This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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# of Players: 1-4, plays best with two
Time: 30-60 minutes
Gamer Type: Advanced
Game Type: Card Claiming Battle
Complexity: 6 (Advanced)
Battle for Souls Successfully Broke the Mold
As we move through this Easter season, we do not see many religious-themed board games out there. The ones that we do see are generally “ports” of popular games with Bible verses thrown in them. Very few of these games take on a new objective or create something new. Rob Burke Games has broken this mold with Battle For Souls, which is a game where players take the side of Heaven or Hell to claim souls for eternity. In the one-player game, you take the side of Heaven, in a two or four-player game half of the players have to play the board of Hell, which is a little odd. Overall, this game is an artistic masterpiece and lives up to the expected excellence of the Rob Burke gaming legacy.
The story of this game is one of the oldest stories known to man, the battle of good v. evil. Stepping away from the traditional format of their games, this Rob Burke game could almost be called educational. As players navigate the world of temptation, they learn about the vices and virtues. The depth at which Burke went in designing this game is impressive as they stuck with different traditions of the Bible story. This earns the game a score of 8 of 10 for the story.
The artwork of the game is beautiful. It is drawn in the classic sense, harkening to medieval tapestries and cathedrals. This really draws you into the feeling of the game. Some of the symbolism is a little “too real” for some players, which can be a problem; however, this also shows good research by the company. This amazing artwork earns the game a score of 8 out of 10 for the art.
Mechanics and Strategy
The mechanics and strategy of this game are interesting. Since each player has a side, they each have a deck full of blessed or infernal cards. The playstyle is simple to learn and hard to master, which is an indication of a good game. The basic concept of the game is that each side is on a mission to claim souls for their side. They do this by offering intersessions or sins to “temp” the souls one way or another. Angels, demons, saints, and vices make up the tools players can use to collect souls. Players can choose to act offensively (which works well for Hell) or defensively (which works well for Heaven). The combo potential is limited, so engine building is a little difficult and the Zerg Rush approach will quickly lose you the game. For the mechanics of the game, Battle for Souls earns a strong 6 out of 10. Likewise, the game earns a 6.5 out of 10 for strategy.
The novelty of this game is interesting. When looking at the topic, this game is very novel. The concept, artwork and story make this so interesting to play, you almost forget the seriousness of the subject matter. The playstyle is interesting, but limited as it is a card game. This brings the game to a good 7 out of 10 for novelty.
A Superbly Made Game if You Can Stand the
The overall score for this game is 35.5 out of 50. This is a very good score for a card game, even a big box card game. I am hesitant to give an open recommendation for this game due to the subject matter, some people who are religious (including a couple of my play testers) may find the idea, even in a game, of working for Hell to be distasteful. This can be problematic for a big box game on the open market. If you understand the teaching tools this game can be used for, while also understanding temptation in our daily lives, then it can be a powerful tool for people to understand the battle happening beyond our vision.
For game collectors and hardcore gamers, this is a great game to have. For those willing to play the game and have a deep philosophical discussion- this game is a goldmine. This is not a party game, nor a children’s game. I give a recommendation for this game with the above caveats. At first blush it may be scary, but this fun to play game can also be a powerful teaching tool.