First Look: Battleground by Your Move Games
Garrett and I had to head south to do an emergency overnight, so on the way we stopped at the Woodbridge GAME PARLOR to pick up some base flocking and a new card game called BATTLE GROUND. Just to keep dad preoccupied, he’s so easily distractible.
The product text states:
Battleground: Fantasy Warfare is a point-based miniatures game – but without the miniatures. Battleground uses cards rather than painted models to represent your forces. This means a much lower price as well as easier transportation and setup, but don’t be fooled – this is not a “light” war game or a CCG. Battleground is a serious war game that will challenge you at every step, from army design and deployment to tactical maneuvers and command decisions until battle’s end.
Basically, each card deck represents a faction (the ones published so far are described HERE), and they are standard fantasy army stuff so far. Each deck either has or will have an expansion deck that will add more or different units.
A deck has both Troop Cards done in a top down perspective on one side, with a statistics line and a line for “hits” (green/yellow/red):
And Command Cards (not pictured), which basically are one-shots that can modify elements of a combat (attacking/defending/morale and etc.).
You are expected to track the hits on the card itself, so I strongly recommend DECK PROTECTORS for this game if you want to play it more than a few times, even if you use dry erase or wax crayons.
The game is point-based, like a lot of generic fantasy games are, and the starter rules (linked, PDF) give a few configurations of the basic card decks to make different kinds of armies that are within each other’s point value. The starter rules can be played without Command Cards (which we did) and the Advanced Rules (linked, PDF) add a great deal to the game– adding command control, facing, flanking, and refining movement and combat quite a bit.
I picked up the basic bad guy and the basic good guy:
You pick out a good starter force (Garrett and I decided upon the basic 1290 pt. starter armies listed in the rules) and deploy them within 7″ of the table edge, one card at a time, alternating.
Here G. and I bring our armies (me: human G: Undead) onto the field a troop at a time.
Careful measurement, there, G.!
The Badies have more guys than I do… so my line will have to stretch farther.
Dad’s comments about formation building fall upon deaf ears
The Human Line. Shallower, with some heavy infantry in the center and some spearmen and hoardes on the edges. My bowmen are to the left of the line. a slight miscalculation!
The Bad guy’s line steps out. He has some giant skeletons and zombie trolls that are worrisome, but I’m not too worried about his melee troops otherwise, and he can’t shoot as far as me.
Gar gives his army of undead an all out advance order, and they shuffle forward. He learns a leasson in grouping slow and fast troops together.
The bowmen of Hawskmoor prove their worth, having a 21″ range vice a 14 for the skeletal archers. I reach and touch someone (namely his skeletal giants) who are the fastest unit in his army.
I scramble to redeploy my line, as it is not square on to the skeleton line. The skelton unit with the four sided dice has taken lots of archery hits and is now in the “Red Zone” (see card graphic above) which means it will fight far worse than it could at start.
Garrett’s line moves closer, taking bow shots as the come on. The skeltal archers are still outside of 14″ range for most units.
Here they come, crunching into my line on the left….
… and on the right
We did a few turns of melee and I managed to inflict heavy losses (actually eliminating two skeltal hordes). Garrett, being seven years old, was good for only a few more turns before his patience fled, so I gathered up our things and we went on our merry way.
Battleground is a great little system that is loads of fun to play with a fellow miniaturist, especially somebody with a background in fantasy mass combat games like Warhammer or Ares. The system is simple enough, somewhat like Ancients done with cards– but it is NOT something I would recommend to a dad playing with a child with a low attention span or easily distractable. There are many miniatures-like niggly bits about facing, flanking and such that make the game the closest thing to playign with minis I’ve seen in a card format. This is a very commendable first offering and I’m enthused. However, I feel that the game is missing some essential fantasy elements– big monsters, heros, wizards, any kind of magic system, etc. The game (as published) could easily be a historical set with funny pictures– get cracking on a magick system, YOUR MOVE! I hope to see more fantasy bits in followup expansion sets. In sum, a pretty good offering that can be great with a little more expansion sets.
OK, now that Walt’s thoughts on Battleground are out of the closet, I can rip them to shreds.
I picked up Battleground back in mid-September, right before our first little jaunt down to Guatemala. I’d read about it in some or another con report, and I’m a sucker for clever game gimmicks – especially inexpensive clever game gimmicks. It’s easy portability also appealed to me, since I was about to hit the road for a while.
I got the Human and Orc starter decks, plus their expansion decks. I also appreciate that the thing isn’t one of those danged ‘collectible’ games, because I’m horrible when I get hooked on one of those.
I’m impressed by the ingenuity of the whole thing. I haven’t really played it enough to get an idea of play balance or any of that other game-guru esoterica, but I have managed to have a lot of fun fiddling with it. It’s nothing spectacular as minis systems go – pretty basic stuff. Any competent Warhammer player will be chugging along inside of ten minutes, I imagine.
The artwork is solid, if not spectacular. The card play has some impact on the game, but isn’t too intrusive. The command rules are straightforward and impose just enough limitation on the players that they make you think. And did I mention that it isn’t collectible?
Like Walt, I think the game could use just a little more fantasy ‘fluff’. The tactic cards (or whatever you call them) add a little bit of the necessary chrome, but anybody expecting mighty heroes and other powerful characters a la Warhammer will come away disappointed. This game is about troops and how you direct them.
Since I’m not a devotee of high-fantasy battling with fireballs and lightning bolts flying around, none of that particularly bothers me. It’s a pretty good little straight-up wargame, especially if you toss in the Advanced Rules for battlefield terrain and a few other items.
As Walt says, definitely spend $3 or so to pick up some deck protector sleeves. No sense screwing up your cards out of laziness. Also, the expansion decks add some handy (nay, critical) troops types to every army. What fun is a human army, after all, if you can’t have at least one unit of mounted knights charging around?
http://www.lshm.net/?p=113— Lone Star Historical Miniatures