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This game rocks!! The game itself is huge and could have been a touch smaller but make you feel like you are right in the middle of the battle. It takes a bit to setup but is worth the wait. It would be really awsome if their would be a chance for additional players.
The key to this game is its simplicity (other than the set up). All pieces have three hit points and a specified number of dice for rolls. The dice have skulls for hits, shields for blocks, and blanks. In an attack, the offensive piece rolls its number of dice and totals its hits. The defensive piece rolls its dice and totals its blocks. The number of unblocked shots is the amount of damage.
Even with its simplicity, the game still effectively differentiates between pieces, so each has its own purpose (the Chaos' wolf riders are the suicide team, the Imperial's crossbowmen provide long range support).
Though this game is great, there are some minor problems. The pieces are plastic, and though they are molded and look very good, they are SUPPOSED to snap together. But I have never seen a game where all of the mounted warriors have stayed mounted, or where all of the other piece have stayed in the stand. Also, the simplicity cuts down on the range of strategies used.
Overall, this game is excellent. It runs fairly quickly (about an hour) so the loser can get that rematch. The large scale of the game (4'X6') makes the battlefield visually pleasing. And the one special piece on each side (the dreaded cannon and the unstoppable Ogre Champion) really bring the game together in a tight, simple package.
Battle Masters is a very impressive game. I believe that this is one of the best games that Milton Bradley created since they discontinued the majority of the Master Series games.
Miniatures are of good quality, due to the collaboration with Games Workshop, but, like most miniatures, they have a habit of breaking if not treated with care. Minis are plastic, but are still suitable for painting, although they look good without as well.
Drawbacks include the large size of the game, rivaled only by Torpedo Run, or a very large scale Warhammer Battle. Setup time is also an issue when playing this game. And again, this game needs to be handled with care or will become damaged easily.
However, this game is so fun to play that it easily outweighs the negative aspects. Battle Masters is an excellent game with only one set, but if you are fortunate enough to get ahold of two or more and have a few hours to spend, you can have an epic battle of good versus evil that you are sure to remember.
Negatives: This is a very engaging LARGE game. The huge playing mat (~4x6ft) will usually require a floor to set up on. Setup itself is also lengthy, as each fighting unit must be reassembled before each game (unless you want to leave them together in the box and treat the box like glass). Speaking of glass, I hope that there are no irresponsible people in your playing group, or pets, or children, etc., as the pieces can be damaged quite easily.
Positives: Aside from these issues, the game is a blast! The large board adds a dimension not usually found in boardgames, unless you are a fan of Warhammer-style miniature games. (If you are, this would be a good diversion for you in between games.) The board does allow for some alterations in layout for each game, and the size allows for a diversity of attacking styles. Also, each side has different types of creatures, which forces them to be treated differently with attacking and defending strategies. There is a little bit of Civilization in the strategies, as the board is large enough to support this breadth of scale. Also, if you are able to get additional mats, units, and movement cards, you can easily make even BIGGER battles! :)
By the way, movement is generated by the use of decks of cards, which are flipped over to display a unit. That unit may then move its pre-allotted distance. Even when units are destroyed in battle, their cards remain in the deck, allowing for a little mystery to remain about when you will be able to move.
In summary, if you have the room and the flexibilty, this is a fun addition to a varied gaming collection. That fifth star is left out because of the fragility of the pieces and the cumbersome setup.