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Tom Vasel
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I was extremely excited about Battlelore expansions, but I enjoyed the basic game enough that I didn’t pay much attention to upcoming announcements; so when I received Call to Arms: Battlelore Army Deployment System (Days of Wonder, 2007 – Richard Borg), I was pleasantly surprised but knew next to nothing about it. There didn’t seem to be a lot involved in the expansion; but as Battlelore is my second favorite game, I immediately gave it a whirl.

Wow.

Really, I can’t believe how this expansion introduces a simple system of scenario building that gives the game nearly infinite replayability, even MORE customization of armies, and a really fresh look at building armies. This is more of an extension rather than an expansion, and one that I would consider necessary when playing the game, although I had previously thought the base game nigh perfect! Let’s look at some of the aspects of the expansion…

1.) Components: The expansion comes packaged in a plastic case with a cardboard slipcover. It works, but I immediately transferred everything over to the main box. Included are some additional banners, some tokens, a deck of cards, some double-sided terrain hexes, and a rulebook. Everything is of the same quality as the original game.

2.) Terrain: This game includes two new types of terrain – marshes and cliffs. Marshes simply cause a unit to stop and roll fewer dice when attacking but do not block line of site – their major difference from forests. Cliffs are more interesting, as they only block some of the sides of the hex, making it impassable from one side but allowing firing off the other side. They are great defensively and add a little flavor to the battlefields.

3.) Specialist cards: Ten specialist cards are included in the game. When using the “organized” deployment mode, each player may use two of these cards, giving their armies special abilities. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on each.
- Dwarven Mercenaries – replaces two regular units with Dwarven mercenaries. This card has gotten picked in every game I’ve played – and I can’t deny how useful it is, because dwarves can wreak havoc across the table.
- Illusionary Troops – duplicates a troop, with the type depending on the level of the player’s Wizard. Good card – I’ve taken a level three Wizard solely to use it. I must say duplicating heavy cavalry is quite enjoyable.
- Prayer – adds two lore tokens to the goblet per level of Priest. While not as useful as the other cards, I might take it if I have a high level priest and want to start using cards on the first turn.
- Vantage Point – allows you to deploy your reserve units adjacent to friendly units, rather than the back line. I think this is a useful card but one that I would take only if none of the others appealed to me.
- Bow Upgrade – equips all human archers with long bows. Long bows, unlike a common bow, have a bonus strike. They do not give Lore tokens; but if you have two or more archer units, this is incredibly valuable – suddenly giving archers power they didn’t have before.
- King’s Allies – adds one or two figures to units. I take a level three Warrior just so that I can have two heavy cavalry units with four figures each. This may possibly be my current favorite card from the set, because it’s great to have an “elite” cavalry unit.
- Archers Stakes – Allows a player to place three archer stakes on the board. These give archers some more defense against melee attacks and are nice; but if I have archers, I’m taking the bow upgrade first. Using both of them is a nice combo, though.
- Goblinoid Mercenaries – replaces one foot unit with two goblinoid units of the same color. Nice idea, but I’m not too fond of Goblinoids currently, since they keep running towards the back lines!
- Infiltration – Allows two free moves for each level of Rogue that a player has. I cannot emphasize how powerful this card can be, as it allows you to gather almost your entire army together before the battle begins. My second favorite card.
- Forced enrollment – Allows a third deployment from the reserve card. This is a little weak, in my opinion, since a player usually has already played the two best units from the card, and other Specialist cards would probably be a better idea.
These cards add a greater level of customization to the game. Not only that, but I now see how future expansions will add new units and ideas to the game – through these cards. If the expansion ONLY included these specialist cards, I would say that they were worth getting; as they also increase the value of the Lore Council. Many of the cards are also marked with a “lore” symbol, for those who simply want to play a “medieval adventure” (crazy folk!)

4.) Deployment cards: There are forty-two deployment cards included in the expansion. These are split into six sets of cards, three for the Pennant army and three for the Standard army. Each set is marked “A” through “C” and consists of seven cards. There are two modes of play using these cards – Impromptu and Organized. In Impromptu mode, each player shuffles one of the sets of deployment cards and draws four of them randomly. In Organized mode, players pick ANY two sets of deployment cards and draw four of them randomly. Players then decide which card will be used in the left, center, and right flanks, and which is the “reserve” card. Cards are revealed, and players place the units on the cards on the positions on the battlefield EXACTLY as they are shown on each card. Let me pause here and note how nifty this idea is. Each card has a different assortment of units (dwarves and goblinoids included), and while that’s important, the layout of the army is also quite useful. I might want to use a card that has a monster and two archers on my left flank, but that might fit better on the right due to terrain and matching the rest of my army. This card selection sounds random, but I cannot emphasize enough how it simply works well in the game setting.
The player who has more green units on the board is considered to the better “scout” and the other player then chooses two units from their reserve card, placing them on the base line, after which the scout player places their two. Feudal levy tokens are used if a player doesn’t have enough figures (I use two sets, so don’t run into this problem). Players then set up their War Council and use the Specialist cards, if playing Organized Mode (which incidentally is the only way I’ll play).

5.) Scenarios: The book also includes six scenarios, many of them utilizing the new terrain in the game. But honestly, I really don’t care. You can now set up the board any way you want really, and the deployment rules allow you to have a very fair, enjoyable battle. It’s amazing how the armies will look completely different yet clash in a balanced way. I almost never want to start with a pre-arranged scenario again, simply because I like the deployment scheme that much. Still, if you’re in a hurry, these scenarios are a quick guide to setting up an interesting battlefield.

I enjoy all of Richard Borg’s Command and Color’s games and have had a hard time picking my favorite of the bunch. With this expansion, it’s Battlelore – no question. The deployment cards and scenario cards are unique, refreshing, fair, and fun. The game takes no longer to set up and play; yet I have the feel of a completely customized army in a lot less time than the awkwardly long army builds of miniature games. Honestly, Games Workshop better look out. With this expansion and the future promised one that brings Heroes, I think Battlelore will make most fantasy miniature games obsolete. Folks, this is an invaluable expansion!

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games”
www.thedicetower.com

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R Hart
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Wow I can't wait. Seems I haven't even come close to all the permutations and scenarios in the core game and now this. For me Battlelore is a lot of entertainment per dollar and this will raise that ratio even higher. Thanks for the review.
 
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Jon Greisz
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Sounds awesome. It's unfortunate that I hardly ever do 2 player gaming, as when I invited people over to game I'm generally not going to just invite one. Hopefully DoW will do an online version of Battlelore, as I can see playing it a lot more that way and I really want to play.
 
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Anders Pedersen
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Nice review. Sounds very promising.
A few questions:
How many troops will be present on the battlefield on average?
How is an epic game handled compared to the standard game?
 
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Tom Vasel
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dbc- wrote:
Nice review. Sounds very promising.
A few questions:
How many troops will be present on the battlefield on average?
How is an epic game handled compared to the standard game?


About ten to thirteen units per side (perhaps more or less, depending on the types.) Most cards show three or four units.

The epic game will be covered in the epic game's rules, according to DoW.
 
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Bob
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Shoot! I was planning on not buying this one since it didn't include any miniatures...now I'll have to reconsider.
 
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Gabe Alvaro
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First off, I love BattleLore. But I think setting up scenarios is a drudgerous pain. I'd rather just start playing.

Call to Arms looks like exciting stuff. I expect it to make setting up the game less like a chore and more like an actual part of the strategy. I also expect it will add a little more drama to the story aspect too. I hope I'm right.

 
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Jérôme
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This looks interesting. Unfortunately I don't own BattleLore, but Ancients. I wonder whether a similar concept will be included in any future Ancients-expansion...
 
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Sam
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JonnyG wrote:
Hopefully DoW will do an online version of Battlelore, as I can see playing it a lot more that way and I really want to play.


well guess what?...there IS an online version with quite a following

goto: http://www.vassalengine.org/community/index.php?option=com_d...

download latest version of vassal, then go to "modules" section to download "battlelore" (heaps of other online boardgames to chose from also!!!).

Has all 10 adventures plus the supported ones fromDoW 11-15 or16 (1 or 2 of the online adventures need to be edited cause of slight errors compared to adventures booklet- takes 2 secs!!). Can also create your own adventures, save it and all opponent has to do is "synch" with you and off you go

good luck and c ya there!!!

Sam
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Michael Mitchell
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blindspot wrote:
.... But I think setting up scenarios is a drudgerous pain. I'd rather just start playing........


Actually, that can be part of the fun! Seeing where you opponent puts his troops raises the intrigue, and that's when you must start thinking!

"...hmmm, I wonder how my troops on this side will survive? She has a massively strong cavalry contingent.What can I do?..."
 
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William Gaskill
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My copy came today....the Review is dead on.
Really brilliant.Now on to the Campaign System!!

OD
 
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Yoki Erdtman
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Great review Tom, Call to Arms seems like a must-have extension to BattleLore.
 
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Brian Morris
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Cheesy. The expansion is nothing more than a random scenario generator that should have been included in the original $70 game with a few flags and terrain tiles tossed in to fill out the box. In the end the "expansion" adds nothing meaningful to the game and simply makes set up longer.
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Aljoscha S. Nett
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mrbeankc wrote:
Cheesy. The expansion is nothing more than a random scenario generator that should have been included in the original $70 game with a few flags and terrain tiles tossed in to fill out the box. In the end the "expansion" adds nothing meaningful to the game and simply makes set up longer.


DoW has already stated, that they are completing BattleLore with CtA and Epic to make it ready for the "real" expansions, so You are partly right.

I guess the Armypicking-Mechanic will be much more than a random scenario generator, when the Decks for the different Races come out. Choosing from different specialists and choosing specific Racial-Decks.

Cheers,
Aljoscha
 
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Gabe Alvaro
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mrbeankc wrote:
Cheesy. The expansion is nothing more than a random scenario generator that should have been included in the original $70 game with a few flags and terrain tiles tossed in to fill out the box. In the end the "expansion" adds nothing meaningful to the game and simply makes set up longer.

It doesn't amount to even that really. A scenario still needs other parameters like terrain, war council points, and victory conditions. This just basically gets your guys on the board. In that sense, I agree it really isn't much. But now with CtA, creating a scenario on the fly isn't really that difficult either. My plan for future setups is to just slap on some terrain tiles randomly at first, and then form the landscape into something attractive, then just play the typical 6 VPs/6 WC, only occasionally playing programmed scenarios when I'm in the mood for a more scripted "campaign" feel.

I'm choosing to have good faith in DoW on these expansions. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that CtA probably wasn't really in existence when they were developing the original game. Or perhaps it was, in Richard Borg's head, but like any project they have to focus on one task at a time. Even if they did have it ready last year, project-wise I think there was probably plenty to deal with in the original release without mucking up the plan with CtA. Including CtA in the original release might have made the product as a whole seem less impactful and more scattered.

I just can't fault DoW on this. Perhaps they should have reduced this expansion to an $10 deck of cards. But I just got my copy of this for $13.95 at Fairplay with no shipping charges. I think it's a fair price for what I'm getting, a way to never have to crack a scenario again if I choose.
 
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Also, check out Michael Barnes' comments on Battlelore and this expansion for a slightly different point of view.
 
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Gabe Alvaro
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Simon Mueller wrote:
Also, check out Michael Barnes' comments on Battlelore and this expansion for a slightly different point of view.

Link?
 
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/viewcollection.php3?username=cr...
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Snowball
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Are you just over enthusiastic?

I am sorry to ask, but I sawonly positive things in this review and I am finding that the usefulness of the expansion is close to nothing, while the price tag for what you get is hefty.

Rundown of what you get:
a "deployment system"... the card sytem IS novel, but it is not any good. Deploying troops by throwing them from afar IS novel, but ain't good neither... at least it is free and fast, which cannot be said of the "deployment system"
specialist cards: guess they are ok
some tiles: there are a few extra tiles in the box

is it worth the price? HELL NOT
it feels like a "let's milk some dollars from our customers" thing.
 
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Miguel
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Simon Mueller wrote:
Also, check out Michael Barnes' comments on Battlelore and this expansion for a slightly different point of view.

Simon, thanks for the link, first time I see someone with such an extensive set of comments for his collection. I've always thought that comments are a good way to get a first idea about games, Barnes' are like condensed game reviews, I've just had a tour at his collection comments and it's been a very pleasant (and useful) experience! Good his comments are still at BGG...
 
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Tom Vasel
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HavocIsHere wrote:
Are you just over enthusiastic?

I am sorry to ask, but I sawonly positive things in this review and I am finding that the usefulness of the expansion is close to nothing, while the price tag for what you get is hefty.

Rundown of what you get:
a "deployment system"... the card sytem IS novel, but it is not any good. Deploying troops by throwing them from afar IS novel, but ain't good neither... at least it is free and fast, which cannot be said of the "deployment system"
specialist cards: guess they are ok
some tiles: there are a few extra tiles in the box


Obviously some people will feel differently about the expansion. I still think this expansion is fantastic. It only adds a few things, but they are definitely worth it.
 
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Peter Mergaerts
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Just player our second Call to Arms Adventure (Muddy Waters, Organized with Specialist cards), and both my wife and I just love the Call to Arms rules. Ok, it takes a bit more time to setup, but every Adventure is different, combined with the smooth integration of the Expansions. I think most of the games from now one will be CtA. meeple

 
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Freddy Dekker
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Hello, just ready your comment on this expansion, made in 2007.

Wow doesn't time fly.
And it helped me decide to not go for Cta.
I allready had my doubt about spending 12 euros on a few cards.
So thanks for that.

I am seriously starting to wonder how much vallue we should put in game experts like Tom Vassel.

I mean the guy actually gets these thing send to him, without even asking for it, and than tells us, it is worth it?
OH sure, if they gave me a copy for free I'd deffinatly aggree it's worth every cent I spend.
 
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Dirk Holding
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Bit of a late response here, but anyways:

sagitar wrote:

I am seriously starting to wonder how much vallue we should put in game experts like Tom Vassel.

I mean the guy actually gets these thing send to him, without even asking for it, and than tells us, it is worth it?
OH sure, if they gave me a copy for free I'd deffinatly aggree it's worth every cent I spend.


I've listened to the Dice Tower for a number of years now and I've never heard Tom claim to be a game expert. If you have, then ok, fair point.

I understand your second point, but if you know he receives free review copies then you can make an informed assessment of his reviews - it's not like these reviewers go out of their way to hide the fact, so getting indignant about it accomplishes nothing. Further, you don't neccessarily have to pay for something to know you wouldn't pay for it - I've received plenty of gifts, freebies etc. that I've been happy to acknowledge that I wouldn't pay for myself in a pink fit. Similarly, I've heard Tom review plenty of games he's received that he has outright panned.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.Cheers .
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Sebastian G.
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The calls to arms expansion is worth it for the specialist cards. However, I find the deployment cards next to idiotic. There is no (ZERO) control over where the units go. I would not mind this if the positioning made any tactical sense. Unfortunately, there is zero sense in the deployment cards. Personally would prefer several pre-made armies to choose from with placement rules dictating where the units are placed.

Like I said specialist cards make the CtA worth it. Deployment deck makes CtA draw tears of distress.
 
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