One of the great joys of being a member of BoardGameGeek for me has been getting to meet and know independent game designers—those creative and committed individuals whose creativity and vision spurs them to design games and self-publish them in hopes of finding a larger audience.
One such designer is Clance Morring, of the Bronx, New York, and the creator of “Battle This”, a two-player abstract that outfits opposing generals with identical armies of soldiers, tanks, and planes. Each of these forces has its own rules for movement and capture, which, in a way reminiscent of chess, occurs when a moved piece occupies the same space as that of an opponent.
“Battle This” features a 18-inch-square mounted game board of fine quality. The playing surface consists of 8 rows by 10 rows of ‘squares’ (actually, rectangles measuring 1 ½” x 1 7/8” each) on which pieces move. Mr. Morring says that he designed it this way so “Battle This” can’t be played on a regular chess or checkers board. With that premise, even chess players would quickly realize that this is not chess. But more on that later.
The squares are alternating light blue and light tan, and line artwork across the board depicts the world’s continents. The game comes with two armies, one green and one brown, with 8 soldiers, 4 tanks, and 4 planes apiece. The planes are mounted on plastic stands, which rise more than an inch high. Planes are 1 ¾” in length. The tanks are just over an inch long, and various types of soldiers stand slightly less than to a little more than an inch high. The soldiers also have their own bases. A four-page rulebook and a marketing card on coated stock also come with each game. The game comes in a sturdy, large box (10 inches square and 3” tall) that has more than ample room to store all components. Artwork on the game box, by Robert Derrick, consists of an animated, color drawing of men in battle, depicting the soldiers, tanks, and planes that come with the game.
Set-Up, game play, and victory conditions
A diagram in the rulebook shows the set-up, which is the same for both sides and takes place on the opposing last two rows of the board. All 4 planes are set up on alternating blue squares in the final row, with one soldier in between each on tan squares, and the 4 tanks are set up on the blue squares, with 4 more soldiers in between each, again on the tan.
Movement and capture rules are as follows: Soldiers have to move 2 squares each time, and can move any direction orthogonally; they can never move diagonally. Tanks can move one space only, orthogonally or diagonally, and can never move backward. In addition, they can only capture with a diagonal move. Planes must move diagonally 3 squares each time, and only on blue squares; however, they can move in any direction diagonally, including retracing movement. Pieces can never jump over one another, and capturing is done within these movement rules by landing on the same square as one’s enemy piece.
Games can be decided either by eliminating one’s opponent’s pieces or outscoring one’s opponent. If paying by total scoring, soldiers are worth 15 points, tanks 5, and planes 25. Even if playing for total elimination, it may be possible to reach a point at which it’s not possible to eliminate all opposing pieces, in which case the game can be decided by total scoring.
“Battle This”, according to its designer, Mr. Morring, is aimed generally for male and female players ages 12 and up (advanced children somewhat younger than 12 could certainly learn and play it well). Although very easy to learn, if you play this game you’d better put your thinking cap on, as there is much to consider. This game is about strategy and learning the art of war; it's a game about making decisions of ‘life and death,’ and of sacrificing the right playing pieces in order to gain the upper hand. There are also some math concepts involved.
Estimated play time is 35 minutes to an hour, depending on experience. Two highly experienced players could play for more than an hour. Mr. Morring points out that chess players who have played “Battle This” realize they can no longer think like a chess player in order to be victorious—their thought process had to change to be successful. But that’s the beauty of the game: one doesn’t have to know how to play chess in order to play and enjoy it.
“Battle This”, so earnestly designed and lovingly produced by Mr. Morring, would appeal to anyone who enjoys a light abstract with an inherent battle theme, one that requires careful thought yet won’t overstay its welcome in the time it takes to complete a contest in this battle of wits. On the BoardGameGeek rating scale, I give “Battle This” a solid 7.
Note: To learn more about the game and view a game play between two youngsters obviously well-versed in “Battle This,” visit its website at: http://battlethisboardgame.com
the " pawns ": soldiers,tanks and planes are impressive.