Designer: Eric Bartlett & John R. Hughes
Artist: Lorraine Schleter
Publisher: Silverleaf Games LLC (not yet published)
Number of Players: 2-4
Duration: 120 mins
In this fantasy-themed strategy war game, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, you and your friends each control a hero who is aligned with one of four races. You will attempt to grow your kingdom, protect your allies, and wage war on anyone who gets in your way. If you complete quests and conquer your enemies, you will be victorious.
The rulebook, board and components that I have been playing with are all prototypes. This is one of those games that is (at least for me) hard to learn but easy to play. Admittedly, the version of the rulebook I have has some rough spots, but the game’s designers are working on it. Learning this game from a rulebook that isn’t 100% clean and polished was a little difficult.
Everyone gets a hero with a special ability and a race class (elves, goblins, dwarves or orcs). These can be assigned at random or via blind bidding at the beginning of the game. Each player then places their hero and a stronghold on the map in turn order, and then in reverse order they place a knight in a different spot on the map.
Game play is difficult to describe succinctly, but the jist of it is, you claim territories via either battle or diplomacy, you have an army that travels around with your hero (which is kept on your hero’s battle board), and combat is decided via dice rolls (each fighting class has its own color of dice). You also get to roll a giant Battleborn die on your turn which can provide you with a rune blessing from the gods.
After every round, there is a special event that occurs called a Ragnarok event. These range from attacks by a powerful dragon to natural disasters. They add an element of uncertainty to each round that can really help or hinder depending on where on the map they occur.
In addition to the dragon, there are undead that occupy sections of the map as well. If players want to be a little less confrontational with their friends, they have the option of going after the undead instead (but where’s the fun in that?)
Victory points are earned via controlling provinces on the map and by completing quests found on discovery cards which are earned after victories in battle. The number of victory points to win the game varies based on how many players are in the game and whether you want to play a quick game or long game.
Full disclosure here, I’m not typically a fan of war/battle games and when I opened the box and saw lots and lots of components, I truly thought I had gotten in over my head. A style of game I’m not usually fond of AND tons of pieces to organize? My hopes were not high. As it turns out, once I figured out what went where and played through a couple of games, I found that Battleborn Legacy is actually a lot of fun. The rules for battle seem complicated at first, partially because of some unclear sections of the rulebook, but once I had them figured out, battles were incredibly simple to play through and gameplay was otherwise smooth.
In my opinion, the weakest part of the game is the two-player rules. These have each player control two heros and two races and have you combine the victory points from both to get your score. When I played two-player games like this, the games went by far too fast because getting to 15 points (what was recommended for a two-player game) was too easy. I think I would have preferred if the two-player rules were like the three-player rules, where each player controls one hero and one race, and any unclaimed races are NPCs on the map.
Those problems aside, Battleborn Legacy is a lot of fun to play. I have hopes that some of the issues I ran into when learning and playing the game won’t exist in the published version of the game.
It isn’t my new favorite, but this game would definitely fit nicely into my collection, especially because it is very unlike most of the games I currently own. I’ve played this game with family, with friends at a board game meetup group, and with total strangers at the MeepleCon board game convention. Everyone I played it with said they enjoyed it, but they agreed there is a bit of a steep learning curve to get into the game for the first time with the current rulebook.
If you haven’t checked out their kickstarter campaign, I suggest you give it a look and consider backing this game.
For the sake of transparency, the designer of this game is a friend of a friend who I have never met and am not directly associated with. I was not compensated in any way for writing this preview.