Thursday, 25 October 2007

Battle Line appreciation

Recently I have started to play a little more of Battle Line, by Reiner Knizia, and am getting to appreciate it more. It is actually quite tension filled and has lots of tough decisions. Yet there is also some luck so there is no point agonising over your decisions too much. The amount of information you have is clear. You can easily determine the probability of you getting a certain card or making a certain combination of cards. So you make your decisions based on these probabilities, and leave the rest to fate. Battle Line plays quickly and also gives a little mind exercise, nothing too strenuous.

I have previously written about the gameplay here.

I made some rule mistakes with Battle Line. I always played with numbers 1 to 10, and with a hand size of 6 cards. I do not play with special power cards. I home-made this game, and did not make any special power cards. Battle Line was published in two versions, Battle Line being a later version, whereas the older version is called Schotten Totten, and is about Scottish highlanders fighting, as opposed to Greeks. The way I played was a mixture of these two versions. In Schotten Totten, the numbers go from 1 to 9, and players have a hand size of 6. In Battle Line, the numbers go from 1 to 10, and players have a hand size of 7. Battle Line also has some special power cards, whereas Schotten Totten doesn't. I only discovered my mistaken recently. From now on I will play the Battle Line rules, except I will leave out the special power cards.

In Battle Line, there is a lot of risk management and hand management. You try to make strong combinations with your cards, and you know your chances of getting any specific card is always half - it is either you will draw it or your opponent will. So whenever you start committing cards to one of the nine marker stones, you are taking a risk, hoping that your combination will be stronger than your opponent's, and you are also starting to reveal your intentions to your opponent. As for the hand management part, sometimes you need to make poor combinations, because you want to get rid of lousy cards from your hand, hoping that the next card you draw will be the one that you have been waiting for. Sometimes you also play a card not because it is going to create a strong combination, but because it will help you prove that you can beat your opponent at another marker stone. Then you can claim that other stone.

In summary, I'd say Battle Line is a light healthy exercise for the mind for two.

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