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Bellum: Of Mutants and Men Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look - Bellum: Of Mutants and Men

Designer: Ben Maloney, Ryan O’Leary
Artists: Dylan Barker, Ross Hayes
Publisher: Van Hammock Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 15–45 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Review
Bellum means war, at least in Latin. And, Bellum of Mutants and Men is just that—a war game of 2 forces facing off against each other on the field of battle.

There are 2 races in the world: Sapiens and Gobalos. Armies are being built. Some are of one race. In some places of the world, the races have come together in defense of their homelands. You have a full barracks and are preparing to lead your troops to conquest against your enemy’s keep.

Bellum: Of Mutants and Men is a 1-on-1 deck-management war-game played on a 5 by 5 grid map.

Each player controls a 30-card deck (a Barracks) built prior to playing. Bellum comes with 2 prebuilt decks (1 for each race) and enough cards to build several more. We chose to use the pre-made decks to play our game.

The rules of Bellum were easy to understand. They give an overview of how the game is played and how to read the cards. The cards are divided into Units and Stratagem. The information on the cards is used when bringing Units into play and affects how the game plays out. Cards also have synergistic aspects that can come into play.

The size of the board leads to quick engagement. Each player has a keep located in the middle square on opposite sides. This means there are 3 steps from doorstep to doorstep. This allows the ability to move in quickly and attack with some Units while others maneuvering into support positions.

We enjoyed our game of Bellum. The options provided a level of complexity to the strategy without complicating the rules.

Setup
The main part of getting the game set up is creating your deck. Each player has a deck of 30 cards, called a Barracks. There can only be two cards of the same type in the Barracks. When preparing to play, this is the longest portion; however, we thought of a couple of ideas that could be used for this part of the game (more on our variants later). There are enough different cards to create different strategies between games or create multiple decks at a time.

Once you have a Barracks, you’re ready to start.


Gameplay
A player uses Stockpile (action points) to bring units into play and other activities during their turn. You start a round by drawing a card and then increasing your Stockpile by the number of cards you have in your hand.

The turn starts with beginning a turn of events (described on cards in play), then the middle turn of movement, combat, and some other options, and completes with end of turn events (also listed on the cards). We found these to be easy to follow and setting up combinations of beginning and ending turn events is useful.

Combat is an easy comparison of Attack and Defense. Each Unit’s Defense is the amount of damage they can take in a turn. Once they reach zero, the Unit is removed from the game. If there wasn’t enough damage to remove the Unit in a single turn, the Defense resets with the next turn. But the main goal is to take out your opponent’s keep.

Turns alternate until one player’s keep has suffered 10 points of damage.


Theme and Mechanics
Bellum is a war taking place in our future and provides a crossover between science fiction and fantasy.

The main mechanic is building the deck prior to play. During play, it is management of Stockpile and combat with the cards. All the fighting is done by comparing the cards; there are no dice used.

Artwork and Components
The theme of a futuristic war is continued with the artwork. All of the components and artwork are in black and white, playing up the dichotomy of 2 sides. The artwork also makes the cards easy to read.



Variants
We thought of several varying ways of starting, or to speed up play between games if you want to play back-to-back games.
  • After finishing a game, swap decks and go at it again. This provides a quick set up into the next game and allows you to see how well your opponent does with a deck you created.
  • Create two decks before play and randomly have your opponent choose one to play. This gives the experience of building the Barracks and working on keeping them balanced.
  • Draft the cards. There are over 100 additional cards with the game so this might take a longer while still learning what the cards can do and how they interact. You can also draft more cards than needed so you aren’t totally revealing what you will be using. There is also the ability to draft to the end and create several decks from one drafting event. Again, this would allow your opponent to know what all your cards are, but not in which deck they are used.


The Good
  • Only needs two players
  • Easy to learn
  • Enough cards to play—each player doesn't need to have their own copy of the game
The Bad
  • Only two players

Final Thoughts
We enjoyed Bellum: Of Mutants and Men. There was enough to get us talking about other options and strategies we could play as we progressed. I know we will be bringing it out again to try out our thoughts.

Players Who Like
  • Two-player games
  • Strategy games
  • Deck management

 Check out Bellum: Of Mutants and Men on

             

On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends July 3, 2019.



Daniel Yocom - Reviewer

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines along with stories, after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.com.

See Daniel's reviews HERE.
Bellum: Of Mutants and Men Kickstarter Preview Bellum: Of Mutants and Men Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Guild Master Gaming on June 03, 2019 Rating: 5

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