Recommend
36 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

Battlestations» Forums » Reviews

Subject: [Review] Battlestations: Board game or role playing game? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Herb Petro
United States
INDIAN TRAIL
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Battlestations has elements of both a board game and a role playing game. Since I am an omni-gamer (liking games in many forms), having a cross over game is natural and may have the added benefit of getting gaming adherents of one gaming form to dabble in another gaming form.

I bought Battlestations as a structured, less time consuming alternative to a full role playing game that works well with children. Battlestations succeeds in this role. It would similarly work with anyone who wants a light, structured role playing alternative and who derives enjoyment from board game elements of movement and resource tracking.

Here are the strengths of Battlestations:

1. There are just 4 roles (pilot, engineer, scientist, and marine) and just five skills (one related to each role and one physical skill). There are no personal attributes, such as strength, dexterity, wisdom, fortitude, and so forth. This simplicity allowed even my 4 year old to quickly understand how the roles and skills relate to each other. She chose to be a scientist.

2. There is a pre-defined list of actions that can be accomplished using each of the skills in the game. The actions for each skill are linked to a module in your space ship. An example of such an action is ‘pumping the engines’, which is best done from the control console for that engine in the engine room.

3. The space ship deck plans are modular, allowing them to be customized endlessly. Initially I was a bit put-off by the modules. They are too pat, too limiting, not as ‘realistic’ as the many other space ship deck plans I use with the Traveller and SpaceMaster role playing games. However, that is the entire point of this game, to provide structure by limiting choices but without making the game feel limiting. I found myself quickly growing to like the modules. They are easy and fun to move around, and there are very basic ship building rules, allowing you to create your own space ship.

4. All of the missions consist of ship movement, character movement, and character actions. While this sounds formulaic, it still allows for variety: boarding actions, rescue, patrol, anti-piracy, and so forth. This mission structure gets at the heart of a space opera style science fiction adventure, and is easily understood by even the most inexperienced players.

5. Battlestations is just plain fun. Little details like ‘professional re-rolls’ allow you to re-roll a failed roll if the skill used matches your role/professional. There are also luck points that allow you to re-roll individual dice a limited number of times during a mission. Having these second chances actually keeps the momentum and excitement going in the game.

Here are some cautions for the first time player of Battlestations:

1. The referee/game master needs to have read through the rules booklet. It is very easy to read, but is longer than some game players will be used to. You do not have to memorize the rulebook, just read through it to gain a general understanding.

2. The layout of the rules and even the reference sheets is somewhat deficient for use as a quick reference during play. The reference sheets I downloaded and printed from Board Game Geek were helpful. The referee needs to review any reference sheets that he or she has decided to use before the game begins. A few aspects of the game are unclear or hard to remember until you actually play through them. Game play is much faster after a few plays grants familiarity.

3. There is some book keeping that needs to be done on paper. You must track the round and phase, hull damage to the ship, luck points used by players (especially if they cannot or will not), and so forth. Book keeping should be given to the players to the extent possible.

4. You must have enough hands to run your space ship. There are four roles for a reason, since you generally need at least four characters to run the ship effectively. Each player can run two characters if needed, or the referee can control the extra characters, or you can provide robots to automatically succeed at certain actions each round. If you have many more players, and therefore more characters, you can adjust the game challenge by providing a larger space ship that requires more activity to keep it running.

Here are the people who should not buy this game:

1. If you are looking for deep character development, then this is not the game for you. Battlestations is more complex than a free form or diceless role playing game, adding an overhead of game mechanics that would slow deep role playing. However, role playing games started as extensions of board gaming and miniature gaming, so Battlestations brings role playing back to its roots.

2. If you are looking for strictly a ‘board game’, then this is not the game for you. Battlestations is certainly akin to the other cooperative adventure-style games on the market, but has individual character development from mission to mission that exceeds most games of the genre.

Conclusions:

Battlestations is truly both a role playing game and a board game. If you are looking for a cooperative adventure board game with more character individualization than in other board games, then Battlestations is for you. If you are looking for a light, structured role playing alternative, then Battlestations is for you.

Battlestations is a game that you can get out of it what you want. You can emphasize the role playing elements. You can approach it as a resource optimization game with different players responsible for different parts of the game. Battlestations is a light game and needs to be approached as such, but it has a strong space opera style feel that works well in a short 2 to 3 hour game.

21 
 Thumb up
5.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Cobcroft
Australia
Canberra
ACT
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Review] Battlestations: Board game or role playing game
Nice summary and review there. After about 15 games myself as experience, I quite agree.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Perry Tarantine
United States
Altoona
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Review] Battlestations: Board game or role playing game
If I hadn't decided that this was the game for our group a few weeks ago; this review would have cemented it.

(so far 2 sessions in and we're enjoying it a lot - can't wait to play again)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Peters
United States
Iowa
flag msg tools
It's time to go Full Chort.
badge
‎"NO FATE BUT THE NARRATIVES WE IMPOSE ON LIFE'S RANDOM CHAOS TO DISTRACT OURSELVES FROM OUR EXISTENTIAL PLIGHT"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Review] Battlestations: Board game or role playing game
you know, one thing I've been noticing about two of the games that have entries here on the geek that my friends and i play regularly these days (battlestations and arkham horror) is that we're apparently very slow. both of these games take my friends and i about 6 hours to play, whereas the designers and other players both tend to claim they can be finished in about half that time. i'm not really sure why this is. i suppose it might be partially because we all tend to be at least a little rules and detail oriented and hence tend to looks things up fairly frequently if we're at all concerned we're not remembering the rules properly.

but whatever. great review for a great game!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Herb Petro
United States
INDIAN TRAIL
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Review] Battlestations: Board game or role playing game
fnord3125 wrote:
my friends and i about 6 hours to play, whereas the designers and other players both tend to claim they can be finished in about half that time.


That means you get to have more fun! As long as you ARE having fun, then six hours works as well or better than two hours -- as long as you are prepared for how long it takes your group.

For Battlestations I think it depends on how quickly the GM keeps things moving along, and also how much side conversation that you have (either about the game itself or unrelated).

fnord3125 wrote:
but whatever. great review for a great game!


Thanks!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben Cole
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review - further cements Battlestations place at the top of my wishlist.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ken B.
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review. But Battlestations with children? Hmm. I'm not so sure it's THAT simplified.



Here's the RPG/Boardgame litmus test. Take the game in question. Imagine it without the board. Does it still work?


In Battlestations, there would BE no game without the boards.


In D&D, while you can use minis to tactically carry out battles, most of the game can and often will take place solely in the minds of the gamers. Heck, many, many battles have been decided in D&D with nary a board in sight.


I think this sort of thing is the future of the RPG-ish hobby, by the way. The RPG population seems to be graying, and most of us don't have time for lengthy campaigns anymore. And as you get older, it's more work (and less fun) to be the DM. In something like Battlestations, *everyone* gets to have a good time as it brings it back to "you vs. us". I like that.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Herb Petro
United States
INDIAN TRAIL
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
franklincobb wrote:
But Battlestations with children? Hmm. I'm not so sure it's THAT simplified.


YMMV, but works for me with ages 4 to 10. Of course they need a little help here and there. We play lots of different games and have played regular role playing games before, so maybe that makes a difference.

As you mention, the game works because there is a board to play on. The visual representation of what is going on instead of it mostly being just words in the air, along with the limited actions available, is what made it work with kids for me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Bradley
United States
Belleville
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow, I think i disagree with every one of your points.

franklincobb wrote:
Nice review. But Battlestations with children? Hmm. I'm not so sure it's THAT simplified.


Any role playing game, even one with heavy board elements can be played by children or people that don’t know the rules. As long as there is a GM that understands the rules and provides an enriching game experience and helps push the group along a little bit and corrects them when the group is about to do something really silly.


franklincobb wrote:
Here's the RPG/Boardgame litmus test. Take the game in question. Imagine it without the board. Does it still work?

In Battlestations, there would BE no game without the boards.

In D&D, while you can use minis to tactically carry out battles, most of the game can and often will take place solely in the minds of the gamers. Heck, many, many battles have been decided in D&D with nary a board in sight.


I don’t think that is an accurate statement at all; but it depends on how you define RPG. I would define a RPG as “a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters and collaboratively create or follow stories.” How the game is structured, whether it uses, cards, dice, boards, miniatures, etc. are simply tools to improve the tactile experience and vary from system to system.


franklincobb wrote:
I think this sort of thing is the future of the RPG-ish hobby, by the way. The RPG population seems to be graying, and most of us don't have time for lengthy campaigns anymore. And as you get older, it's more work (and less fun) to be the DM. In something like Battlestations, *everyone* gets to have a good time as it brings it back to "you vs. us". I like that.


I hate to say this, but as you have mentioned, it is a function of you getting older and not necessarily an evolution of RPG’s. When I was back in high school and college, I had plenty of time to author campaigns, and similar to you, now I don’t. I feel this is a function of where I am at in life and not where RPG’s are going. There are still many pen and paper RPG’s being release and many new and innovative RPG pen and paper systems. In fact, I think now there are more choices than there ever was. To your point, there are also many more boardgame style RPG’s than there used to be that allow for quicker games and these may seem more attractive to you (and me); but I wouldn’t call it an evolution as this type of game has been around for 30+ years.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sinister
United States
Unspecified
Indiana
flag msg tools
designer
Actually the trend I see in boardgaming is boardgames are getting more "simple" expecially when compared to boardgames of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

That's not to say dumbed down, but certainly "cleaner" for mass consumption. In fact, most boardgames have a goal in mind of 2 hours or less to play nowadays compared to the day or week long boardgames of the past. More games, less time is the motto of the day. For a quick comparions of the boardgame market take a rulebook from the 70s and compare it to the ultra thin rulebook of the 90s. Magic Realm for instance is over 90s pages, while Runebound is less than 10.

RPGs, in general, are getting more boardgame-ish, with miniatures and battlemaps creating a hybrid minis/boardgame/rpg, certainly 4E DnD requires the use of a battlemap or what I'd call a "board". It's certainly much much more like a boardgame than 1st and second edition DnD ever were.

Battlestations doesn't quite scratch that itch for me in terms of roleplaying, although to be honest I'd rather by playing a heavy acting immersion game with less crunch and more open acting. Battlestations DOES scratch that itch to boardgame and play minis, and it has the RPG elements of leveling that makes me want to play again as soon as possible. That's why this game gets more plays than my any of my miniatures or other boardgames.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Cobb
United States
Conway
Arkansas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review. This sounds like just what I was looking for. Thanks.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.