What is Beasts of Balance: Battles?
Beasts of Balance: Battles is the first full expansion for the unique, app-enabled board game Beasts of Balance and is now available to back on Kickstarter. The Battles expansion introduces a new legendary beast, battle cards, and combat play, while an additional pack of extra beasts is also available. Finally, a new edition of the original Beasts of Balance game has also been launched.
What’s in The Box?
The Beasts of Balance: Battles expansion contains:
- Magmaaargh the Cantankerous Dragon (legendary beast)
- 16 NFC (near field communication) Battle Cards
The More Beasts expansion pack contains:
- Sassy Flamingo
- Impossibly Cute Chameleon
- Slightly Dopey Anglerfish
The new edition of Beasts of Balance contains all the same pieces as the original game, only in a slightly smaller box with redesigned inserts that will allow you to store extra pieces.
How Do I Play?
The new edition of Beasts of Balance is played exactly the same as the original cooperative game, and the new beasts (flamingo, chameleon, and anglerfish) can be played with either this new edition or your original set. If you don’t yet have a copy of Beasts of Balance and want to know how to play, check out Jonathan’s excellent review of the original prototype; very little has changed with the game we see on shelves today.
The More Beasts expansion simply introduces three new beasts that can be used either in the original cooperative game mode or in Battles. These new beasts can be merged with all the others to create yet more wild and wonderful creatures to add to your Beastiary–the Pokedex-style screen that tracks your various discoveries over time.
Beasts of Balance: Battles introduces competitive play between two or three players, each of whom takes on the role of a Divine Creator of either the Land, the Sea, or the Sky. Players choose the form of a Guardian who can throw lightning bolts, tidal waves, or lumps of earth. To win, you must populate your own region with beasts while stealing and smiting beasts in your opponent’s regions. Throughout your battles, you will be overseen by Alberick, spirit of the volcano.
Battle games are played using a deck of 16 NFC cards which are scanned into the plinth just the same as artifacts and beasts are scanned. These cards each have different powers and effects, some attack, some defense, and some… other. Scanning the cards activates these powers to help you attack other regions and defend your own.
Stacking pieces on the plinth is still important in Beasts of Balance: Battles, as is making sure the tower doesn’t collapse. If it falls during your turn, Alberick will rain down fiery destruction on your beasts alone, destroying your region and costing you the game. This means that even with the addition of battling other players, the core element of tower building is still at the heart of the new gameplay mode.
Battles also comes with a legendary beast, a dragon named Magmaaargh the Cantankerous. Magmaaargh can be summoned using his own NPC card and adds more strategy to your game. He is an especially valuable beast to have in your region but must be fed Star Energy or he will become angry and, to quote the creators, “things might just turn ugly.” Magmaaargh can also be combined with other beasts to create hybrids, just as the other beast pieces can.
What’s the Verdict?
It’s always hard to give a verdict on a new game without having played it myself, but I can honestly say I am very excited for these new additions to Beasts of Balance. The beast pieces in the original are gorgeous (I’m a particular fan of the octopus), and the three new beasts in the More Beasts expansion are all wonderfully sculpted and look as if they will make for excellent fun both when attempting to stack them on the plinth and when creating hybrids. I still can’t decide which one is my favorite, but today I’m leaning towards the anglerfish.
The Battles expansion adds a whole second layer of play to an already fun game, without affecting the laid back approach that makes the original game so enjoyable. Battles opens up choices for players, who can now choose to either work cooperatively and build the best world they can together or to play competitively and see who reigns supreme over the world.
The game is already fully funded–at the time of writing, it is already more than three times over its original funding goal with two stretch goals unlocked, all in only 24 hours–and there are some lovely bonus rewards available to fans of the game at higher pledge levels. The pledge tiers are well designed. They are flexible enough to allow backers to pick and choose precisely what they need–whether that’s the Battles and More Beasts expansions together, the new edition of Beasts of Balance by itself, or a combination of everything. The one thing I didn’t see was an option to purchase either the Battles or the More Beasts expansion by themselves instead of jointly.
It has to be noted that, as with the original game, Beasts of Balance: Battles leans toward to the top end of game pricing. At $79 for the new edition of the original game, $49 for the expansions, or a whopping $119 for everything, this is a game you’ll need to budget for rather than buying on a whim. That being said, as Jonathan pointed out last year, it still works out cheaper than other physical + digital games such as Disney Infinity and Skylanders once their many (many) additional extras are factored in.
I’m excited to see how these new additions will change Beasts of Balance and add even more interest to what is, already, one of the most interesting and unique games on the market.