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Subject: Wargaming fun, Euro nightmare rss

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Dumont Claude
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Battlegroup is a game edited by Lost Battalion Games
It’s basically a card driven game on the 1939 to 1945 naval battles.

When you purchase the game, you end up getting two sets of cards. One deck is the 64 action cards that will dictate the time when to do your action and the possible actions (there is two of them on every card). The other deck, witch is divided in two, are the representation of the 64 axis and allies ships. There is also two sets of 6F, 8F and 10F dices and blue and orange cubes witch will act respectively as damage and dockyard markers. You get one rule book and everything come in a box covered with a carton sleeve where is printed the design of the cover and backside.

Material review

The cards
Fore those familiar with the GMT cards you will find similarities. The surfaces of the cards are high gloss similar to the GMT cards, but good god, they are not as rigid as those. In fact they are quite flexible and can be shuffled bridge style easily. The design of the cards is very well done. Every ship and action cards is made like a post card with stamps on it and there is a light background design on some of the cards. All the indications to how and when to play the cards are well indicated on them so after a few rounds of play you won't have to refer to the rule book anymore. The only downside to the cards would be that they should have been bigger. Since the cards are carrying two action with the detail of when to play them, the information contained on the cards his compressed to fit and the cards look really crowded. This comment apply also to the ship cards. On those, the stamps that are carrying the information to solve the battles are really compressed. You are always stretching you neck to see you opponents cards and stamps on them.
For a small company like Lost Battalion, I would rate the cards 8/10

The miscellaneous material
The miscellaneous material is composed of 10 blue cubes, 4 orange cubes and two sets of 6F, 8F and 10Faces dices. They all seems of good quality. My only beef would be on the 6 faces dices, the corners could have been rounded up a little bit more.
I would rate the miscellaneous material 8/10

The rule book
The rule book is like a home made printed version on 8.5 x 11 paper held in the middle with arrows. There is coloured pictures of the cards and game settings. The artisan look of the rule book would be a small aspect if it wasn’t for the fact that the information needed to comprehend the game is delivered all compressed and without examples. You have to go through the rule book two or even three times before having a good feel of the game. In fact, even after my third reading, I had to refer to Marc Beauregard who is the WBC 2007 battlegroup winner for some clarification. After, I found that some battle examples described on the Lost Battalion web site. Those examples should really be part of the rule book for a better comprehension.
I would rate the rules book 5/10

The Box
The box looks like a small shoe box with a light carton sleeve where is printed the box cover and backside. The box looks like a Memoir’44 expansion box for those familiar with that game. The graphics on the sleeve are well done.
I would rate the rules book 6/10


Set up

The game can be played by two, three or four players. In a three player game, there shall be one team and in a four player game there shall be two teams.
In a two or four player game, each player take randomly 6 ship cards of their respective side and 6 action cards. In a three player game, the lone player takes 9 ship cards and 9 action cards.

The ship cards are placed in front of each player. The destroyers are place on the front line and the aircraft carriers at the back. On the destroyer cards there are three stamps where a combination of 1 to 3 of the 6F, 8F or 10F dices are showed. The first stamp represent the surface combat power for close range attacks. The second stamp (red stamp) represent the anti-aircraft power of a ship. The third represent the protection of the ship (armour, water tight compartment, ect…).

The aircraft carrier has five stamps with same combination of 1 to 3 of the 6F, 8F or 10F dices. The first stamp (grey) represent the carrier air protection. It’s purpose is to attack the opposite carrier air strike defence to try to damage or destroy an enemy air strike launch from an enemy aircraft carrier. The defence stamp (blue) represent the planes air protection following the carrier air strike bombers. The carrier air strike stamp (orange) represent the carrier bomber aircraft power that will attack enemy ships. You have also on the carrier cards the anti-aircraft and protection stamps as per the destroyers.

Playing the game

A player can choose to play a single card on it’s turn (only one cards can be played except on sorties). The player has to use the section of the action card where the text begins with ‘’Use during any Turn’’ and apply the action. The player his not obliged to play a card. He can choose to draw one card from the action card pile. This will end his turn.

In order to intensify battles, a player may choose to play a sortie card. This allow each player to play more than one action card in a round. The sortie cards have a day and night variant A day sortie consist of two rounds. One distant round associated with a day sortie where you launch a carrier air strike raid to try to sink enemy destroyers or air craft carriers, and one close round associated with a day or night sortie where your destroyers will try to sink enemy ships. For a day sortie cards, each player will play the distant round starting with the player who played the sortie card. Then the players will play a close round in the same order. For the night sortie cards each player will play a close round only.

To launch attacks during a sortie, the phasing player must put all the cards that he wants to play face down on is battleship cards, one per battleship. He then reveals them one at a time, indicating the target ship and resolving the battles. All the player will do so during the distant and close round. If a player (any player) can sink two enemy ships, the sortie is considered won and the battles stop immediately. All the players will earn the points indicated on the battleship card for each battleship sank. And the winner of the sortie will earn the victory points indicated on that card. If no player can sink two ships, then the sortie card is discarded and the victory points lost. During battles, players can also play cards not associated with a ship but that can help them improved there chance of achieving there goals. Those cards are described has so.

When no sortie card is on the table, the players will take this time to rebuilt there hand by drawing one card per turn, try to reinforce the squadron or send a ship to the dockyard for repairs. They can also make a single attack on a ship.

The way to resolve battles is by using the dice associated with action or reaction of a player. Each player, starting with the offensive player will use the dice(s) indicated on the ship or action card stamp. The players take the highest score on a throw and compare. Example: A player can throw a 6F and 8F dice. He gets a result of 6 with the 6F dice and 2 with the 8F dice. Then his firing power will be 6. The offensive player needs to have a score higher than the defensive player to damage the ship or action card. A damaged ship or action card will have a –2 dice modifier on the next throw witch will reduce is fire or protection power. If the offensive player can double the score of the defensive player, then the cards or ship are fatally damaged. The action card is then discarded or the ship card his won by the attacking player.

Example of one battle

The axis player use the aircraft carrier Shukaku to launch an attack during a day sortie of a distant round. He put an action card on the ship face down and reveals it to the allied player witch is a carrier air strike card. The axis player designate the target, the Wisconsin destroyer. The destroyer uses is anti-aircraft guns to try to stop the air raid. The destroyer becomes the offensive player and will try to cause damage or fatally wound the air strike. The destroyer has three dices showed on is anti-aircraft stamp (red) 6F, 8F and 10F dice. The air strike bombers are accompanied by an aircraft defence squad to protect them. The defence squad will react using the dices showed on the defence blue stamp a 6F and 8F dice. The allied player, has the offensive player, throw first. He gets the following results: 2 with the 6F dice, 8 for the 8F dice and 6 with the 10F dice. The attack power of the destroyer is then 8. The axis player throw is dices and gets 6 for the 6F dice and 4 for the 8F dice. The allied player has a higher score but he wasn’t able double the score. So the carrier air strike card has been damage. The axis player puts a marker on the card to designate the damage and a modifier of –2 will apply on the next throw. Now that the bomber of the air strike squad were able to pass the anti-aircraft battery of the destroyer, the bombers can launch an attack on the destroyer.
The axis player becomes the offensive player and use is carrier air strike dices listed on the corresponding stamp on the aircraft carrier card. The axis player can use a 8F and 10F dice. The player throw a 2 with the 8F dice and an 8 with the 10F. Since the air strike cards has been damaged before, the axis player must apply a –2 modifier to his throw, so the final result is 8-2 = 6 for the axis player. The allied player needs to use the ship protection listed on the green stamp in order to resist the bombardments. The allied player can use a 8F and 10F dice to protect itself. The allied player has a bad throw and gets a 3 with 8F dice and a 1 with the 10F dice. Since the score of the offensive axis player is double the defensive result, the ship suffers a fatal blow and his sunk. The axis player take the Wisconsin destroyer card along with the victory points.

During the course of a game, a ship can be damaged several time but the –2 modifier only applies once. A damage ship can be taken to the dockyard and be repaired regaining is full power.

End of the game

When all the action cards have been played, the players count their victory points listed on the opponent sunk ships and sortie cards won during the operation. The player with the most points win the operation. All the action cards are re-shuffled and a new operation phase starts. The winner of the game his the first player or team that has won two operations.

Game rating

Difficulty:
The game in it’s self his not really difficult once you have manage to clearly understand the rules witch his the difficult part. Play examples in the rule book would be necessary to achieve so. Note to LBG, put some examples in the rule book. After a few round, the cards deliver the information easily and play is moving smoothly.
I would rate the difficulty level at 6/10

Chance:
Chance play an important role in the game. The ships are drawned randomly, so you can end up with a week squadron. The action cards are drawned also randomly. So a player can end up having lots of air strike cards and not have any aircraft carrier to use them. And all the battles are resolved using dices. Can you have more randomness than this?
So I would rate the chance level at 10/10

Strategy:
Since there is a lots of randomness in a game, the strategy factor really suffers. But still you need to apply a strategy to know when and how to launch an attack or take a break of battle.
So I would rate the strategy level at 5/10

Interaction:
Of course the interaction factor between players is at the maximum level except for the sporadic moments where each player his rebuilding is hand or reinforcing is squadron .
So I would rate the interaction level 9/10

Overall appreciation

This is the kind of game that wargamers will like and Eurogamers will love to hate. The game can be easily explained when you have mastered the rules (witch is the tough part). For those who cannot handle the chance factor or like analysis paralysis kind of games, this one is surely not for you. But if the chance factor doesn’t bother you, this game can really kick some ass. People who like Memoir’44 will surely enjoy this game. It might not be the type of game that you will play each week because of it’s length (1h30 to 2 hours) But the set up of the game is easy and you don’t have to place all the terrain tiles and all the units that you would have to do when playing a memoir’44 game. You can also cut on time by playing one operation instead of two to win the game.
The game is really dedicated to wargamers. It might not be the best one on the market, but the wargamers should like this one.

I have rated the game as a 7.5 for the overall appreciation


Take note that this review is based on my personnel appreciation of the game and might differ from one person to another.

Sorry for any English mistakes or grammar errors, English is not my first language.
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Stephan Rasmussen
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how can you take difficulty in to your appreciation rating? so you would appreciate a game with the highest possible difficulty rating the most?

I dont think so and maybe you should try other factors for your average rating.. Just a suggestion
 
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Tom Shydler
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I've thought about acquiring this game, so thanks for the thorough review. I wonder how it stacks up against Phalanx's Naval Battles?
 
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Dumont Claude
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Skiprydell wrote:
I've thought about acquiring this game, so thanks for the thorough review. I wonder how it stacks up against Phalanx's Naval Battles?


I have not played naval battle yet. I have a couple of Wargames that I need to try before this one. I don't know if the game is good, but it's by phalanx, so you know that the material quality will be there.

For battlegroup, considering that Lost Battalion Games is a small company, I was plesantly suprised by the cards. I endjoy the game. Considering the price, and if your a real wargame fan, you won't be disapointed. The price is relatively affordable 29.95$.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Quote:
I have not played naval battle yet. I have a couple of Wargames that I need to try before this one. I don't know if the game is good, but it's by phalanx, so you know that the material quality will be there.


Apparently, naval battles is not that good.

As for grammar, as a french speaker, the most obvious error I found were:

"witch" that should be "which". Because a "witch" is a female wizard.
 
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