Love Battle! High School is a game by Brett Finnell, published by Japanime Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be able to control the action for a Harem style love story during the course of a school day. They will move the various girls and hero around the school as they try to make their One True Match happen. Along the way, they’ll be trying to acquire Ki to prove they’re the best at matchmaking. Of course unplanned for events can conspire against you as your opponents are also trying to make their One True Match. In the end, the school day ends and the date happens. The player that can gain the most Ki by that time will be declared the winner.
To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The Hiroshi standee is placed in the Entry Hall space of the board. Each of the girl standees are placed in a specific room, as noted on their Love Tracks on the board. A Love token is placed on the 3 space of each girl’s Love Track. The cards are all sorted by their type. The Meddling cards are shuffled together and placed face down on the Meddling deck space on the board. Each girl’s card deck is shuffled separately and placed face down near their Love Tracks, leaving room for a discard pile for each one. The Plot Point cards are shuffled together and placed face down on it’s deck space on the board. A number of these cards are then drawn and placed face up on the marked spots on the board beside the deck. The Condition cards are placed beside the board next to the Active Condition space. Each player is dealt 1 card from each girl’s deck. They are also given 5 Ki tokens. The remaining Ki tokens should be placed close to the board in a pile. Players also receive a set of numbered One True Match Voting tokens. Players will then look over the cards in their hand and decide which girl or two girls they think will be the One True Match or Love Triangle. They will do this by putting their chosen Vote token or tokens into the Voting bag. It should be noted that player should not reveal their Voting tokens while doing this. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
The game is played over a series of 7 rounds or Class Periods. Each Class Period, every player will take a turn. A player’s turn is divided into 2 steps; the Girl phase and the Hero phase. These can be played in either order and is determined by the player. On a player’s turn, they will declare which of the two phases they are taking first. The other phase starts at the end of their first chosen phase. In the Girl phase, the player will first draw a card from 1 of the girl’s decks. They are then able to play or discard cards in any order and as many times as they want to do one of 2 actions. They may move a girl or play a Girl card. To move a girl, the player must discard a Girl card that matches the girl that they wish to move. Once the card is discarded, the player may then move the matching girl to an adjacent room. It should be noted that the Hallway does not count as a room when moving this way. The other action that may be taken is to play a Girl card. As long as the girl is in the same room as the hero, then the player may play a Girl card that matches that girl. The effect is then applied to the girl that played the card. It should be noted that Yuki is allowed to play a Jealousy card from any room, not just when she is in the same room as the hero. Speaking of Jealousy cards, there are 5 different types of cards that a player may play. There are Seduction, Flirting, Jealousy, Punishment and Enchantment cards. Each card type has their own special rules. These are also noted on each particular card. For now, I will briefly go over these. Seduction cards may only be played when the girl and hero are alone together in the same location. Katsumi is the exception to this rule. Flirting cards will inflict -1 Love to every other girl in that location when played. Jealousy cards are only able to be played when another girl plays a non-Jealousy card. These may be played out of turn, but only 1 Jealousy card may be played by each player for each non-Jealousy card that was played. The Jealousy card must be played by a girl in the same room as the girl that played the non-Jealousy card. Yuki is the exception to this rule. It should be noted that a player may play both a non-Jealousy card and respond with a Jealousy card as well. Punishment cards may be played while the girl is alone with the hero for a positive Love value or it may be played with other girls in the room for a negative one. Rin is the exception to this rule. Enchantment cards may only be played by paying 1 Ki first. Aika is the exception to this rule.
As I noted above, most card types have an exception to the rule. That’s due to each girl’s special ability. Rin has the special ability of, “You’ll Learn to Love it!” This allows her to give either a positive or negative Love value to her Punishment cards. Katsumi has the special ability of, “I Don’t Care if They Can See Us!” This allows her to play Seduction cards even if another girl is in the same room. Yuki has the special ability of, “I Can’t Leave You Alone For A Second!” This allows her to play Jealousy cards even if she’s not in the same room as the other girl. Sakiko has the special ability of, “She Can Play, Too!” This allows her to pick another girl in the room to receive +1 Love instead of -1 Love when she plays a Flirting card. Aika has the special ability of, “The Power of My Ancestors Flows Through Me!” This allows her to play an Enchantment card without paying the 1 Ki that it would normally cost.
The other phase of a player’s turn is the Hero phase. In this phase, the Hero may move and take 1 action in either order. First the hero may take a movement action. This allows the hero to be moved 2 spaces. The hallway and each room count as 1 space each. The other action that can be taken are Hero actions. This consists of 3 different actions that the player may choose one from. The player can take the Room action for whichever room that the hero is currently in. Each room is different and the player simply follows the instructions of the room space. In many cases this involves rolling a die to determine the outcome. The hero may alternatively draw 1 card from any girl’s deck. Finally the hero may kick one girl out of the room and move her to an adjacent room. This can place a girl in the hallway if the hero decides to.
In either the Girl phase or the Hero phase, players may also claim Plot Points. This may be done once per turn and may be done in either phase by claiming a Plot Point card that the player meets the requirements for. What this means is that the player must have completed the requirements shown on the card for their turn. If all requirements are met, the player may then take the Plot Point card and place it in front of themself. A new Plot Point card is then drawn from the deck to replace the card that was just taken. Once a player has completed both phases and have claimed their 1 Plot Point card for their turn, if possible, play then passes to the next player in turn order.
Once each player has taken a turn for that round, the clock is then advanced to the next class period. Before players take their next turn and on before every other class period, they must draw and resolve a Meddling card during what is called the Meddling phase. In the Meddling phase, a Meddling card is flipped over and the instructions of that card are followed to the letter. This applies to all players for the rest of the class period. One final thing of note that should be addressed is the hero’s conditions. Some times during the game, certain actions or effects will cause the hero to gain a condition. This effect applies to all players until the condition is removed. Only things like the Nurse’s Office room action will removed a condition. If the hero is affected by more than one condition, then the player whose turn it is decides which condition to keep and which to discard.
The game continues until the clock advances to the Date! space. At this time, the game ends. Players will then determine the One True Match or Love Triangle by revealing the vote tokens. The girl that has the most Love at the end of the game is the One True Match. If a player guessed correctly with their voting token, they gain 5 Ki. A Love Triangle is when a player correctly guessed the girls with the first and second highest amount of Love on their Love tracks. If the player guessed correctly with their voting tokens, they gain 7 Ki. Players add this Ki with any other Ki they may have gained through the game from Ki tokens and Plot Point cards. Players add up all of their Ki and the one with the most is the winner.
This game comes in a rather large box and contains some really cute and fun components. First off there’s the game board. This has the look of a normal high school, with a few text boxes thrown in here and there. I think thematically the look and feel of the board works. Next there are the cardboard pieces. These include the character standees, class period clock token, Ki tokens, Love tokens and the One True Match Vote tokens. Each of these are double sided and are pretty thick and sturdy. Tha character standees look like one of the 5 girls or the hero. The hero and each girl’s identity really comes through in the poses and look of each standee. You can really get a sense of who these characters are just from looking at the standees. The class period clock token looks like your average wall clock that you’d find mounted in any regular high school. The Ki tokens are bright green and have a Japanese symbol that I’m assuming means Ki on it. The Love tokens are pink with a red heart in the middle. These are a little smaller than the Ki tokens. The One True Match Vote tokens have a white number on a blue background on one side and a picture of one of the five girls on the other. There are 4 sets, one for each player. The artwork on these tokens is the same as the backs of each girl’s deck. Speaking of which, there are 4 types of cards; Girl cards, Meddling cards, Plot Point cards and Condition cards. The Girl cards and Meddling cards are normal sized cards. The backs of each girl’s deck has some artwork that really emphasizes that girl’s look and character. The fronts of these have a smaller picture that shows different images and goes along with the type of card that it is; such as Jealousy or Flirting. The Meddling cards have a image of some of the various teachers or others that may interfere during the game. The fronts of these have these individual characters in a larger format. The artwork on both the Girl and Meddling cards are very thematic and look amazing. I love how nice these all look. As with the other artistic pieces of the game, these really add to the theme. The Plot Point and Condition cards are a smaller euro sized card. The Plot Point cards have a picture of the school on the back and a bunch of text with a Ki reward on the other side. These aren’t as artistic as the other cards but don’t need a lot of added art to them anyway. The Condition cards are kind of funny. Each of these have a white cross on a red background for the backs, while the front have a small picture of the hero in some awkward positions. For instance the Spontaneous Nose Bleed has a little hero with blood shooting out of his nose. Those familiar with anime will find the humor in that image. Also included with the game are some player reference cards that are quite helpful. The game also has a thick cloth Voting bag and a six sided die. On top of all that, there’s a well thought out insert that keeps everything separated and easy to find what you need. Needless to say, the game looks great and is full of theme. I love the artwork and designs of everything that’s included. I can’t think of anything that I would change. Overall this is a great looking game.
9 out of 10
Like the game box, the rulebook is also quite large. As a matter of fact, it’s almost the size of the box. Despite the size, there’s not a whole lot to have to read on the inside. For starters let me mention that the cover looks like one of those single subject black and white composition notebooks. I have to say that I really like that extra touch of theme thrown in for good measure. On the inside of the book, there’s a table of contents and then a full page welcome from the principal that goes over each of the characters and their motivations. It also gives you an idea of what the objective of the game is. Once again, another thematic little element that adds to the game. From there it goes into the setup and rules of the game. The rules aren’t as streamlined as I would have liked as they do tend to jump back and forth a bit. Thankfully it’s only a couple of pages to flip through so, nothing to serious. At the end of the book there is a section that gives you some tips and hints on how to play the game, as well as a section that details how each of the various rooms on the board work. As far as the rules go, I think they’re pretty good. Thematically, the book really conveys that high school theme quite well. I’ve already mentioned the cover, but that’s not all there is. Each page’s background looks like a page of notebook paper with lines and margins. Certain sections have titles like Syllabus, Guidance Counseling and Honor Roll which add to the thematic elements of the book. On top of all that, there are some great pictures highlighting everything from the characters to various elements of the games like cards and components. The book also includes a very nice example of gameplay with pictures included. Overall I found the rulebook to be well designed and thematic. I only wish, as stated earlier, that the rules were a bit more streamlined. Still, I think it classifies as a win in my book.
8 out of 10
This is a rather cute and fun game that really places you deep inside the world of a harem anime or manga love story. Each round players are trying to move the characters around on the board so that they can get more love for their chosen girl and less for the others. Of course if you’re too obvious about it, then the other players will figure out who you voted for and may try to counteract your plans by throwing lots of negatives at your girl of choice. It’s actually a delicate balance between planning and downright sneakiness, kind of like most love stories. For me, the game make me think of games like Clue and the Kill Doctor Lucky series of games. The way that the characters move and the interaction with the different spaces really emphasize that. I like that there are plenty of options for the player to take and that each room has it’s own specific feel to it. Granted, most of the rooms only require the roll of a die but the idea behind them feels a bit more than that. Another aspect of the game that I like are the Girl decks. Each one of these has a specific card type that they focus around, much the same way as their special ability does. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the differences of each girl and how they feel that make each one unique. It really adds to the flavor of the game. Another thing that this game reminds me of are the dating simulator apps and games, those like Katawa Shoujo and even Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. Controlling the hero and girls while trying to make them fall in love can feel quite rewarding, especially if you’re able to get your chosen couple together. This isn’t a very difficult game, although there are a few things about it that make it a little more mature than some younger players might be able to handle. Older teens and adults should have no problem with this one at all. I feel that fans of games like Kill Doctor Lucky or Clue will enjoy the way this game plays, especially if they like anime or manga. Overall this is a game that I like and that I would recommend trying. I realize that not everyone will like the style of gameplay or even the theme of the game, but it’s still one worth giving a try.
8 out of 10
Love Battle! High School is a game of high school romance between an anime harem of beauties and their awkward hero. The game doesn’t take a very long time to play. Most game sessions last around 30-45 minutes or so. The components are great quality and look awesome. Each aspect of the game is thematic from the character standees down to the rulebook. I especially love the artwork. It looks like something from an anime or manga. The rulebook, as I just said, is also thematic. It’s not as streamlined as I’d have liked but it’s easy to find what you’re looking for and it looks amazing at the same time. The game itself is really cute and fun. It makes me think of games like Clue and Kill Doctor Lucky but it also has elements that remind me of dating simulator games like Katawa Shoujo or Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. The game does have a few elements that are a bit mature and should probably only be played with older teens or adults. As it is, the game is fun and simple to play. It can also be quite rewarding seeing your chosen girl win the love of the hero. I realize that not everyone will like this sort of game or theme. For me though, this is a game that I would recommend giving try. It will make your heart go “Doki Doki”.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Japanime Games at their site.