|Clash of the Battle Goats|
Designer: Brent Critchfield
Publisher: Studio Woe
Last year a new, tactical card game burst on the Kickstarter scene. With awesome artwork featuring an odd set of bizarrely mutated goats and an equally quirky collection of shepherds, Gruff was a huge success. Now, about a year later, Studio Woe is back with the first Gruff expansion, which also plays as a stand alone two player game. Clash of the Battle Goats is fully compatible with Gruff and adds two new shepherds and six new gruffs (mutant goats) to the mix (and more with stretch goals already being hit). I don't have Gruff, however, so this review is strictly about Clash as a stand alone game.
In Clash of the Battle Goats two players each take on the role of a shepherd with a small flock of thee mutant goats called gruffs. Mix and match shepherds and gruffs between Clash (which will come with at least six shepherds and six gruffs) and Gruff (with seven shepherds and fifteen gruffs) and then head out to do battle. Each shepherd has a unique ability and each gruff has a set of 15 ability cards with a variety of cool effects.
Clash plays with two players (although Gruff handles four) ages 11+ in 15 to 40 minutes. It's currently on Kickstarter through May 10 for $20 and is already over 200% funded, so it's just a matter of how many stretch goals are reached now.
After selecting a shepherd and three gruffs, each player will then choose 8 of the 15 ability cards for each gruff to use in the game. This allows each player to construct a unique deck that caters to their intended strategy. The depth of this deck construction isn't anywhere near Magic the Gathering levels, but it allows a level of customization that is quick, yet meaningful. Alternatively you can play with eight random cards for each gruff, but that does pose the risk of getting unbalanced decks.
|North is one of two shepherds that came with my copy of Clash of the Battle Goats. |
The Kickstarter is already unlocking a ton more shepherds and other additions!
|Track stats with special clips on the cards. They can occasionally be fiddly, but overall work OK.|
After resolving any attack from a previous turn the main part of your turn begins. First draw an ability card. Then choose a gruff to activate (turn it sideways to show it has been activated). Some gruffs have abilities that trigger when they are activated (like increase their Fat, Mean, or Weird stat, or sometimes something else). If the gruff has any Weird, your shepherd increases its Crazy level by the amount of Weird the gruff has. These are the only resources in the game, Weird and Crazy. In order to play ability cards your shepherd must be crazy enough. So activating weird gruffs allows your shepherd to play crazier ability cards.
|The crazier your shepherd is the more powerful ability cards you can play.|
There are three types of ability cards, Actions, Conditions, and Mutations. Actions are resolved immediately. They can do things like increasing a gruff's stats, moving a gruff, removing Conditions and Mutations, and more. Conditions are active for an entire round (i.e. until the beginning of the active player's next turn, after combat). These are usually cards that provide benefits (or penalties) to a gruff as long as they are active and certain conditions are met. They'll usually provide combat benefits in certain situations, although they can do other things, too. Mutations are generally permanent effects. They can be positive (so you'll place them on your gruffs) or negative (you'll place them on opponent gruffs) and sometimes are global mutations that affect all gruffs on on team. They'll generally stick around, but there are some abilities that allow you to discard mutations.
|Different ability cards provide different benefits.|
|Toof has six Fat, two Conditions, and one Mutation that make him a pretty solid defensive wall.|
|Lockjaw goes in for the attack!|
|Lockjaw has a whole bunch of mutations from the opponent, but is it enough to stop his meanness?|
When Gruff came out last year it won a number of awards. The innovative twist on tactical battle card games is definitely worthy of attention. The mechanics behind Gruff and Clash are simple: draw a card, activate a gruff, play cards, and take an action, but the delayed resolution of attacks, combined with the wide combination of characters and abilities, along with the simple deck construction choices make the battles in the Gruff universe unusually deep and tactical. Allowing your opponent an entire turn to mount a defense requires a completely new way of considering strategy. No longer are battles simply about getting the strongest attackers out at the right time. Now you have to coordinate to get them ready at a time when your opponent won't be able to respond. Sometimes this means going on the offensive right away with a series of small attacks. Other times it means biding your time until you can go for a big attack. Despite the simplicity there are a lot of bits of information to take into account. And, although most of the information about each player is public (aside from the ability cards in their hands), with a lot of moving parts even the best laid plans can sometimes be foiled.
|Vim is the other shepherd that is standard in the game, but a bunch more will be coming with the Kickstarter stretch goals.|
|The artwork is fantastically bizarre. Each goat is a treasure!|
|Back now and you can have this adorable critter in your herd!|
Preliminary Rating: 7.5/10
This review is of a prototype game. Components and rules are not final and are subject to change.
GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.