Publisher: Sensible Object
Game Type: Action/dexterity, hybrid board/video game
Designer: George Buckenham, Alex Fleetwood
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Artist:Tim Burrell-Saward, Lyall McCarthy, Chris Shaw
Theme and What is it?
Beasts of Balance is a game of creature creation, bringing together the physical elements of a tabletop game and the technological elements of an app on your mobile device.
The base game is a cooperative game, but the new expansion, Battle Cards, allows players to compete against one another for the best beasts!
I also got to check out some new Beasts, like Hotbelly the Hangry Dragon and a three-pack including the Anglerfish, the Flamingo, and the Chameleon.
The Beast expansions are used much like they are in the base game. In co-op mode, they’re exactly the same: you simply balance the beasts on top of one another, trying to create the tallest tower while the app generates visuals of the creatures you’re creating.
In Battle Mode, Hotbelly the Hangry Dragon (man, I love that name!) can only be placed on the tower if one of your beasts dies due to a tower collapse or rearrangement, but he brings with him more points than any other beast available.
Players begin Battle Mode by selecting which region of the new world they’d like to be the creator of: land, sea, or sky. Everyone then draws two cards each from a deck of 16, scanning them on the plinth so the game knows which cards you have, but your opponents don’t. Each turn thereafter, you draw cards until you have three.
If your region is land, you’ll want to place the bear, warthog, chameleon, and other land-based animals in order to score points. Accidentally placing the wrong beast on your turn will give your opponent points!
Use the elemental artefacts to support your beasts or to hurt an opponent’s, and use those cards in your hand for maximum effect. My favorite card is SMITE! Which lets you choose any beast and make it explode! (Just don’t choose your own, okay?)
I was super excited about seeing these expansions for Beasts of Balance. The new beasts bring in all sorts of fun new crossbreeds that often have hilarious names (“Frumpy Hangeltalon”???) that have my kiddo grinning like a fool.
The Battle Cards were the most exciting aspect for me. I love a good co-op game, but this brings the fun in for the older audience too.
Game Build Quality
As I expected from seeing the base game, the build quality is impeccable. The plastic is good quality with a great, soft finish to it and a nice heft. The cards are very thick, mostly to accommodate the NFC tags inside. This game is going to be around for a long, long time.
Again, the art is amazingly well done. When you first open up Battle Mode and you select your region to be creator of, you’ll see this floating deity sort of thing, as pictured above. Each one is tailored to the region it reigns over. The colors are vibrate, the art imaginative, and the whole concept very supportive of fantasy and creative play.
Battling with my nine-year-old was a lot of fun. He got a little overwhelmed (AKA he lost) at one point, but it was still something he was ready to come back to ten minutes later.
We enjoyed filling our bestiary (sort of like a Pokedex) with some of the new beasts we had too.
Age Range & Weight
I’d recommend the new Beasts to players 3+, as long as it’s in co-op mode. Battle mode requires a bit more thinking and maturity, not to mention literacy skills to read the cards, so I’d recommend it to older elementary and up. Don’t get me wrong though, adults on their own can have a great time with this game!
This has quickly become a favorite of my son and his friends. They mostly do co-op mode, but we’re introducing the Battle Mode too. The one downside of having your kids play this game is that they take your phone to play it with, so hopefully you have a tablet or something they can use instead!
One struggle we had with Battle Mode was that it was hard for my son to keep track of several things at once. If you want to play an elemental artefact, like the fire/fire one, for example, you have to scan it on the plinth, right? Basic game rules.
But you can’t select, then scan, or scan, then select. You have to watch this tiny little firefly flitting around the screen and scan the artefact in the few seconds the firefly is on the creature you wish to alter.
It is not difficult to accidentally boost someone else’s beast or migrate your beast to an opponent’s area of control, and this may lead to tears, especially if one’s nine-year-old is already really super tired and cranky. But I’m not talking about anyone in particular.
I wish it were more obvious and easier to select which beast you’d like to affect, but it’s a lesson I think a certain nine-year-old learned rather quickly. He was eager to play ten minutes later, so no harm, no foul.
All in all, Battle Mode is incredibly well done and the new beasts add a lot of extra challenge and fun. Can I stack them all? We shall see!