There’s no denying the cultural impact of the Battle Royale genre over the last few years. Inspired by films such as The Hunger Games and the titular Battle Royale, the genre is based on a simple concept. Several players are scattered on a large map without supplies and forced to quickly scavenge for the best supplies possible, fighting and defeating all other players they encounter in the hopes of being the last one standing.
Games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and the fantastic short-lived Totally Accurate Battlegrounds have drained countless hours of millions of players’ lives and given rise to the careers of several online streamers such as Ninja. It’s probably no surprise then that someone would attempt to bring the genre to the tabletop arena.
I was able to sit down with Academy Games at Gen Con to try out a very early prototype of their very own Battle Royale tabletop game. While the game’s components were very clearly not final- including dry-erase cards with hand drew artwork and terrain taken from other games such as Photosynthesis– the rules felt like they were nearly finalized.
How it works
At the beginning of the game, players shuffle a deck of weapon cards and randomly place them face down all over the table. All of the player cards are then shuffled into one deck and randomly dropped on onto the table just as the weapon cards were. Then everyone chooses a player color as and all the character cards are flipped over. Each player will have a team of four fighters to keep alive, but no one will have control over their starting positions. After positions are revealed the first player starts the battle.
On your turn, you can make one move and one attack action. To move, players flick one of their character cards to anywhere on the table. If your card comes to rest on top of or underneath a weapon card you can flip it over and equip the card if you wish. To do this you simply draw the symbol of that weapon onto the character’s card to show what kind of attack they can perform. If you hit an enemy with an attack you will keep that character in front of you, giving you points for the end of the game. Once the entire team of one player has been eliminated the game ends and the person with the most kills is the winner.
The game is very simple and quick. Our game ended in about 15-20 minutes. Using cards as the flicking medium is pretty interesting, but the cards often needed to be “fluffed” or bent a little in order to get them to move. I can imagine this might make people who take good care of their games a little antsy.
While most dexterity flicking games would have you use discs, the reason cards are used is because of the varying ways the weapon cards work. For example, melee weapons require you to flick your character onto or underneath your opponent to hit them. Other ranged weapons let you use various discs to try and “roll” it over your opponents, killing anyone it contacts on the way. This allows a large number of kills if perfected. One person in our game just missed three kills with one of these attacks.
Battle Royale contains some cool ideas. It will be interesting to see what Academy Games does with this title between now and when they launch the Kickstarter for it later this year. The gameplay might need a few tweaks; for example, melee weapons feel a bit stronger than they probably should be and hopefully, the iconography is changed to symbols that are easier to understand. Time will tell if Academy Games have created their own Fortnite smash hit.
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AKA “The Board Game Mole”
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