We were sent Battlecrest by Button Shy, a wallet-sized combat game for two players. The Fellwoods base game also comes with the Akhena and Mutino hero sets and the Fellwoods map set. We were kindly sent the Whispyr and Forge hero sets as well. The hero sets are additional characters you can play as but any of the additional sets for maps and heroes are interchangeable. In this game, your goal is to defeat your opponent by lowering their health to 0.
To set up, you’ll start with the map. You need to use the diagram from the rulebook in placing landmarks, heroes, and minions (hero helpers). The landmark cards are shuffled and six random landmarks are placed in the formation from the diagram. To place your hero/warrior, there are two possible spots marked on the diagram with H. The first player will place their hero on the H spot with the highest number landmark, and their minion, if applicable, in the spot marked M near that spot. Then the other player will take the remaining hero and minions spot (if they have a minion). This setup was both simple and confusing, as it didn’t involve a lot of cards but was hard to keep the cards placed exactly right especially since there are spaces in between. We thought that a game like this would benefit from a playmat for even faster setup.
Players will also each create an Action Row with their action cards placed in a row and their Health Card above the Action Row at full health. This was a unique mechanism that we really liked as the Health Card moves along this row it is a brilliant way to keep track of health.
The first player will then be able to start once setup is complete. The active player chooses two different actions each turn that create change in the game. Players can’t do actions that would leave the game in the same place. This is a good way to avoid stalemate or to have the game go on for too long. Players can move, activate, prime, and/or refocus.
A warrior has a movement value, which is all of the active Action Cards movement values added up. A minions movement value is just what is listed on the card. This means that the warrior’s movement value can lower if some cards aren’t active. You can move warriors and/or minions but must move at least one. If you do multiple you need to resolve the movement one at a time, it is ok if they go through allies but not opponents. Warriors must land adjacent to landmarks by the end of their movement. Some landmarks also have arrows where warriors can cut through the landmark (counting as one space for moving through it), but if the landmark doesn’t have the arrow symbols the player can’t move through it. Players must be careful not to land on spaces touching map hazards or they’ll take one damage point. There are also map bonuses that players get if they met the criteria on the card, resulting in the landmark being flipped and then that bonus being used.
Activating an action card means to take it and turn it sideways to use the ability and/or abilities listed on the card. Multiple abilities can be used but don’t have to be for this action. The attack abilities all have different ranges marked by swords (short range), axes (medium range), or bow and arrows (long range). A card will list the number of targets it can hit. Each time a player attacks they have to say who they’re attacking and how many points they’re using on the attack. That way the opponent can exhaust a warrior’s active Action Card if they wish to use the defense value to defend and they can use map bonuses as well. Minions can also use map bonuses but only have their minion card’s defense value. This is a good example of how the warrior’s are more powerful than the minions. Warrior damage is dealt if the defense is less than the attack value and they’re damaged with the difference between the two values, sliding their Health card down the appropriate amount. If the Health Card reaches the flip icon, it is flipped over and tracking continues until the Health Card reaches the skull and the warrior loses. We found that each hit didn’t occur a large amount of damage. For minions however, any damage results in its card being flipped and if it is damaged again that minion is out of the game.
Some of the abilities are star powered for warriors and landmarks, marked with a star. When activating an action card, some have stars on it and any not skipped are required to be used. There are specific rules for using these that are marked on the cards. At the end of Activation, the sideways turn means that it becomes inactive or exhausted. Instead of turning the cards sideways, we moved them down for our game, which was easier for our game table.
Different hero sets have different types of abilities, like Akhena’s Fate-Bringer, Mutiny’s Dead Reckoning, Whispyr’s Silent Wings, and Forge’s Blast Shield. AI sheets add additional elements for the sets for solo play as well.
Priming an action card is for the crest only. It still exhausts the card, but the ability on the card is not used for this action. The crest bonus is an additional point value x the number of primed crests of the same type.
Refocusing is where exhausted action cards are flipped over, shifted back into formation and that new side is now activated and ready for future use.
Language Barrier Playability: Not possible. There’s too much card text especially in regards to abilities for this to be played without language.
Replayability: Good. There are different sets, so that adds to the replay value because they add variety.
Artwork: Fantastic. The artistry is reminiscent of comic books and the line work is very clean with nice coloring. The wallet sized games that come in a wallet are also a fun design.
Quality: Good. The wallet it comes in is nice, with simple plastic sleeves on each side. Most of the cards are a sturdy paper while the rulebook and a few of the AI cards are a softer paper.
Strategy: Decent. You do choose which abilities to attack with but overall strategy feels light as none of the attacks seem to do a devastating amount of damage at one time.
Instruction Manual: Fine. It was a little confusing at first, especially since the manual doesn’t cover all the symbols, and some of those were on the individual hero sets which took a minute to get used to. The additional rules was also a separate pamphlet whereas I think we would’ve prefered a player aid and all rules in one pamphlet.
Organization: Good. Everything fits in the wallet and there aren’t too many cards so it is hard to be disorganized.