Sorry about the long break between posts. School started again, and I’m only just starting to get some semblance of control over my life again.
So, this past week, Paul and I found ourselves without the rest of our gaming group. Our group had just finished the latest episode in our Silver Age Sentinels game, and we’re scheduled to do some character generation for Pendragon next week. But this week, Paul and I decided to give the new Battleship game a try.
Now, you’ve played Battleship before, right? The old version where you hide your ships on a board, use red and white pegs to mark hits and misses, call out letter and number combinations, and (when your opponent isn’t looking) move your ships to places where he already called out misses. The new version of Battleship is not that version of Battleship.
This version comes with some hex-grid boards, some cards that identify the different types of ships, and a bunch of little plastic spaceships and stands. Paul and I played the first scenario in the game, which is a basic shoot-em up. In this intro scenario, each player has a set deck of cards and set ships. (In the advanced game, each player “builds” their deck and fleet components.)
The game play itself is pretty simple. Each turn, you gain 10 energy, which you then spend to bring new ships on the board, play cards–which include new weapons, heroes, and tactics, and activate the ships you already have on the board. Some of the ships cost a lot of energy to get on the board, so at the beginning, there may not be much action. But not with me and Paul. You see, Paul and I have this strange . . . bloodlust for each other in board games. It started out, I think, because we were two of the better players, and we wanted to eliminate each other to get a major threat out of the way. Now it’s just tradition for us to kill each other in any game we play. So, we didn’t sit back and build up energy, bring in our whole fleet, or deck our ships out with the latest high-powered weaponry. We charged straight at each other, firing all weapons, rolling the “to hit” dice (that give you a letter/number combination, so you can still yell out, “D-8!”) to see whether we hit, removing shield pegs and adding hull damage pegs, and I managed to destroy one of Paul’s medium sized ships. Then we had a few rounds of relatively ineffective shooting before Paul lit up most of my fleet. The end wasn’t tense at all, with Paul’s other medium vessel chasing one of my starfighters around the board.
We only had time for one game, so Paul chalked up a hard-fought win for the night, and we both agreed that the game was fun. Paul lamented that Hasbro hadn’t gone after a Star Wars license for the game, and I agree with him. Any sci-fi license would have been nice, but the game seems well suited to Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica. (It could have been Battleship Galactica, eh? Right? Right?) The game also seems like it’s made for more fleets and scenario expansions, but given that Hasbro doesn’t even seem to have a website for the game, I’m guessing that probably won’t happen. (But is designed by the guy who designed HeroScape, so maybe…)
Overall, we liked the game. It’s not the greatest strategy game in the world, although there are some decisions to be made about when to play cards, when to activate ships, and when to bring in new ships. I did find that once the ships were close enough to engage, there wasn’t much point in moving them anymore, so the game felt a bit static once first contact was made, but that may have been attributable to some first-game noobness as well. If you’ve got the money laying around, it’s a good game. If you don’t, I’m not sure I’d save up for it.