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Subject: Review of - Battalia : The Creation rss

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Paul Ferguson
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Battalia : The creation, is a mix-up of a deck builder with map builder / tile placement mechanics, set in a fantasy Celtic theme. It is a medium weight game, that starts off slow and continues in a slow manner due to some actions that add to much AP for even non-AP gamers.

ARTWORK AND PRODUCTION -

Firstly, the Miniatures are very well produced and rival some of the more expensive games on the market. The art work for the artifacts, great artifacts and units are nice and help to create the theme, and to an extent the player boards are also nicely done. Unfortunately, the City and Road cards have the worst and most horrid art work I have ever seen in a game and there is a big disconnect between the box art and the units/artifacts art work and the map tiles. It looks like several different artists worked on the game, and it doesn't work. As you develop the map, the palette of coloured city and road tiles just look horrendous. It would have been nice if the board developed into a nice landscape and reflected the fantasy art work on the other cards.

My other negative regarding production is the poor use of space. The game takes up far to much table space and some simple design changes would have made it much better. Ambush cards, which are basically the way to remove cards from your deck/the game, have to be placed in slots around the main game board, which need to accommodate a total of 12 cards. These cards could have been easily placed under a players individual player boards, why they made the design decision to place the cards around the main game board is very odd. I also don't see why the individual game boards are so large, when all they do is hold your draw deck / discard pile, mark your current score which is done is a primate way, and has 2 lines that you can play cards on, even though you can do more than 2 actions on a turn, what's the point of only having 2 action lines. They just feel like an after thought for a kick starter stretch goal and not thoroughly developed.

GAME PLAY & SIMILARITIES -

At it's heart the game is a deck builder, and at first seems like an interesting take on the genre, but the game is convoluted just for the sake of it. You are trying your best to have only one type of colour in your deck, there are 4 colours in the game. The bonuses for having similar coloured cards is big, and can chain some big turns, but getting the same colours is a slog and tedious. A big issue of the colour bonus or "cohort" as the game calls it, is that is adds to the AP, as you draw your 6 cards at the end of your turn, you have to wait till your next turn to show another player your cohort, you then draw up to another 4 cards and then you have to sit there and decided what you are now going to do with your cards. This just adds pointless AP to an already AP prone game.

Most of the time you can only pick a new card to add to your deck from the top of the each pile, of which there are 11 piles to buy cards from, and most of the time its the colour you don't want. To counter this, you can use artifact cards to transform / change these cards into the colour you want, this just drags the game on and on and on.

I found this game to be very similar to dominion, there are 2 triggers to end the game, the card play is similar, things are just done in a more expansive way, but it doesn't actually give a new and innovative feel. Attacking other players is done via PVP on the board rather than just direct card play. The PVP hiding behind some miniatures to give the game a more grandiose feel, but just feels like any other deck builder that has attacking mechanics.

The only innovative feature in the game is the oracle wheel, which moves each round and gives bonuses to having certain cards played in that round by any player. This is an interesting idea, but depends on total luck of each players draw. So its innovative, but very situational.

FINAL THOUGHTS -

I would like to give this game another chance, but it has some major road blocks. The play time is long, far too long for a deck builder, and this would deter people playing. I would set aside 4+ hours for a first time 4 player game, and this is not acceptable when other deck builders have a similar feel and play in an hour.

I would hate to have to teach this game again to a new group of players, there are some many tiny rules for every element in the game that can be missed and forgotten, which would be fine on future plays, but getting people to play this game for a second time would be a challenge.

The game feels like a mix of ideas that probably sounded great on paper, a deck builder, a map builder, miniatures that combine PVP with area control(cos everyone goes goo goo for plastics miniatures) but it just falls a bit at the finish line. I couldn't imagine playing this with 6 players, which is what the upcoming expansions adds.

SUMMARY -

2 Artwork
2 Theme
2 Ease of learning
4 Replay Value
2 Innovation
1 Length
3 Interaction
3 Value for money

Average Score = 3.25/5.0

Recommend it = No, the map art work is awful, it would be hard to get repeated plays due to time and rules, and other games do the same thing, just without miniatures.





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Daily Grind
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Hi there, nice review. It's interesting because I agree with many of your premises but find they don't detract from the game in the same ways for me.

itmo wrote:
It looks like several different artists worked on the game, and it doesn't work. As you develop the map, the palette of coloured city and road tiles just look horrendous. It would have been nice if the board developed into a nice landscape and reflected the fantasy art work on the other cards.

Can't really disagree here. The road & city cards look pretty bad. What makes it even stranger to me, is the smaller city cards graphially don't look like cities at all and you can very easily confuse it for a road. Also, the Sky cards don't reflect the Yellow player color, which is confusing. For what it's worth, the expansion KS is offering better looking cards and they now color match, but you're absolutely right it should have been in the base game.

itmo wrote:
I also don't see why the individual game boards are so large, when all they do is hold your draw deck / discard pile, mark your current score which is done is a primate way, and has 2 lines that you can play cards on, even though you can do more than 2 actions on a turn, what's the point of only having 2 action lines.

We agree here as well. In fact, I ended up tossing my player boards. They were useless and huge.

itmo wrote:
The bonuses for having similar coloured cards is big, and can chain some big turns, but getting the same colours is a slog and tedious. A big issue of the colour bonus or "cohort" as the game calls it, is that is adds to the AP, as you draw your 6 cards at the end of your turn, you have to wait till your next turn to show another player your cohort, you then draw up to another 4 cards and then you have to sit there and decided what you are now going to do with your cards. This just adds pointless AP to an already AP prone game.

My experience with Cohorts is a little different. There are only so many cards of a given color in the deck, and mid-to-late game there won't be any of the color you want remaining for purchase. So the cohorts is like a nice bonus rather than a goal to strive for. If you get a color-changing-card early it can really give you a boost at the beginning, but if you play with a fat deck, you can't really rely on Cohorts as a strategy. Also ... don't wait until your turn to reveal the Cohorts! I agree, that would really slow the game down. Maybe my group just trusts each other more, but we just draw and move on. I find it to be a very simple mechanism that adds a slight bit of strategy without any overhead.

itmo wrote:
I found this game to be very similar to dominion, there are 2 triggers to end the game, the card play is similar, things are just done in a more expansive way, but it doesn't actually give a new and innovative feel.

I couldn't disagree more here. While Battalia might feel like other deckbuilders with attacking elements, Dominion isn't one of them. I like Dominion a lot, but its a quick game with some engine optimization strategies and very little player interaction (even with expansions) where as Battalia has lots of direct interaction and many more interesting decisions around deck management. Unlike Dominion, there are no 'useless' cards in the game, and rather than the normal deck building play of build-and-thin, Battalia feels more like you're constantly wrangling your deck to best address the ever changing state of the game board. No card is ever completely worthless so the action of 'ambush' which can destroy a card takes more thoughtful consideration.

I wouldn't really say the game is innovative, but I do feel like it combines what has been done before in interesting ways.

itmo wrote:
I would like to give this game another chance, but it has some major road blocks. The play time is long, far too long for a deck builder, and this would deter people playing. I would set aside 4+ hours for a first time 4 player game, and this is not acceptable when other deck builders have a similar feel and play in an hour.

If my plays of this game took 4+ hours, I would feel exactly the same as you. It isn't worth that time commitment. Happily, we usually wrap up in around 90 minutes, and that works just right for my group. We get a nice sense of engine building, a little area control, a little direct combat, and we're pleased as punch. I also have to echo that I can't imaginge trying to play this with 6. Madness.

itmo wrote:
Recommend it = No, the map art work is awful, it would be hard to get repeated plays due to time and rules, and other games do the same thing, just without miniatures.

As said before, the map art is pretty bad, but I really love the other card art, so I'm apparently more forgiving of it I'm not sure why your play time was so long, that sounds like it was not fun. I would be interested to hear what other games do the same thing, in your mind. I have several PvP deck-builders (Ascension, Star Realms, Helionox) but none that have an area control aspect to them.

Thanks for the review.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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There are a lot of things to be said about Battalia, but being AP-prone isn't one of them. You draw some cards, they dictate your options, that's it. It's not like you have plethora of choices. When I play it, turns last 20s (slightly more, when there's a fight), some purchases, some buildings, go, your turn.
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Ricky Bruce
United Kingdom
Haverhill
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Most of my turn time is spent not in AP but trying to establish just what symbols i need to buy each type of card. I found that with so much on the table, its very easy for some of the players to be so far away from the cards that they constantly need to get up and move close to remind themselves which pile was which.

Overall i enjoyed it, but it felt very busy, and we were already playing without the colour bonuses, the wheel or PVP!
 
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