Today I’d like to highlight a great homemade print and play version of a game called Battle Line. Battle Line is a really fun two-player card game that’s easy to learn, but difficult to master.
Game Premise: You face off against an opponent across a “battle line” of 9 flags as you attempt to win the battle by claiming either 5 out of the 9 flags or 3 adjacent flags. Winning flags are decided by placing cards into 3 card poker-style hands, called “formations”, on your side of the flags. The side with the best formation wins the flag. For added intrigue and strategy, “tactics” cards can be added to mix things up a bit.
My Take: I like to think of Battle Line as part chess and part poker. With chess, you’re strategizing, thinking ahead, and trying to anticipate possible counter-measures; proper positioning and strategy can go a long way in Battle Line. With poker, you’re playing your opponent more than your are your cards. While chance does play into the game, I feel that a seasoned and skilled player will more often than not come out on top even with some junky cards. Despite all of what I just said, Battle Line is actually simple enough for even your young ones to learn and have fun with. I’ve squared off against my 10-year old nephew a few times, and after quickly picking up the rules in our first game, he was already trying out various tactics with our subsequent battles. For me, Battle Line is a lot of fun, takes 30 to 45 minutes for most games, has decent replay value, and includes a few variations that you can use for alternative gameplay.
Print and Play Content: There are actually a variety of re-themed print and play versions of Battle Line out there that are pretty easy to find, but for me my favorite is a “Fantasy RPG” version created by shadow_bind on BoardGameGeek.com. (You can find other versions in the Files section of Battle Lines’ BGG.com page.) His whimsical characters are a lot of fun and add a great deal of flavor to the game. I’ve yet to play a game of Battle Line using this set with someone who hasn’t absolutely loved the images. Here’s a little taste of what I’m talking about:
To complement these card fronts, another BGG user (manyslayer) has created a sheet of card backs for the set. I may in the future use the card backs as flags. To round out the shadow_bind “Fantasy RPG” Battle Line collection, I’ve put together a rules document that incorporates his images, details each Tactics card, and lists some gameplay variations (including one for 3 players).
One last piece of printable Battle Line content I’ll mention is a set of terrain cards. I just stumbled across these and haven’t used them yet, but they look very intriguing, and I’m excited to giving these a try.
Battle Line Print and Play Content: