- Players: 2-4
- Game type: Cards, strategy
- Objective: Protect your emperor and eliminate all other emperors.
Battalion is a strategic battle card game. Each player begins with an emperor and his bodyguard and protective card formation. Basically, turns are used to either regroup or to attack an opponent. The objective of the game is to use your cards to protect your emperor and to defeat other emperors by killing their bodyguard.
The formation is both the emperor's offense and defense and should be designed carefully. The formation consists of at most three rows of cards with at most four cards per row. The emperor remains behind the formation throughout the game. For purposes of terminology, the first row is that which is farthest from the emperor; the second and third rows follow. The formation is a group of connected cells, the places where cards can be placed in one's formation. Cells can be empty or occupied by exactly one card.
Cell connectivity is the primary consideration in designing a formation, since connectivity determines the path to the emperor. Connectivity is governed as follows:
- Every cell is connected to all other cells via some continuous path of connections.
- A cell is connected to immediately adjacent cells in the same row.
- Two cells in adjacent rows can be connected in a rectangle or triangle fashion. In a rectangular connection, a cell is connected to the cell directly above/below. In a triangular connection, a cell is connected to the two cell above/below to the left and right; three cards must always be used in a triangular connection.
These rules are purposely flexible to allow players to design a formation that suits a particular playing strategy, especially with regards to offense and defense. Traditionally, the creator of a new formation has exclusive naming rights. For sorting convenience, each formation is also assigned an index, which consists of three numbers: the number of cells in the first, second, and third row. A list of some common formations is here.
Each player is given all of the cards of one suit, a die, and a joker (or "Play By the Rules" card, etc.). The joker symbolically represents the emperor and is placed face up close to the player near the edge of the table. A second deck of cards, preferably a differently colored back, is used to mark the cells of each player's formation. The formation is placed in front of the emperor. Once the formation is laid out, cards are placed in each cell; every cell must be occupied at the start of the game. One card between 2-10 is placed face down under the emperor and the remaining cards are held in the player's hand. The dice are rolled to see who starts first and players take turns clockwise around the table. Finally, the die is placed on top of the emperor with the three facing up.
Each turn consists of rearranging cards, then either passing, attacking, reinforcing, or modifying cards. Alternately, a player can use his turn to reformat his cells.
The remainder of the rules use the concept of a direct path, which is defined as follows. A direct path between two cells is a continuous sequence of empty, connected cells. In addition to the formation connectivity rules above, each row 1 cell is considered connected to all other opponent row 1 cells. Also, all row 3 cells are considered connected to the respective bodyguard.
Rearrangement: Except during reformations, each player has the option to rearrange the cards in his/her formation. Movement of cards in the formation must follow direct paths using only cells in the formation and each card can only be moved once per turn. The bodyguard may not be moved, but if the bodyguard has been killed, then a card may move into the bodyguard cell via a direct path. If a player's only remaining card is the bodyguard, then the bodyguard may be moved and used for attacks. Rearrangement is optional and can occur before passing, reinforcements, attacks, or modifications.
Pass: After rearranging, if any, a player can pass and the next player goes.
Reinforcement: In a reinforcement, one card held in the hand is added to the formation. The card starts anywhere on the back row and can be moved to any cell accessible via a direct path. After reinforcing, the player's turn ends and the next player goes.
Attack: Two cards may confront each other if there exists a direct path between them. The higher card is considered wounded and the lower card is considered dead; both cards die in a tie. A dead card is placed face down in the respective player's dead pile; a wounded card is placed face up in the respective player's wounded pile. If a player has no more reinforcements in their hand, the wounded pile can be picked up before the start of their turn. The pile of dead cards can be examined only by the respective player at any time; this is known as bringing out the dead. The pile of wounded cards can be examined by any player.
The same player cannot be attacked by two consecutive players (the player attacked is counted). For example, if player 1 attacks player 3, player 2 cannot attack player 3. However, if player 1 attacks player 2, player 3 can attack player 2 on his turn.
The cards have the following properties:
- Ace: 11 point value
- King: Called the Kamikaze King. Can attack any non-bodyguard card from any position on the table, regardless of direct path. Both the King and the card attacked die regardless of value. Conversely, both cards die if the King is attacked.
- Queen: 10 point value if attacking via a direct path. Can skip over at most one occupied cell (regardless of whose cell) in a direct path to any target card, in which case the Queen is worth 8 just for that attack.
- Jack: Called the Jumping Jack and spies on other cards. The Jack can jump over at most one occupied cell (regardless of whose cell) in a direct path to any target card. The card "attacked" is turned over and remains turned over until that card is wounded or dies; the Jack is immediately placed in the wounded pile. The Jack dies regardless of what card attacks it and regardless of any modifications.
- 2-10: face value is point value. The bodyguard must be a card from 2-10.
After an attack, the player's turn ends and the next player goes.
Modification: The die may be rolled to modify the value of the respective player's cards. The modification value is the number rolled minus three. For example, if a five is rolled, the modification is +2, that is, every card of that player (including the bodyguard) is worth an additional two points for attack purposes. Modification values can be zero or negative also.
The modification lasts until the end of the player's next turn. (To denote that a modification has taken place, the die is not placed on the emperor while in effect.) At the end of that turn, the modification value is increased/decreased toward zero. For example, if a five is rolled, the player has a +2 modification for the first round of turns, then has a +1 modification for the second round, then finally has a +0 modification for one round. Or, if the player rolls a 1, then the first round is -2 modification, the second round is -1, and the third round is -0. After the 0 modification has expired, the die is placed back on the emperor and the die can be rolled in the next turn.
After modifying, the player's turn ends and the next player goes.
Reformation: Exactly once during a game, a player may use their entire turn to fall back and change their formation, usually for defensive purposes. The rules for reformation are:
- All empty cells are removed from the formation.
- The remaining occupied cells can be moved sideways and backwards (i.e. towards the bodyguard).
- The final formation can have at most two rows.
- One occupied cell in the back row can be removed. The card in that cell goes in the player's hand.
- Cell connectivity is not preserved in the reformation. A completely new cell connectivity is determined after reformation, based on the connectivity rules for regular formations.
A list of common reformations is here.
Rearrangement may not occur before a reformation. After reforming, the player's turn ends and the next player goes.
The object of the game is to keep your emperor alive and to kill all other emperors. An emperor is killed if an opponent kills the bodyguard without being killed in a tie. A player is eliminated when his emperor is killed and the winner is the last remaining player.
Battalion is a completely original game loosely resembling the commercial game Stratego. The original concept for Battalion came from Jonah Pezeshki. The game was created by Jonah Pezeshki and Raymond Cheong, co-created by Shawn Kwang and Jeremy Fogelman, and also with the help of Danny Wang and Bobby Rohde. All are members of the Queen Anne's crew. The game was created on or about October 1999.