Level 99 is an interesting publisher in that, unlike most, their line of games -- including Pixel Tactics, Millennium Blades, and the BattleCON series -- all share a distinct visual style, and seem inspired both by anime and retro video games.
Every person I've mentioned BattleCON to immediately replied with the same statement, "Oh, the Street Fighter game!" Disregarding that the art in BattleCON reminds me more of Guilty Gear X video games, it's a spot-on observation. This game is as synonymous with arcade fighters as Ken and Ryu's "Hadouken" attack.
But what about BattleCON: Fate of the Indines gives it that vibe? Well, inside the box are ten different fighters, and their differences go far beyond each character's aesthetic look. Each fighter has their own style, unique moves, abilities and finishing techniques.
The board, like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and the rest, is linear and two dimensional. It is made up of seven spaces, with characters able to advance forward toward each other, retreat away, and jump over one another, but without any lateral movement.
Combat, which is card based, is quick and fairly straightforward. Players each have a hand containing two types of cards, styles and attacks. Every turn, or beat as the game calls it, players pick one of each and simultaneously reveal their pairs. The combined numbers on these cards will determine the fighter's initiative, power, and range, as well as any special abilities the attack activates. This paired attack card mechanism is where the BattleCON name comes from -- short for Battle Connection Fighting System.
A round, which ends either when one player reduces the other to 0 HP from 20 HP or after fifteen beats, plays in around 15 minutes. Of course, like arcade fighters, multiple rounds can be played, and fighters can be easily swapped out.
While this review is only for this specific set -- the only I've played -- I'm confident from everything I've read it's a good overview of the system, all of which can be mixed and matched together.
Pros: Beautiful art and design, fairly compact and portable box, with nice folders for keeping each fighter's cards separated. An excellent simulation of arcade fighting games. This set is totally stand alone and contains a good amount of variety, despite being a smaller box expansion.
Cons: Only plays two. Like other Level 99 Games, this could get expensive for completionists. Not going to be enjoyable for those that don't like direct conflict, or those that don't like games with a lot of card play, especially since there is a fair amount of text on the cards. There are a few minor printing errors in the rule book and certain cards (see below).
The few minor rule book errors are dealt with in an errata sheet in the box, but one thing I had to figure out myself was the grasp base cards were supposed to have the number 2 printed on the bottom to denote they were suggested to start the game in the second discard pile. This is especially useful information for anyone new to the game.
Overall, BattleCON: Fate of Indines is a fast, furious and fun arcade-style fighting game with a quick play time and high production quality. It's a good value for the price point and I'd recommend it for anyone looking to add something in this category to their collection.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of BattleCON: Fate of Indines from the publisher.
See more of my board gaming thoughts on my blog, The Cardboard Hoard, and my GenCon 2015 travelogue.