Glorious battle awaits in the land of Goatopia, a war-torn land filled with anthropomorphic goat people. That’s the premise behind the card game BattleGoats. While primarily a typical “me vs you” style battle game, BattleGoats adds an element of hidden information & memory that isn’t often seen in this kind of game. This added element makes BattleGoats a clever game where tactical positioning is crucial.
Each player is dealt one random Hero to lead their makeshift army, and then gets eight more randomly dealt regular troop cards, for a total of nine cards. These are arranged, face down, in a 3×3 grid. Proximity and location, such as a card being in the front row, are very important to certain cards, so placement is a key part of winning.
After all players have set up their grid of cards, the first player selects one of their cards to turn face up and attack. Unless the card in question states otherwise, the attacking card is able to attack any other card in play. To do so, the attacking player simply chooses an opponent’s card to attack. Most of the time, any card is able to attack any other card.
To resolve an attack, players look at the attack value of each card in the fight. The card with the highest number, after all modifiers, wins and the other card is discarded. There are different types of cards, such as Equipment, Goats, and Creatures. Each card has a special ability as well. The card type and ability often modify the attack value of one or more of the cards in each fight.
After the fight is resolved, the winning card is turned back face down. Play then passes to the next player and this is repeated until only one player still has cards. The player with cards remaining is declared the winner and probably goes on to become a master goat tamer.
The first time you attack a card you probably won’t know what it is or how powerful it might be. For this reason, the early game is kind of a gamble and a lot comes down to luck. As the game progresses and you learn the identity of your opponent’s cards, your plays will become more thought out and strategic.
The art in BattleGoats is nice, and suitable for the entire family. The cards do a great job of showing off the illustrations, which depict the various chibi-styled denizens of Goatopia. There is a good deal of humor in the game, from the flavor text to the actual cards themselves. Sometimes the humor is mixed with pop culture and nostalgia, such as the Street Fighter Goat and Tomb Raider Goat. In addition to goats, there are creature cards, such as the Lava Toad and Rock Giant, as well as equipment cards such as the Land Mine and Double Ballista. These cards add to the atmosphere and enrich the gameplay.
BattleGoats is quick to set up, super easy to learn, and is highly portable so you can take it almost anywhere. Games are short, taking less than 30 minutes to finish, and there are enough cards that replayability is decently high.
At times, BattleGoats can be extremely one sided. It is possible to have a card that, because of modifiers, almost can’t be beaten. Sometimes this feels really cheap and at other times it is just annoying. Luck can overcome strategy, which isn’t that big of a deal if you play the game for what it is: a cute, light-hearted battle card game. BattleGoats isn’t meant to be taken seriously. While you can certainly have a serious game, the focus should be on the fun and not a strategic victory.
BattleGoats is fun enough, and cute enough, that it deserves a place on your gaming shelf. This is especially true if you are fond of two-player battle games (that’s the player count where BattleGoats shines) or if you live with young gamers. The hidden information and memory element set BattleGoats apart from most other games in the genre. Overall, the amount of humor and replayability that is packed into the box makes BattleGoats worth the investment.