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Subject: Sadly I cannot recommend this game. rss

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Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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1. Introduction


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This game was received from the designer and/or publisher for review.

Imust confess that this review is being posted later than intended due to personal circumstances. I also had hoped the game would grow on me or in the end that I was playing it wrong. I don't believe so. This may well be a case however where the game may be viewed as others to be good and so I wish to present enough information in this review to allow a reader to decide for him- or herself whether the game might appeal. To my mind, the game is an interesting idea but I believe the execution leaves much to be desired.

The game is in essence a card game. The mechanics of the game are modeled on role-playing games. The game succeeds neither as a role-playing game nor as a card game.

2. Description of some components

Images of the components are not really available apart from one character card.

I do not usually attempt to take photos myself in part due to poor vision.

The art on the box and cards is in my opinion simply not up to professional standards. It's supposed to be cartoonish but looks instead amateurish like the designer got a relative or friend in high school to draw things.

The box is twice the size it needs to be. The designer seems to have realized this an so included a foam insert to take up the extra space rather than simply using a more appropriately sized box.

The pawns are not color blind friendly and while that will not effect play much it is annoying. Even if one can see the pawns as the designer intended, the colors are dull and lifeless (downright ugly to be blunt) and the shaped pawns look and feel like something out of a high school woo working class.

The cards do use good quality card stock that shuffles easily and less. The printing is clear. The rules are also well organized and clear with plenty of examples.

3. Rules overview and gameplay

In essence the game proceeds in rounds with an event card starting each round. These events do thinks like for example prevent the play of certain types of cards for that round or give specific characters an advantage. In a variant the rules recommend, one event card also signals the last round of play, rather than going through the stack of event cards (the number of which used in a game depends on the number of players).

Beginning in each round with a starting player, each player takes a turn in which that player must attack another player. Two types of attacks exist, verbal assaults and battles of wits. The latter might do more damage but can effect either attacker or defender. The former can only effect the defender. The loser of an encounter has his or her character's self-esteem lowered. A player whose character loses all self-esteem is eliminated from play. In principle, the last player standing wins the game but in practice the end of the game will usually be triggered before that happens. Then the player with the most self-esteem points remaining wins.

At the start of a player's turn either of two types of cards can be played on either the player's own character card of another layer's character card. One type of card modifies the stats of the character for only the round in which the card was played. The effect of another type of card lasts the rest of the game.

The key point is that seemingly only the attacker can play cards during any encounter and character stats (including modifiers) are public information. Therefore one should always know if an attack succeeds or fails before it is launched. One can house-rule to allow defensive play of cards but the diceless combat system still leaves the game neither quite an abstract nor a wargame.

Quote:
As the designer notes, the rules do also say a player can play any card at any time. So a defender can use that option to play a card but the rule just seems too open-ended for clarity to me. Can players play more cards after the encounter is seemingly resolved? How often? and so on.


The theme of the game and its artwork are almost but not quite tongue in cheek just as they are not quite humorous. The game just to me does not seem quite to work.

EDITS made in light of comments below.
 
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Ben Schaub
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Re: Markedly improved by a house rule but still cannot recommend
I want to thank you for your review. I can understand if this isn't your style of game and we appreciate any and all feedback we receive for Battle Blakes.

I would like to address a few of your concerns:

In regards to your description of the components, our art is meant to have a more unpolished and kind of cartoonish look. I also understand that this can turn people off, so this is something we may look into.

As the game itself is still in prototype form, we will be making sure the box for the game when released will be more suited to hold the materials. For the pawns included, those are purely materials we ordered online just to be included with the prototype. The released version will likely feature Blake head meeples(that will likely all be the same color to keep things simple).

In regards to the rules, I believe there may be some misunderstanding regarding who can play cards during an attack. During a Verbal Assault or Battle of Wits, any player is able to play action cards (even players not involved in the attack). The single restriction for playing cards is that the active player is the only one who can play buffs(before attacking).


Once again, I would like to thank you for taking the time to review our game. We are very appreciative of any type of feedback.

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Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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Re: Markedly improved by a house rule but still cannot recommend
Ah. Apologies for the misunderstanding. So the house rule is not needed. I don't think this changes my opinion as stated. I do think however the game would work better think the game might work better if the stats were hidden information.

Also "at any time" needs clarification so that there's a definite procedure for encounters and how and when cards can be played modifying the results. If the game is treated as a proto-type which may be modified, I think it could be made into a much better game.

As for the artwork, I am not a professional artist but becoming a professional cartoonist was one of the careers I strongly considered. There is a way to be cartoon-style and still professional looking.
 
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