Board Game Bataille — Dudes on a Map Games

In Louisiana, a young Cajun’s first experience with card games is usually the game called “Bataille,” otherwise known as “War.” The game goes ’round and ’round, with each player trying to win the other’s players cards by playing higher card ranks.

In the Krewe de Gumbo, we have lots of spirited “discussions” about board games. So, in the spirit of our favorite children’s game, we bring you Board Game Bataille, where the Krewe will discuss in a ’round and ’round fashion which game is the best in a specific genre, or with a specific theme or mechanic.

This month: Dudes on a Map games. Let the Bataille begin!

MODERATOR:

All right, Krewe de Gumbo, for today’s Bataille, Dustin suggested we talk about BLOOD RAGE v. CHAOS IN THE OLD WORLD v. KEMET v. FORBIDDEN STARS v. CRY HAVOC.

Here are the rules of the Bataille: (1) You must have played at least two of the listed games to participate; and (2) no hitting below the board game.

Combatants ready? Geaux!

CARLOS:bataille-logo

Okay, guys, Kemet is #1. Kemet is just so finely tuned. I’ll go with Chaos as #2, because it has those awesome dials that set them apart from the others. #3 is Forbidden Stars, then Cry Havoc at #4, and at #5 is Blood Rage. I’ve only got one play-through on each of these, but I’d rank them all somewhere around an 8 on BGG.

DUSTIN:

I have Forbidden Stars number one for the combat system and amazing order marker mechanic, not to mention stellar components (only Blood Rage is better in this category). Next, Chaos in the Old World, because it is asymmetry perfection. Then, Cry Havoc, I love that combat system as well, like a more strategic Kemet, and the multipurpose cards. Fourth is Kemet for the power tiles and streamlined gameplay. Last, but not least, for me is Blood Rage, I like the drafting and the components, just has a few issues that hold it back from being higher on my list.

<awkward pause>

You guys are so much fun.

BRADLY:

I’m thinking! Chaos is my #1. I love the Warhammer universe and Chaos seems to do it much better than Forbidden Stars. The only problem? Knowledge of the game is a major advantage, more so than most of the others.

DAVE:

I think Chaos is way more strategic than Blood Rage, but also way more fiddly.  I really enjoy the asymmetrical aspects of Chaos but the time on there is really killer.  The 5th player expansion adds way too much time.  I think the perfect number for this game is four.

DUSTIN:

I agree with Bradly that Chaos has that one flaw, if you can call it a flaw, that it is so asymmetrical, you have to know who can do what if you want to win. Plus, BJ hates the theme and gore!  I will also(for once) agree with Dave that Chaos is a 4 player game. I enjoy having the Horned Rat expansion to give players a new faction to choose, but I think you should stick to 4 players only. Which I guess is another knock on the game, it only really shines at 4, but if you have that player count regularly, it isn’t an issue.

CARLOS:

Chaos? It is a messy, messy game that could be much better with way less tokens, but because it is super fun, I’m willing to forgive it.

DUSTIN:

I agree, Carlos, but I think an easy fix for Chaos would be corruption tokens that say “+5” on them. The only real issue is how many tokens get placed! But I literally won’t turn a game of Chaos or any other DOAM game down. I wanted to play Vast with the Krewe the other night, but once someone mentioned Cry Havoc, I lost interest!

CARLOS:

I think you’d like Vast. You’d probably enjoy playing the goblins the most. Goblins are the dudes on a map faction.

DUSTIN:

I know I will. I told BJ I want in on the next game. It was the game that I wish I knew existed while I was at Gen Con. Just like I still want to play Star Wars: Rebellion. Not the same genre, but I really want to play. That could be the one game to compete with Fury of Dracula for my hidden movement crown.

CARLOS:

Rebellion is amazing but just really long. Gotta plan that night way in advance.

DAVID:

I agree with Carlos, Rebellion is an amazing experience, possibly the best thematic experience I’ve ever had in a board game.  It might just be my Star Wars fandom but I’ve never had a better thematic experience.  I need to play this again!

DUSTIN:

Yeah, that’s why I can’t bring Forbidden Stars every night, either!

 

bataille-logoMODERATOR:

Bradly, what about your #2?

BRADLY:

Blood Rage, no question. Some of the strategy combinations are really the only downside to the game, in my humble opinion. Otherwise…it’s damned good. Some of those combos are ridiculous, though.  Mostly I like it for its’ simplicity.  Out of the five games on the list, it’s the easiest to pick up and play, as well as teach.  Because of that it also gives the least advantage to experienced players.  If it wasn’t for my undying devotion to Warhammer, Blood Rage would be my #1.  I think it’s mechanically a better game, but theme counts for something and Chaos has theme for days.

DUSTIN:

I love Blood Rage, but I have to agree on the combos. Broken strategies can ruin some games. I would have it ranked above Cry Havoc and Kemet if not for that. I had to put it last because a few games I was literally frustrated and not having fun because of someone exploiting a strategy.

DAVE:

Everything in Blood Rage is great, and to me it has some of the best miniatures in any game but I do believe that a lot of the rules in Blood Rage can be exploited and ruin the experience for others.  I also see a problem with combat in this game but I just can’t get over the production value overall..

bataille-logoBRADLY:

Kemet is the last of the three that I have played.  Among those three, it’s last on my list. I played it three or four times now, and from what I could see some tiles are just substantially better than others. Plus sandbagging is a serious issue in the game.

DUSTIN:

I can see that. Going first is huge in Kemet. Plus, teleportation is a weird mechanic that takes away from the theme.

DAVE:

Hold up guys, everyone knows in Ancient Egypt that people teleported on a regular basis. I mean we are dealing with Egyptian Mythology here, haha.  Kemet is hands down, one of my favorite games on that list. Possibly my favorite game in my collection.  Everyone starts on an even playing field, no one has cards to draft, no one has an advantage over anyone. Unless you know how to play the game that is, which is almost every game though.  Yes Bradly some of the tiles are stronger than others, but everyone has the option or opportunity to get them. I also enjoy the huge swings in this game.

DUSTIN:
You like Kemet because you cheated me out of a victory!

DAVE:

I don’t cheat. Everyone knows you’re the cheater in the group.  You cheated me out of using my Molotov Cocktail in Hit Z Road! I am still steamed about that!

DUSTIN:

Oh really? (while playing Kemet) “No, Dustin, you shouldn’t move all of your troops out of that citadel, you should leave that guy by himself”. Next thing I know, Dave moves his whole army there, kills my one guy and wins. Hit Z Road was my bad, but that’s being new to the rules, not cheating. For cheating, see Kemet example above!

MODERATOR:

Settle down, guys. Okay, Bradly, what’s next?

bataille-logoBRADLY:

As for Forbidden Stars, I have only watched it played. By far it is the most complicated game on this list, and I don’t think it does the theme justice.  My #5, but I feel awkward ranking a game I haven’t played yet.

DUSTIN:

If you play it, Bradly, it might change your mind. The order marker placement is so tense, it is crazy! The only negative to me is its length.

DAVE:

Forbidden Stars is excellent, and I’m so worn out after playing that game, or at least my brain is. I think that the best props or kudos you can give to a game is that you’re not looking at your watch wondering when is it going to end and by the end of the game you’re mentally exhausted but in a good way.  This game has both in SPADES. I also believe in Forbidden Stars that no one is really out of a game, whereas in Blood Rage you can feel like you’re out of the game by year two.

bataille-logoDUSTIN:

Can’t forget Cry Havoc. I love the combat system, if it wasn’t for Forbidden Stars, it would be my favorite system hands down. I also love the multipurpose cards because it makes hard decisions during gameplay. Should I use all these cards for movement? Or hold onto them to use in battle? That brings a lot of tension to the game, and adds a good bit of strategy. Honestly, this one is the newest one on the list, so it may move up (or down) as I play more. The only negative thus far is that I am not convinced all the factions are balanced. Only time will tell.

BRADLY:

Cry Havoc is the other game in the group that I haven’t played myself, but have seen it played multiple times. Ranking it purely on that, I would put it at #3, moving Kemet down to #4; but it’s really close.  One a 1 to 10 I actually give both games a 7.img_0839

DAVE:

I think in Cry Havoc everything is great from components to card play but the combat mechanics aren’t what I’m digging. This game does have A LOT going for it but i think the combat play is going to be very polarizing.

DUSTIN:

I find this odd Dave, considering your favorite is Kemet, which I find this system is very similar to. I would almost call it an upgraded Kemet combat system. It has the objective choices of killing and winning control like Kemet, but adds the prisoner aspect as well(which is something none of the other games do), and is all represented by a board to easily see what is going on. Then add the card play on top of that and I find it very rewarding when you win. You actually feel like you “outsmarted” an opponent, not just “I happen to have better cards so I won”.

DAVE:

I completely understand all the points you’ve made. It is very Kemet-esque. The one big gripe I have with it so far though IS the card play.  To me that aspect is pretty uneventful. It’s almost as if all you’re doing is moving miniatures on a game board fighting for majority in area control, prisoner or killing. Taking away cards that you use for actions.  The cards that you use for fighting give you no bonus almost all they let you do is move from one spot of the board to the other. It doesn’t feel like I’m in combat, but a game of chess.

DUSTIN:

How is that any less eventful than playing cards with symbols? 😉 You still have the card play of Kemet, except adding the board to add even more choices. Plus, you also have to look at what terrain you are in, which adds yet more depth to the combat. And cards that say “add one troop from your reserve” is definitely a bonus. You might not feel like you are in combat playing Cry Havoc, but I sure feel like I am in combat right now.

CARLOS:

I think Cry Havoc was at its best when all of the factions were robots.

DUSTIN:

Lol, not funny Carlos, I was very upset over that one. I had this brand new, hot game ready to play at Gen Con and had my dreams crushed when I opened the box to all Robots. So I did what any mature adult would do, I refused to play until I had the correct toys to play with. Kudos to Portal customer service though. Ignacy saw BJ’s post on the Board Game Gumbo Twitter feed about it and promptly replaced my figures with all of the other factions I was missing.

On another side note, the Portal guys and the designers themselves, have been amazing on The Geek forum for Cry Havoc. They have been answering everyone’s questions quickly and politely, which to me, is a huge deal. It is good to know they believe in their product and not just throwing games out of the door with no customer support.

DAVE:

Robots are cool…

DUSTIN:

I know, Machines player for life….I just can’t win with them.

DAVID:

And don’t you just hate a game where someone who has ZERO clue on what they’re doing and wins…

DUSTIN:

Yes Dave, that is my one gripe with Cry Havoc, and the one thing that probably stops it from competing with Forbidden Stars for number 1. I have seen too many games won by a player who has no clue how to even play because his faction just scores tons of points easily. I have tons of fun playing though, so I look past it. After all, fun is the most important thing, right? Or is it total world domination? Hmmm.

DAVID:

NO,  I MUST WIN. THE DAY I WILL BEAT BRADLY WILL GO DOWN AS ONE OF THE GREATEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.img_0998-2

DUSTIN:

We all know how to beat Bradly. Play Splendor.

DAVID:

Gold.

 

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3 thoughts on “Board Game Bataille — Dudes on a Map Games

  1. This was a fun read, guys. These are some of my favorite podcast discussions, too 🙂 I am surprised that Scythe didn’t make the list. Any specific reason aside from the possibility that none of you played it?

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading! Bradly has the glorious Kickstarter fancy edition, so the group has played it. I have not yet, but it may because they haven’t got enough plays in. Definitely a good one for a Bataille.

      Like

  2. It is because Scythe may look like a Dudes on a Map Game, but in truth, it is a Euro Game in Ameritrash clothing. Great game, but is too hybrid for this list.

    Like

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