High Power Lore Cards
Probably the most common and divisive question about BattleLore is "Aren't some lore cards (ex: River Rage) overpowered?"
Some people find these few cards to be an absolute deal-breaker. Those folks report that these cards are the reason they have stopped playing BL. To my way of thinking, that's a real shame because there's so much else that's so much fun.
The Official Answer
Richard Borg, the designer, didn't think they were too powerful, and DoW officially agreed with him. FFG has not issued an official position as of this writing (Dec 26, 2008), but it seem unlikely they would change this position.
Some Fans Like The Cards
A large group of fans feel these cards adds enough variety and tension to be worthwhile. The folks who like these cards state that the chance of an "apocalypse" adds to their enjoyment. For these folks, the extra suspense is fun, and when the cards are played these folks find it creates a fun story-telling element.
"You should have seen the River Rage of '08. Now that was something. Compared to that, we barely even got wet this time."
Some Fans Dislike The Cards
Another large group of fans find these cards problematic because they can abruptly end the game, leaving an unsatisfying experience. For these fans, the abrupt end is not a great story-telling element. Instead, it destroys the strategy and renders meaningless all the game play that led up to that point.
In an extreme case, these cards can (theoretically) kill enough units to end the game within the first few turns. In other cases, even if the game isn't technically over, the damage is so severe as to decide the game.
A 3rd level cleric has the following probabilities of causing the given outcomes:
Probability of Outcomes (official rules)
0 hits = ~20%
1 hit = ~40%
2 hits = ~30%
3 hits = ~10%
4 hits = ~ 1%
Thus there's a ~70% chance of any given unit losing 1, or 2 figures. There's only a ~11% chance of any given unit taking more than 3 figures of damage. The chance of multiple units taking a lot of damage is quite small, but not zero.
Probabilities Under 2nd House Rule
Note: if the second house rule below is adopted, the max damage to each unit is limited to 2 figures. Thus 3 hits only cause figures of damage. The odds then become roughly:
0 hits = ~20%
1 hit = ~40%
2 hits = ~40%
Under this rule, if 10 units are targeted, the max damage is 20 figures, and the average damage is 12 figures spread across 8 units. It is impossible to kill a full strength unit (except possibly a creature).
Some In-Game Coping Strategies
The BL system is pretty flexible and provides several different mechanisms to blunt the effect of these cards. These have varying degrees of effectiveness.
- Do not include a cleric in your lore council. This will eliminate a large chunk of the cleric cards. There's a good chance these cards might leave the deck.
- Choose several lore masters. The extreme example is mage/warrior/rogue. This will flood the lore deck with non-cleric cards, and reduce the chance the cards will appear.
- If you get a dispel magic card, save it and use appropriately.
- Take a 3rd level cleric yourself to get the benefits yourself.
- Use the medieval lore rules which eliminate these cards from the game.
Some House Rule Proposals
Most of the proposals for house rules reduce the variability. The chance of massive damage is changed from epsilon to zero.
Various house rules have been suggested, including:
- DoW suggested a "non-official house rule" to make the cards not scale with the level of the cleric. Rather the effect is to always roll 2D.
- Another alternative is to roll the dice per the card, but limit the maximum damage to each unit. For example, no unit may ever be killed or no unit may suffer more than 2 figures of damage.
- Limit the effect to only units in the terrain type (ex: water for River Rage) have full dice; adjacent units only take one die of damage.
- Say that both the attacker and defender must take damage.
- Limit effect to a single flank (right/center/left)
- Limit effect to a max of 2 units per level of caster
(My personal favorite is the 2nd in this list: only allow 2 figures damage per unit. This tones down virtually all the doomsday scenarios while still rewarding a high-level cleric choice. This is only my personal choice and by no means is this a consensus.)