It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these. Running through our collection of games took awhile and then we picked up a few on a FFG sale. Haven’t gotten anything new in a while. BUT as it turns out, we missed one of our games. It had fallen to a back shelf and been forgotten about. Now it’s coming to the light…with a vengeance! Prepare for war as we draw our Battlelines...
Themed after ancient Greek warriors, Battlelines pits the two players against each other as they struggle to gain the upper hand in a great battle. Nine flags mark strategic points of the battle that your two sides are struggling over. You fight using units on cards with six colors, numbered 1-10 in each color. Each card represents a different type of ancient formation; from mighty elephants to Hoplites and Phalanxes.
To win the game you need to either win five of the nine flags or win three in a row. To win a flag you play three cards that have a higher formation value. These values are similar to poker hands. A “straight flush” or three numbers in a row of the same color, is the highest value, followed by a three of a kind, flush, straight and then highest numerical value.
Each turn, players take a turn playing a card at one of the nine flags and then drawing a card. As you can only ever have three cards you’ll give away what you’re going for at a flag as soon as you play your second card. This can be a good tactic, waiting to play something at a flag until you know what you need to try to beat.
The game is made more interesting with the addition of Tactic cards. There are only a handful of these and you have to draw one in place of a regular card. They are also restricted in that you can only ever play one more Tactic card than your opponent (ie whomever plays the first Tactic card, can’t play another one until the other player plays one). Despite the restrictions, these can turn the tide of the game as they allow you to potentially steal a card, act as wild cards or even make a particular flag require 4 cards instead of 3.
One of the interesting aspects of the game is that you can lay claim to a flag as soon as you can show your opponent can’t beat you, instead of resolving them all at the end (Ex: You have three sevens and your opponent has the yellow 3 and 5. if the yellow 4 gets played somewhere else, then there is no way for them to beat your three of a kind). When you claim a flag can then become a strategy as it locks the player from playing in that slot again.
Battlelines feels similar to Lost Cities in that it involves colors and numbered cards and having to play cards having no idea what you might draw later. There’s a mix of strategy and guess work involved. Overall, we prefer Lost Cities but that’s just a preference thing. Battlelines is a fun, quick game for two to enjoy.
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