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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Battle Line) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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Box Art




SUMMARY
Style of Game: 2 Player Card Game, Filler
Play Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Theme: Pasted on
Number of Players: 2
Main Mechanics: Cards, Rummy-Style Formations
Components: Good
Weight: Light

SETUP
The nine flags tokens are placed in a row separated the players. Each player receives 7 troops cards as a starting hand. The remainder of the troops cards and the deck of ten tactics cards are placed next to the player area well within reach of both players.



OBJECTIVE
Players are attempting to create the strongest formations of cards they can to overpower the opponent in five of the nine flag locations or at any three consecutive flag locations. This is represented by claiming the flag (placing the flag token on top of the winning formation). Players will be doing this by using a deck of 60 troops cards numbered 1-10 in six different colors and a deck of 10 tactics cards.



GAMEPLAY
The game is played in a series of turns until one player has won the game according to one of the two win conditions. On a player's turn he or she will play one card from their hand and then draw either a troops card or a tactics card. At first players will only have troops cards available to them but as play progresses players will have the opportunity to obtain tactics cards. Players may play one tactics card as their turn rather than playing a troops card.

Players are trying to form one of a number of different formations of three cards at each of the nine flags. The formations, in rank order, are as follows:

Wedge - Three cards of consecutive value and same color.

Phalanx - Three cards of the same value.

Battalion Order - Three cards of the same color.

Skirmish Line - Three cards with consecutive values.

Host - Any other formation of three cards.


Comparing formations
When comparing the formations played by each player at a flag location you simply see who has formed the higher ranked formation. If both players have played the same formation then players determine who has played the highest total number value of their three cards combined.



The yellow cards total number value is 15 and the blue cards total value is 6. If both formations totaled the same amount the player who played the third card of their formation last would lose the flag.

Players may also play tactics cards on their turn. Tactics Cards can alter the game in various ways from, stealing a card from the opponent to forcing players to score four cards at a single location rather than three.

If at any point a player can prove that there is no way for the opponent to create a formation that will beat the formation he or she has played they may simply claim the flag on his turn, before drawing a card. To claim a flag in this way the player must have all three cards played in their formation.

To start this player's turn the cards at this flag location were:



The player then played the blue 2, forming a Wedge formation (three consecutive numbers of the same color).



Since the opponent had two cards, both 4's, there is no card that the opponent can play that would form a stronger formation than the Wedge of 1,2,3 played by the opponent.


*Players may not use tactics cards to prevent the opponent from claiming a card based on an unbeatable formation. This is to say a player may not claim that he or she is going to play the Traitor Tactics Card to take the blue 2.

Players continue to play one troops card or one tactics card on their turn and then draw a card from either the troops deck or the tactics deck until one player has successfully claimed 5 of the 9 flags or 3 consecutive flags.


MIXTURE OF THEME AND MECHANICS
The theme of this game is ancient civilizations battling in organized formations so the idea of making formations with cards to "battle" over a flag does fit well. While the theme works perfectly for the mechanics it is really just a pasted on theme. You can apply rummy-style runs and sets to several themes. Everyone I have played with focuses 100% on the numbers on the cards, not the names of the cards or the names of the formations. The names of the formations get used occasionally but once you have a good grasp on how the formations match-up against one another you fly through the comparisons by simply examining the numbers of the cards present at each location.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pros:
- Fast-pace with a great flow to gameplay.
- Easy to learn.
- Thought provoking and offers tough decisions.
- Not extremely deep but definitely deeper than it may seem.
- Tactics cards spice up the design of the game really well.
- Very easy to introduce to non-gamers because of it's resemblance of classic card games like rummy.
- A good portion of the luck that comes with card games can be mitigated by the tactics cards.

Cons:
- Since nearly every card is used in every game (including tactics cards) the game doesn't offer an enormous amount of variety from play to play.
- Some bad luck can be unavoidable at times.
- May cause a little more analysis paralysis than you'd expect.


I really don't have many complaints with Battle Line. I do not play a lot of 2-player only games, by choice, but this one has a permanent spot in my collection. I do not play it a ton but when I am not in the mood for a bigger game or only my wife and I are available to play a game this one is always a consideration.

The thing that makes this game shine for me is that as you are organizing your formations you can try to delay finishing a formation to try to hold out for a better card or the only card that will win a flag location for you. Unfortunately, if you spread out to too many flag locations too quickly you will spread your forces thin and make it difficult for yourself in later game turns. It isn't often that you can simply place a card exactly how you want every turn so trying to balance optimal plays with conserving flag locations is an enjoyable task.

The only thing holding this game back from a higher rating is that I do have some other 2-player games I would be willing to play instead of this one if given a choice but I tend to rotate about three 2-player only games pretty regularly.


Rating - 7.5/10


If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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Jeff Coon
United States
Plano
Texas
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Nice review! This game is #1 for my wife and I. It's a great "coffee house" game that we used to take to play over a cup of coffee. You know, back before kids.

Battle Line >> Lost Cities
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David B
United States
Chesapeake
Virginia
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This had been a great game for my lunch buddy and ME (sorry; pet peeve).
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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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Jeff wrote:
Nice review! This game is #1 for my wife and I. It's a great "coffee house" game that we used to take to play over a cup of coffee. You know, back before kids.

Battle Line >> Lost Cities



It's funny you say that, Lost Cities is one of my other go-to's, along with Patchwork. My wife and I enjoy patchwork a lot. Do you dislike Lost Cities or just prefer Battle Line?
 
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Jeff Coon
United States
Plano
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Love Patchwork! It's such a great design, and so easy to play.

We're just not fans of Lost Cities. I have a hang-up against it just because it used to be the go-to recommendation on BGG for a couples game. I've always thought there were better designs, like Battle Line.
 
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Jay Kenigsberg

Dix Hills
New York
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Very thoughtful review! This is high on my list. When I see a solid 2p game (which I mostly play), a strong review and a favorable price point (it's like bringing a nice bottle of wine to the table to share among friends) then, I'm in! Thanks!
 
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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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Jeff wrote:
Love Patchwork! It's such a great design, and so easy to play.

We're just not fans of Lost Cities. I have a hang-up against it just because it used to be the go-to recommendation on BGG for a couples game. I've always thought there were better designs, like Battle Line.



That's definitely fair. I agree with you that Battle Line is a better design than Lost Cities, I just think it's nice to have a couple choice. Truthfully, I have to have a few choices because if I don't my wife will solve the game... She's WAY better than I am at card games, and games in general. shake

Battle Line has a design.. Lost cities is a lot of luck but the small addition of a few rules makes it enjoyable for us and the luck gives me a chance against mt wife.

Battle Line, while luck depend at times, has much more mitigation with the tactics cards and a MUCH deeper feel to it. Which leaves me to her mercy.

Patchwork has surpassed both of them though as our favorite 2-player game. It's a brilliant mesh of mechanics and it's just a task a lot of people like to try to prove they can do well (filling in the grid as well as possible).

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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Jdkberg1 wrote:
Very thoughtful review! This is high on my list. When I see a solid 2p game (which I mostly play), a strong review and a favorable price point (it's like bringing a nice bottle of wine to the table to share among friends) then, I'm in! Thanks!



Thank you so much for reading the review. I couldn't quite tell you if you were planning on buying Battle Line because of my review or if you already owned it and were saying it was high in your ranks of two-player games. If you plan on buying it I really hope you enjoy it! I really think you will, especially if you like quality two-player games. If you already own the game then you can attest to how solid this design is! Either way give us your thoughts about the game when you can. I'd like to hear them!

Thanks again for reading. Check out some of my other reviews if you have time.
 
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