, with BGG and the pictures.
The Review Proper
Battleline is a series of independent battles between two players. Each player is dealt seven cards, a card is played and a card is taken from the TROOP DECK or the TACTIC DECK. The goal is to lay down three cards in a line that will defeat your opponent’s cards. When a battle is resolved the winner takes a flag. Three flags in a row wins (a Breakthrough) or the first to win five flags (Envelopment).
There are 60 troop decks comprises of six colors and each color has ten troops rated 1-10. 1 being the weakest, 10 the strongest. The images on the cards reflect the strength of the cards 1 being skirmisher, 10 being an elephant.
There are ten tactic cards. These introduce an element of luck and unpredictability to the game. There are ‘wild’ cards that benefit you, and there are cards that allow you to disrupt your opponent’s plans (e.g. Traitor, Deserter, Fog).
The card ‘formations’ are similar to ‘poker’ hands.
Strongest to weakest
Wedge: Three consecutive cared of the same color.
Phalanx: Three of the same value.
Battalion: Three of the same color.
Skirmish: Three of consecutive value
Host: Any other formation
If both players have the same battle line (e.g. both have Phalanges9), then the higher value wins (e.g. three seven will beat three four, not a difficult concept).
The quality of the cards seems up to snuff. But it will take a while to see how the game bears up to the rigors of regular game play.
The art work is great. While not as striking as Blue Moon, the theme is that of Greek/Persian (About 400 BC). The art work appears to retain the art work of the period.
Battleline combines three basic principles that combine to create a great game. These are deceptive simplicity, depth and deviation. Add to all of the above the fact that I purchased the complete game for only $14 and we have a winner.
One final thing: the game is small enough to take in a case or an overnight bag for those who are on the road or in the air a lot. And since there are no sharp objects or liquids the game should make it through Airport security.
Two tumbs up.
My kind was already old when you were just the gleam in a lemur's eye.
I play several card games and card driven board games; you may wish to invest in card sleeves to protect the cards. One torn or blatantly marked card skews the whole game.
They can be had on eBay or several online retailers including http://www.cardhaus.com who stock the highest quality Japanese make called Players Choice. There are two main sizes, Baseball Card and Yu-gi-oh, the Battleine cards will need the Basball size.
This is one of two games I bought sleeves for based on frequency of play and stock quality and I'm really glad I did.
I will break him.
The cardstock of this game is too thin. I wish someone would make a higher quality version. I'm a bit surprised that GMT could not make a quality deck of cards! You definitely need sleeves if the game is to last at all. The art is satisfactory though.