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I love BGG.

I’ve loved BGG since the day I discovered it.

Like all the people who love BGG I BGG money cause I want BGG to stay alive, and when I give money to BGG the site asks me if I wanna get rid of the ads and, even if I give enough money for that, I never get rid of the ads.

Now it’s pay back time: my faith towards the ads has finally paid off indeed.

I discovered Battlecon because I was attracted by the nice art of the ad for the Kickstarter. Clicked on it, followed the links to the reviews, thought “WOW! That’s a game I should have heard about long ago!” and pledged.

And I sure have had no reason to regret it.


First things first, a little explanation about my little gaming world:

Even if I’m now 37, I’m still a very VERY devoted gamer, both video games and boardgames.
And I’m one of the lucky ones who found a wife who loves her boardgames nearly as much as I do (and that means A LOT). But the same doesn’t apply to video games.

Delphine (that’s the name of my wife kiss) likes her video games but she’s not hardcore when I am.

Why am I writing about video games?
Well, you must know that Battlecon is an effort to transcribe the feeling of fighting games such as Street Fighter or (more to the point) Guilty Gear/ Blazblue into a boardgame.
So… My wife used to love fighting games but she didn’t play that much and plays less and less. I play less and less too, but I still play hard cause I used to play A LOT.

Same applies to my little brother.

Therefore, they don’t play fighting games with me anymore. Because I win 99% of games due to speed, training. And I’m not good enough to play online without wanting to break my screen. So I don’t play at all…
A real shame, since I really like the feeling of fighting games.

Now the question is: does Battlecon fix my problem?

To those who like a long story short, no suspense: the answer is YES.

The differences between Batlecon and playing and actual combat video game are such:

Video game: depends on speed. Tactics, double-guessing, psychology and strategy are there but speed is of the essence and reflexes acquired through long training sessions make more difference end of the day than the battle of minds.

Battlecon: no speed (if you don't use a Chess clock), so tactics, double-guessing and strategy are your sole concern.

Okay that is done now. My mark for those who want no details…
If you check my profile you’ll see that I gave 10 to Go and only to Go. Thus the Print and play demo version Battlecon will get my own personal maximum (apart from Go) of 9.5.

Now those who don’t want any details but would be happy to see how the game is played can go here :
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/level99games/battlecon-d...
And check the game play video...

...and pledge. I won’t be blamed for not showing the way, don’t complain afterwards if you missed this KS XD!


And now: to the details!


So:

What is Battlecon?


Battle con, as I’ve written, simulates 2D combat video games.

Two characters selected in a rooster of 18 (there will be more once the KS is finished and the PNP version has only four) are placed on a board with 7 positions on it.

Each player receives two kits: one made of base cards that are similar to his opponent’s and one made of cards that are specific to his character.

The core mechanics is so neat it can be taught just by taking two cards and placing them next to each other.

Card on the left (character) has an adjective, while card on the right (base) has a name. Both form an attack defined by three main factors: range, power and priority.

Add the numbers and effects of both cards and what you get is an attack that mixes a base that all fighters are supposed to know (grab, strike, burst, shot, dash and drive) and the personal style of the character.

!!! Those cards are chosen from all the cards minus those in the discard pileS (we’ll see that later) so NO LUCK involved !!!


Then there’s a small phase called Ante when you can play tokens or cards (an extra layer of effects that also act as a resource to be managed)

Both players then reveal their cards at the same time and play their “start of beat effects” (a beat is… a turn!)

Then they compare their priority (speed of the attack) to decide who goes first.

Highest priority strikes first applies his before activating effects, inflicts damages equal to power if his opponent is within range of his attack, plus effects on hit or on damage and after activating effects and then IF NOT STUNNED, lowest priority strikes back.

You’re stunned if you’re hit. But there’s such a thing as stun guard that allows for counterattack.

Last, both players apply “end of beat” effects and recycle and it’s back to square one.

Easy, uh?

Recycle? Oh yeah, easy too: you have two discard piles so that an attack you play takes two turns to come back in your hand.

Gotta plan your moves carefully then. Yep, got to XD!

Last but not least: finishers and strikers!

Just as in combat video games, you have finisher moves. It’s a special double-sided card that allows you to launch a terrible (often decisive) attack once you’ve reached 7 life points (and therefore are in a bad shape!).
You must choose you finisher at the beginning of the game between two. Keeping in mind what you and your opponent’s finishers are is, therefore, crucial.
Those finishers authorize violent come backs but, like the rest of the game, they’re not luck based so if you’ve cornered your opponent and beat the hell out of him/her and he/she kicks your ass to smithereens with a finisher, don’t complain, it’s just that you should have seen it coming !

Strikers simulate those characters you can summon in video games where you have tag battles, a character that enters the fray to deliver a blow that will be different from the usual style of your character.
Now you may have noticed that choosing your finisher and your striker will add a level of personalization to your character.
(important note: I had not played with the strikers yet when writing this review. Just read a few of them and started preparing my own custom one since I pledged the 300$ "Tactical Strike" level pledge!)


How does it actually play?

The fact is that from a very simple base (there’s a comic version of the rules that can be read -even by non-native English speakers with a decent mastery of English- in n five minutes and covers everything you need to know) the game offers a depth rarely seen apart from the “great old ones” such as Chess or Go but with MUCH MORE FUN included.

First, your character moves on the board.

It’s 2D style so you move on a line but since range defines if you hit or not, positioning is extremely important (just like in a video game!). Not only your position but also anticipating your opponent’s position.

A lot of effects allow you to move before or after your attack and planning your movements is one of the keys to victory.

Second, there’s a LOT of resources management. Much more than the eyes can see at first.

Obviously you have those tokens that can be played during the Ante phase and give crucial bonuses that must be spent with caution, but you also have to remember that EACH CARD you play will be missing for two turns! So you must be sure that you’re not wasting that burst or that strike at a time when it will not connect when you should have added weigh to a powerful blow at a later stage!!!

Third there’s a lot of bluffing, general psychology and double-guessing involved.

Unlike Yomi for example (I’ll talk about the comparison between Yomi and Battlecon later here), since you are in a full information situation, there’s no way you’ll be stuck with cards you don’t need now and will have to do something that you don’t want to do. And the same applies to your opponent.

Basically, in a game of Battlecon, if you memorize the cards that have already been played (only four cards to be memorized) by your opponent and know both yours and your opponent’s character, you’re supposed to be able to assess all the possible moves and strategies.

And you’ll need to do that in a way to makes your blows connect and avoid your opponent’s.

Strangely enough, we’ve been able to do that after 2 or three games with each character. The game is so intuitive that it allows such a feat. BUT there’s no doubt that as experience grow so will the amount of computable information and the amount of psychology/double-guessing.

… sigh … (muses on the extreme replaybility of the full, 18 characters game with a joyful smile on his face)

Fourth: characters since we’re talking about them

As my brother said: “yeah: each character does something and does it well. So you have to master that and make sure you also know what your opponent’s character does.”

Let’s make this clear: Battlecon (both War and Devastation) has benefited from an enormous amount of work. It shows in every part of the game, fluff included.

Mister Talton, the designer (a very friendly chap I reckon from the few exchanges we had both on the KS forum and on BGG by MP) definitely is a man with a plan. He wants to write a RPG in the world of Indines and, to be honest, when you plunge deep into the fluff, you’d think the RPG is as good as written already.

All the characters have… Character! And each and every one of them really plays differently.

In the demo version alone you have Shekuthur, a woman who goes fast to beat the hell out of her opponent, Eligor who does counterattacks , Joal allows you to personalize your basic cards and thus adapt to all situations and opponents and Malandrax sets traps, which means that the board itself will become a minefield!

From what I’ve read about the first installment, we can trust Mister Talton and his playtesting team to make 18 (and more due to KS rewards!!!!) very different characters.

Once again: add the finishers, the strikers and the arenas (cards that will change the way you play your duel) and you already have a replayability that can only be described as NEVER SEEN BEFORE or something very close to that!

But that’s not the end of it! Nope. There are also: tag battles, team battles, a battle quest mode, coop, bosses, chibi and crossover characters, mascots, and a party game ll in the same theme of course)



What can I say?

It’s just as if that guy, David Brad Talton, is a living dimensional door to another reality and he just keeps pouring new stuff all day long.

As I said as an intro, I discovered Battlecon due to the add on BGG and until now I just can’t figure out why it’s not reached the hotness yet!

I mean, games like this, with this amount of fun, good fluff, good art and designer dedication you only see once in a while !

The sheer elegance of the core mechanic mixed with the various characters powers and styles really is something you don’t encounter that often.
And let’s face it: people who like their boardgames and don’t shun a good mind game will love Battlecon even if they’ve never played a combat video game in their whole lives.

Now as a final word, I need to compare Battlecon and Yomi. I’ve played maybe a hundred or so games of Yomi, so I’d be stupid if I suddenly bashed Yomi.

BUT since the very beginning I stated that Yomi had two major problems: luck of the draws and card-counting (who likes card-counting? I sure don’t…)

Both don’t apply to Battlecon and playing Battlecon made me realize that there was another MAJOR flaw in Yomi: it tries to simulate a combat game BUT there’s no positioning. And anyone who’s ever played a combat video game knows that positioning is crucial.

Thus Battlecon IMO is much closer to the feeling of combat video games than Yomi.

And the fact that you have stand-ups moving along the board (or cubecraft characters – check the KS, you’ll see XD!) and less cards definitely gives you the feeling of playing characters when Yomi will soon give you the feeling of just playing a card game…

To conclude:

A I write this review I’ve introduced Battle con to three different people and they’ve all loved it.
Only person who will not pledge the KS is my wife but that makes, perfect sense since she’ll play on MY copy XD!

I really thank David Brad Talton for this game he’s created. It’s the kind of rare gaming gem that makes you feel you’ll still be playing it in a loooooooooooong time. The last time I had that feeling about a game was with Neuroshima Hex and, no mistake, my feeling was right: I still play NH many years after.

It’s also important to note that the fluff is so consistent that it now has its own Wiki and that more games using the world if Indines exist and are being made.

But let’s stick with the main dish: Battlecon.
I can only advise anyone interested in anything even remotely linked to gaming to check the KS and plunge into what Battlecon is. It may very well be the only thing you really don’t want to miss to begin your 2013 gaming year properly!


Addendum: as I read this review again, I realized it might sound like a positive rant/fanboy love letter of sorts so:

1) I’m in NO WAY affiliated to Battlecon’s designer or artists. Never heard of them before I discovered Battlecon through this ad.

2) Of course I found a few (very minor and only esthetic) things I didn’t like in Battlecon BUT as soon as I MPed mister Talton about it, they “magically disappeared” and won’t be in the final version of Devastation.
Let’s not forget that we might be talking about what is, for me, the first ever REALLY participative funding on KS! (and let’s face it, for all the people who are backing this KS David Brad Talton is setting new standards for what a KS should be, I can only imagine us, five or ten years from now saying: “well that’s not a very “Talton” attitude for a crowd funding project…”

So: sorry folks, I won’t invent things I don’t like for the sake of it.

Hell yeah: I like everything I’ve seen about this game so far and so do my gaming partners!



(the half-star at the end is just because no other game shall be allowed to beat Go !)

I'll see you around in the world of Indines then.
You'll see there's a really nice community building around the game, and that ALSO is great about Battlecon!

EDIT: Thanks to this review I realized I made a mistake while reading the rules: both discard piles are common knowledge (and actually that was pretty obvious in the rules if I had paid more attention...) .
So: the memory part I just imagined BUT I think those who like it could add it as a variant. (still that might mean more aspirin after a few best of three XD)
I n the near future I personnaly might not use my own variant in this is precise case laugh
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Fran Marchante
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BattleCON: Devastation of Indines » Forums » Reviews
Re: Battlecon : Devastation – a review of the print and play demo version, 2 players
Great review!!!

I hope a lot of people read it, so they can see what a fantasic game we have here.
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Matthew Collier
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For those wanting a few extra characters, a free PnP version of War of Indines can be found on the battlecon (http://www.battleconnection.com) website containing 4 characters from the first game to add to your roster, as well as a 5th character as an extra download, all in all it will bring your PnP testing goodness to a roster of 9.

Also for those wanting to test out the strikers mechanic, 4 can be found here on BGG for printing as well as for others in the updates section of the Devastation of Indines kickstarter page.
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Bruno Gaia
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Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
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MCollier wrote:
For those wanting a few extra characters, a free PnP version of War of Indines can be found on the battlecon (http://www.battleconnection.com) website containing 4 characters from the first game to add to your roster, as well as a 5th character as an extra download, all in all it will bring your PnP testing goodness to a roster of 9.

Also for those wanting to test out the strikers mechanic, 4 can be found here on BGG for printing as well as for others in the updates section of the Devastation of Indines kickstarter page.


We're doing strikers this evening.
But from where we (my wife, my brother, my mate and I) stand they'll change nothing whatsoever to our opinion, just adding some more variety and modularity to game that already oozes replayability. New characters we'll be trying soon too (we wanted to incorporate more stuff little by little, not to get too overwhelmed by information, just like when you start a combat video game and wanna try all the characters at once: at the end of the day, you have less fun than when you try to master one and then another one etc :) )
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steve zhang
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Hi Bruno,

Not sure if you have tried out Yomi. It is one of my all time favourites because of the near-perfect fighting game simulation. I wish to get BattleCon for a long time but I don't have a constant game buddy to play 1v1 with me (same reason I did not get Summoner Wars, but the iOS version satisfies my crave), so I'm not sure if it is worth getting another 2-player game that really needs time to delve into. I'd like to know your thoughts on it if you have played it before.

Thanks in advance.
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Matthew Collier
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Strikers will only make you love it more, battlecon is amazing and I'm looking forward to the tons of new content available
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Bruno Gaia
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Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
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QueenOfAll wrote:
Hi Bruno,

Not sure if you have tried out Yomi. It is one of my all time favourites because of the near-perfect fighting game simulation. I wish to get BattleCon for a long time but I don't have a constant game buddy to play 1v1 with me (same reason I did not get Summoner Wars, but the iOS version satisfies my crave), so I'm not sure if it is worth getting another 2-player game that really needs time to delve into. I'd like to know your thoughts on it if you have played it before.

Thanks in advance.


Ah ah ah, read my review a bit more and you'll find your answer :)

Okay: the short of it: I've played a lot of Yomi and, honest, Battlecon, to me, is really a league above when it comes to simulating combat games!

I really prefer Battlecon mechanics (positioning + absence of luck/frustration factor + absence of card-counting possibility)

I think Batttlecon has all the goodness Yomi has, but with a lot of extra goodness that only Battlecon has. But let's remember that's just my opinion.

I still like Yomi. But I'm now 100% sure I won't play it again now that I've tried Battlecon, cause that would be one "combat game" too much...
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Sergio Macias
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Awesome and spot on review. Your enthusiasm is obvious but it doesn't come across as fanboyish... well, not too much anyways but hey, what can you do when you do love a game? laugh

From my limited experience I agree that this is a game that needs at least one second chance before you decide it's not for you. The first time you play it you are gonna feel like you are throwing random attacks at your opponent, not really know what you are doing or what the heck is going on, but as soon as of your second play you start feeling comfortable with your character, you start seeing patterns, what he/she is good at and you start playing smart and to your strenghts... or your opponent's weaknesses whistle

So, yeah, not for everybody but don't knock it till you tried it... at least twice
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steve zhang
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Oops my bad. Am caught red-handed for not going through all the text myself.

Thanks for the reply. Actually I just realised there is a free iOS version with IAP so definitely will try out the game tomorrow. (It's 2am here..)

On a side note, I do enjoy the card-counting mechanics in Yomi, or any games. Maybe I am of the minority?
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Bruno Gaia
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Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
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QueenOfAll wrote:
Oops my bad. Am caught red-handed for not going through all the text myself:p.

Thanks for the reply. Actually I just realised there is a free iOS version with IAP so definitely will try out the game tomorrow. (It's 2am here..)

On a side note, I do enjoy the card-counting mechanics in Yomi, or any games. Maybe I am of the minority?


Ah ah ah, I don't know if you're a minority but what I know for sure is that I can have fun memorizing the four cards my opponent has in his discard piles in a game of Battlecon but I'd sure never have fun trying to count cards while playing Yomi!

Glad you're giving it a try! You'll see it's really great, especially once you've started understanding how the various characters work.
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Scott Douglass
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You don't really need to memorize the discards, you can just look at the discard piles. It's not like Yomi where the discard pile might contain 20 cards that you'd have to look through. You can lay out the discard piles so that the names of all the cards are visible. It helps to know the styles and unique base of your opponent's character though. You can use summaries of the War of Indines characters (http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1315872/battlecon-war-of-indi... http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1315873/battlecon-war-of-indi... http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1315868/battlecon-war-of-indi...) until you know the cards, but I don't think anything similar exists yet for the Devastation characters.
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Bruno Gaia
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sdougla2 wrote:
You don't really need to memorize the discards, you can just look at the discard piles. It's not like Yomi where the discard pile might contain 20 cards that you'd have to look through. You can lay out the discard piles so that the names of all the cards are visible. It helps to know the styles and unique base of your opponent's character though. You can use summaries of the War of Indines characters (http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1315872/battlecon-war-of-indi... http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1315873/battlecon-war-of-indi... http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1315868/battlecon-war-of-indi...) until you know the cards, but I don't think anything similar exists yet for the Devastation characters.


Good idea. I'm pretty sure something like that will soon exist for Devastation.

But honestly the "bit o memory" needed I don't resent.
It can easily be thematized in fact (if you keep the discarded cards face down) like: a fighter who is observing the patterns in his opponents move, his level of exhaustion and such and trying to memorize and analyse it while preparing his next move.

Yep, no problem with that.

Produced funny situations in our games here actually like "Oh my god... Did you play "Strike" or not two beats ago? Tell me!!!! You gotta tell meee!!!!" (answer being inevitably a silent snigger of pure delight XD!)
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Pablo Schulman
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Yup, I thought te contents of the discards piles were public information as well...

Nice review by the way!
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Bruno Gaia
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Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
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PSchulman wrote:
Yup, I thought te contents of the discards piles were public information as well...

Nice review by the way!


Actually I might have been mistaken about that!
Info from the designer on another thread may confirm that the memory aspect of the game is my mistake.
BUT it sure could become a variant for those who like to add some spice to their dynamite or c4 flavoured vindaloo!!!

Edit: reading the rules woth eyes wide open allowed me to realize that yes: it was very obvious that the cards in the discard piles were to be face up...
Still the added spice in the C4 flavoured vindaloo recipe applies for those who like it hot angry.
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After playing the iOS as well as the free PnP versions of the game for a few days, I have to say that I still prefer Yomi better. The one thing that kills BattleCon for me is a lack of effective combo system.

I will likely buy the paid PnP version. I'm kind of glad i did not pledge this on kickstarter out of impulse because while this is a fun game, it does not justify the shipping cost for me. I'll play a few more games with more characters and probably write a review on the game.
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