A graphic showing the set up, and perhaps illustrating movement would be helpful. Are you using a d6? - AK
2009 Game Award evaluation
This is a surprisingly fun social game. It has little strategy, but lots of opportunity for rapid changes of fortune, mutual interference, and laughter all around. It runs the danger of all games of this sort -- petty diplomacy, king-making -- so it takes players who don't get frustrated easily, and can laugh at their own misfortunes.
At first reading of the rules, I was thinking of ways of tweaking them to make it more "realistic" and balanced, but I pretty much like how it plays as it is. For example, the '1' roll, which at first seemed too powerful, is fine. I do think it might be interesting to have to expend movement points to pick up the troops -- 1 for the small, 2 for the medium, 3 if both are stacked; I'll probably try it that way later.
Some points do need to be clarified in the rules:
- It doesn't say whether the POW setup is one at a time, or whether a player sets up all 4 of theirs all at once. I recommend the first way.
- It doesn't say how to pick up the troops. I assume you move the copter on to the piece's square, and you can immediately move off the square in the same turn, with no movement point cost for the pickup.
- It doesn't say whether movement points can be split between the 2 helicopters.
- It doesn't say whether you can voluntarily drop off rescued troops onto the board. I assumed you can, and used that tactic to help leave a fence of pieces to block an opposing helicopter.
I do recommend that the rules state that during setup, the players take turns placing their POWs one at a time, rather than one player placing all 4 of his before the others place theirs.
Award evaluation: I want to play this again. I recommend it pass this initial cut so others look at it too.
Semi-finalist evaluation[edit source]
Stout: This is a very fun social game, with chances to interfere with others and yourself, and to laugh at the setbacks.
Hackel: There is a good seed of a game planted here, but it hasn't matured yet. There weren't any serious decisions to make, and there were few possibilities to block your opponents' progress. BEL could be improved with the addition of a push-your-luck element, perhaps by modeling combat more directly or by adding a mechanism for helicopter fuel endurance. As it is, BEL is light, quick, and social, but not deep enough to want to play again. Plays best with four players.
Bentley: I didn't enjoy this one much. What little strategy is involved is painfully obvious (place enemy soldiers in inconvenient locations - specifically, the far side of the board), and the only possible way to interfere with an opponent - through blocking - is made nearly impossible by the fact that helicopters move diagonally, and thus blocking a single piece in a corner requires at least three other pieces. What I do like is the theme. And the theme provides much greater potential for a more interesting game. I see two options:
- Make Behind enemy lines a cooperative game, where the players each take control of either downed pilots or rescue helicopters and try to get picked up while avoiding enemy patrols that search randomly for the downed pilots and actively threaten the rescuing helicopters.
- Make it a team game along the lines above, but have one side play the enemy patrols and the other side play the downed pilots / helicopters.
Either way, I think the introduction of an active 'enemy' would go a long way to both better encapsulating the game's theme, and make it more than a game of simple luck. All that said, I noted that our young compatriot expressed great enjoyment of the game previously, so from a fun perspective kids do apparently enjoy it, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.