My 13 year old son had been trying to set up war game for him and his brother to play using Lego figures. He was trying to create rules for movement and battling but he was making a handful of mistakes. First he only wanted to use the figures and a coin (for battling) and a Nerf dart for measuring movement. Secondly, he didn’t want to write any of the rules down. He wanted to keep all the rules in his head which led to the third problem. He always tipped the scales to his figures. His logic was things like, “My Halo guy can take more hits than his hobbit because my Halo guy has armor.” Which of course led to his third problem, his brother didn’t want to play.
I tried to explain to him that he needed to set up agreed upon rules for playing and write them down. That rather than having Halo vs. Hobbit he needed to have “classes” of figures (something like soldier, heavy soldier, tank, etc.) and it didn’t really matter which figures were used for each group so long as it was understood which pieces where in which group. Having a better way to handle movement would also be good. He needed to make the game fun and simple enough that he could get people to want to play. He didn’t like that at all.
Well, I decided to look up war games that were simple enough for kids and not too expensive to get into (not like Warhammer, which as I understand it, takes large investments of money to really play). I found a game called Battle Cry by Avalon Hill (a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast, itself a subsidiary of Hasbro). It’s a board based war game themed after the American Civil War (a time period my son already had some interest in) so I ordered a copy.
When I got the box it was huge (at least compared to what I had envisioned in my mind). He couldn’t wait to play. So Saturday night I read the rules so we could start first thing Sunday morning. The rules were pretty simple and straight forward. It took a play through or two to get really comfortable with them but that seems to be a good place. It allows for some flexibility without making the game too complicated.
Each side gets a large selection of figures to use. They are broken into 4 groups, infantry, cavalry, artillery, and generals. The cavalry and infantry groups have the standard figures and a smaller number of figures with flags (each group on the board gets a flag). The artillery has one flag figure that includes the cannon and two different figures. The generals all have flags. There are also terrain tiles which allow you to configure the board with trees, crop fields, towns, homestead, hills, and streams. There are also cards to build battlements to block progress of the enemy.
The rules come with a large number of pre-planned scenarios based on actual Civil War battles. The game is played utilizing a deck of cards that allow you to play tactics, or scout, or attack (though you can attack anytime your pieces move).
Now to the important part, the game is ridiculously fun to play and easy enough for my 10 year old to understand the rules. The out of the 3 days we’ve had to play it we’ve played 4 times and one of those days the kids stayed with their grandmother so I had no one to play with or I imagine I would have.
The only bad thing about it is the flag decals don’t seem to want to stay stuck to the flag poles. But that’s nothing a little glue doesn’t fix. It was more expensive than most of the other board games I’ve purchased but it was definitely worth the money. If you like board games you should buy this. If you have boys like mine who set up their Legos in lines to do battle you should give it a look too.
Now all I need are expansion packs…