BattleGoats: Fun for All Ages!
This month we’re going to look at a fun family game that is beautiful and scales well to children of different ages. At The Family Gamers, we think silliness is a great way to relate to your children, and with the game BattleGoats from CardLords, there is ample opportunity for less-than-serious play.
BattleGoats is a game created by Tucker Smedes and brilliantly illustrated by Santiago Calleriza. In BattleGoats, you are a Goat Hero who is recruiting goat friends to go to war against rival goat factions.
Each player is dealt a Goat Hero from the Hero stack, and then choose eight additional cards to round out their army. Cards can be randomly dealt, or for a more strategic game, a drafting system can be used: each player is dealt eight cards, and they choose one and pass the remaining cards to the adjacent player. This repeats eight times until each player has a complete set. This allows for some customization and preference to be made in the creation of the goat army.
Once all nine cards (including the Hero) are selected, each player arranges their cards in a three by three grid. This arrangement is important, because different cards have different abilities, sometime based on their type (Hero, Equipment, Goat, or Creature) and sometimes based on their location on the grid. Most importantly, each card has a large number on the upper right. This is the card’s power. These cards are placed face down, but the owner can look at them at will. The first player to finish their setup goes first.
BattleGoats is at its heart a game of war. Game play is simple. The active player chooses one of their cards and one of an opponent’s cards. Each card is revealed and the highest power after modifiers are calculated wins! The winning card flips back over (usually) and the losing card is discarded. In the event of a tie, both cards die and are discarded. The player with the last card in play wins!
Strategy in BattleGoats is a combination of memory and knowledge of your hidden cards. If an opponent’s card is revealed and modifiers give it extra power depending on, for example, its position, you could choose to eliminate the cards around the revealed card to weaken its modified power. If you have a card that gets a bonus against a certain card type, you may choose to use that card when battling an opponent’s revealed card to gain the upper hand.
One of the things I really appreciate about BattleGoats is how flexible the game is. Since we have children in our family who cannot yet read, we can shift the rules to ignore all special abilities, and simply play with the cards and their large numbers. For our youngest child, we can play a modified game of memory, where the goal is to match the card type (Hero, Equipment, Goat, Creature) with an opponent’s card, and the opponent’s card is discarded on a successful match. The flexibility of the game gives BattleGoats a big advantage in a family gaming setting.
Unfortunately, this memory dynamic also leads to one of the game’s biggest drawbacks. By the end of the game, when each player only has a few cards left, there isn’t much mystery anymore. One player has the biggest, baddest card left, and everyone else knows who the eventual winner is. This final war of attrition can sour the taste of the game after an otherwise fun experience. It’s not the best taste to leave the table with.
Overall, BattleGoats is an average game for experienced adult gamers, but really excels in a mixed age group where different methods of play can be leveraged to make the game fun for all. The art is absolutely fantastic and the family fun is superior to classic games that can really drag for the older players.
BattleGoats is available online at http://www.thefamilygamers.com/getbattlegoats
The Family Gamers received a complimentary copy of BattleGoats for review.