Recommend
77 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

BattleLore» Forums » Strategy

Subject: How to minimize luck in your Battlelore games rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jay Borden
United States
Somerset
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The common complaint is that the command cards are unbalanced in the Command & Colors system. I had that opinion after my first few games of Memoir ‘44 and didn’t bother to explore the game further. With the addition of ‘support’ and ‘battle back’, I saw that the system allowed for smart defensive playing to help offset the penalty of bad card draws (since the game is mostly melee, keeping units bold will allow you to make just as many attacks as the enemy as long as the unit doesn’t flee or get completely destroyed). After now getting several games of Battlelore under my belt, I’m seeing there’s even more to the system than I originally thought.

I started really thinking about the balance of the command cards and how to better manage my hand. Yes, there are cards much better than others, just compare a ‘2 in the left’ to a ‘2 in each section card’ and tell me which you’d rather draw if you want to argue the point. In almost every game, both players will get a fairly even distribution of both good and bad cards. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking of how best to approach the command cards so I can make the most of what I do draw.

Here’s my early view as the basics for solid tactical play.


1. Keep your units bold

Bold units can ignore the first flag rolled against it and can battle back if not forced to retreat. The same unit may battle back more than once in a turn if attacked by more than one enemy in the same turn, as long as it’s still bold and did not retreat from the newest attacker (follow up actions count as the same battle, so unless against the pursuit attack from a mounted unit, it will be able to battle back).

Keep in mind that math is your friend (well, at least a good enough acquaintance of mine to crunch some quick numbers):
The chance of rolling 2 or more flags with 3 dice is only 7.4% likely.
The chance of rolling 2 or more flags with 4 dice is only 17.3% likely.

Advantages a supported troop has when attacked:
1. The unit gets to hit the attacker back most of the time (note: on your opponent’s turn without using any of your resources)
2. The unit is less likely to be forced to retreat (you can always decide to take the first flag if you want to)

If that is not enough reason for you to focus on keeping you units bold, think about the major turning points in almost every Battlelore game. Almost all of them can be traced back to a single point where one side loses support and just gets run over until they can regroup. The more I play, the more I see the importance of formations and being able to regroup quickly. Unsupported units in striking distance of the enemy are as good as dead. Don’t make your opponent’s job easy, keep your troops supported! The more you stray from support, the more you are letting luck play into your strategy.


2. Use triangle formations so every unit gets support

When moving units, keep them supported in triangle formations (see the ‘strong mutual support’ picture on pg. 31 of the English rulebook). Forming a single file line of 3 or more units side by side is not a good supported formation. Since the line formation allows your opponent to hit the unsupported end units, you will never gain anything from that formation (I do not consider the ‘3 units in a line’ a supported formation at all, just a gift to the opponent).

Keeping all of your units supported is worth losing an attack in almost every case. Poor dice rolling or a well timed spell by your opponent can far too easily ruin your attack to risk breaking up a supported formation. It’s nice to think 2 mounted units will break the end units of his line and follow up getting 4 attacks against all unsupported targets, but not rolling a flag at the right time will leave you in a dangerous position. Unless you need a desperate move like that to win that turn or lose the game, you’re relying far too heavily on luck to go your way.


3. Play with the command cards in hand, not with the ones you hope to draw

Each turn, you will have a hand of 3 to 6 command cards. Individually, each card will allow you to order 1 to 6 units in one or more of the 3 board sections. As each card is played, it will be replaced by an unknown card at the end of your turn. While the next card drawn may be useful to your current plans, it’s not something you should rely on until you draw it. The more you set up your turns with the resources available, the less you are relying on luck to get the cards you need.

What can you influence? Where do you want the battle to take place?

If you have a hand of 4 right flank, 1 advance center, and 1 advance left cards, it’s clear that you would be better able to influence the flow of battle if it was mainly on the right flank. With the same hand, you are weak in the center and left sections even if you have 6 full health units with support in each of them. You have only one guaranteed chance to influence those sections before being 100% dependent on luck of the dice rolls and drawing into another command card that helps you.

If I had the above hand, I would attempt to move my right flank up (while keeping support) and save those 2 non-right cards to regroup if things get ugly. If the enemy did push my left and I had the advance left card (command 1 unit per command card), I’d still try to hold off using it until my units lost support. Until recently, I would see the advance as a way to counter with up to 6 attacks. More experience with the system is showing me that I am feeding into the dependency of luck by pressing an attack where I do not have any other resources to follow it up. How many orders you can issue in a section should be a major factor when determining your strength. Push the fight where you are strong and avoid conflicts where you are weak.

The 4 right flanks cards will run out eventually, so I am not saying your goal for the entire game should be to push the right flank. I’m saying that you have an obvious advantage at that point if the battles were on your strong flank, so use a card or two to start moving that flank into a ready formation for a push (saving the advance or Attack cards for last). After each new card is drawn, reevaluate where you are strong and adjust accordingly. You should never break from support while closing, take your time and see if it is still worth doing after each turn.

Playing defensively usually takes less orders than going on the offensive

If you have a hand full of command cards that only give 1 or 2 orders, form up into supported ranks and let the enemy waste his order cards advancing his line towards you. In the 2 or 3 turns it takes your enemy approach (it will take that long unless he just charges up unsupported), your line should be able to get into position to battle back on almost any attack. If you are already in good supported triangles, when the opponent attacks your line, you will likely only need one or two orders to either get back into a good supported formations or to cycle a wounded unit back. Do not view non-attack orders as wasted, you will get just as many attacks as the attacker from battle backs unless your unit is destroyed or it loses support.


4. Card groupings / combos

Try to picture groups of 2 or 3 cards together as a single action over multiple turns (Example: I can use the 2 left flank cards to close and attack his archers with my 3 infantry units). This same approach should allow you accurately know when you will be out of cards in a area (Example: with no more right flank cards after this one, I should move the forward unit back to be supported or save the card to regroup if my opponent pushes the attack on that flank. Advancing with no way to follow up is just asking for disaster). You may still draw the cards you need, but the conservative play based on the cards in hand leaves you better prepared if the luck doesn’t go your way. Remember that defensive actions usually take less orders than offensive actions. If you have a hand of bad cards, regroup or withdraw to buy more turns to get better resources.

Maximum effect

The goal is to always get maximum effect out of every card, but it’s not always going to be possible. If you have a ‘Darken the Skies’ card, you’d want to get all your archers in range of the enemy before playing it if possible (since the archers will not be able to move). If you can issue 6 orders on the left flank, you’d obviously be wasting the extra actions if you only had one unit in that section. If you had a spell that gave +1d to each attacking unit, you’d be better off saving it for when more than 1 unit was attacking. Using a ‘blue banner’ to move your foot line forward to end 1 hex away from your opponents foot line probably isn’t as good as using the card to shift your supported formation to his weak side and get a couple of attacks in.

There will be times when you should “waste” those extra orders to regroup to tight supported formations or withdraw when you are in a bad position. My basic rule is to try to save all command cards that issue 4 or more orders until I can get close to maximum effect, or it’s the only option to regroup or withdraw. With 5 or 6 cards in hand, you can easily save up to 2 or 3 big play cards while making minor adjustments to your formations or taking shots with your range in most games.

Is defense too good?

Assuming your opponent is following the same general tactics I’ve put together here, the game can seem a bit defense heavy. Keeping support while pressing an attack takes far more orders then sitting back and waiting for the enemy to get in range. Even in my most defensive games though, I am moving my line towards the enemy when my cards show I have enough resources to push an attack. I may stop after playing one card and start again later when I draw another that helps support the plan, but when I’m strong in an area, I want the battle to happen there before my opponent can get strong too. If you have the cards to back it up, push the line forward at whatever speed you can while keeping support. Eventually, someone will be strong enough or get the right spell to make it worth going in for the attack. While not as dramatic as a game with an unsupported mounted charge, the adjustment turns go by fast so the total game length isn’t noticeably extended.


5a. Learn the cards!

To better prepare for battle, you should be familiar with the resources you may encounter in battle. I don’t feel it’s necessary to memorize the exact distribution of command cards for each flank, but you should know each card well enough to know what it does without reading the whole text every time (example: it should not be a surprise that ‘Foot Onslaught’ allows the red and blue foot units to also move 2 and still attack or that ‘Darken the Skies’ allows your archers to fire twice, but doesn’t let them move).

For the lore spells, you should read over the full list of spells before you get into customizable war counsels (how else will you know which lore masters are worth calling upon if you do not know what each does). Going to the Days of Wonder Battlelore site to read the FAQs for each spell is also recommended. The FAQs will help with rules questions during games and may also show you how some spells may interact with cards differently than originally thought (Example: The wizard spell ‘Eagle Eye’ will give the +3d bonus for both attacks when used with ‘Darken the Skies’ and ‘Blur’ will only work for one dice roll, not stick around for multiple attacks if a banner color was not rolled on the first attack).


5b. Don’t bother trying to track the command cards during the game

I don’t see the point in counting the cards in each section during the game, and feel it will be useless in 99% of the games you play. In an average game, you will likely only use a little over half of the 60 cards in the deck. It’s very rare that you will be in a position where knowing the exact odds of drawing a card in a specific section will make a difference enough that you should make a play expecting to draw a specific card type over planning

An example:
Assume an extreme case of 10 center section cards played after only 5 turns (you have 5 cards in hand). What do you think this tells you about how the rest of the game will flow?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
There are still 4 more cards that only order the center and 4 cards more that issue orders in all sections. Now add in the other cards that may be used for units in the center (the 6 specific color banner cards, 2 leadership cards, and the 6 troop specific cards like foot onslaught or mounted charge). Without counting the 2 counter attack or the one Battlelore command cards (which are unreliable, but could work in the right situation), you really have no extra chance of knowing what the enemy will do next turn or if you will draw a card that can be used in the center.

With one fourth of the deck known (the 10 cards played and assumed at least 5 in hand), you still have too many cards remaining in that section to rely on the given information. Trying to use the knowledge of what’s left in the deck rather than what’s in your hand will not help cut down the luck factor.



6. The ‘sweet spot’ hexes

As other have pointed out before, the hexes that fall half in the center and half to one flank allow you more options on how to issue orders to units in them. When given the choice without losing a good support formation, try to occupy those hexes when possible.


My overall take:

Playing with defense in mind and keeping your units bold is the best way to limit the amount that luck can spoil your plans. Setting up actions in advance using only the resources available will lessen your dependency on the luck of the draw. Keep all of your units bold at all times!

The above points are only general rules to follow. Of course knowing the exact count of each command may be useful if there’s only one card left in the deck. If you are 1 point away from losing with your single unsupported unit with only one figure is surrounded by the enemy in a section that you don’t have any way to order, go ahead and make the unsupported attack with as many units as possible. There will be exceptions to all of my above points, but more often than not following them will help you offset the effects of bad luck.
46 
 Thumb up
5.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Boise
Idaho
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
An excellent article Jay. It does seem to be a bit of a counter to my "attack at all costs" article, but it's well written and very understandable.

I have played against one or two opponents who managed to make a masterful defensive strategy appear... they did draw the right cards. In most cases though they get picked apart by a concentrated attack whether they were traingle-clustered or not. BattleLore is much better suited to an aggressive play style mainly because of the huge impact lore cards have on the outcome of the various skirmishes.

I've played about 25 games so far and no real defensive strategy has held up... yet. Time will tell.

Quote:
Do not view non-attack orders as wasted, you will get just as many attacks as the attacker from battle backs unless your unit is destroyed or it loses support.


Here's where I disagree the most, as you already know. The clock is ticking on every turn of a BL game. Each turn you allow your opponent to plan, draw lore, amass better cards is a waste. This is no grand strategy game, the random nature of the card draws and the chaotic effect of lore on otherwise straighforward abstract combat is too radical. Remember, the average game is often one that ends after less than 30 cards total have been played.

Usually you only have between 12-15 units in play and with the game rushing headlong towards someone losing I'd look at your manuerving and triangle clustering, assess my cards, lore and unit disposition and attempt to blow you out on a flank,

I wish you didn't live so far away, I'd really enjoy playing against you. One of us would learn a lesson or two, that I'm certain of.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Borden
United States
Somerset
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DWTripp wrote:
An excellent article Jay. It does seem to be a bit of a counter to my "attack at all costs" article, but it's well written and very understandable.
Your “attack at all costs” article was what prompted me to write it. I’m a conservative player, and I’d put you in the aggressive player camp based on your articles. The focus on my article is to try to minimize the luck of the game, which in my opinion comes from solid defense and pre-planning based on the resources available. I put an emphasis defense since that’s what you will need when ‘bad luck’ is giving you all single order attacks. When you get the good command cards and lore spells, I do not say to continue to turtle up. I propose you push, but keep your support when you do.

The game is not played fully in extremes though. My view is the role of aggressor and defender ends once the units are in adjacent hexes. If your opponent’s units do not have support, then attack. If you have the cards to counter in that section, then attack.


Here’s what I think is a good example of where we differ, please reply with how you would react in this exact situation:

Let’s say both sides have 3 blue foot units (2 up front in adjacent hexes to the enemy with one in the back giving mutual support). No wounds have been done on either side and it’s in the middle of the board 5 hexes away from any other unit on the board. In your hand of 5 cards, you have only one “2 orders” card left in the section. All spells we both have will not help the situation. Assume the rest of the board has some action, but nothing desperate for either side.

*|3|*
|1|2|
A|B|
|C|

* = empty hex (hopefully that came out right.)

I’m assuming your “attack at all costs” article’s approach would say to issue the 2 orders to have units #1 and #2 both attack the same unit ‘B’. I say to hold the 2 order card.

The advantage you get is that 6 dice are against the same unit, while my battle backs would be 3 dice against #1 and 3 dice against #2.

My advantage is I still have 100% chance to move 2 of my units after the battle, you need to draw into a card that can order them.

If the dice go even, I have one unit with 2 wounds in front and you have 2 units with 1 wound each. My turn, I move my wounded unit 2 steps back, and the other front unit over to set up a new triangle with a hex between us (my wounded ‘B’ unit in the back).

*|3|*
|1|2|
*|*|
|C|A|
*|B|*

Even if I do not draw another card, I have a solid formation with full health units up front. You would need a “3 order” to get all 3 units into position to attack and keep support, and both wounded units would be up front if you wanted to actually make attacks with that order.

Granted, the dice could go far from even odds with you completely killing my front unit. I can then use my 2 order card to retreat 2 hexes or attack your unsupported formation if you did the follow up. Retreating 2 hexes in one round means you need 2 orders to catch up (or a spell). I bought at least one extra turn assuming you drew into 2 cards that allowed you to press the attack over the next 2 turns (they would both need to be at least “3 order” cards or you lose support along the way.

My dice could also be kind on the battle back attacks. I’d then have the option of using my ‘2 order’ card to get two attacks on your wounded unit. I like the conservative play

DWTripp wrote:
Each turn you allow your opponent to plan, draw lore, amass better cards is a waste. This is no grand strategy game, the random nature of the card draws and the chaotic effect of lore on otherwise straighforward abstract combat is too radical. Remember, the average game is often one that ends after less than 30 cards total have been played.
During those turns I too get an equal chance of getting more lore, better spells, and the chance to amass better cards. If I have good cards and spells, I will be attacking. I stress defense when weak in a flank and aggressive when you are strong.

DWTripp wrote:
Usually you only have between 12-15 units in play and with the game rushing headlong towards someone losing I'd look at your manuerving and triangle clustering, assess my cards, lore and unit disposition and attempt to blow you out on a flank.
I too would be looking for a way to blow out your flank; I’d just be more conservative in giving an unsupported one when I do press my attack.

DWTripp wrote:
I wish you didn't live so far away, I'd really enjoy playing against you. One of us would learn a lesson or two, that I'm certain of.
Agreed. I think they would be good matches. I’m hoping to get to BGG.con this year if it doesn’t fall on my daughters birthday (Nov. 16th), so we might get a chance if you are going (although we’ll both probably have all new tactics by then).
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
RIK FONTANA
United States
St. George
UT
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very good article Jay, and likewise enjoyed DW's Riposte.
I am one of the original playtester's for the game, have battled for probably 3 years been a part of the (long and substantial) metamorphasis to it's current state. But throughout, there have been those players who style has been to assess an opportunity for attack and drive it to victory, and others, like Jay and myself, who take a more Wellintonian approach of hold with skill; exploit where opportunistic.
Obviously no one strategy is always correct, and terrain, troop-type match-ups, Command Card distribution, knowledge of the opponent, Luck and gut feeling can all play a part in the decision-making process. Many of these factors are very nicely illustrated above amongst the strategys and tactics suggestions.
In general, the multitude of approaches to victory are one of the most enjoyable aspects of BATTLELORE, and why it's my favorite of the C&C system designs.
Just wait until you see what more Richard and DofW have in store. This is a system that still has a long way to grow!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Boise
Idaho
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Quote:
*|3|*
|1|2|
A|B|
|C|

* = empty hex (hopefully that came out right.)

I’m assuming your “attack at all costs” article’s approach would say to issue the 2 orders to have units #1 and #2 both attack the same unit ‘B’. I say to hold the 2 order card.

It's late and I'm a bit bleary-eyed from a 4 hour session of the very Ameritrashy "Attack" (with expansion, of course). Looking at this set-up and considering I can only move two units, you're correct. I'd probably hold the 2 order card. Unless!!! I had the mass speed card. Then I'd get unit "2" behind B, blocking any retreat and move unit "3" up to also attack unit B. Like you, I wouldn't break up a defensible position that costs me nothing to retain.

I would be holding 4 other cards though and if I had any appropraite lore cards to boost an attack, I'd go elsewhere for my blood.

The lore cards make all sorts of possibilities open up... a Blur card for example, to stave off a hit, or, if I had a "Darken the Skies" coupled with Eagle Eye I might choose to order a single archer to double punch from another section one of the clustered units... prepping the way for a follow-up attack with the "order two" command card. I'm sure you'd do the same.

It's not often a Mexican Stand-off across the board, so long as I have any opportunity to hurt the other guy, I'll take it where I can get it.

Rik makes sense when he says that BattleLore really does play to multiple personality types. I guess my experience has been that playing a good defensive game is more dependent on drawing the right cards than trying to swamp the opponent with so many worrisome and hurtful attacks that he has to use what is in his hand to counter you.

My aggressive style is probably better suited for C&C:Ancients where I don't have to fret about lore cards damping my assaults, but it still works pretty darned good in BattleLore.

BGG.Con sounds good. I've paid for it both years and been derailed each time. Hopefully Aldie put the money to good use.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brent Lloyd
United States
League City
Texas
flag msg tools
Canadian Game Design Award: http://www.fallcon.com/design
badge
Canadian Game Design Award: http://www.fallcon.com/design
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Off topic side bar:

I would LOVE to play you guys a game of this someday. I have read through much of the strategy articles with interest and agree with much of what many different folks has said. Now I would LOVE to sit at a table and play! If any of you are ever in my neck of the woods, let me know.

Peace
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Borden
United States
Somerset
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DWTripp wrote:
I guess my experience has been that playing a good defensive game is more dependent on drawing the right cards than trying to swamp the opponent with so many worrisome and hurtful attacks that he has to use what is in his hand to counter you.

If you always keep your units in good formations every time you move them, you never need ‘the right cards’. You’ve mentioned that twice now and I still don’t get what cards you think are necessary to play defensively. Once you are in formation, that’s it. No more orders are needed unless the unit breaks. I can move a troop into a better defensive position with a '1 order', would that same '1 order' be as effective when trying to push your attack?

I would never trade 6 dice for 3,3 unless the unit I am attacking was already wounded (the 6 is from 2 attacks by separate units, the 3,3 are the battle backs against those separate units). I’d be tempted to trade 9 dice for 3,3,3 but I would not break my support to make it unless I had 2 more cards to order those units over the next couple of turns (or the unit I was attacking was already wounded). I would not waste a spell for a 9 dice for 3,3,3 trade unless the unit was wounded already or I could keep support while doing it (and had a way to follow up next turn). The lore spells that portal units, increase movement, or add dice to attacks are way too good to waste on setting up an even trade of dice.

The main difference in our play styles seems to be hand management rather than tactics. I hold back as much as possible until I have either a clear advantage, or enough resources to follow up the action. The closer to even the odds are, the more resources I would need in hand that can follow up the action before I’d commit to the action.

I am sure you attack when you have the clear advantage. I highly doubt you would ever blindly charge in for less then even odds. I do think you would be more aggressive when an advantage is available without too much thought about the rest of your hand (I’m talking about something like a 9 dice for 3,3,3 trade that would leave you unsupported). Your articles and how you followed up on my example above (block off the retreat path if you had the +1 movement spell) seem to point towards that conclusion.

I’m sure we could go back and forth about this for days. All of your examples show how you would press an attack. All of my examples show how I would cycle wounded units back or withdraw. I think we’d both play to whatever advantage we saw at the time. I’m stressing defense since that’s what will buy you more time when you have no good spells or cards. When you have the advantage, press it!

I’ll try to do another article next week about attacking. It will be fun to see how different our views are when trying to be the aggressor.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Boise
Idaho
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Quote:
If you always keep your units in good formations every time you move them, you never need ‘the right cards’. You’ve mentioned that twice now and I still don’t get what cards you think are necessary to play defensively. Once you are in formation, that’s it. No more orders are needed unless the unit breaks.

Exactly. Once I can break a formation - and realize, in order to move at all you'll have to expose something to me, even if it's just to a couple of archers or a spell - I look at my hand as almost purely a set of offensive cards.

I suppose you could call it hand management... you tend to look at what is offered and see if you can make it work while maintaining a solid defensive posture. I tend to look at what is offered and see how I might be able to overwhelm you with the orders... with being supported as a secondary consideration.

I'm looking forward to your next article. And the Canadian guy from Calgary? Make sure you email me if you head this way, I'm always up for a random game.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Borden
United States
Somerset
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DWTripp wrote:
I tend to look at what is offered and see how I might be able to overwhelm you with the orders... with being supported as a secondary consideration.

If you are breaking your support in an attempt to break formations, didn't you just give to me for free what you are using order to force me to do? If your less than 50/50 chance to break me fails, I'll then have the opening I was waiting for to attack. I don't play defensively when I have an opening.

By saving my orders, I am more often prepared to make a good counter attack play. That's the advantage of playing defensively in this game. You force your opponent to either use resources to get the odds in thier favor or they leave themselves exposed to get extra attacks during an attempt to break your formations. Having not used your resources yet, you will likely be able to counter just as strongly (usually without taking battle back attacks). If your opponent moved troops up right before attacking, chances are they will be running low on commands in that section (unless it was me, I wouldn't press the attack without the resources to finish it ).

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian Busch

Colorado
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
I don't mean to derail your arguments (which I found informative and useful) but now distance and geography should not matter when it comes to playing this game. Behold! the marvels of the interweb!

http://www.freewebs.com/battlelorevassal/

Now play and be merry! I just recently discovered this way to play battlelore on the net and it has helped keep me keep in contact with friends that are too far away to play regularly. I still prefer to play live with my set but this way works quite well. A friend of mine was playing with some guy from australia and had a blast. I hope this can allow Jay and DWTripp to put there theories to the test. Now continue with your regularly scheduled programming
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gabe Alvaro
United States
Berkeley
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Having now played two dozen more times since when I first read this article, I gotta agree with Jay. And here's why.

First, I think the word "defensively" is a little bit misleading for a game like BattleLore. Basically, there is no "defense" as it is usually known. You cannot stop someone from attacking you. Nor can you, other than for a scant few special lore cards, stop someone from killing your figs when you are attacked.

What you can do, however, is battle back when you are attacked. Of course you can't simply choose to battle back, you must be bold in order to battle back. The main way to be bold, if you are not a dwarf that is, is to position your units so that the benefits of boldness are conferred upon them through a position of support. Support is defined as being adjacent to two other units. One gains support for their units by judicious use of command cards to constantly adjust their formations throughout the course of the game. It is because of this need for adjustment that I declare there is no defense in BattleLore, only adjustment.

DW's observation that you increase your chances of winning by rolling more dice is correct. In fact, I would say that were you to keep track of a total number of dice rolled for each player in a given game, that more often than not, the winner would be the one who managed to roll more dice. Further, you could probably divide the total number of dice by the number of units killed, or even figures killed, and you would probably still see that the winner was the one with the higher number of dice rolled per unit or per figure.

How does one make sure that they roll more dice than their oppponent throughout the course of a game of BattleLore? Quite simply, by making sure that they not only roll dice on their own turn. But by rolling dice on their opponent's turn as well.

You can only most often roll dice on your opponent's turn if you are battling back. You can only most often battle back when you are bold. You can only most often be bold when your units are supported. You can only most often keep your units supported when you judiciously use command cards for adjustment of formations, as well as for attack. Using your command cards judiciously means setting up actions in advance using only the resources (command cards and lore) that are available. By conserving resources, you increase the chances that you will be able to accumulate very good command cards that will result in large number of units being ordered when the time finally comes for an attack. A large number of units being ordered means a large number of dice. A large number of dice increases the chance that an opponents unit will die or be otherwise forcibly removed. Removal of enemy units is at best a VP and at worst a break in your opponent's formation resulting in the opportunity to attack without oppositional battle backs. Being able to attack your opponent without them battling back results in a net increase in the number of dice rolled. Rolling more dice than your opponent over the course of a game should be able to secure you the victory.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John G
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't want to put words in DW's mouth, and am enjoying the discussion, but I think his response to this line of thinking is that there are two ways to roll more dice. You mentioned one - battleback. The other is to use your turns to roll dice, not maneuver troops. This methodology of methodically holding support formations and reforming when moving or retreating means you are going to use more of your turns to simply move without attacking and rolling.

My $0.02.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gabe Alvaro
United States
Berkeley
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Point take John. Of course the ideal would be to attack unsupported units while keeping one's own units supported. It's also ideal to be able to retreat, when required, into positions that maintain support. I think Jay may be intending to cover some of this when he entreats us to his next strategy article, which I'm looking forward to very much.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Borden
United States
Somerset
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you attack each of my 20 units with exactly 8 dice, but I could get 20 dice worth of attacks on just 7 of your units, I don’t think the extra 20 dice is likely to do you any good.

If all of your attacks are done with archers (1 in 6 chance to hit) and all my attacks are done with mounted units (1 in 3 chance to hit), it will take a lot of extra dice to offset the difference.

Both of the above examples are quite extreme, but they show that just extra rolls will not win it alone….you have to finish off units to make any roll really count at the end of the game.

There are only a few ways to roll more dice in any given exchange:
1. Attack unsupported troops
2. Use range attacks
3. Kill a supported unit off (dead units don’t battle back)
4. Attack with superior troops
5. Lore spells that add dice or take away dice from your opponent

If you are attacking every turn, you are not likely to be getting one of the 5 items above for every attack. If you play someone who retreats wounded units back, or someone who rotates advancing units to spread out the wounds evenly, you are going to have to earn every extra dice you roll (and that may still not be enough).

I’m planning on writing up exactly how I perform my defensive maneuvers, and how I advance when I see an advantage. I’ll explain what I hope to gain from each of those actions, and how I try to maximize my chances of getting those extra dice too. Once I show some examples and calculate out some of the odds, I think you’ll better understand where I’m coming from…even if you don’t think it will fit into your play style.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls