Over the course of February, I indulged in 2 players games and I was reminded what an absolute gem Air, Land and Sea truly is. This is a game that plays out over a series of battles to emulate a full war between two factions. As, just as the name suggest, each battle takes place in three different theatres: Air, Land and Sea.
This game reminds me greatly of the classic Battleline. Each player is dealt a hand that they can use for the battle. These cards and then strategically placed in each theater, with each player attempting to utilize the cards special effects to the fullest. Each card is color coordinated to a matching theatre, or they can be played as a wild for two points and no special effects.
As many cards effect their neighboring theatre without reach around, after every battle, the landscape shifts before the new dawn. One of the things I find extremely fascinating about this game is it is about making a strategy out of something randomly given. The winner of each battle is the person who controls 2 theatres when no player has any more cards.
The other aspect of this game that is very interesting is the surrender mechanic. Because this is a game about mitigating luck, there is also a reward for realizing you cannot win and giving up the game early. Depending on the number of cards in your hand, you can give your opponent less points the earlier you surrender. This can be extremely important because the war is completely and decided by who reaches 12 points first.
If you know that you are going to lose the battle, you can retreat and give your opponent less points since it wasn’t the fierce and intense battle that could tip the tides of the war in their favor. Or you can cling on desperately, hoping their hand is worse and wait for the right moment to realize that you made a mistake and suffer the battles utter defeat. (I have done both of these, I actually surrendered one battle before I even played a card)
This game definitely has a great push and pull especially with the starting player shifting between each battle. And while there is a lot of strategy working with you own hand to make the best moves, there is also a lot of attention to what your opponent is doing. The cards are extremely intertwined and with some of the lower number cards having more power than the higher cards.
Everything in the game is truly a response to situation whether it be the cards you were dealt with or the way your opponent choses to attack. This is something I thoroughly enjoy (which you probably could tell by the contents above). I am also enamored by the fact this game truly embodies losing the battle but winning the war.