Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book of Mormon Battles: A Review

11:19 PM by Mike ·
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I've had a copy of Book of Mormon Battles for quite a while now and we finally pulled it out and played it a little.

I'll put my overall perspective and reaction to the game first: it's way too simple. In my mind it's pretty much "glorified war."

The way it works is that the deck is dealt out to each player (just like in war). This becomes the player's army. Each player then draws the top 5 cards (these are now referred to as the player's battalion). Then, each player selects from their battalion the cards that will enter the battlefield for that turn (these are laid face down in front of the players). Lastly, every turns their cards over. The player with the highest points wins all the cards. Players then add to their battalion to get it back to 5 cards. This process is repeated until one player owns all the cards.

When players select cards to enter the battlefield they can only choose one character (usually each card contains one character). There are special power cards that can be played as well that allow the player to add to the character they have chosen to play. For example, there is a power card called Battle. This card allows the player to play any number of character cards, using the total points instead of just the points from a single character.

The character cards are each worth a specific number of points. Captain Moroni, for example, is worth 10,000 points, whereas Zeezrom is only worth 100 points. There are both "good" (gold) and "bad" (black) character cards. So, Gadianton falls into the "bad" card category and Nephi into the "good" card category. (If there is a tie for the highest point total on the battlefield, the player who played "good" character cards will win over the player who played "bad" character cards.)

As far as design goes, I really like the artwork on the cards. There are a total of 56 character cards, each with it's own portrait of characters from the Book of Mormon. They also contain a brief description of the character and a scripture reference. I guess it could be a good way of introducing kids to the characters from the Book of Mormon. But, like I said, the game is too simple and repetitive. It's hard to really get into it. (I did play the "war" version of the game with my 6 year old. We removed the power cards and just played war. I think she could have gotten how to play the "basic" gameplay, but maybe not each power card and how they work with the character cards. She enjoyed the game. It lasted for quite a while, as war often does.) Also, the cards are of a nice thickness, not nearly as thick and stiff as the cards from It Came to Pass, but they work fine for shuffling and playing.

There are several "special rules" or variants that are described in the rulebook. I read through these and after playing, I think I like the Power Play one the best. In this variant the players do not keep their battalion and then add to it after playing into the battlefield. Instead, they discard the cards they did not play from their battalion and draw a new 5 cards. This helps go through the cards quicker and also adds the number of power cards that get played. Furthermore, it adds a little bit of strategy that is otherwise not there. It may be advantageous at times to play your power card and try to take all the cards. Other times, it may be a better play to not play it. That way you don't lose it but will come to it again once you have gone through all your cards, shuffle, and start again.

I looked around online for other variants that people may have come up with, but I was unable to find any. On boardgamegeek there is a short thread with a review of the game. James Fullmer comments that variants and other things will soon be available on his website (here), but I can't find anything like that. Maybe I need to come up with my own variant. We'll see about that.

In conclusion I give Book of Mormon Battles a rating of 3 out of 5.

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