Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Battle Line in the Back Yard

Back yard setting for Battle Line
Fall is really our favorite time of year for sitting out back in the yard.  We have a fire in the firebowl, we set up cocktails and snacks, and play a small game on the little glass table outside.  This evening, after I got home from work, we sat down to beer and wine and Battle Line (designer Reiner Knizia, artists Rodger B. MacGowan and Mark Simonitch, publisher GMT).

I really like this game.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say Battle Line is my favorite Knizia game.  It's perhaps the most knife-edge card game I know.  You really never want to waste a move in this game, never want to make an unnecessary commitment of a card to a slot.  It's playing the odds, it's card luck, but mostly, it's calculated risk-taking.  Not exactly a push-your-luck game, BL is really a strategic game of options and opportunity cost.

In the early stages, the cards you play are like laying the initial cornerstones of the foundation of your line.  Late in the mid-game, you get to the point where you realize that some of the cards in your hand are just going to stay there taking up space for the rest of the game.  When there are only four unclaimed flags and you have seven cards in your hand, you really have to think carefully about what's left, what you can do, and what you just have to relinquish.
My breakthrough on the left - a light wedge of skirmishers, peltasts, and javelins (green), another wedge
supported by the Companion Cavalry, and between them elephants and chariots in a formation-negating fog

My wife and I have both got pretty good at this game, at least against each other.  Today the cards went my way, but not before she made some pretty solid early plays on central flags.  After the game, as I was cleaning up, I happened to look at the cards she had left in her hand, and she really had terrible cards left - almost all low-value, almost none in any kind of pattern relative to what was already in play.  She had really played out the potential of the cards she had.  It was really a tense game for both of us.  A really great way to spend half an hour in the back yard.


  1. Oh, and don't forget that "desertion" card you played. Nicely done. It was a lot of fun, and thanks for the kind words about my game play! :D

    1. Believe me, Sweetie, when Battle Line is on the table, "kindness" is out the window. ;-)

  2. "beer and wine and Battle Line"

    Almost sounds like a country song...! :-)

  3. Thanks, Jason. I wish I were always so poetic! :-)

  4. What? No wine review? :-)

    Battle Line has never worked for me. Might as well play rummy. And if one has the time, why not a good war game?

  5. Battle Line is just about the closest thing to a wargame that Kathy will play, except perhaps for Ace of Aces. But I do think it is a much better card game than rummy.