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Subject: Five Player Battlemist, or, Greg Wins Again rss

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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Greg, Pete, Marie and Frank showed up at my place last night for a round of Battlemist. Greg and Pete and I are veteran players; first game for Marie and Frank, so we offered a lot of advice during game play. Not only is Greg a veteran player, but he's won the last three or four games of Battlemist that we've sat down to play.

I've recently noted how much I like this game, even though I'm aware of its flaws. One thing I failed to mention, but that I enjoy, is that you can knock off a game in about three hours, which we did.

We played the following races:
Greg: Daqan Knights
Marie: The Dark One
Pete: The Dunwarr Dwarves
Frank: The Loth Khar Barbarians
Me: The Lotharia Elves

No orcs this time. Too bad, as I enjoy playing them.

Board placement went pretty normally for the first half. Greg managed to box out a large section of the map uncontested for himself, and I wasn't able to take advantage due to our similar alignments. I couldn't find a spot on his side of the board that was more than four realms away. Instead, I waited too long to place my home realm, and ended up behind Pete's back side. I'd have to go through the Dwarves to get to the rest of the board, and this doomed Pete and I.

I did manage to put the Godstone Mountains as the only route into my home realm, and I had a couple of good wood realms behind me. I was, however, critically short on grain.

The game started out as usual, and Pete and I commenced to hammering on each other. I made judicious use of my starpowers for Song of Fear spells, thus getting good kills on his armies. However, I didn't risk to take his home realm, which I had an opportunity to do at one point early on. Had I taken that risk, I might have put myself in a good position.

Instead, Pete managed to seize my front door (The Godstone Mountains), and then we commenced a back-and-forth struggle over several turns. He broke the stalemate and took my home realm, knocking me out. His victory was short-lived, as Marie conquered him later in the round.

No one invested much effort in questing. Greg managed to find the only star in the game by questing, bringing his total to three. This game was to be resolved by a clash of arms.

Greg took advantage of Frank's passive stance, and conquered his home realm, putting him at four stars. The Dark One and the Daqan Knights were then poised for a duel to the death.

The Knights transitioned to a quick offensive, putting troops right on the Dark One's doorstep. That managed to buy Greg enough time to generate enough income to buy his fifth and final star. Once again, Greg beats us at my game. I shouldn't be surprised, as he's gotten good at it. A little luck in the questing game, good board placement, and well-time aggression makes him the victor.

A couple things to note that I didn't note in my previous review:

(1) The maintenance system in this game can put players into a "use it or lose it" attitude with their armies. This is a good thing, as it promotes conflict.

(2) The initiative system is functional, but not exciting. They tried to fix that in Sails of War, and did okay, but I don't like using Sails of War for other reasons. (That's a separate post for another day.) I feel like there's got to be a better way to solve that, especially if they could integrate it with the rest of the game. Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) did a good job of that with the strategy cards, and I think that a similar mechanic would suit a rewrite of Battlemist well. Although I think that perhaps a mechanic similar to Citadels might work better, with the hidden role selection.

(3) Yeah, the board-building can really screw you. It got me in this game, by not paying attention to aligment restrictions. That, and I had too many good realms in my hand, which I wanted to place near me. That started limiting my options late, and put me in a very bad spot.

I still have fun every time this one hits the table, and we can play it on a weeknight. I'm juiced-up for another game, and I'm going to work to get this one on the table again in a short time.
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