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Subject: I recommend the E-board game "Battles: Prince of persia". rss

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david funch
United States
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I know this isn’t exactly about a board game, but it’s about a video game that plays so much like a board game that I think many people here would really enjoy it. It is the very definition of electronic board game. In fact, it shares much more in common with it’s cardboard cousins than it does with it’s bits & bytes brothers. The game is Battles: Prince of Persia for Nintendo’s DS system and here’s a review.

BoP is a card driven tactical combat game. Players are in control of an army where each unit represents a small squad of soldiers. Players also get one unit that represents a single, powerful, character. This is the general. Unlike other electronic tactics games, you don’t get your own personal army to level up and equip in between missions. Instead, this game gives you a deck of cards to customize and use to give your units orders or to play special effects. The cards are very similar to those found in collectable card games. New packs of cards are gained from completing missions in campaign mode and, like a CCG, there’s a set amount of commons, uncommons, and rares in each pack.

Deck construction is simple and, thankfully, isn’t the focus of the game. A deck is exactly 30 cards, there can no more than 3 copies of any given card, and no more than 3 total cards that are “ultra-rare”. In addition to the variety of effects a card can have on combat, each card also has a number (usually from 2-4) on it, which represents how many units can be given orders with that card.

Players alternate taking turns where they can play a single card as either a special ability or use it to give orders to units. The only type of “support” unit is of the long-range type. All your typical magical effects are handled by playing cards for their abilities instead of giving orders for your turn. Giving orders is simple, if the card has a 3 on it you can move and/or attack with three units. Those units become “used”, meaning they can’t be given orders again, and then it’s your opponent’s turn to play a card.

When you run out of cards or don’t want to play any more you can pass. After both players pass in a row the current “hour”(round) is over. When a new hour starts “used” units become ready again and players draw cards equal to their hand size (which is determined by the general they’re using). The system works really well because the concept of issuing orders to only a few units at a time creates a psuedo real-time aspect and a lot of special effects are in play for a set number of “hours” before expiring.

The rules of engagement are simple but very effective. The four squares immediately adjacent to every unit is it’s “zone of control” (ZoC). If you move a unit into an enemy’s ZoC (there’s no, “passing through, don’t mind me”) than the two units immediately do battle (entering a square that is more than one enemy’s ZoC means you only fight one battle and you get to choose which one). Giving a move order to a unit already in a hostile ZoC means that unit cannot enter another enemy ZoC that turn.

There are quit a few modifiers to combat. There is a rock-paper-scissor relationship found between the three weapon types (sword, pike, missile) and the three unit sizes (small, medium, large). There are terrain effects and bonuses for attacking from the sides or behind. Causing 9 or more points of damage in a single attack will “push back” a unit and if there’s no room for that than the unit takes 50% more damage instead (so there’s real incentive for strategic placing and surrounding of units). Taking even more damage can have even worse effects, like ready units becoming used and used units becoming stunned (become used at the start of the next hour instead of ready). Units become weaker the more hit points they lose and even have to make moral checks when they’re close to dying.

Winning a battle is a little more complex than simply defeating your opponent’s entire army. Instead, a set number of points needs to be reached, and the two opposing armies often have separate ways to earn points. For example: one army might need to defend a city with two gates and gets 2 points for each gate standing at the beginning of every hour and 1 point for each opposing unit destroyed, while the other army might get 2 points for each opposing unit destroyed and 5 for destroying a gate, and if either side defeats a general they get 7 points. First side to 25 points wins.

So there you have it. A complex game that’s governed by simple rules which makes it easy to play but doesn’t take away from the strategy or tactics. Sorry if you think this is out of place but I feel many people here that have a DS (or their kids do) can’t do wrong by picking this up.

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