Barrage Battle is tactical card game designed by Matthew Kuehn and Raechel Mykytiuk with art by Manolis Frangidis, after it’s successful Kickstarter campaign it was published by MK Games. What differentiates Barrage Battle from many of the other tactical, squirmish games is it’s use of dexterity as well as strategy.
In Barrage Battle players face off on a large board with a grid pattern using the same three starting cards: The King, The Wizard, and The Castle. In order to win one player must kill the opponents King.
The players start their turn by declaring their intentions for this turn by choosing, Peace, Engagement, or War. The choices will decide the ratio of gold and actions that player can take each turn. The declaration a player picks will dictate a building/reinforcing turn, a balanced turn, or an offensive push.
Once the declaration phase is over players can now deploy cards from their hand to add units to the board, cast spells, move, or attack. The strategic part of the game is most well represented by the players choices about card deployment and move. Attacking is where this game takes a sharp left. Melee attacks function much like a typical squirmish game, you roll dice and resolve but ranged attacks requires players to throw dice. The value of the dice face doesn’t matter, what matters is if the dice lands on the space where a card resides.
At the end of their turn players will draw cards from a common deck which also marks major difference from other games this may get compared to. It is quite interesting that players do not have unique or asymetrical decks. This allows for a very balanced game as all players have access to the same weapons, units, and spells.
I found that most of my plays of the game had a similar flow. Players would spend much of the early game declaring peace to collect gold and bolster their army and to build up for later turns when then would rush in and attack.
The units in Barrage Battle work well since most units or structures have a counter card. Ranged attacks can be blocked by certain structures and the spells are limited by the fact that a player must have a wizard in play and the mana to pay for that spell. What I was missing though was a sense of uniqueness to my army that I have come accustomed to in other similar games.
The first thing that struck me when opening the box of Barrage Battle was how big the board is. It is a really big board and the first time we set up the game I never thought the armies would get close. The card quality was average and suitable. The game comes with a variety of dice (10 sided, 12 sided, 6 sided, and 2 types of 4 sided dice). The different dice are used by different ranged units as their projectiles and I am still not sure if this many different dice are necessary.
The art design of Barrage Battle fell a little flat for me. It isn’t bad art work but it has a distinctly late 80s early 90s fantasy video game look. Where the graphics did let me down, however, is the cluttered cards. They convey a lot of information regarding the unit but I didn’t find that they did so in the clearest fashion. The damage and HP counters are functional but have a very simple and dated look to them.
Overall the components and art of Barrage Battle are functional but dated and did not appeal to me.
So full disclosure, Summoner Wars is one of my all time most played games and it was hard not to compare Barrage Battle to it because they are quite different games but it is the obvious comparison. Barrage Battle differs significantly with the use of dexterity for combat resolution which intrigued me but ended feeling to fiddly for me. It also feels significantly because of the shared deck which I found really added a interesting layer as players had to rely on their play more to rather than unique abilities to develop strategies.
Another problem I had with Barrage Battle was the length. I found that most of my plays ran 15-20 minutes longer than I found enjoyable. Despite all this the game was a success with my sons who quite enjoyed building up their armies and throwing dice at each other across the table. While Barrage Battle wasn’t for me it did find a place with my sons and if a game that combines strategy and dexterity has any interest for you it may find a spot on your shelf.