If I had to summarize this game, it would be to say that it’s brutally tough yet fun. Of the three games I've played, I've lost all of them. Two were very close and things went sideways for me at the very end with the exfil in sight. The sitrep deck was unrelenting and I also blame my cursed D20 that likes to roll low at the worst possible times. Battlespace reminds me very much of the old original Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon video games. These games were uncompromising and tough. No health regeneration. If you were wounded, you had to deal with it until the mission was complete and this game is pretty much just like that.
Players will select a team of 4 operators from a total of 12 and then have 12 points to spend on gear. The core game mechanic centers around the use of "Threat Levels" for enemies. To attack an enemy, a player most roll a D20 and roll equal to or over the threat level (+ modifiers) to hit. When the enemy targets one of your soldiers you would roll a D20 again against the same threat level, this time to avoid taking damage from the enemy attack. Pretty ingenious if you ask me. Also, because of the variation in values with rolling a D20 there is a certain tension created in the game because even with bonuses there is no “sure thing”.
The game has 3 phases:
Player Phase, where you attempt to activate your operators and assign orders.
Sitrep Phase, where you draw a sitrep card that controls the enemy “AI” and then activate any remaining enemies that haven’t been activated yet this turn.
Clear Phase, where you check the win conditions to see if the game ends or remove any effects/tokens from the turn and clean up for the next turn.
The Sitrep cards that power the enemy "AI" can be devastating and frustrating to deal with at times. Fail to activate a solder (rolling against their Initiative stat with a D20) you then have to draw a Sitrep card that interrupts your turn. Fortunately, even if you fail to activate a soldier you can at least issue them a move order. Sitrep cards include IEDs, Tripwires, Inclement Weather and enemy reinforcements.
My only criticism of the rules PDF, beyond a few typos and word spacing issues, is that they only mention how to handle enemies attacking your soldiers on the “Overview” page and nowhere else. As a long time wargamer, I sometimes skip or skim over introductory pages to go for the meat and potatoes of the rules set. When I first went over the rules, I thought the author left it out. Once I reread everything and figured it out, I was good to go. I would definitely reiterate that information again in the enemy ai rules section just to make sure it's not missed.
Once you know the system and see the cards, if you’re like me, you'll probably have all sorts of ideas to make new characters, gear and enemies for the game and really make it your own. For as tough as this game is, so far, it keeps me coming back for more. If you find the game too tough there is nothing stopping you from giving your team more gear, using easier enemies or removing Sitrep cards the you find particularly aggravating. Once you buy it, it’s your game. Have fun with it!