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Modern Land Battles Review

Quick Look: Modern Land Battles

Designer: Dan Verssen
Artist: N/A
Publisher: Dan Verssen Games (DVG)
Year Published: 2015
No. of Players: 2-6
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 60-120 min.

From the publisher:

Modern Land Battles (MLB): Target Acquired uses the core game mechanisms from our award-winning Modern Naval Battles game. MLB takes you to the front lines in both historical and hypothetical conflicts ranging from the Arab-Israeli Wars to the present day.

This new game features armor, infantry and artillery vehicles from 7 different nations: USA, USSR, UK, China, Israel, Insurgent, and Arabian Multinational. This gives you the forces you need to play out battles during the Cold War, Six-Day War, Iran-Iraq War, Vietnam War, Lebanon War, Yom Kippur War, Falkland Islands War, and Gulf War.

The game system maximizes player decision making to make every turn exciting. At the start of the game, you get to select a nation's ground forces to command. Then, you get to select the specific armor, infantry, and artillery forces that you think is the best battle force. Once selected, you'll get to battle the forces selected by the other players in order to capture and secure vital objectives!

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Review: Modern Land Battles

Overview and Theme:
Modern Land Battles is a military card game that is normally outside my wheelhouse but is firmly within my partner's interests, so we learned and played the game together and I asked him to join me in sharing his opinions of the game.

The theme is very well done for anyone interested in modern military forces and actions. Real-life photographs are used on the cards and stats from those vehicles and weapons are used to give the game a realistic edge. There are plenty of player interactions as forces are moved on the table, into and out of range, and engage in both offensive and defensive actions.

Components and Setup:
Modern Land Battles is a card-based game that includes decks for seven different forces as well as a general action deck and a terrain deck. The game also includes cardboard tokens to indicate damage, advantages, and actions, as well as four ten-sided dice.

The photographs used on the glossy cards are very nice; they include a wide variety of modern military vehicles and add to the modern theme of the game.

Set up is relatively quick; each player chooses a faction deck and selects from their deck 25 points worth of vehicles. Military enthusiasts will find the most well-known equipment from each represented force, and being familiar with the real-life vehicles will make selecting your starting cards that much easier, but there are enough stats on each card that even a military novice (like me!) can choose a solid starting lineup. Each force is well-balanced and has a variety of cards of different strengths and abilities.

Each player arranges their cards on their side of the table in up to three rows. Each row represents a different distance or range from the enemy, and will factor into which units can attack and which can be attacked.

Three battlefield cards are arrayed in the center of the table between the two forces.  These represent different areas where battles may take place: the Flanking card (where forces can gain an advantage), the Breakthrough card (where most combat will occur), and the deck of Terrain cards (where players engage in a back-and-forth battle hoping to earn the top Terrain card and the points associated with it).

Game Play and Mechanics:
The goal of Modern Land Battles is to earn 25 points by engaging in card-and-dice-based combat against your opponent's forces and defeating enough of their cards to accumulate that total.

Players take turns choosing an action: Prepare (reset your forces to make them able to attack again), Reinforce, Maneuver Attack (with your main forces), Artillery Attack (with your artillery units), or Play a Card. Action cards allow you to do things such as make defensive maneuvers to protect vulnerable units, gain advantages when attacking, move the terrain counter, and use certain weapons to attack.

Units can move between the three battle areas in the center of the table and also between the three rows on your side of the table, giving you the ability to be strategic in your placement and movement to have your forces aligned for the most powerful attacks.

As the game progresses, points are earned by defeating enemy units. Players declare attacks against a specific enemy card with the goal of inflicting enough damage on that unit to destroy it. Dice are used to see if you hit your opponent, and how much damage is done is based on the number of hits that you inflict. The card for a destroyed unit is taken by the attacking player, who adds those points to their total, working their way up to the 25 points needed for victory.

The Good:
Modern Land Battles fits a good niche of being a detailed, strategic war game that is also relatively quick (our two-player games never went much over an hour). The cards for each force are very well-made and offer good talking points about military history.

The rulebook is well laid out and includes an almanac detailing each type of action cards, which is a really nice feature.

Fans of heady military strategy will enjoy the game play and have an advantage due to their strategic backgrounds, but a player who is less used to strategy games of this type will still have a fighting chance as the luck of card draws and dice rolls plays enough of a factor to help keep things from becoming too unbalanced.

The Bad:
Having never played Modern Naval Battles, it took us a while to get into the overall flow of the game. By late into their first game, my son and partner had the hang of things, and felt they got better with each play. They were able to help guide me through the games that I played.

Gamers who aren't into military battles and don't have friends or family who are may find it hard to get into the theme of this game. Both my partner and son said that they would also enjoy seeing the same game system used for historic military ages and for fantasy, sci-fi, or other fictional themes.

Players Who Like:
Players who enjoy head-to-head battles in games like Memoir '44, The Hunt for Red October, Star Wars Epic Duels, and other medium-weight war games will enjoy Modern Land Battles.

Final Thoughts:
Modern Land Battles is a good medium-weight war game for fans of modern military forces. This is our family's first game from DVG and if it is representative of the rest of their expensive and varied line, we are eager to play more of their offerings.

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About the Author:

My name is Alexa: I'm a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I've loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We've played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids.  In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!
Modern Land Battles Review Modern Land Battles Review Reviewed by MamaGames - Alexa C. on May 31, 2018 Rating: 5

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