I had a chance to sit down with the folks from Bandai to talk about their new CCG, Battle Spirits and play out a demo game. Bandai starts out by explaining that Battle Spirits is a lot like Magic the Gathering – and they’re right, it really is a lot like Magic including familiar concepts like summoning sickness and tapping creatures for combat. Player begin with a small amount of core (mana) that they can use to cast spells and five life points. Spells come in two forms – basic spells that impact the game board and creature spells that remain on the field of play and do battle. Each creature has a single combat value used to determine the results of combat. On a player’s turn, they gain one core from their reserve, recover any reserve they spent last turn and may cast spells. Spells have a printed cost that can be paid, though this cost is reduced by one for each card of the same color the player currently has in play (down to a cost of zero). If the spell is creature, an extra core is required that is placed on the creature. Each creature has multiple levels that are attained when the creature gains a specific amount of core, with each level conferring different combat abilities and combat strength. After spells have been played, one core can be moved from the current pool to one or more creatures currently in play. Then, the current player nominate creatures to fight – the defender assigns blockers (who must be untapped at the start of combat). Combat values are compared with the highest value surviving and the losers going to the graveyard – one added bonus: winners of a combat get an extra core as a reward for winning combat.   

P6253924.jpgThe game plays in about 30 minutes and has some interesting elements that really differentiate it from other CCGs on the market. In some ways, the depth of play may be a disadvantage, as I can see more finely tuned decks resulting in some very intense and long play times (those five hit points last quite a while even with the demo decks). The artwork on the game is gorgeous and the cards themselves are well laid out and easy to read. The colored factions in the game have very distinct styles of play (I seem to gravitate towards the purple Darkling faction which specializes in manipulating the battlefield) and are pretty different from what we’ve seen in other CCGs. I’ll be curious to see how the market reacts to this newest entry into the overcrowded CCG marketplace. Battle Spirits will be available nationwide in the US on August 14th and the first major tournament will take place at GenCon 2009.