This week for Table Top Thursdays we will be reviewing the strategy board game Battle Cry. The game itself has been around for many years and is a remake of an Avalon Hill game of the same name, this just happens to be the 150th Anniversary Edition. I had been looking at this game for quite some time and finally lucked upon it for 50% at a game shop called Paradox Games down in Fargo, ND.
I am a strategy game and history enthusiast so Battle Cry was an exact match for me. It is a game where you can play out many different scenarios of the battles of the Civil War between the Union and the Army of Northern Virginia from the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas for my readers below the Mason Dixon Line) through Gettysburg to Appomattox Court House.
When you open the box all the little pieces look fairly daunting but when you see how they work it is all rather ingenious. The game board is a hexagonal design with different tiles you can place upon it to signify various terrains like forest, hills, river, bridges, fences, or battle works. The units that you may have are as follows, mostly infantry, some cavalry, artillery, and finally your generals. Each set moves differently and has different ranges of fire and damage as one would expect. Artillery have the most distance but move the slowest, infantry can move one hex and battle but their accuracy falls off with distance, and cavalry can move the most and battle though they are the rarest pieces that you may have it seems.
The initial set ups for each scenario are laid out in the book complete with all units, terrain, and even who goes first and how many cards each side are allowed to have. What makes this game interesting is that it is the cards that determine what you can and cannot do on your turn. The game board is divided into left flank, right flank, and center and you are only allowed to play one card on your turn. The cards will read as scout center, issue one order to a single unit in the center, a unit in this instance is the pieces on a single hex, assault right, give orders to three units on the right flank etc. There are also some where they will give you advantage like dig entrenchments which gives you plus one to your defense and help to ward off retreat.
When one does attack it is determined by special 6 sided dice which have symbols on them, infantry, cavalry, and artillery which destroy one of their respective units, crossed sabers which kill anything or a retreat flag which makes the troops withdraw one hex. Depending on distance and unit is how many dice you can roll and you can only fire with in line of site which can add to some debates as to whether or not a unit is in view but there are some diagrams in the booklet which try to help this.
I and my roommate played out three scenarios, The First Battle of Bull Run as the game suggested as the starting point, Shiloh, and the Battle of Gains Mill, VA. I played the south each time whereas he was the north and each game was different, extremely competitive, and most importantly fun. I have honestly not enjoyed a new game I have bought this much in quite some time. I lost each time but just barely and at no point did either of us feel like it was imbalanced. Some of the game comes down to strategy and some of it is the luck of the cards. One of the games we played last night I two cards in my hand that were solely for cavalry and I had not cavalry units in this fight. Meanwhile, he had cards in his hand that were equally as useless to him. The more we figure it out though and get used to what cards could come up and how the dynamic of the game works it will get even better. I could not recommend this game more.