Tuesday, June 19, 2012

BattleCon - War of Indines: A fighting game Review

It was not so much time ago that i took my time to write a review about Mystic Empyrean, the pioneering RPG who opened the way for digital RPG rulebooks in tablets, by level99games. Today I’m back to talk about another of their creations, the board game Battlecon - War of Indines.

I must say that when I saw Battlecon in kickstarter some time ago it didn’t call me much in first place. Now I regret not having invested a bit on it knowing already the previous curriculum from this developer. Let me show you what I missed.

The game
Battlecon is a 2 to 4 player game that tries to represent a classic 2D fighter game and truth to be told he does it pretty well. The game manages to capture the movements and the forward thinking required in 2D fighters, and does it in a swift manner, with games that last no more than 15 minutes for experienced players, and maybe 10 minutes more for novices.

The rules are pretty basic and can be summarized in one or two text pages, which makes it pretty simple and straightforward to learn and to teach new players into it. But do not be blinded by that, as the game offers a great deal of strategy, for as you would expect each of the characters in the game has a very particular way of fighting, and a varied range of difficulty, and getting to know every one of them and their matchups will require some time.

Each game turn has both characters creating their own “custom” attack, by mixing one of their style cards unique to their character, with one of the general base cards, shared by all the cast. This way even if you never played against that particular character you can predict at least half of your opponent’s attacks as they come for a common pool of generic fighting moves (strike, dash, grasp, shoot…). The style card will give the attack that personal character’s flavor by turning it stronger, faster or with special effects.

Left: Style Right: Base. Adding numbers on both sides will give the attack's final stats.
Moving and spacing becomes an important part of the game as it is on the screen, so you have to calculate well the range of the attacks or move out of range of the enemies. Pulling/pushing and cornering also become part of the game and you will soon be planning your combos various moves ahead to perform deadly setups that will break through your enemy’s life as a knife through butter. 

Also simultaneous selection of the attacks and the possility to negate your opponents attacks by stunning them before attack, force you to be always fully aware of the cards discarded by your opponent. Card pairs used will be unavailable for 2 turns until they cycle back to your hand, thus impeding that certain attacks just repeat constantly, so by knowing what your opponent does not have available, you can tweak your strategy. 

Once you know the basics you can start getting confident with the characters themselves, and with 18 characters (plus some promos) you have a wide range of combat options to try. Long range fighters, close range rushdowns, trappers, or bulky stalwarts… there is sure one of them that will pick your interest. (and if you're not satisfied, a standalone expansion with 18 more characters is already in development!)

Characters are overall well balanced with the exception of some specific matchups, and all play well with their flavor. My personal problem though is the inconsistency of the art on the character cards, ranging from exceptionally good renditions to amateur depictions. Level99games offers an alternate art edition of the game (For those mirror matches as player2), but it’s only print and play and suffers from the same inconsistency. I found myself wishing I could mix both or either buy both as a boxed set (mayhaps a future Deluxe edition… wink wink).  

The World of Indines setting has some cool chars, sadly, art varies from awesome like this one to amateur.
One of the most brilliant moves of Battlecon in my opinion was the rules to play tag duels (KOF style) or 2vs2 combats, which allow for a greater group of friends to join into the fight. Also the game features alternate base cards that can be used to power up characters so you can play a 2vs1 game with one EX or Almighty characters, as a boss encounter of sorts. This opens the game for a wider range of options of play definitely increasing the already wide replayability of the game. (As a Guilty Gear fanboy I totally loved this and was the final decision maker for buying).

If this caught your interest and you want to give it a try do not hesitate and jump right to Battlecon´s site where you will be able to download a print and play, free demo version, on which you will be able to test 4 characters with varied play-stiles and get to know the mechanics. If you are not into printing you have also the option of playing those 4 free chars on the free ipad app or the demo Vassal module.

Additionally, the Battlecon site offers some great amount of freebies to tune your games, from deck cases to 16 bit character stands, which add even more personality to the game.

Kahrolyn, Heketh and the rest of the cast in wonderful 16bit resolution.
You will like it:
If you are into card games.
If you love fighting games.
You are looking for a fast game to setup and play (less than 30min). 

You won't like it:
If card games to you mean spending your budget in booster packs.
If you play fighting games performing Hadouken one after another.

Next time, I will review Battlecon’s iOS app, so stay tuned!


Post a Comment