Battle Frontier: the Adventures of Arthur, by Black Neko: a Review and a FAQ


Battle Frontier: The Adventures of Arthur. Review and FAQ by Tobias D. Robison

January, 2012

Here's the bottom line: I love this game on the iPad.

I love it because it is a game of combat that is easy to learn, has considerable depth, and is turn-based.

This is version 1.0 of my Review/FAQ. Please come back in a few weeks for an update. I’m sure I’ll have more to say.

Do you like to read fantasy novels, or do you have a friend who does? Please visit my website,, for a good read, a good etext, or a good audio podcast book. My current novel is called: Raven’s Gift.

Are you spending too much time sitting at your computer? You may be delighted to read my new help-yourself book, Quantum Walking to Fitness, available in all eformats at Smashwords.


I discovered Battle Frontier through a positive review at 148Apps by Rob Rich. He found the game so original that it was hard to describe, but he certainly encouraged us to buy it. I cannot imagine why it is so inexpensive. (Gee, should I say that?)

The game is published by Black Neko, and their webpage on the game is quite helpful to read. See If you have questions for them, you can email . I had to wait over a week for a response, but I got good answers to my questions.

I enjoyed this game from the first, when I had hardly any idea what was going on. I enjoyed it even more as I began to understand it.

Battle Frontier is a fantasy game in which you manage an army of up to 20 units. (I do not yet know whether you can increase this maximum during the game.) Your units are each represented by a little square on the board. Each unit has several stats (that vary a lot), and some units have powerful skills. Your units, if they stay alive, level up as battle progresses.

You move your units along battlefields (called “stages”) that are ten squares high and about 150 squares wide. As you move, mostly from left to right, you meet enemies to fight. You must either kill them, (rarely) run away from them, or hire them to join your army. Units that are within range of each other automatically choose their targets and weapons, and fight.

You do not have to micromanage combat, but it’s important to watch. You will see arrows flying, spells exploding, and other signs of combat. These will help you to judge the effectiveness of your units, the value of your deployment, and the capabilities of your enemies.

When you reach the end of a stage, you go on to the next stage. Some battlefields end with a “big boss” battle. These battles are very tough, and it takes experience and understanding to prepare for them.

One of your units is your leader, and his name is Arthur. If Arthur dies, your progress is set back, but he gets revived and the game continues. If your army gets rather smashed in battle, you may feel that all is lost, but it isn’t. You can rebuild by earning points in battle and hiring more troops.

The combat that you experience as you cross the battlefields helps to prepare you for the tough battles. You learn what your units can do, whether you have arrayed them efficiently, and how to deal with losses in combat. As your units’ abilities get more powerful and your enemies become more ferocious, the game gets more interesting.

Organizing your units into an effective formation is one of the deeper skills of the game. It’s “obvious” that you want your better defensive units in front of your weaker units, but it’s not obvious how to get the most value from your weaker units. And what happens when you get attacked from behind, or from within?

There’s another deep skill in this game, and that is learning how and when to hire your enemies. You earn “coin” points for killing enemies in combat. Every live enemy has his price, and if you have enough points you can hire some of them. There are many, many kinds of enemies with different abilities and skills. Which ones are worth hiring, at every step of the way? Hiring requires detailed knowledge of your units’ abilities, and an understanding of how to compare them. You also have to learn what kinds of skills blend to make your army of 20 units work well together.

Here’s my bottom line: Buy the game and enjoy it before they raise the price. And read my FAQ, it will help you to get started.

Do you like to read fantasy novels, or do you have a friend who does? Please visit my website,, for a good read, a good etext, or a good audio podcast book. My current novel is called: Raven’s Gift.

Are you spending too much time sitting at your computer? You may be delighted to read my new help-yourself book, Quantum Walking to Fitness, available in all eformats at Smashwords.


There’s a tutorial in the game. Go through it. I found the tutorial useful, but irritating. I could not figure out how to advance from one screen of the tutorial to the next. There are six tutorial screens. Perhaps the game simply shows you each screen for a fixed period of time.

One of the first things you must learn is how to move your units. The tutorial covers this, but not well enough. This is a boring subject if you’ve already mastered it, so I address this subject at the end of my FAQ, see below.

You will quickly realize that the details about each unit’s abilities really matter. Tap any unit to see its stats and skills. A unit has nine stats: attack, dexterity, defense, defense vs magic, magic aptitude, range, parry, block, and critical bonus. You can only see the last three stats by tapping on the stats area. Tapping there brings up the detailed stats screen, where you see more detail and can also issue the command to remove a unit. This detailed screen also shows how much experience a unit needs, to get to the next level. (According to Black Neko, each unit type also has a hidden stat that determines how fast it advances. This hidden stat, plus all the other stats, make some units much better than others. It’s up to you to figure out which are the best ones.)

All of your units get experience points for all of your battles, regardless of how involved they are.

Regarding the various stats: I don’t know what dexterity does. Range tells you how far away a unit can attack. A range of 1 means it has to be next to the enemy unit (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) to fight. Some units that have “ranged” attacks (that is, the value is more than 1) will increase their range as they level up.

Every unit has an experience “level”, and, as in most fantasy combat games, the units gain combat experience and gain levels. I believe that leveling up can improve their stats. In addition, at certain levels, they gain skills. Little boxes on their detail screen show you whether they have the skills already, and if not, at what levels they acquire them. Such skills make them more dangerous in combat, more able to defend, or more valuable in some other way.

Once your army has reached 20 units, you may get very picky about hiring. You will want units that are definitely better than your current ones, or that have skills your army lacks. Or you might just hire an enemy to keep it from killing you. (By the way, the bottom right of the screen has a pair of numbers showing the current size of your army, and its current maximum allowed size.)

Your army will need a few units that can heal other units during combat. And you will want archers who can make ranged attacks from your back ranks. And you will want some units that are strong on defense, and some that are strong on attack. And so on.

The points that you spend to hire units are precious, because you may have to kill fifty or a hundred enemies to hire one good one.

Remember that each time a bunch of enemies approaches you, you might be auditioning them to decide whether they are good enough to join your army. Click on them before your they get close enough to die, and check out their stats and experience levels. When a group of similar enemies approaches you, they will not all have the same experience level. You will want to pay greatest attention to the higher level enemies.

As you get into this game, you may have the same dismaying experience I had: the first two big bosses weren’t too bad, but the third was a disaster. My “Arthur” died along with half of my troops. “Oh,” I said, “I have to start another game. And when I get to this big boss again, he’s going to destroy me again, there’s nothing to be done.”

I was wrong. The key to wining this game is a command called: Retreat. If you wish to retreat, you tap the pause icon, which gives you a choice between Resume and Retreat. The other great skill in this game is knowing when and why to retreat. I am not going to explain retreating in detail, because it will probably be your great pleasure to figure it out for yourself. (If you’re stumped, please email me:

Here are two hints about the Retreat command:

>> I think that retreating does nothing bad to you.

>>When you tap the retreat command, you can optionally visit the church, and then you can restart any map (including the current one) that you have been on before.

At the church, you will find the last few souls of your units that were killed. You can pay to revive them back into your army. They may cost more to revive than their original hiring price, if they have leveled up since you hired them.

You should think twice about reviving units that died. You may need their skills at once; or perhaps you would do better to replace them by hiring an enemy.

Initially, the church will save only the last three of your souls that died. But you can pay to upgrade the church so that it will save more than three souls.

You can Remove any of your units from the game (except Arthur). Tap on the unit. Tap on the stats area and you will see the detailed stats box, with a choice to remove the unit from the game, completely. I think the only time you should Remove is when you have the maximum units, and want to hire a better unit.

Here are a few stray notes:

There are Mimics. The Mimic is a really tough monster, and you can’t hire it. There are a few ways to deal with Mimics, but remember that you do not have to kill them.

I have heard that there is a werewolf boss late in the game, whose bite is devastating to human units.

Do you like to read fantasy novels, or do you have a friend who does? Please visit my website,, for a good read, a good etext, or a good audio podcast book. My current novel is called: Raven’s Gift.

Are you spending too much time sitting at your computer? You may be delighted to read my new help-yourself book, Quantum Walking to Fitness, available in all eformats at Smashwords.

OKAY, Here is the tutorial on how to move the units:

You need to keep in mind that when you press any of the arrow keys to move your units, the keys apply only to units that are CURRENTLY selected. If no units move at all, then either none is selected, or the few that are selected can’t move, because they can’t push other units out of the way.

The currently selected units have a very noticeable white border. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But lots of things can go wrong. Suppose you tap a unit in order to see its stats. That tap also affects what is currently selected. If the word “Single” is visible, you just selected ONLY that unit; you better press ALL before you try to move in formation. Or, if MULTIPLE was visible instead of SINGLE, then chances are you just deselected the unit you are interested in. You better tap it again.

I hope you enjoy Battle Frontier as much as I do. It’s pleasant to advance along the battlefield, listening to the perky music, and sometimes you really have to stop and think.

- Tobias D. Robison

Get my new book, Quantum Walking to Fitness at Smashwords

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