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Subject: Battlelore Review rss

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Greg Jackson
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Battlelore

Overview:
Battlelore is a light to medium-weight wargame for 2 players involving medieval and fantasy battles. The game is scenario based which means the armies on each side and the terrain layout is all pre-determined and players each take control of one of the two armies.

Components:
The game comes in a large, deep box with a whole host of excellent components inside. There are a very large number of plastic models representing the different types of troops used by both players. These all come ready to play and are decent enough sculpts. They are, however, tightly packed in and many were bent slightly out of shape when I opened mine. Days of Wonder have given instructions on how to resolve this if it is an issue but I’ve not really found it necessary.
As well as all the neatly packaged figures there are several decks of cards, cardboard tokens, wooden dice, a nice large double-sided board and war council mats. The other side of the board is for use with the Epic expansion, allowing for a board that is twice the size. The cards are good stock and well illustrated. The dice are functional and the initial problem of ink wearing off seems to have been fixed now. All in all the components are of an excellent standard as is the trademark of Days of Wonder.

Rules:
The rulebook seems fairly large at first but is filled with many helpful examples and illustrations that take up a lot of the space. The rules are clear, concise and easy to understand. The game also comes with a separate scenario booklet and it is designed so that players can learn the rules better as they go through each scenario, with the first scenario just using the most basic rules and each scenario adding more things. Also included are a deck of cards which give all the important rules on the various terrain types, troop types and weapons. These are very helpful indeed for new players.

Gameplay:

Game set up - The players decide on a scenario to play and then set up the board, terrain and required troops accordingly. The game is usually played both ways around with each player taking a turn at playing both sides so it isn’t important who plays which side first. The scenario will dictate who goes first and how many command cards each player starts the game with.

Turns - In the basic game without using any lore or war councils the players can set aside the lore deck of cards and just use the command cards. The first player selects one command card to play and this determines how many units may be ordered and which types or from which areas of the board. The player then declares which units are to be ordered and moves all of those units if required. Then in turn the player resolves any combat they wish to initiate. Combat comprises choosing the target of the attack and then rolling the relevant number of dice for the attacking unit. Hits are determined according to the colour of the defending unit and whether ‘bonus’ hits count (which is dependant on the attacking unit). Any hits mean the defending unit must lose that many figures and if the whole unit dies then the bannerman is kept by the attacker as a victory point. Each scenario has a set number of victory points required to win. Once a player has finished attacking with all ordered units they draw a replacement command card and the turn passes to their opponent. Once one player reaches the required number of victory points the game immediately ends and the scores are noted down. Players then switch sides and play the scenario again from the other side, with the overall winner being the one with the highest total score after playing both sides.

Review of gameplay:
The basic system in Battlelore is the tried and tested system from Battle Cry, Memoir 44 and Command & Colours: Ancients, i.e. the command card play in order to issue orders to units. There are several tweaks from the other systems though, allowing for defenders to fight back sometimes, many different unit types and also the introduction of war councils and lore. This allows players to play at a level they are comfortable with and add in extra degrees of sophistication if they wish. Days of Wonder also have an online scenario generator and lots of player-written scenarios which means that there is great replayability as you or not likely to run out of scenarios to play.
The system itself is very simple, yet elegant. The board is split into three equal areas, a left flank, a centre and a right flank. Cards usually order a set number of units in one of these three areas. This does mean that bad card draws can leave a player slightly frustrated but a good player will make the most of the cards they are dealt. The dice can often mean very lucky or unlucky things happen in the game but these tend to even out. The lore cards can add a whole new aspect to the game and the war council gives the player a little more control over how they want to customize the game.

Overall:
Battlelore is a very well made, well produced game using Richard Borg’s tried and tested system. The medieval/fantasy theme is one that had been waiting to be done using this system and I think it has been done well. Once set up the game plays fairly quickly and as mentioned the game is designed to ease new players in gently so it is never difficult to introduce people to it. The one drawback, however, is the set up (and pack away) time as this can add 20 minutes to the game easily. The figures also only just fit into the box and I have found myself removing some of the insert in order to be able to sort and fit the different troop types in more easily. Another bonus with this game is that Days of Wonder have already produced two expansions, allowing for more army customisation and epic, double sized games. More expansions are on the way which will introduce even more troop types and ensure the game has a long shelf life.

Scores:

Components: 10/10
Rules: 10/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Fun: 9/10
Overall: 9/10
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Spare Tire
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Quote:
The basic system in Battlelore is the tired and tested system from Battle Cry, Memoir 44 and Command & Colours: Ancients, i.e. the command card play in order to issue orders to units.


I originally thought that re-hashing the same old card-based command system was 'tired' too, but the war council was enough to get me over the feeling of repetition.

I have all the games you mentioned above and now feel like I should cull the herd.

The problem is which?

I was originally thinking I could drop memoir 44 (It was the least favorite of the lot for me) but i find that I actually have a local opponent willing to play...and I don't have the same luxury for the Command & Colors series. So, alas, it might be the one to go.
 
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Greg Jackson
Canada
Calgary
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Oops, slight typo there blush

Personally C&C:A is my least favourite but I've only played both that and Battle Cry once each so I may not be giving it a fair shot. I like Memoir and Battle Cry because of the simplicity and I guess I prefer the medieval/fantasy theme to the ancient theme. That and the better production values.
 
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Kevin Duke
United States
Wynne
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Well, if you want figures of soldiers, CCA does come up a little short to the other 3 in the series. I actually prefer the ease of the blocks for several advantages.

I've seen a lot of people who own all 4 say that CCA is their favorite, in terms of the actual GAME inside. There are enough differences that matter, as well as suiting period to the game mechanic, that this one seems to have more replay value than BC or Mem44... BL hasn't been around long enough to really compare on that score. After several hundred games of CCa, they're still looking for more.
 
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Paul O'Connor
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San Marcos
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kduke wrote:
I've seen a lot of people who own all 4 say that CCA is their favorite, in terms of the actual GAME inside. There are enough differences that matter, as well as suiting period to the game mechanic, that this one seems to have more replay value than BC or Mem44... BL hasn't been around long enough to really compare on that score. After several hundred games of CCa, they're still looking for more.


As a CCA veteran who is playing a lot of Battlelore right now, I agree with this assessment. I think CCA is a better game, but I like the components of Battlelore much more (especially now that I've gotten everything painted). I think Battlelore will eventually catch and surpass CCA if rules for evasion and leaders are layered into Battlelore (I'm betting elves will get to evade ...).

The scenarios in Battlelore do feel a bit "samey" when compared with those in CCA. I haven't had time to play Call to Arms yet to see if that supplement improves things. I did get to play Epic BL earlier this week and I think that is the way to go with this game, although it does take a bit longer to play.

The whole Commands and Colors series is like different flavors of the same ice cream, and I like different games at different times. I don't play CCA much anymore, although I played it a lot last year (mostly on-line). I have a local opponent for BL and that game is getting momentum. I get in a couple games a month of Memoir 44, which isn't so strong a game as those other two, but I like the theme (and Overlord games are fun when we have a bunch of guys). Battle Cry hasn't come off the shelf in a long time but I hope to play it with my kids someday. I'm happy to have all four games in my library.
 
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I legally own hundreds of polyhedral assault dice!
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Austin
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While C&C: Ancients might have a slight edge in my esteem as a game, both the Ancients game and BattleLore are well-deserved 10s in my book. And though I rate Memoir a little less than these two, I still think there's plenty of interest and historical material for a solid expansion or two for that game as well.

I'm also looking forward to the Napoleonics set--whoever decides to publish it!
 
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