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BattleCON: War of Indines» Forums » Reviews

Subject: BattleCon: A Lot of Game in a Little Box rss

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Nate K
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I was sent a review copy of BattleCon by the game’s designer, D. Brad Talton, Jr., which was very flattering. To all you soon-to-be-published game designers out there, please be aware that I will happily accept review copies of your games!

BattleCon is a fighting card game for two to four players. It is set in the world of Indines, although the gamebox does little to explain all the craziness that is going down in this world. You may want to check out the roleplaying game to learn more about that.

Since the game involves direct conflict, it’s not the sort of game that I can usually get my wife to play with me, so I invited a couple friends over to give the game a shot.

THE COMPONENTS

The box is gorgeous, sturdy, and pretty compact. The lid slides off easily enough. Inside, I discovered a small gameboard, a surprisingly think rulebook of about 50 pages, perhaps 150 cards, and a lot of tokens.

The tokens popped out cleanly and easily and feel very thick and sturdy.

The cards feel sufficiently rigid in the hand. They are pretty glossy and slide across each other and the table well. The game requires no shuffling, but if it did, I imagine that these cards would stand up to shuffling pretty well. Their art is universally top-notch.

The rulebook is laid out very well, with a handy index right on the back that helped solve most of the issues that my friends and I encountered. There are plenty of helpful tips and beautiful illustrations. There are a one or two terms, such as "advance" or "beat," that could have used a little bit of additional explanation, but most game terminology is very straightforward. The paper and construction seem to be of a very high quality.

The gameboard, when in the box, fits quite snugly against the sides of the box. It can be difficult to get it back out without warping the sides of the box out a bit. But the gameboard is well constructed. It seems to be very durable, and shows a portion of a map of Indines in the background, which is a neat detail.

The game also comes with four plastic stands into which the character tokens can be inserted. These stands start with a very tight grip. I damaged the Kallistar token slightly while inserting her token into a stand. Fearful of damaging the other tokens, I pried the remaining stands with a butter knife to widen their grip. This made my wife very nervous, and prevented us from jumping right into the game.

One complaint I have about the cards is their apparent randomness. I think they were sorted into pseudo-alphabetical order. I had to spend a good twenty minutes sorting the cards into a more logical sequence. (As a long-time Magic: The Gathering player, I have lots of experience sorting cards.) I combined all the character cards together with their styles and unique bases, followed by the bases that every character uses, then the more unique cards that are only used for advanced games. This may be a minor complaint, but it was one more thing that made jumping right into the game a little slower.

THE ART

Very good all around. The box is gorgeous, the cards look stellar, the instructional comic strip in the rulebook was adorable… I even enjoy the little figures on the bases demonstrating the actions.

That being said, the wide variety of artistic styles caused a bit of a disconnect for me. For example, Tatsumi and her little panda Juto seemed to be in a different world than Hepzibah, and Regicide Heketch had a look that seemed to clash with both Tatsumi and Hepzibah. This may not bother everyone. In fact, as a recovering Magic addict, it shouldn’t bother me. Especially since none of the pieces were bad artwork. But they didn’t quite mesh, for me, which made it a little more difficult to get sucked into the world. Others may have a different experience.

THE GAMEPLAY

Players: 2-4
Setup: Minimal—finding a character’s unique tokens can take a moment or two
Playing time: 5-20 minutes per player

Now we come to the meat of the game. Learning how to play BattleCon is a quick and easy process. The mechanics are simple. Anyone who has had experience with any sort of fighting card game should be able to pick up the game without any problems.

The two-player game is played on a board with a single track of seven spaces. Three- and four-player games use the other side of the board, which contains two tracks of seven spaces.

Each player takes six base cards. These are the same for every character (unless playing certain advanced modes, which I will not discuss). Then all players select a character and take that character’s five unique style cards, as well as a base that is unique to that character.

The base cards are attacks or maneuvers. The style cards add positive or negative modifiers to the base’s range, power, and priority. Style cards also add special abilities unique to each character.

Each round or “beat,” all players select a style card and a base card and lay them facedown. Then, the cards are revealed simultaneously. The player with the highest priority becomes the active player and is able to resolve the effects of his or her cards first.

Some cards allow players to move to different spaces on the board. Many of them are attacks that will damage the opponent. The damage is equal to the attack’s power, but the attack will only hit if the opponent is in range. That means that they have to be within a certain number of spaces on the board.

At the end of the turn, the two cards a player used go to his or her first discard pile. The two cards that were in the first discard pile move to the second discard pile. The two cards in the second discard pile return to the player’s hand. This means that using a particular style or base deprives that player of that card for two beats. And since the discard piles are face-up, other players can see which moves are unavailable to their opponents. It makes predicting the opponent’s moves slightly easier. It also helps alleviate “analysis paralysis” somewhat, as each player only has 8 cards in hand—3 styles and 5 bases. That means fewer variables to juggle each beat.

THE STRATEGY

The game mechanics are very simple and can be learned in just a few minutes. However, BattleCon has a depth of strategy that makes it a very interesting and challenging game. The prediction aspect of anticipating and countering an opponent’s moves is thrilling and fun.

One of the many things that a player has to be wary of is “stunning.” If a player takes a hit and has no stun guard or stun immunity, then their character is unable to attack or activate most effects that beat. (There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, getting hit hard enough will stop a player from doing anything that turn.) That makes high speed or priority very important. Faster characters will usually hit first, and thus have a good chance of stunning their opponent. Vanaah seems to be good at this—many of her attacks had a very high priority.

However, many characters have cards that say “Stun Guard X.” That means that they are not stunned unless the opponent deals more than X damage. If they take X or less damage, though, then they will be able to strike back, which can hurt a lot. Cadenza is particularly good at this. He is very difficult to stun, and his attacks often hit for a hefty amount of damage.

Movement and range are also important. Predicting the opponent’s intended attacks allows a player to maneuver outside of the range of that attack. In the 2 vs 1 games that my friends and I played, there was a delightful little dance every turn as the “boss” character tried to outmaneuver the other two characters and be the only one to deal damage that turn. Luc Von Gott turned out to be very good at this, because his Time Tokens can be used to teleport to any space on the board at the beginning of the turn. He could position himself in ways that would negate his opponents’ attacks while still dealing his hardest blows.

The game also ends after 15 beats. At the end of the fifteenth beat, if no character has been defeated, the player with the highest life total wins. Magdelina has plenty of healing spells. She seems very good at staying alive and picking away are her opponent’s life.

THE UNEXPLORED

There is a LOT of gameplay packed into this little box. Here is a list of the aspects of BattleCon that I have yet to try:

--Advanced Characters (6 characters that require familiarity with the game to play effectively)
--Almighty Mode
--Arenas (which add fun and interesting effects that change gameplay)
--Blank cards (to create your own character)
--Finishing Moves (a powerful Special Action that appears to be brutal and unique to each character)
--Moderate Characters (6 characters that require a bit more knowledge of the game to play effectively)
--Special Actions (Cancel, Finish, and Pulse)
--Tag Teams
--Unique Characters (4 promotional characters, three of which will be given to all who preorder the game before January or backed the game on Kickstarter, and one of which will be available on BGG when the game starts shipping.)

So there is plenty left to explore.

THE VERDICT

I really enjoy BattleCon. I will not be able to play it as often as I would like, because most of my gameplay is either solitaire or with my wife. She doesn’t care for these sort of games. But whenever I hang out with my gamer friends, I am going to try and get in a quick game or two.

The game is simple to learn, yet has a lot of depth. This emulates the best fighting games, in my opinion. “Easy to learn, difficult to master.” There are also multiple variants and a total of 18 characters that come with the base game. (I believe the designer intends to release more characters and arenas to keep the game fresh and interesting, especially for tournament play.) So there is a lot to explore.

I highly recommend the game. For such a small box, there is a lot of game to be played. It’s fun, fast-paced, and exciting.

It would be nice if the cards came in a more logical sequence, though. Just saying.
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Echo W
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I too found the different art styles disconcerting. I chose to overlook that when I pledged to this game on Kickstarter. More cohesive art would definitely tie it together better. Thankfully, for me, the gameplay makes up for it.

Thanks for the great review!
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Brad Talton
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Thanks for the review, Nate!

To answer one of the questions in the review:
There are 4 promotional characters currently.

Three (Danny, Robert, and Claus/Wyndhal, more on them here: http://www.battleconnection.com/index.php?option=com_content...) are going to be shipped to everyone who pre-orders the game by the end of December from my online store, as well as to kickstarter backers.

You will get your choice of one of these characters when you buy the game via local retailers or our online store after the start of January.

There is one extra promotional character which will be available from BGG once the game debuts.

We're also planning on having tournament prize support packs which will allow you to acquire additional promo characters, play mats, alternate art characters, and more. These are to help you get the community together for exciting local tournaments, and will probably cost a little more than the base game.
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Josh Gaudreau
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Great review!

I backed this on Kickstarter a long time ago. You've just made me much more excited to receive my copy than I previously was!
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Ernie Barrett
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I completely missed this on kickstarter, is there a way to still preorder this?
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Nate K
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ErnieB wrote:
I completely missed this on kickstarter, is there a way to still preorder this?


A free print-and-play version of the game is available at lvl99games.com. I believe you can also preorder it on that site.
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Brad Talton
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Yes, our online store is at http://store.lvl99games.com, where you can buy the complete print and play or the complete retail game (shipping in January). Until December, when you buy the retail box from our website, we're including the print and play game and the 3 bonus characters as well.

Also, you can get a free print and play version (4 characters and the rulebook) from http://www.battleconnection.com.

For those curious about the tabletop game Nate mentioned, it's also on BGG: Champions of Indines
It's more of a tactical game than an RPG. Imagine the DnD boardgames, but no roleplaying, a little more character customization, and no dungeons-- just giant bosses.
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Nate K
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Jim Nightshade wrote:
great review, I will order based on this.


Really? Wow, that's high praise! Thank you! I'm confident that you will enjoy the game.
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One Armed Bandit
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Kyokai wrote:
Yes, our online store is at http://store.lvl99games.com, where you can buy the complete print and play or the complete retail game (shipping in January). Until December, when you buy the retail box from our website, we're including the print and play game and the 3 bonus characters as well.


This has been on my radar for a while, but this review was the tipping point and I bit.

I was supposed to get the PNP as well? Does that come when it ships, or did I miss it somehow?
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Brad Talton
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Just email me at level99games@gmail.com and I will send it to you. It's given to pre-orders on a by-request basis.
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K
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Nice review, as a fan of fighting games this sounds very interesting.

The only thing holding me back is the promotional characters... seems a bit out of place in a competitive tournament game. I'm fine with expandable games but having some expansions limited is not cool
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Josh
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SirHandsome wrote:
The only thing holding me back is the promotional characters... seems a bit out of place in a competitive tournament game. I'm fine with expandable games but having some expansions limited is not cool


If you're playing in a tournament though, there should be a set group of characters that everybody can play from. You'd have the option at that point to use one of the promo characters that you wouldn't have at home.
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K
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Yeah but you don't have experience as or against those characters you've never seen before. It's not something everyone will have a problem with, but to me it's supremely annoying

It looks like a fantastic game. I'll probably get it anyway -- luckily for me I found out about it today and not after the promotional "deadline." Hopefully the promos will be widely and regularly available later, because limited promos really suck for people who hear about a game late.

When a limited promo is something fluffy or aesthetic that's one thing, but it seems weird to me to go through the trouble to design, balance, and test extra "meat of the game" stuff (asymmetrical characters) and then not let everyone enjoy it?
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Brad Talton
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The promos are meant to add fluff to the game, and come tournament-banned right out of their packs. Only the characters in the game box are balanced and designed for use in official tournaments (of course, you can do whatever you want in friendly local gatherings).
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K
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Thanks for clarifying for me. By their descriptions on your website the promo characters actually sound very very interesting, so I thought it was a shame to limit them
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Jay Kiley
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Thank you for the excellent review. I also ordered the game based on your comments.

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Nate K
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GreatDebate wrote:
Thank you for the excellent review. I also ordered the game based on your comments.



Excellent! I'm glad you liked the review. I am confident that you will enjoy the game.
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Gene Chiu
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You only briefly mentioned a 3 or 4 player game. Can you or someone please elaborate on 3+ player games? I generally find that I generally have a play group of 3 players often and would like to know how multi-player games work.
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Dylan Thurston
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The 3, 4, and 5 player games are boss battles: One player plays either a powered-up character, or one of a few included bosses (with special large standups) and takes on the others.

The box has nearly enough components to play two parallel two-player games; the only thing missing is an extra board, which is easy enough to mock up. (You just need a line of 7 locations.)

EDIT: After reading Nate K's response below, I realized which forum I was on. Everything I wrote above is about Devastation of Indines, not War of Indines.
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Nate K
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Stuntman wrote:
You only briefly mentioned a 3 or 4 player game. Can you or someone please elaborate on 3+ player games? I generally find that I generally have a play group of 3 players often and would like to know how multi-player games work.


BattleCON: Devastation of Indines is slightly friendlier to multiplayer games. It includes multiple "boss" characters, for 2v1 or 3v1 fights. It has streamlined rules for 2v2 fights. It even has several cooperative dungeon modes wherein 2+ players team up to fight AI opponents. If you plan on playing with 3+ players on a regular basis, I'd recommend starting with Devastation.

War of Indines also allows for 2v1 and 3v1 battles, wherein one player uses souped-up versions of their attacks to take on multiple opponents. It also has a multiplayer board layout with two tracks of 7 spaces (instead of just a single track), but the movement rules are a lot more complex on that board and thus are not great for beginners. It also contains rules for 2v2 and Tag Team matchups.
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Gene Chiu
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Thanks to you both, Dylan and Nate. I was actually more interested in Devastation of Indines. I posed my question here as there seemed to be more activity and actual reviews here. My group likes co-op games, so this does seem to be the expansion to get. It's moving up my want list for Boxing day.
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