Before we really got into board games together, I played a ton of video games. These days I do not play video games as much as I used to or as seriously as I used to. Given this background I am drawn to games that try to re-create video game experiences on the table. Battle for Biternia seeks to do this by being a tabletop version of the popular MOBA genre of video games. Since I like to try video game inspired board games, I jumped on the opportunity when Stone Circle Games solicited for people to take a look at this game. So just what kind of league is this game in?
In this game both players will draft a team of four heroes, and they will pick a starting power card for their hero. These cards will be part of the starting hand. Each player also has an identical deck of basic action cards, and four cards from this deck will be drawn to make a starting and.
Each player starts in one corner of the board. There they will have their crystal, and the crystal is protected by three towers. The goal of the game is to break down a tower or two to get to the crystal and then destroy the opponent's crystal.
Each turn consists of three phases. First players will assign an action card to each of their active characters. This can be a basic action card or it can be one of the character's unique ability cards.
Next, players will move. Starting with the turn's start player players go back and forth picking a hero and choosing to move them to an adjacent space or pass with them and keep them hero where they are.
Once all heroes have moved, or passed the player with initiative then picks a hero to activate. The card assigned during planning is flipped face up. Often these cards will stay face up from round to round to provide defense, so if there is already a face up card that one is discarded.
A lot of the action cards are an attack of some kind. Ranged attacks can go up to one space away, while melee attacks must be in the same space. A melee attack will state how much damage it does. The target's face up card may provide a defense value and if it does the amount of damage is reduced by that amount. A lot of attacks, especially character attacks have a variety of keyword abilities as well. In the event that a character is defeated, it will be added to the discard pile.
Instead of resolving the card the player can discard it to do an alternate action of healing three damage or mining to collect additional gold. After all heroes of activated, the towers and crystal can attack any adjacent enemies for four. Then the clean up phase continues.
Players will collect two gold, and gold can be used to level up a hero. it cost gold equal to the current level plus one. When a hero levels up their hit point max increases, and they can gain an additional power card. At fourth level the hero get's their ultimate power card.
Also during the clean up phase, players may discard any number of cards from their hand. Finally players draw back up to eight cards. If a player's deck runs out. Then they take their discard pile and turn it over, so the first card discarded is now on top. It is important not to ever shuffle, as this simulates cool down timers and respawns. When a defeated hero is drawn from the deck, they come back into play.
Initiative passes, and the next turn begins. This continues until one player destroys the other player's crystal.
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.
My Comments: The rules and mechanism do a good job at simulating their source material while still feeling like a tabletop game. This game has very clever mechanism decisions. Not ever shuffling the discard pile is a simple mechanism, but it does a good job at capturing the idea of a cool down timer.
Her Comments: This game had a familiar feel to it because the basic mechanisms are fairly straight forward. Overall I found the rules of this game easy to grasp.
My Comments: The theme is one of the strongest parts of this game. It does an incredible job at capturing the feel of a MOBA. I am terrible at these type of video games that require quick reflexes and perfect timing, but I do much better with the slower pace of a board game.
Her Comments: I am not familiar with this kind of video game style at all, but the 8-bit style really did make it all feel like a video game.
My Comments: I really like how many options for heroes they included in this game. Each hero is different from the others, and different combos create different synergies. It will take several plays just to explore the different combos and abilities. It will then take several more to find one's preferred team builds.
Her Comments: There is a lot of variety in this game which is always appreciated for replayability.
Pacing and Flow
My Comments: The way the deck works without shuffling creates an interesting flow to this game as players wait for cards to cycle back around. This can feel especially tense while waiting for a hero to respawn.
Her Comments: The pace of this game can be a bit of a grind. There is some back and forth and it cause the game to feel like t drags a bit.
My Comments: This is a really solid game. I really love how it captures the feel of a video game, while maintaining its unique tabletop feel. This game also has a lot depth that leaves me wanting to explore it more.
Her Comments: This game is decent. I do not have a lot of connection to the theme or even the concept. However, I found it to be a solid game. It has a familiar feel that makes it quick to get into, but it also offers a wholly unique experience.
For me the best games that capture the feel of video games on the tabletop are Yomi and Pixel Tactics. I would put this one right up there in that same tier. If MOBA games are your video game of choice and you like board games, then this is a solid choice.
This review was originally posted at Too Many Games!!!