Saturday, May 7, 2016

Battleblade: first impressions

I recently purchased Battleblade by Echidna Games. It is a fast and simple rules set for fantasy skirmish battles. The author notes that Song of Blades and Heroes was an influence, and it does share the feature of having a short stat line and special rules (abilities) for figures.

The game uses an IGOUGO turn system, with limited number of activations per turn. There are no reactions, but to be honest I do not think those are so necessary in medieval fantasy battles (as opposed to modern or sci-fi battles.)

Most actions are resolved with a single roll with a few modifiers, and there is little need for status markers on the table. Since figures can have various abilities, a roster sheet or some unit cards will probably be helpful for players.

The rules are easy to learn -- furthermore, they are very well organized and clearly written. The book also features pictures at the right places, serving as welcome examples, and I think this must be one of the most newbie-friendly miniature game books around. It assumes very little from the reader, states things clearly, shows many examples and has a decent glossary and turn flowchart (even though the turn sequence is quite simple.)

One interesting bit is that the game is written for 54mm scale miniatures mounted on 50mm round bases.  The larger scale makes the recommended table size 4'x4', but it also means that it is possible to play with 28mm scale miniatures mounted on 25mm round bases on a board as small as 2'x2'. I played a few test battles on MapTool to learn the rules and it worked well.

A test battle between 100-point forces in Battleblade, in a simulated 2'x2' board with 28mm miniatures
And what about solo play? The rules do not mention it, but I think it would not be hard to include ideas from Featherstone's books or from other rule systems, given the simple turn structure and combat rules. In fact, setting a goal for the enemy band and using "blinds" before enemy contact might be enough for basic solo play with this game. However, I still have to try that.

My first impression of Battleblade is that it is a good introductory miniatures game. It plays quickly and it is not difficult to pick up a figure and build its profile to use in the game. There are other game systems with similar purpose, but at its low price, it might be worth looking.


Fitz-Badger said...

Interesting. I checked their site and see they also have a sci-fi version called Laserblade. I might look into them both when I have time.

Neil Goodacre said...

Hi, I'm Neil, owner of Echidna Games. I Google our titles every now and again to see if anyone is talking about them and, well, here I am! Thank you for not only buying our book but also for taking the time to review it on your blog; every bit of feedback is valuable to us.

From your review it sounds like we've done a pretty good job of everything we set out to achieve; a quick, simple but (hopefully) fun game. I'd be keen to hear more about how your solo games work out. We may even look into releasing some solo modules in the future if we think this is something people would look for in a game - I'm a fan of solo games myself like Flash Point and Marvel Legendary and I reckon I might manage to squeeze a few drops of what makes them enjoyable into my rules.

Anyway, thanks again and if you have any questions or comments about Battleblade our other games then don't hesitate to drop me a line!

Ricardo Nakamura said...

Thanks for the comments!

@Fitz-Badger: I'm considering picking up Laserblade too.

@Neil: I think some cooperative scenarios (which after all might also be playable solo) could fit your game as it is sometimes easier to get other people involved by playing with them instead of against them.