Recommend
43 
 Thumb up
 Hide
12 Posts

Battle Cry» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Battle Cry: A Nod to the Past rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
. .

Apex
North Carolina
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
I bought this game as soon as I could find it at my FLGS back when it came out. I excitedly brought it home while babbling to my then fiance about how I loved the old big box games like Axis & Allies. Battle Cry was shaping up to fit nicely into that niche for a fun pseudo wargame that I could convince anyone to play.

I had never heard of Richard Borg at the time and my interest in some of the finer points of board gaming was mostly concerned with special dice and how many "toys" came in the box. I was, after all, a wargamer who was into ASL. Why would Eurogames even tempt me? Ahhh those were the days!

Rules:

Everyone is now familiar with Borg's innovative rules which have driven his subsequent games (Command & Colors Ancients, Memoir '44, and BattleLore). At the time though it felt like a totally new and accessible way to approach pacing a boardgame to me. I feel like a quick overview of the aspects of these rules that I liked in Battle Cry are appropriate.

I enjoyed the card driven gameplay because it forced difficult situations on players who drew a "bad hand." In some cases hands were so bad it required re-drawing cards because there was nothing to do with the hand dealt. I know what you're thinking...that sounds like a bug in the game! From my perspective, it isn't because it forces a certain level of chaos on the players who are constantly trying to make the best choices with the information at hand.

In Civil War terms, I liken it to General Lee's situation going into the Battle of Gettysburg without adequate information on how to deploy. He generally knew where the union forces were located, he understood the general lay of the land, but without further information action was limited.

In Battle Cry, I felt like these kinds of situations came up from time to time in which I had to decide to sacrifice units to ensure I could "win a flank" before trying to maneuver a unit out of harm's way.

Having the miniatures on the board was a great change for me. I grew up with dry fingers from using cardboard counters and then using piles of them to represent everything from movement, to condition, to special rules. The simplicity of just taking a model off the game table was a great way to keep track of unit status.

The one rules issue that I have had with it with every opponent I've introduced to the game is the idea that a unit fights at full strength until it is eliminated. You're really punished in the game for not knocking out a unit in 1 or 2 rounds of combat. I'm just not sure how that's abstracted other than to tell people that while a unit has at least one model on the board they are considered effectively fighting.

Gameplay:

Game setup, after 3 or 4 games will only take you about 20 minutes. There isn't a huge variety of units and the provided terrain is pretty modest so you aren't searching through deep pockets of tiles to find just the right combo of hills or anything like that. I think as these games have become more complicated the setup times have become longer as well. In some ways Battle Cry has the edge here whereas in most categories it is clearly the inferior game to the others unless thematically you enjoy it more.

My first game ran about 75 minutes, but beyond that games were pretty short. I haven't tackled any of the more complex scenarios from the basic game or that have been posted online. I doubt though that even the most complex scenario would run over 2 hours. It's a perfect game to fit in on a rainy afternoon before or after running errands.

After playing more complex games that have their roots firmly in Battle Cry like Memoir 44 or Tide of Iron I can appreciate the improvements in gameplay. There are times in Battle Cry when you feel like you're just slugging it out rather than trying to accomplish a task. My wife commented after one game that she didn't like how she didn't quite know what to do. I have to agree with her on this account.

The real issue, for folks I've played the game with and myself, seems to come from the simplicity actually. It seems to me that the mechanics are so simple that people just expect there to be more going on where there really isn't. So the game, after a few plays, comes down to a Rock, Paper, Scissors pattern of maneuver. It can make things pretty predictable and is why the game after all these years is rarely brought out of the closet for play.

Overall:

Battle Cry will always have a warm spot in my heart for being the first boardgame my wife, then fiancee, would actually sit down and play against me. It introduced me to a different way of thinking about gaming and brought a much higher level of production value to games than I had seen in a long time.

From the time Axis & Allies, Shogun, and Fortress America were released until I picked up Battle Cry I hadn't really seen a game with that kind of production value. It captured people's attention immediately. I think, aside from introducing an incredibly popular ruleset, it also is at least partly responsible for raising the bar for production quality on "big box" games.

Just writing this review makes me want to get it out for old times sake!
26 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Milnes
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
medlinke wrote:

The one rules issue that I have had with it with every opponent I've introduced to the game is the idea that a unit fights at full strength until it is eliminated. You're really punished in the game for not knocking out a unit in 1 or 2 rounds of combat. I'm just not sure how that's abstracted other than to tell people that while a unit has at least one model on the board they are considered effectively fighting.


I see it less as a unit losing men, but more as loss of morale. The unit is still fighting, but the morale is wavering with every loss, until it breaks completely with the removal of the last piece.

regards

Ian
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
Worcestershire
flag msg tools
Yes, Borg had a double-size demonstration set with painted metal miniatures which he used at conventions. Each unit had seven figures - four on a single stand and three individual figures. As you took figures off to show losses, you still had the visual impression that most of the unit was still there.

When I first encountered the system, I was immediately struck by the feeling you had that it was a matter of forcing your plan on your opponent and imposing your will on him, unlike many wargames where you are fighting the system first and your opponent second.

The biggest problem I have with the system is that it often comes down to taking cheap shots to finish off units and get the requisite number of flags - this seems to be particularly the case with C&C: Ancients - rather than successfully implementing a strategic plan. Great system anyway.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Battle Cry is still the best of Borg's Command & Colors games. It's essentially a light and luck-driven system. When it gets larded down with all sorts of units and add-ons (see Battlelore and C&C:Ancients), it's still a light and luck-driven game, but one that takes a lot longer to set up and play. That 300 per cent increase in overhead isn't worth the 40 per cent increase in depth, IMHO.
3 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ted Kostek
United States
Camano Island
Washington
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
From a simulation stand-point, I don't know if the full-strength-till-dead thing works.

To keep the games move along at a good pace, however, it's important.

If you reduce the attack dice as you take damage, the game would start to bog down.

I can easily imagine situations with lots of weak units who can't really hit anything.

One house rule that seems to be a middle ground is to always roll the same number of dice, but to restrict max damage based on number of remaining figures.

Never tried it, but it might work.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
. .

Apex
North Carolina
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Well I think that's partially true. I found that playing Memoir '44 and then playing Tide of Iron which are the same topic at least the payoff in rule complexity between Memoir and Tide wasn't as great as I had hoped. The main reason was that I didn't feel that Tide had a drastic improvement on the flavor of WWII combat from Memoir despite all the extras.

The differences between Battle Cry and say Memoir with a few expansions, however, aren't really comparable in my opinion. Battle Cry, to me, doesn't feel like Civil War combat. It just doesn't have the flavor and tactical differences one would expect from a Civil War game. I didn't get that feeling in Memoir which seemed like it was more refined for the topic.

I'm not faulting Borg on Battle Cry it was and is a great game. That simplicity is what makes it great. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the best command & colors game in the series of which I've only missed out on the Ancients line.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Australia
Sebastopol (Ballarat)
Victoria
flag msg tools
That's Karl on the left. Eternity on the right.
badge
I love Melissa, but don't tell her. It's a secret if she can find this. Shhhhh....
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
medlinke wrote:
The differences between Battle Cry and say Memoir with a few expansions, however, aren't really comparable in my opinion. Battle Cry, to me, doesn't feel like Civil War combat. It just doesn't have the flavor and tactical differences one would expect from a Civil War game. I didn't get that feeling in Memoir which seemed like it was more refined for the topic.


Thanks for the review.

I'm not sure about the above comment though. I find that it can create a great narrative. (pimping myself here)

Also, the slowness of the advance and getting cut to pieces on the way feels Civil War-like to me. It does feel the most simplistic of the games in the system, but although somewhat abstracted I enjoy it.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Barbarossa wrote:
The biggest problem I have with the system is that it often comes down to taking cheap shots to finish off units and get the requisite number of flags - this seems to be particularly the case with C&C: Ancients - rather than successfully implementing a strategic plan. Great system anyway.


A few players I know like to play a win-by-two flags variant to curtail the play you describe. To win, you must meet the scenario victory conditions and also be ahead by two flags over your opponent. If not, the game continues until one player or the other is the first to reach the scenario victory conditions plus one more banner.

So, in a 6 banner game, you must be ahead of your opponent 6-4 to win outright. If the score is 6-5 when the 6th banner is taken, the first player to reach 7 banners (6 + 1) wins.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Becker
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review. Like you, I certainly have gotten my money's worth with Battle Cry. I played quite a lot of it the first 3 years after it came out, then I took a Battle Cry hiatus while I started playing Commands & Colors: Ancients. Now GameTableOnline.com has an online Battle Cry, and I have chalked up another hundred plays.

Yes there is quite a bit of luck in the game, and sometimes you just have to duck and cover as your opponent releases multiple "All Out Offensive" cards on you. However, many good players can overcome the luck element by using good tactics, playing the best odds, and waiting for the right moments.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Of the 3 historical games using Borg's C&C system, Battle Cry might be (for me) the worst fit.

The system "feels" appropriate for C&C:Ancients, and so completely abstracted for the WWII flavor as to hardly matter (scale varies dramatically, from one scenario to the next).

But the Civil War was, first and foremost, a matter of weapons greatly favoring the defender. For this reason, I find it jarringly inappropriate that the units moving get to inflict damage first - this was simply not the case in the Civil War (save for minor skirmishes where an ambush played a role).

This is not to say that playing the game cannot prove a challenge in managing your cards and forces - just that this challenge does not in any substantial way parallel combat during the Civil War period.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Smooth seas make the voyage more pleasant.
badge
A ship in port is safe, and that's just what ports are for.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For those who wish Battle Cry were more realistic, click this link . . .
http://www.thewargamer.com/battlecry/resources.html

. . . then scroll down and look for "Enhanced Battle Cry Version 3." It's an attempt to correct some of the obvious inaccuracies and give the game more of a Civil War feel.

There's also lots more stuff at the above link--scenarios, variants, etc.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Smooth seas make the voyage more pleasant.
badge
A ship in port is safe, and that's just what ports are for.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Barbarossa wrote:
Yes, Borg had a double-size demonstration set with painted metal miniatures which he used at conventions. . . .


And you can see him--and them--here:
http://www.angelfire.com/games2/battlecry/Historicon.html
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.