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Subject: Feedback from Essen on BattleLore? rss

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Derek H
South Africa
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Anyone "been there, seen that" and can supply some actual solid, meaty playtesting experience ... the eye-candy and tempting morsels on the blog have been fine - but, what do the players say??
 
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Niko Ruf
Germany
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I played one demo game and pre-ordered based on that. Gameplay is (of course) similar to Memoir '44, but since most units have no ranged weapons, there is more maneuvering before combat. If I knew C&C:A, I would probably compare it to that instead of Memoir.

Some impressions, in no particular order:

1. Components: gorgeous, but you knew that. My only complaint would be that there is a lot of text on some of the cards. But since there aren't so many different actions, you won't have to actually read them after a few plays.

Note that many of the action cards activate a variable number of units equal to your command value, although there are also the usual 1-3 units in a given flank, general advance, pincer move, etc. you might know from Memoir.

2. Scenario: the demo scenario had infantry with bows (all green), infantry with short swords (al colors), and knights (blue and red), but no fantasy creatures. The war council consisted of a single level 1 wizard. Even with that mix, there is some interesting strategizing, as you try to move your units into optimal striking distance without giving your opponent a chance to attack with great numbers. Ranged combat seemed somewhat weak, but green archers only have two dice and score no bonus hits, so that was to be expected.

3. Magic system: the magic system seemed a little weak, too. You get lore tokens more quickly than I expected (every time you roll a lore result on a combat die and it's not used for something else), but even the expensive spells have a good chance to fizzle. However, their effect usually depends on the wizard's level, so I suppose they can be more impressive with a better war council. One example:

IIRC, the fireball spell costs 10 lore (the most expensive I saw) and deals 1 die plus 1 die per level of damage to one enemy unit of your choice. Hits are scored for helmet symbols only, but a lore result eliminates the enemy. Doesn't sound too bad, but the one time I tried it, I got no effect.

Other spell effects I can recall: teleport 1 unit (friend or foe), switch two units, attack with a bonus to ranged combat, attack with a melee bonus, gain more lore (than you spent), attack one unit and all adjacent enemies (if the initial attack hits), reduce a unit's attack dice to a max of 2, reduce a unit's move.

Some spells are played together with your action card, some are played as responses to your opponent's actions. You are limited to one lore card per turn (not sure if "interrupts" count). Since your wizard isn't actually "on" the battlefield, most can be played on any target you like.

4. Tactical Depth: Hard to say, from one play. Positioning is more important than in Memoir, where it is usually sufficient to occupy the right terrain. Since a unit becomes bold and can battle back if it has at least two adjacent friendly units, you have to maintain formation.

Overall, you have to take a few more things into acount than in Memoir, although you shouldn't be intimidated by the 80 page rulebook: there are lots of examples and pictures. The cue cards are also neat if you know the general rules and need to look up only single detail.

5. Luck factor: relatively high, as your ability to accomplish anything depends on the action cards and lore cards you get*. But I don't mind that in such a short game. Also, knowing how to use your cards for maximum effect is certainly necessary. I actually like the card mechanic in these kind of games since it cuts down on the number of options you have to choose from each turn without reducing the overall flexibility of the game.

That's all I can think of right now. If you have any specific questions, I'll be glad to answer. Just keep in mind I didn't read the rule book and may have gotten something wrong.

* I have to say that of course, since I lost - and my opponent was completely new to this kind of game. But hey, I got hardly any actions for the center
 
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Brian
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First off, thanks for the mini-review!

Niko Ruf wrote:
... the magic system seemed a little weak...
I would hope that it wouldn't overly powerful. The game is still a light wargame; it shouldn't be "who pulls the best cards from the Lore Deck," but who has the best strategy overall (and/or some luck), with the Lore Deck being one aspect of that strategy. How DOW has balanced the Lore Deck's usefulness and cost will really make or break the game.

Niko Ruf wrote:
... but even the expensive spells have a good chance to fizzle...
They have implemented this as a risk/reward for a cost (common for most games). If I remember correctly, a Level 3 Wizard rolls 4 die for Fireball, meaning a 67% chance to destroy an entire unit (and get a banner). Your level 1 wizard had a 33% chance. Either way, if that hits, that's powerful for several reasons. Whether you choose to look at it as straight luck or a risk/reward option is up to you.

(Admittedly, I will be one of the ones griping when my Level 3 Fireball misses at a critical junction in the game)

 
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Niko Ruf
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shadowTerp wrote:
I would hope that it wouldn't overly powerful.
Agreed. However, if the system was too weak, it wouldn't add to the game and could be left out. My opponent - who managed to win with 6 vs. 3 victory points - hardly used any spells up to the point where his "lore beaker" was overflowing. It didn't seem to hinder him much.

But don't take this as a criticism of the system. The spells really become more powerful with the wizard's level, so if you want magic to play a major role in your strategy, you have to invest in a better caster.

Quote:
How DOW has balanced the Lore Deck's usefulness and cost will really make or break the game.
Absolutely. In so far, the fact that the magic system did not have a major effect in the demo game is a good sign. At least, it keeps us from complaining how "broken" everything is before we have even tried the full game

Quote:
If I remember correctly, a Level 3 Wizard rolls 4 die for Fireball, meaning a 67% chance to destroy an entire unit (and get a banner). Your level 1 wizard had a 33% chance.
Nitpick: its 31% [= 1 - (1/6)^2] and 52% [= 1 - (1/6)^4], the probabilities don't add with multiple dice.

Quote:
(Admittedly, I will be one of the ones griping when my Level 3 Fireball misses at a critical junction in the game)
Oh, so the dice hate you, too?
 
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Brian
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Niko Ruf wrote:
Nitpick: its 31% [= 1 - (1/6)^2] and 52% [= 1 - (1/6)^4], the probabilities don't add with multiple dice.
Ooops... duh, I know they shouldn't add (otherwise 6 die would assure a hit... which I know isn't true). Brain fart.

Although, I would think that a Level 3 Fireball would have a better chance than 52%. Interesting.

Quote:
Oh, so the dice hate you, too?
No Comment. cry
 
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Dan Bigmore
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Niko Ruf wrote:
Nitpick: its 31% [= 1 - (1/6)^2] and 52% [= 1 - (1/6)^4], the probabilities don't add with multiple dice.
I think that should be 31% [= 1 - (5/6)^2] and 52% [= 1 - (5/6)^4]
 
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Niko Ruf
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Bigland wrote:
I think that should be 31% [= 1 - (5/6)^2] and 52% [= 1 - (5/6)^4]
Yup, sorry for the typo. The resulting probabilities are correct, though.
 
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Carlos Araujo
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Thank you for the information, Niko! It looks like a very interesting game... I can't wait!
 
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Niels Taatgen
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Niko Ruf wrote:

3. Magic system: the magic system seemed a little weak, too. You get lore tokens more quickly than I expected (every time you roll a lore result on a combat die and it's not used for something else), but even the expensive spells have a good chance to fizzle. However, their effect usually depends on the wizard's level, so I suppose they can be more impressive with a better war council. One example:
I had a similar experience with the magic cards (see my session report). However, the balance between Lore and the rest will be completely depending on the number of level tokens you allow in the game. This demo game had just one level, so the impact of Lore shouldn't be too large. With six levels in the game you might be looking at a different story.
 
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