BATTLE CRY (The Avalon Hill Game Company, $45.95)


There are so many good things going in Avalon Hill’s Battle Cry that I almost can’t believe I’m about to write a rave review of a Civil War game.

Now this is the type of game I’ve been waiting for Avalon Hill/Hasbro to produce! Gorgeous plastic pieces complete with sticker flags-a-waving, piles of cards, tons of dice, a big ol’ hex-based gameboard and moveable tile pieces to indicate terrain conditions….

Battle Cry is a two player game created by Richard Borg and he’s really done a nice job. The game comes complete with a full color instruction book full of scenarios to set up different battles. The goal for each battle is basically the smae: capture six of your opponent’s flag pieces.

Players start with a fixed (but variable depending on scenario) number of three basic unit types: infantry (foot soldiers), cavalry (soldiers on horseback) and artillery (cannon). Infantry units include 4 infantry figures, one with flag. Cavalry units include 3 figures, one with flag. Artillery units include 2 units, one with flag. As members of a unit are defeated, their pieces are removed from the board. The flag unit is the last piece to go so to get it, you need to defeat an entire troop. Tough to do. There are also Generals (who carry their own flags) and are extra tough to defeat because they receive protection when attached to a unit plus give the unit an attack bonus.

Battles are resolved through dice rolling. Different types of units have different attack ranges and attack with different numbers of dice. There are two main innovations here. First, the dice are labeled stickers: two infantry, one cavalry, one flag, one artillery and one crossed-sabers. To defeat an enemy piece, you must establish a line of sight (trace a straight line from your attacking hex to the opponent’s hex) and try to roll your opponent’s piece on the face of the die….Sabers are wild and flags force you to retreat. The second innovation is the number of attack dice you roll. This number is fixed and not based on the number of attacking troops. If half of your unit has been defeated, you still get to roll the same number of attack dice on your turn! This makes a single infantry unit as dangerous as a full unit!

Battles are initiated through card play. According to each scenario, the Northern and Southern forces each receive a number of command cards. On a turn, players get to play a command card to order their units and, after the turn, pick up a new card.

Order cards direct you to attack using some number of your troops from some region of the board. More powerful order cards and special order cards allow you to make multiple attacks, set up defensive barriers, take a free shot at a general or even attack with every troop you have on the board. There are may different types of cards. Some players have complained about the unbalanced command cards but I think this really makes the game tense and fun with the better player using cards to set up devastating attack combinations.

Each battle can be set up in any number of ways. There are tiles representing trees, houses, water, bridges, orchards, hills, fences, and even field works. These tiles affect play by limited line of sight, increasing or decreasing attack ranges and restricting movement. The terrain effects are listed in the book but, in one of my few disappointments in the game components, I would have preferred a terrain effects card or sheet for each player to use during the course of a game.

That’s basically how the game works. Battles last from about 30 minutes to two hours. Not bad for a Civil War game where some hardcore simulations could take upwards of 8 hours to complete….

Battle Cry was designed with the player in mind. It’s simple to set up a new battle every time using the terrain hexes and balancing the troops for each player even easier, just use the scenarios in the instruction book. This is a great introduction to wargaming and miniature gaming. It’s also simple enough to teach younger players but includes enough strategy to satisfy older gamers.

I’ve never really been a fan of historical wargames. However,… Battle Cry…mixes wargaming, miniature gaming and some boardgame mechanics into a well-oiled machine…Highly recommended. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Dave Rapp


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