Let me get one thing out there quickly, BattleCon is a card game based around a system meant to emulate a Fighting Arcade Game akin to Street Fighter, Soul Caliber, or Super Smash Brothers. Those who grew up in the dimly lit arcades pouring quarter after quarter into their favorite fighting character before moving on to the next will find a lot of enjoyment in this game published by Level99 Games. Others however will find just as much enjoyment. I was not that kid growing up. What fighting games I did play resulted in button mashing and a desire to go play something different. Despite that, there is something about BattleCon that draws you in and I highly recommend you read on to see what that is.
I’m a fan of theme. Though I don’t mind a “dry” Euro where I’m merely focusing my attention on building a decent, victory point generating engine, it’s games that take stock in the theme they are representing that end up leaving a lasting impression on me. The LOTR:LCG is a great example. BattleCon is another.
BattleCon is a gameplay system that emulates arcade fighting games like the previously mentioned Street Fighter, Soul Caliber and many others. In a game of BattleCon players choose a fighter, categorized by their difficulty to learn and their fighting style, grab a handful of cards, place their token on a fighting board (seen below) and begin to whack away at each other until they are victorious.
Allow me to back up for a second because although the summary you read above may seem quick and hinting at a shallow game, BattleCon is surprisingly deep and offers a lot of replayability for the enthusiast.
First, a player picks a fighter. In the first few games this will most likely be a novice or beginner character, a descriptor that correlates to their difficulty to use not necessarily their power level. Secondly, that player grabs any tokens that come along with the character as well as a number of Styles and Bases.
Styles and Bases are what really define the BattleCon Experience so let me quickly go over what those mean:
Almost every card played in BattleCon is oriented on either the left or right side, with the opposing side missing a black border, indicating it’s one half of a greater whole. Styles, for instance, have no border on the right side of the card (you can see two style in the photo above), and Bases have no border on the left. During a turn, players choose a style and base and reveal them simultaneously as their attack for that turn. If a player combines a style called Corrossive and a base called Shot then their attack would be called “Corrosive-Shot”… follow me?
Back to the gameplay. After players have chosen their fighters, gathered their cards and tokens and started the match they will choose a pair of cards: one style and one base. Once the cards are combined there a series of effects that may trigger (catering to those magic the gathering-esque folk who enjoy layering effects on top of each other) as well as other modifiers that determine who gets to go first, how far the attack can reach, and how much damage it deals. This is where the game departs from just bashing each other and turns into a great back and forth of dodging, landing glancing blows, or setting up for a huge hit.
After a round is over that attack combination is placed in a recycled pile where it pushes another combination out and back into their owners hand, essentially functioning as a cooldown mechanic.
Play continues like this, with players ducking, dodging and landing punches while performing various forms of trickery until one person is declared the victor by reducing their opponent’s life to 0.
Most of the components are pretty solid. Each character, for instance, comes with an envelope that can fit all of their required cards and lists important information regarding their class and difficulty. The board that comes with the game is of a sturdy quality and comes with a nice sequence-of-play reference for each player. My only qualm, sad to say, is the cards. They are decent quality, don’t get me wrong, but with this game asking for so many repeated plays and cards being placed in and out of envelopes I could see the black borders slowly chipping away and showing wear. The cards are also a little bit glossy, so beware of greasy fingers or at least have a paper towel or cloth ready. This can be easily remedied with card sleeves but then the envelops may no longer fit the cards. This qualm isn’t the end of the world for me, however, since most of these card games (LOTR LCG being no exception) usually require a great bit of organization on the part of the player.
It’s hard to really showcase the “spark” that is within BattleCon but there is definitely something here. I brought it over to a friend’s house the other day and next thing I knew I saw a photo posted online of he and his roommate with their own copy, duking it out.
If you’re a fan of fighting games like Super Smash Brothers or Street Fighter then you will get a lot out of this game. The sheer amount of characters and their unique play styles are very impressive to behold and it would take many hours to “master” each character.
If you’re not a fan of fighting games, like myself, then you will enjoy the depth and strategy present in this game. As already mentioned, each character is unique and has their own approach to victory, giving players many avenues to explore. The strategy of combining cards and watching what combos will be re-entering your hand while paying attention to what combos your opponent has already played is equally full of depth. As a pseudo former magic player, this game scratches that strategic itch yet still sets itself apart from other two player competitive card games.
One of my favorite things about the game is that there are different levels at which you can enter as far as purchasing goes. Devastation of Indines is the big box and will give you loads of content but can be overwhelming for some. War of Indines is a little easier to digest, having only 18 fighters to choose from as opposed to Devastation’s 30. And then there’s Fate of Indines which has just 10 fighters. All of the fighters are different and if you want to go crazy you can slowly purchase them all (which I recommend in the long run).
Level99 Games doesn’t have the publishing power as other companies out there, so it may be difficult to find it at your FLGS. I highly recommend then that you check out the following links, see if the game is a good fit for you, then purchase the game directly from their site here.
BattleCon Devastations of Indines Review (Short) – A nice, well made 3 minute review.
How to Play BattleCon from Watch it Played– Great video and great channel in general.
BattleCon Gameplay – From the same channel but gives shows a game in session.
BattleCon Devastations of Indines Review – From the Dice Tower, video is a bit long but great source for reviews.
If you have any questions and comments about the game, this post and so on please feel free to let me know below! Thanks again and I hope you give this game a shot. You won’t be disappointed. Thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took