Battleground Fantasy Warfare: Lizardmen
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A menagerie of fearsome reptiles awaits your bidding. Lizardmen of all sizes and deadly dinosaurs allow you to impose your will on the battlefield.
(This is a review of two of the armies for Battlegrounds. I’ve already reviewed the game elsewhere – this is just a discussion of those armies.)
The units included in this army are Knights, Archers, Rangers, Chariots, Bowriders, Elder-Blade Rangers, Battlemages, Cygnets, Battle Squad, Celestial Guard, Spearmen, Elder-Blade Battle Squad, Elder-Blade Swordsmen, Swordsmen, and Scorpions. This is actually fifteen units, rather than the usual twelve. The reason for this is that three of the units have an Elder-Blade, which only increases their power by one, changing points slightly. It's almost equivalent to equipping the unit with a weapon and offers some interesting choices, as minor as they may be. The card stock for this game is thicker than the other sets, and for some reason the backsides are reversed - I preferred the original method. I also found it interesting to see that the Battlemages have two different artwork styles on the cards; I think this is the first unit that this has occurred on.
The High Elves are an interesting army, completely different from anything yet seen. They have the fewest hit points of any army; their most powerful unit has only ten hit points. They also deal out few hits, although the hits they do are not weak by any means. Where the Elves become amazing is with their defense - some of the best in the game - these guys are hard to hit!
It's interesting to see the maneuverability of the army - with three cavalry units and four ranged units. I mean it's cool enough to see chariots in a game, which are harder to flank than most other units. The High Elf Bowriders are an exceptionally useful unit, as they lose no bonuses when in hand to hand combat, but they still have a good range with some powerful hits. It would be hard for me to use a High Elf army without taking the Knights into account.
Having a ranged cavalry unit is a great addition to the army, but having three other ranged groups certainly gives the Elves some variety. There are the Scorpions, which have some restrictions on range (line of sight, not engaged units); but they have terrific range and powerful attacks. There are also the Battlemages, which are fairly powerful when attacking, and can even give the Elves extra Power cards.
The variety of the Elf units is terrific, but they are tremendously expensive in point costs. At first, they don't seem like they are worth the points, since they are a bit fragile; however, they have three abilities that really boost them up. The High Elf player can spend a Command Action to sprint the units (move them 5 inches) or to empower them with Precision, which can be erased on a future attack to do one extra hit. They can also be maneuvered easily when directly controlled. These don't seem like powerful abilities, but they will likely be used EVERY turn; and when combined with the lithe, maneuverable units, it makes the High Elf army very powerful indeed. I would NOT recommend the army to a beginner, as they require a bit of finesse to do well with them; but they certainly feel different than any other army. You won't be confusing them with the Ravenwood Elves anytime soon; these are closer to Tolkien Elves, quick and powerful. They aren't my favorite army, but they are tremendously interesting; and I think Elfish fans will enjoy them.
OK, enough with the snooty Elves - on to my favorite army, the one I've been begging for, since I first played the game. With the Lizardmen, Battleground takes a sharp departure from the Tolkien-esque universe that seemed to be the basis for most of the previous armies. There were many reasons I wanted to see this army, but let's be frank - I wanted the T-Rex.
Yes, the T-Rex is the most powerful hand to hand combat unit in the game, with fifteen hit points, a powerful attack and unbelievable defense and armor. It's a colossal figure, made up of two cards; and while it's not always useful, it's an amazing sight on the battlefield. You can bet that your opponent is going to concentrate firepower on it. Sadly, the T-Rex can't be maneuvered at all; it's always going to close on the nearest target, and a smart opponent will distract it with smaller morsels while hitting it with ranged fire. Still, the fear it strikes in the opposing army is worth it, and it takes much of the game to bring one of these beasts down.
The other units in the game are Hatchlings, Ancients, Tyrant Warriors, Trog Bowman, Tyrant Spearmen, Triceratops Herds, Raptor Packs, Trog Spearmen, Swarmling Warriors, Swarmling Bowmen, and Trog Warriors. The Lizardmen army is a terrific army for a new player, as there is such a wide variety of point costs; you can decide to take a "swarm" army with tons of mini units like the Hatchlings, or center an army around a massive unit like the T-Rex. The Lizardmen have great armor for the most part; and while they are not an army of finesse, they can bully there way across the battlefield.
As much as I love the T-Rex, I'm tempted to use the Ancients just as much, which are almost as powerful, but are completely controllable, and perhaps not as big a target. I absolutely love the Triceratops herds, which are the closest thing this game has to a tank; as they just roll all over the battlefield, getting THREE hits when they charge. Unfortunately, once they are in battle, it's quite difficult to do more with them, but they will hold the enemy up for a while. The Raptors move extremely quickly and are one of the most powerful "fast" units in the game, while the Tyrant Warriors and Spearmen can hold their own with any elite units from other armies.
I've been raving about the Lizardmen thus far, but they do have their weakness - they are easily scattered and frightened, which means your rampaging dinosaur might turn tail at a very inopportune time. There are two counters to this, however. Most of the units have a Blood Frenzy, which gives them an extra die and two more to their morale when engaged with a unit that is not in the green. Given the theme that they go nuts when the enemy is bleeding, this means that once they bloody the opponent, they will stay in for the long haul and do some serious damage.
The other counter is the Lizardmen's army ability - Fury. A player may spend a Command action to mark a card with Fury (not the T-Rex or Tricepatorus herds, sadly), which gives them "+1" to morale and allows them to erase the mark to do one additional damage when doing two or more damage in an attack. When initially getting my army together, I'm tempted to use Fury on as many units as possible, so that the initial clash between armies will be as bloody as possible - hopefully triggering the Blood Frenzy of most of the front line.
The Lizardmen have some useful cards also - my favorite being Regeneration, which heals one damage. It may not seem like much, but I've used it to keep the Ancients alive one more round, which can make all the difference in the world. The "Sudden Strike" card, which gives an extra die and attack, is nice - mostly because your opponent can then not play command cards on that specific attack. This can really throw a player for a loop, when they've been sitting on some nice defense cards.
I really enjoy the variety of the Lizardmen army. They aren't too terribly powerful with ranged units although you can take a decent group to battle; but their armor and variety of point costs means that any army you take to the table should hopefully outlast the opponents. I love the army because of the thematic elements of Lizardmen - they are a rarer sight in fantasy games - but I also enjoy the tremendous fun I have in creating an army of dinosaurs.
High Elves are tough for new players to use properly but are very unique and allow players to use a few, very versatile units. Lizardmen are great for beginners and allow players to field a highly armored yet still mobile army that's a lot of fun to play. Oh, and a T-Rex.
The Lizardmen have become my new favorite army, although I don't mind using the High Elves for a change of pace. With eight armies, Battleground has now become the best miniatures game on the market. You can score me for not having painted minis, but I'm going to take my eight HUGE armies and simply have fun building multiple armies with them. Two new armies - two new styles of play. Still the same, absolutely FUN game.
“Real men play board games”