Battleground Fantasy Warfare: Orc Army
List Price: $14.95
Your Price: $11.95
(Worth 1,195 Funagain Points!)
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Overrun your enemies with a battle-hardened orc army. Flank your opponent with lightning-fast goblin wolf riders and smash them with mighty regenerating trolls.
Battleground Fantasy Warfare is a point-based tabletop tactical wargame in which units are represented by cards. This deck contains all the cards two players need to play.
[Editors note: this review addresses the entire Battleground: Fantasy Warfare series]
Battleground: Fantasy Warfare
I have a dark secret, deep and black, a river running cold through my bedrock: I have always wanted to play miniature games—always.
The figures, the terrain, the tactical situations, hell, just the entire tactile experience as a whole seems fantastic…it’s dangerous for me to even watch a miniatures game unfold. If I stand off to the side—say, in a hazmat safe zone, peering over four rows of shoulders—I still start to hear the little warriors, their command screams, the thunder and fury of the charge, the castles walls ringing with the ballast hurled into it, the entrenchments being over run; it starts to hum, to sing to me in a striking siren song—begging for me to smash my finances upon the table cliffs demarcating the ends of the world splayed out before me.
See, I’ve priced out the figures, I’ve hefted the rule books, and I have almost dashed my wallet upon those rocky shoals more than once; and, most likely, I’ll be smack back in that very same boat as soon as the next lilting siren nuzzles up to me and breathes lustily in my ear. God help me, but if there’s a rack of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies cooling, I’d be just as sorely tempted to snatch one. Throw a big red button in front of me that says, “Don’t push” and I’d be in fits to push it. I’d have been the hot pie thief clearing window panes all through out Tom Sawyer’s town. Some things I know I just can’t resist.
Now, my confession: I have cracked before; I have smashed into the cliffs full force with a ton of Heroscape figures and terrain—so, I’m not always the most iron-willed man (it is hard to resist beautiful sirens when they want something and they croon so sweetly to you, they’re bred for it after all). Cracking has never made me feel good though; it’s just so much money.
Even so (my minor forays withstanding), I have largely avoided miniature games for two simple reasons: I plan out my budgets and I am forced to manage my time.
Time is a big issue for me as I have very little open in my everyday schedule due to my professional life, the demands of my artistic life, and a strong desire for grooming a fulfilling personal life. Many times my calendar is a war of priorities and intents. Time has been the major road block to my miniature gaming; I just don’t have the time to paint and sculpt, but I fully acknowledge that it could be a stress relief for me in a modern-male knitting kind of way.
Then there’s my other road block to miniature gaming: money; cold hard cash. I just don’t like money pits in my gaming; I will avoid them most often as I’ve felt guilty when I’ve caught myself investing in most of them. However, I will buy in to an expanding system if I truly love the idea of the game or the game has proven to be a ton of fun in my playing.
So, what does this all have to do with “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare”? Well, to be perfectly frank, “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” is the perfect solution and miniature gaming fix for me; it’s a very sleek battle system that costs very little cash to get into—it totally works.
There is no mistake, “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” is a miniatures war-game all the way. And, it’s damn clever in how it has been produced: it uses cards to show your warriors in formation on the table and each card contains all of their relevant stats. You buy a deck and you’re good to go. That’s it; no painting, no sculpting, no missing out on rare items. One deck and you’re ready. And with that one deck, you’ll get a number of corps to call into the fray on your behalf.
Another beautiful thing: “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” is not a collectible game. You don’t buy boosters and blindly hope for some ultra-rare Magic card to be in the foil. If you decide you need to flesh out your army and give them more options on the field, you can. Just buy one “Reinforcement” deck to augment your legions and you’re done. That’s it; it’s not expensive either.
Online, most decks run about $10 (US). The armies you can choose from in “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” (at the time of this writing) are: Elves, Orc, Undead, and Human. Each base army has 1 “Reinforcement” deck available if you wish to expand your troops at a later time. So, if you bought a “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” base army deck, and the single corresponding “Reinforcement” deck to go with it, you’d be out $20 (US) at a online store. If you were to buy the very same two “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” decks at your friendly-neighborhood-game-store, you’d be out a scant $30 (US) as most local shops sell “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” for a mere $14.95 (US) a deck. That, for what you get in this system, is a fantastic steal.
I will tell you this, I started with only two starter decks: the Orc and the Undead. No “Reinforcement” decks, just the base two starters. It worked out great. I have now bought each army and the matching “Reinforcement” decks for all of the races in “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare”. I have done this because I am the sole game buyer in my group, I’m the pusher in other words, and I wanted options to corrupt my friends with.
There is yet another bit of genius in how this system is produced: it takes almost no storage space on your shelves. It is a ton of game for little cash and little space. It is extremely portable; you can play it on any flat surface (just set some boundaries like you did when you played backyard baseball). The rules are not complicated either; most of what you need to remember are the various maneuvers you can order your troops to make. The modifiers your troops may get—or suffer under—are all laid out on some nice player-aid cards. The “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” rules are all available on line at: http://www.yourmovesgames.com.
There are 2 sets of rules (kind of like Heroscape): basic and advanced. They are not all that different, but the advanced set adds in rules for cliffs, walls, storming, etc. The advanced rules for “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” come with the “Reinforcement” decks, but they can be read online at http://www.yourmovegames.com as well.
If a unit has a special power or ability that it can use it is written on the back of the unit’s card. This is very handy actually and easy to check on the field, just tip the unit card forward and read the back. Nicely done. I will admit that I think a full size sheet detailing these powers should be available as a player-aid for each player to quickly digest and plan strategies against. In fact, I intend on building these for myself. While it is by no means hard to read the back of the unit card on the field, it would be just quicker to have a handout for both players to quickly scan.
I won’t go into the actual rules of play as it’s not necessary. You can read the “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” rules at the “Your Move Games” website (http://www.yourmovesgames.com) quite easily and it’s very easy to sum it up: You are given a finite number of actions you can take per turn: say 4. You spend your 4 “Action Points” and you’re done. You can try to stop a unit from fleeing the battlefield, draw a command card (a booster card for a unit to increase its effectiveness in someway for a turn) into your hand, order a unit to do something: attack an enemy unit, maneuver to a new spot on the field, etc. You may also play a Command Card—most often this is a free action to take, but it can cost you an “Action Point” in a few cases. Once this is done the bloodshed begins and you resolve combats. That’s the basic turn really and it gets to be a lot of fun.
“Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” is a wonderful version of the “real time” war-game trend in computer gaming; if you think of Warcraft, you know what I’m talking about. In these games you usually click on a unit to issue it an order: attack, hold, or move. Once a unit is ordered you click somewhere on the map to tell the unit where you want it to go to or you click on an enemy unit that you want it to attack. If you want to change that unit’s action later on you’ll have to click on it again and redo it. That is almost the exact same procedure as used in “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” when you issue orders and spend your “Action points”.
“Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” has a concept in orders called “Objectives” and while this may throw a completely novice player initially, just use the example above: “select one of your units and then select an enemy unit for it to attack or a spot on the field to move to” and you’ve summed it up neatly.
This is quite a flexible system—and, it really is a “system”. The basic game is a general one of wipe the table clear of your foes. The battle field is a barren plain sans obstacles. It’s a blood pit of maneuver, position, and attack. Use your arrows and range items to soften the foe up, be the better General in positioning your troops and close on enemy flanks to wreak a great deal of havoc on them—all the better if you can “pinch” the enemy unit and hit it from two sides at once.
In the advanced rules for “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” (available in the “Reinforcement” decks or online at: http://www.yourmovegames.com), you get scenarios and rules for obstacles (which you can build out of craft paper if you wanted to go cheap). Obstacles hinder movements, provide shelter, or create killing grounds to sucker the enemy into.
The “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” system is wide open in possibilities actually, and believe it or not, that can be a detriment if you aren’t the kind of player that wants to design different scenarios yourself: so, it’s good they give you some. I’d look for more “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” scenarios to be released on the http://www.yourmovegames.com website and in Yahoo! Groups as well.
There was an area of “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” of which I was highly skeptical of before experiencing it. Earlier I wrote about the cards holding your units and all of their relevant stats and that these were pretty much all you use in the game; that does work wonderfully, but there’s a component here that I haven’t touched on yet and that has to do with tracking a given unit’s health. You check the health boxes off on the very card itself. This means you write on the card and that’s a very clever idea, but I didn’t trust it: won’t it destroy the card? I asked.
See, I don’t care if the box itself screams out that it’s totally safe to do this. Good God, it even gives you options in doing so, “Use a crayon, a dry erase marker, or a grease pencil to write on the card and then simply wipe it off at the end.” What?! Write on the card?! No friggen’ way! It’s a plot, a producers plot, simply to make sure that I wear out my cards and have to replace them, right?
No, it’s not. It’s a space saving, time saving, and completely safe thing to do. My paranoia was misplaced. I used the “Expo” dry erase markers—that we use for whiteboards at work everyday—and they went on easy, were clear to see, and wiped off well at the end of the match without issue. I can not speak to the crayons or the grease pencil, but the dry erase markers worked fantastic and it’s what I would recommend to you.
I have a couple of card based miniature systems now: “Wings of War” being the main other one (on an aside, it’s a great family game of fighting in the skies in World War One) and I do have one issue with them all. The cards work great, make the storage space almost nothing, and they make the games extremely portable, but they are a pure pain in the butt to pick up off of a flat table and they slide when doing so. I find the edges of the cards to take a beating and wear out and this makes me cranky.
In the case of “Wings of War”, the cards are too small for card sleeves (protective sleeves used by players of “Magic: The Gathering” and other Collectible Card Games) and there’s no hope for it until the miniature line of planes comes out. For “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare”, the cards fit those protective sleeves quite well.
I bought some thick “Ultra Pro Toploader Series” sleeves for sports cards (2 or so bucks for 25 sleeves) and I use them extensively; these are thicker than the regular card sleeves, but the regular ones work just as well. I do not store my “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” armies in the card sleeves at all times. I just use the sleeves as we build the armies about to square off. Then, when the battle has spun itself out, I put the cards back in the regular deck holders that they came in; this little trick solves the problem of picking up the cards on the table as well—as the sleeves have some thickness to them and are easy to pick up, it also saves you having to buy 400 sleeves and is frugal alternative for protection during game play.
Another little tip to help you out: I picked up some shelf liner—the kind you use in kitchen drawers—to use as a battle ground map. The brand I chose (for no reason really) was “Duck”; the stuff is called “Select Easy Liner” and is non adhesive. I went with the slightly spongy and bumpy version opposed to the flat smooth version simply because it’s easier to get under the cards and pick them up. This liner is great for all games on a table as it helps keep components in place and adds some protection to the table from any potential scratching. In terms of “Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” (and “Wings of War”), it also clearly marks the edges of the battleground. I’d buy two rolls to allow you to make a bigger field of play if desired (plus it helps if you have a big table with leaves). Don’t be afraid to cut it either; it may make good landscape pieces for the game as well.
“Battleground: Fantasy Warfare” is a steal of a deal and a very cool game. It was one of the releases that I really anticipated—and salivated over—hoping that I’d get a chance to see it in action; I really wanted it to work, and, it does. It solves my miniature gaming wants, it doesn’t take up space, and it left me money to buy other games as well. It’s flexible, it’s fun, and I backed it with my own hard earned cash. It’s one of the best bargains I’ve bought into this year and I see it having good legs and staying around for awhile.
So, I call you to action!
I will invade your lands with my unholy hordes, my legions of noble Orcs, or my ancient Elves. Try to stop me—and meet my challenge—or your lands will fall. Send in your beasts and Abominations, let them chant to their Gods, and let your swords, spears, axes, and skill decide the issue. If this field is truly yours, take it!
Or, I will.