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Subject: Mina's Mini Review - My First BattleCon rss

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Milena Guberinic
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Mina's Mini Review - My First BattleCon




The Overview


BattleCon is a (primarily) 2-player fighting game that simulates the old 2D fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat and does so incredibly well! In this game, players select pairs of cards (called a style and a base) to determine their range, attack value, and priority and then execute their attacks and special abilities in initiative order. The last man standing (or the one with more hit points at the end of 15 rounds) is the winner!

BattleCon: Devastation of Indines is one incarnation of the game (War of Indines and Fate of Indines being the other two) and comes with 30 different playable characters that are divided into 5 "flights." Characters in lower flights have simpler abilities like pure attack power, while those in higher flights have more difficult abilities that may alter the conditions under which your opponent is eliminated.











At the start of the game, you will select a character and take all of that character's cards, which will include 5 styles, 1 finisher, 1 base, and possibly other cards as determined by that character's special abilities. You will also take a set of 6 generic bases.


Marmalee's style cards, base, and finisher


Generic bases


The board is set up by placing the standees of the characters in play on indicated spaces on the board and setting each character's life point dial to 20. You will also set the round dial to 1.

Each player will select 2 bases and 2 styles, placing 1 base and 1 style in discard pile 1 and the other in discard pile 1. These will be unavailable either until 1 or 2 rounds later.





Each round in BattleCon proceeds as follows.

1. Select attack pairs
An attack pair consists of 1 style and 1 base. You select these and place them face down in front of you.

An attack pair has power, range, and priority of the base card + the modifiers to each of these of the style card. Both the base and style cards may have special abilities.

2. Ante tokens
If your character allows you to ante tokens, you can do so during this phase.

3. Reveal attack pairs
Both players simultaneously reveal their attack pairs. Reveal effects on cards occur at this time. Once these have been resolved, priorities of the attacks are checked and the character with a higher priority executes his attack first.



4. Execute attacks
First, you perform any "before activating" effects on your cards, then you check whether your opponent is within the range of your attack. Then you resolve "on hit" effects and damage your opponent by the number of hit points indicated by your attack pair's "power" value. If you managed to do any damage, you resolve any "on damage" effects. Also, if your opponent doesn't have enough soak (which reduces the power of the attack) or stun guard (which is how many hit points you can take before you are stunned), he will be stunned and unable to launch a reactive attack. Otherwise, he launches a reactive attack at this point.

5. Recycle
Both players activate "end of beat" effects on their cards. Then, both players pick up their second discard pile, move the first into the second slot, and place their current attack pairs on their first discard slots. As such, you will have to wait two round before you can use cards that were part of an attack pair again.

The game ends either after 15 rounds, at which point the player with more hit points remaining will be the winner or when one player has been eliminated.



The game comes with a number of variants, including a co-op mode in which players fight against a variety of monsters.


One of the enemies players can face



Also included are these options to alter the arena environment.



The Review


Played prior to review: 12x






1. So beautiful!
One of the things that drew me to this game was the artwork. I love anime/manga-style art and I love the vibrant standees and cards in this game. Everything in the box is well produced too! From the gorgeous and highly functional life and round counters to the cardstock used for the cards, all the bits are impressive.

2. So much stuff in the box! So much addiction-inducing goodness!
The first thing you will see when you open your box of Devastation of Indines is this:



I must admit that I did panic when I first opened the box. In my mind, I had put this game in the category of "relatively simple and quick playing." I was also assuming it wouldn't take too long to learn. I was right in thinking those things, but the box contents and the thick manual didn't seem to align with those thoughts and led me to close the lid and shove the game back under my bed the first time I considered trying to learn it.

Strangely, that initial reaction of aversion to the amount of stuff in the box has become the thing that keeps drawing me back to play the game. It's precisely the sheer number and variety of characters and abilities and gameplay variants, including co-op modes and a variety of arena environments, that makes me want to keep taking the box out in an effort to explore it all. I want to experience the dozens of different tokens and abilities and all the versions of the game! The characters are particularly alluring for me, as every character is so different from the next that every time I try a new one, I feel like I'm playing a totally different game. And I want to play all the games in this box! But as much as I have enjoyed dabbling with a variety of characters, I have also enjoyed exploring one more deeply. And that's where this game shines! Not only does it feature a breathtaking amount of superficial variety with dozens of different characters, variants for co-op play, and more, it also has an incredible amount of underlying depth. The variety introduced by the dozens of characters, tokens, and abilities pales in comparison when it comes to encouraging me to play the game to the dozens of possible attack combinations that each fighter can make and the way these interact with those of your opponent.

3. Super simple rules and super quick to play but so deep
The basic rules of BattleCon are super simple. You select an attack pair and reveal and execute! Boom! That's your turn. Your goal is simple too! All you have to do is take out your opponent before he takes you out or survive 15 rounds with more hit points. And in spite of this simplicity, the game creates a deep and rich experience that gives you SO MUCH to think about.

Your fighters have 3 different stats - power, range, and initiative. Those stats are split over two cards that may include special abilities and further modifiers. As such, you have to constantly make tradeoffs between power and effects you would really like to execute. If you need to deal damage to have your effects go off, you also have to keep initiative in mind and try to save your high-initiative cards for times when you really need them and times when you can see your opponent doesn't have his high-initiative cards available to him. If you are stunned before you can deal any damage, your damage effects will not trigger, so keeping track of initiative is very important.

In addition to the details of combat and effect triggers, you also have to keep your overall strategy in mind. That will depend both on your character's and your opponent's character's abilities and styles. As such, it is something that will take time to develop, as it will take time to become familiar with the various characters in the game and the ways in which they interact. In all honestly, I feel like I could play two characters against each other a dozen times and still have discoveries to make due to the extent of the subtle interactions between them and the extent to which this game is a mind game between players. Knowing your opponent (and not just his character) is a huge part of playing BattleCon well and developing that knowledge is part of the depth of the game.

There are many layers to BattleCon. The endless superficial variety is actually bolstered by a layer of depth in decision making and player interaction.

4. Allows you to form informed long-term and short-term decisions
It might not look like it, but BattleCon is super strategic. Yes, it is a card game, but it is a card game of near perfect information. You know exactly which cards you have available to you now and which cards you will have available to you in one and two rounds. You also have this exact same information for your opponent. As such, you can make both tactical and strategic plays that are grounded in your knowledge of the cards and the way your opponent plays. I wouldn't go so far as to state that there is zero randomness in BattleCon, as you can't know with absolute certainty which cards your opponent will select and how a particular round will unfold, I would say that you will definitely make INFORMED tactical decisions in BattleCon and those decisions will become increasingly better informed the more you play.

5. Characters appear to be well balanced
We haven't played all the fighters against each other (not even close!) and we haven't played the game hundreds of times, so I can't really make any strong proclamation to its balance at this point, but I can say that I was incredibly impressed with how balanced the characters appear to be. Every matchup has been tight and exciting and every victory has been marginal.

6. So many powerful ladies!
Yes, some of them are hilarious busty caricatures, but I'm honestly just happy that I have SO MANY playable female characters to choose from! And many of them are just cool and powerful gals! I LOVE LOVE LOVE THAT! I will never be forced to play a male character in this game!

7. Game grows with you
BattleCon is a game that grows with you as you play. As I mentioned in the overview, the characters in the game are divided into "flights," which are basically sets of characters of increasing complexity. This is very helpful when learning the game, allowing you to start with characters that are easy to play, and allowing you to gradually ramp up the challenge as you become proficient with the system. The flight system is very effective at introducing new concepts and advanced aspects to the game and allows the game to grow with players. Even the early flights and beginner-level characters provide a lot to explore in terms of combining a variety of attacks, but when you feel confident in your skills with those, you have loads of moderate and advanced fighters to dig into. And while the beginner-level characters mostly focus on simpler aspects of the game like attacking and defending, the advanced characters can drastically the objective of the game and the environment in which it takes place.

8. Very evocative of theme
BattleCon is a highly interactive, highly aggressive, fast-paced game. Battles are tight and you always feel like you have a chance at victory! And that's perfect for a battle arena filled with strong fighters.

The characters in this game are also incredibly evocative of their personalities. The illustrations give you a clue as to how they will function, but their actual styles are so well conceived that they draw you into their minds (yes, fictional game characters have minds!). One of my favorite characters to play thus far has been Callista, the Dragon Queen. She looks a little promiscuous and a lot evil. She has petrification counters that she can give to her opponent at the end of each beat if the opponent is adjacent to her and she was not stunned. If an opponent would receive a 6th petrification counter, he is eliminated from the game! This ability means that the strategy you take with Callista will most likely involve drawing your opponent close and then slowly taking him off with your little poisonous snakes! How cool is that!? I felt like a seductive femme fatale the entire time I was playing her! Come close so I can poison you! SO MUCH FUN!!! I'm sure the designer had a lot of fun with these! And now we can have fun with them too!

soblue


soblue 1. What's up with the insert?
Either I'm totally clueless in how to make inserts work or this insert was only intended to store the game pieces during shipping. Once all the game pieces have been assembled and the various characters' style cards placed in their sleeves, the game doesn't fit into the insert. Try as I might, I couldn't make it work, so I recycled it. I only mention this because I am literally grasping at air. I have no real criticisms for this game. It's all kinds of awesome!



Final Word


If you're looking for an infinitely replayable, gorgeous, immersive, fast, and fun 2-player card game that plays like a video game, look no further than BattleCon! It is cool beans! And I don't even like fighting games! In video or analog form! What drew me to BattleCon was a) Brad Talton, the designer, b) Level99 games, Brad's publishing company that has produced only games I've enjoyed, and c) the pretty, pretty art (yes, I like pretty things). That was enough. I did enjoy Magic:The Gathering and Android Netrunner and Blue Moon as player-vs-player dueling games, but I had never before experienced a tabletop fighting simulator like BattleCon. Street Fighter and Mortal Combat and other such fighting video games have never appealed to me because they always make me nauseated, I could never mash buttons quickly enough to accomplish anything, and I never cared to improve my button mashing skills. I like to keep my fingers fresh for typing ! All that is to say that I didn't have the highest of expectations for BattleCon. And perhaps that worked in its favor, allowing me to relish in all its joys without a cloud of grand expectations.

BattleCon allows me to engage not in a battle of dexterity and reflexes, but in a battle of wits. Those battles are more interesting and satisfying to me. I will never be a fan of fighting video games on which BattleCon was based, but I will forever love BattleCon.

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart heart ALL LOVE ALL THE TIME



I love this girl!



***


Mina's Love Meter


angry Burn it! - I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale)
Dislike - I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale)
heart Some like - I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale)
heart heart Like - I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart Some love - I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart Lots of love - I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart heart All love all the time - I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)



To see my other reviews, visit this geeklist.



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Alex Martinez
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Battlecon is in my top 5 games for all the reasons you mentioned. One of the most rewarding and innovative games I've ever played.
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Jeremy Avery
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I'm with the two of you. Battlecon is a phenomenal system that is brilliant at what it does. Top 10 for me, for sure, and I've still only played less than half the characters, and only added in the finishers and special action cards with no other variants!

Mind-boggling good value. Great for people who like dueling games like Magic and Blue Moon (as Mina mentioned).
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Kyle
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I have hundreds of games played and I still find myself enjoying it every single time. I have yet to play all the characters (and that's just Devastation!) and doubt I ever will. Nearly every character is perfectly balanced and fun to play. This game is a masterpiece and the most value for the dollar of my collection. My #1 for a while now.
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Carl Karnuth
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The whole system is a perfect 10 for me, looking forward to Trials popping up later this year. As far as the insert goes, I think I remember Brad (the designer) saying something to the effect that the insert is meant to secure the pieces for shipping, nothing more. I, and many others, have developed our own storage systems, though tweaking mine in anticipation of more fighters. So happy you love it, and so happy to see more people getting exposed to BattleCON!
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Brad Talton
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Thanks for the review! I'd love to hear who your favorite characters are so far
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Milena Guberinic
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KingCroc wrote:
Battlecon is in my top 5 games for all the reasons you mentioned. One of the most rewarding and innovative games I've ever played.


So good!!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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familygaming wrote:
I'm with the two of you. Battlecon is a phenomenal system that is brilliant at what it does. Top 10 for me, for sure, and I've still only played less than half the characters, and only added in the finishers and special action cards with no other variants!

Mind-boggling good value. Great for people who like dueling games like Magic and Blue Moon (as Mina mentioned).


 
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Milena Guberinic
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Bndeulogy2 wrote:
I have hundreds of games played and I still find myself enjoying it every single time. I have yet to play all the characters (and that's just Devastation!) and doubt I ever will. Nearly every character is perfectly balanced and fun to play. This game is a masterpiece and the most value for the dollar of my collection. My #1 for a while now.


I feel so compelled to try all the characters!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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CarlK wrote:
The whole system is a perfect 10 for me, looking forward to Trials popping up later this year. As far as the insert goes, I think I remember Brad (the designer) saying something to the effect that the insert is meant to secure the pieces for shipping, nothing more. I, and many others, have developed our own storage systems, though tweaking mine in anticipation of more fighters. So happy you love it, and so happy to see more people getting exposed to BattleCON!


Yeah, I chucked the insert and things work fine in plastic baggies. The insert just seemed to well designed to hold everything until everything was punched. Oh well.
 
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Milena Guberinic
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Kyokai wrote:
Thanks for the review! I'd love to hear who your favorite characters are so far


Thanks for producing awesome awesome awesome games!

THE DRAGON QUEEN!!!! HANDS DOWN!
 
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Matthew Miyares
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Hm, nice. I picked up War of Indines more or less on a whim at a going out of business sale for one of the Local Game Stores in my area, and was lucky enough to have a chap on hand who loved the game and was willing to teach.

I've really enjoyed the plays I've gotten in, but I have so many 2-player games that I have trouble getting each of them to the table...
 
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Tally C
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Mina, once again you've reviewed a game I absolutely love. You hit on so many of the reasons I love it, too! Well done on the review and glad you love the game as well.

We own War and Fate (my favorite character so far is Magdelina), so we don't currently have the co-op mode included in Devastation. What do you think of it compared to the standard competitive play? Is it a mode you find yourself playing very often?
 
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My only BGG 10 rating.

Hard to fault. Great review Mina.
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Marco Santos
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milenaguberinic wrote:
Kyokai wrote:
Thanks for the review! I'd love to hear who your favorite characters are so far


Thanks for producing awesome awesome awesome games!

THE DRAGON QUEEN!!!! HANDS DOWN!


From a lore perspective, Adjenna's pretty freaking awesome, too. After all, she is kinda the "big bad" of the set (the previous "big bad" was Rexan, who get revived after the first game).

Her unique ability, which gives her an alternate win condition's pretty awesome, too.

BattleCON's creators usually make it a point to have very diverse casts.

The character lists usually aim to have a somewhat equal number of men/women (and some racial representation as well).

The casts are not only mechanically entertaining, but very aesthetically awesome, too.
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Ed Hughes
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Rexan's painted as the villain, but when you scratch the surface, he really isn't. And the superficially honorable King Alexian has made some extremely questionable moral decisions, such as petitioning Hepzibah for immortality and employing Eligor Larington, who increasingly seems like a psychopath.
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jitjit2x junior
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I think battlecon is lacking in "Blob from xmen" or "Hugo from SFIV"-ish body archetype and styles. They are characters that deal huge damage but are slow. Difficult to kill. Usually simple minded ones
 
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themanfromsaturn wrote:
Rexan's painted as the villain, but when you scratch the surface, he really isn't. And the superficially honorable King Alexian has made some extremely questionable moral decisions, such as petitioning Hepzibah for immortality and employing Eligor Larington, who increasingly seems like a psychopath.


Exactly. Rexan's lore is less of an evil overlord, and more of a "leader who wanted his people to be treated fairly" as residents of his homeland (Gesselheim?) are discriminated against for being monsters (seeing as they're the land that has werewolves and whatnot).

In fact, if I remember correctly, the only "real" bad here is Byron, who manipulated Alexian into killing Rexan in the first place. Even Adjenna's not exactly "bad" since she's just a dragon and "dragons just live with a different set of values".

Eligor's also less of a psycho and more of an arrogant self-absorbed jerk, which is the most odd characterization of a "holy templar" that I've ever seen.

BattleCON basically has a penchant for subverting tropes. Characters are rarely what you expect. Shekhtur is a thief. Eligor's self-absorbed. Adjenna's "alluring" exterior hides the heart of a Draconian dictator, who would willingly kill her own child. It's quite interesting in that respect.

Even freaking Cadenza's not as simple as you might think (because he's actually remote-controlled by one of Williat's most brilliant minds).

jitjit2x wrote:
I think battlecon is lacking in "Blob from xmen" or "Hugo from SFIV"-ish body archetype and styles. They are characters that deal huge damage but are slow. Difficult to kill. Usually simple minded ones


Each set has at least one dude who's a big bruiser. Cadenza in War, Eligor in Devastation, even Burman in Fate kinda fits into the "powerful yet slow" category. It's pretty hard to make "dumb number" fighters since it's hard to distinguish between them all.
 
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