Manufacturer Hasbro/Avalon Hill
Year 2000
Designer Richard Borg
Battle Cry box

Battle Cry


Recreate the battles of the American Civil War with an innovative, card-driven system. The first in what is expected to be a series of "Command & Colors" games from Richard Borg.

Background

While this game will probably cause Civil War buffs to go screaming from the table in terror, those interested in a fun game, (albeit luck-filled), should read on. Battle Cry allows players to re-create battles of the Civil War, using a card-driven movement and fire system, a large blank mapboard with terrain tiles that can be placed to create specific battle terrains, and lots and lots of small plastic miniature soldiers.

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The Gameplay

Battle Cry comes with 15 scenarios, (with another 3 "official" scenarios available on the net), which show how the board is to be set up, (in terms of both terrain features and unit placements), and any special rules which apply to the scenario, as well as a historical summary of the battle being depicted. The terrains which come with the game include hills, forests, buildings, rivers, rough (impassible) terrain, fences, orchards and fieldworks. Each terrain has various effects on movement and combat. After the map has been created, the players units are placed on the board. Each unit is represented by a plastic miniature figure carrying a flag, (stickers that have to be applied by hand), and depending on the type of unit, from zero to three other figures of the same type, which are not carrying a flag. Generals are sole units, Artillery units have one extra figure, Cavalry have two extra units, and Infantry three extra units.

Once the board has been set up, each player is dealt a hand of cards. The cards are the driving force in the game, determining which of your units can move and fire, and some of them providing special actions. The board is divided into three sections by two dashed lines which cross the board. Thus you have a left flank, a center, and a right flank. The majority of the cards will allow you to activate units in only one section of the board. So on your turn you play a card, decide which unit(s) you will activate, move any of these activated units that you choose, attack with any of the activated units, (except Artillery which cannot move and fire on a turn, and unattached Generals, which cannot attack at all), and draw a card. All in all, very simple.

Movement is simple as well. Infantry and Artillery can move one space. Cavalry and Generals can move three spaces. Buildings and Woods end your movement, as do Rivers. A General that starts a turn in the same hex as another unit can move with that unit without requiring its own activation.

Battles are handled by looking at the type of unit attacking, the range to the defending unit, any defensive modifiers based on the defender's terrain, and by the presence of a General with the attacking unit. Infantry units have a range of four hexes, and have a firepower of 4 dice for an adjacent defender, 3 dice for a defender two hexes away, 2 dice at 3 hexes, and 1 die at four hexes. Artillery have a range of 5, with firepower of 5-4-3-2-1. Cavalry have a range of only one hex, and attack with three dice. If the attacker has a General in the same hex with them, an additional die is added. Defensively, hills and fences remove one die from an attack, and forests, fieldworks, and buildings remove two dice. The dice are the standard issue Hasbro/AH/MB dice, (that is to say blank black cubes with recessed areas on each face for stickers to be stuck), which have affixed to them one of five symbols: Infantry (x2), Cavalry, Artillery, Crossed Swords, and Flags. When a unit is attacked, the appropriate number of dice are rolled, and the symbols that come up are compared to the type of unit being attacked. Each match represents a hit. The Crossed Swords symbol is a wildcard, and counts as a hit as well. Flags force the defender to retreat, (one hex for each flag symbol rolled). For each hit that is scored, one figure is removed from the defender's unit. If the last figure is removed, the attacked takes that unit, (which is the figure with the flag).

The Scoring

The first player to capture 6 enemy flags is the winner. One of the included scenarios also gives the confederates a "flag" if they can occupy hexes on the union player's side of the board.

Why this game is so great

It is a lot of fun to play. It looks cool. It feels nice. It plays fast.

Why others don't agree

That's it? No in depth discussion of all the great qualities Battle Cry has? Nope.

The problem is, there isn't really all that much to discuss about what's great about Battle Cry. It's not historically accurate, it's not a very good simulation of Civil War battles, it doesn't model warfare very well, there is a ton of luck involved, etc. But all that being said it is just plain fun to play, and I heartily recommend it. I will never turn down a game of Battle Cry.

What I can say is that Battle Cry is very accessible, and simple enough that even my 5 year-old can play it. In fact, I've played 5 games against my kids, (9 and 5), and have only won once! So that should give you some ideas as to the realism of Battle Cry. Of course I've also lost three games against my father-in-law, so it's possible that I am just really really bad at it. I'm clinging to the assertion that I've just been really unlucky with my die rolls as the basis for my losses. It does have tough decisions, and card management issues, and certainly strategic thinking should make one player better than another. However, some games you just don't get the cards you need, or the dice go the other way, and your boys are left hanging out to dry.

Recap

Strategy: 4
Complexity: 3
Fun: 9
Overall: 7

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