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BEAST WARS! “Board Game in Disguise”

After doing some rummaging in my closet and finding a gem from my youth, I’m back with another board game review. Now this game took 2 of my favourite things as a child, Beast Wars and board games and threw them together as a way to further capitalize on the merchandising machine known as Transformers. Now, the original Transformers series from the 80’s was just before my time for it’s peak run. But it was still airing when I grew up in the 90’s, so needless to say the idea of “robots in disguise” intrigued me a lot. Cue 1996 and the launch of the awe-inspiring Beast Wars TV series (Beasties on Y-TV in Canada) that took the traditional animation practices and unleashed computer generated graphics on an unsuspecting audience of children across North America and beyond. Keeping with the classic antagonist of Megatron and protagonist of Optimus Primal (Optimus Prime) the classic fight between good and evil continues in their universe. After a crash landing on an unknown planet filled with raw Energon leaves both forces stranded, they must resort to adapting alternate forms to protect themselves from the poisonous Energon thus donning their “Beast” forms.

Enough of the history lesson though, and onto the game itself. Beast Wars was released by Parker Brothers in 1997 and was a card based board game. It features 24 characters from the series (some of whom never made it on TV to my recollection) and 72 battle cards along with a 3D mountain top game board. The back of the box states “No Reading Required” and it’s easy to see why.

The object of the game is to either capture all of your enemy’s warriors or drive them over the mountains edge. The board has 12 spaces (6 for each side) to play your warriors.

Now here’s where things get difficult for me, as I’m not sure where my instructions went and I haven’t played since the 5th grade (1999-ish). So anything beyond now is how I remember playing it; so consider these “House Rules” if wrong. Also somewhere not long after getting the game, the Megatron card went missing so we just wrote it’s stats on a piece of paper (thanks to having a pic of both beast and bot form on the box to go by)

There are 4 different Battle Cards: Standard Diamond (the colour tells you which of the 6 categories you will use in the battle), Mutate (Allows you to switch from 1 form to the other and a coloured diamond in the background will again tell you which category you’re using), Energon +1 (Gives you +1 to whichever category the diamond behind it gives you) and finally Secret Weapon +2 (Same as Energon +1, but gives you +2 instead).

The 6 different colour coded categories are:

  • Strength: Orange
  • Courage: Blue
  • Intelligence: Yellow
  • Firepower: Green
  • Speed: Purple
  • Endurance Pink

Now, the way we played is that if there was an empty space either to the side, ahead or behind a character, you could move them there. No diagonal moves though. As for bringing new warriors into play on the board, we kept it to the back row only leaving the middle 6 as anyone’s territory. We also limited moving to 1 character per turn (Except bringing in new warriors. As long as you had the spots available at the back you could bring in as many as the 3 on a turn). Now, when head to head with an opposing force, you had the choice of fighting, retreating back a place (if empty) or remaining inactive. If you chose to fight you’d draw a Battle Card and go with the colour accordingly. Then the defender fighter chooses their card. Whoever lands the higher value, wins (i.e. If attacker chooses Blue Diamond and their Courage (blue bar) is 8 and the defender chooses Yellow Diamond and their Intelligence (yellow bar) is 7 then the attacker wins and vice-versa. In the event of a tie, both draw again. When you defeat a warrior, you move into their space.

When I played, games typically lasted about 15-20 minutes. I had a game last an hour one time; as we both played it like a chess format choosing to employ a lot of caution into our every move.

So in my opinion, I would rate Beast Wars as a 7 on the Zippy Scale as it was a rather simple game. It was still a lot of fun to play and was a great addition to the Transformers line of kid toys and games.

  • Joseppi
    April 17, 2010

    I loved Beast Wars as a kid. I thought the toys were cooler than the Transformer toys. But the only transformer toys I ever saw as a kid were those little hot wheel looking ones that you just pull the legs out, flip the doors up into arms and pull out the head. I know there were cooler ones but I never saw any. If I knew this game existed I would have had to have it.

  • Death Hormone
    April 17, 2010

    great article! I used to love Beast wars when it was on TV!

  • JGH27
    April 19, 2010

    The only Transformer toy I had as a kid (besides the small car ones) was a Galvatron (sp?) which was a heavy toy that didn’t really transform into anything. Unless I just never knew how to lol.

    The Beast Wars toys were awesome though, I had a Jet Scream I believe (Something Scream anyways and was a Firefly). Most of my friends had the cooler ones.

    DH Thanks, I like this better than my first as I was able to write more about it.