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Subject: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of games rss

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Crazy Bob
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I was helping a friend of mine demo this the other day and I thought I would put my thoughts into print here. It’s not an overly glowing review, but then again, this is not my kind of game. The combat system is very similar to that of C&C: Ancients, but with less fiddly rules. At the end of the day, if the memoir 44 system with magic spells thrown in sound cool then you’ll probably like it.

Let’s start with the components:
The exceptional quality of DoW is still seen in this game. The minis themselves are quite detailed… almost to the point where one feels compelled to get them painted somehow. Still, it is hard to tell what the different pieces are during the game, as they are all the same shade of white. The unit flags come to the rescue though. The flags all have stickers on them. By size, shape, and color you know what you’re looking at. There are also some special units (goblinoids & dwarves) that have different colored bases so you can tell what they are supposed to be from a distance. Also of note is the spider, which fills an entire hex by itself.

The big complaint is that a great deal of minis were all crammed into two small spaces in such a way that lots of parts get bent. Fixable, yes, but shouldn’t have been done in the first place.

In addition to the obvious boards, dice, cards, there’s also some terrain tiles, a piece of cardboard for each player that tracks the magic system, and two “Lore Goblets” which we affectionately named the magic buckets.
This is defiantly a “fishing tackle game” because, as I said, things don’t fit in the first place.

Rulebook:
You get a thick, gorgeous rulebook for such a simple game. Good on form, bad in function. One thing about DoW, they sure like making a rulebook look important. I think the problem with the rulebook is it over explains to the point where it’s a bit hard to follow what was being talked about in the first place. The most hilarious part of the rules are when they are explaining how “lore”, the magic system works. I kid you not, inside of about two longish sentences, the word “lore” was used 14 times to apply to different things. I will say this though, the examples done with pictures are well done. And there are lots of them.

Thankfully, in the game box there are a bunch of cards with player aids on them, much in the manner of M44. You probably need the rulebook to figure out what they are talking about, but all you really need to know is all on those cards. (I recall needing 10 cards each for the introductory scenario).

Rules:
This version of Command and Colors strikes me as a smoother version of CC:A.
In the basic rules at least, it’s the whole expected play a card, do what it says, draw a card routine. I can’t think though, of any instance where a unit losses strength because it took a hit, or anything that gets to ignore hits, past the horses. (There are also no leaders BTW).

The two major rules that stick out, when I compare it to CCA are:
1) you only retreat one hex per flag. Fast moving units will not die from routing as much as they have in the past (I’ve lost many horses that way)
2) you can only battle back if you are adjacent to two other friendly units (this would be a “bold” unit.) The basic rules used to be, if you’re up close and survive, you can battle back. You now have two reasons for keeping units close together.. this and the fact that they don’t retreat as easy.

And now, just as I type this, I think I understand why it may be this way. I’m thinking right now of the special units: Goblinoids and Dwarves.
Goblinoids are medium units that get to move two hexes and attack, which is not the norm. They also run away twice as fast as everything else. They stand a good chance of dying from not having anywhere to run to, like the horses of CCA.
The Dwarves are just simply, always bold.

I’m sure one of the big draws of this game is the magic system, so let’s take a look at that briefly, as we did not actually play those rules. The basic idea, is that on one side of the die is a magic symbol. If you are not playing with magic, these are just misses. Otherwise they give you magic points to spend to cast spells. Depending on the scenario you will have access to different spells, and they do sound, I must say, rather cool. A few examples are: swap two units on the board, heal a unit back to full strength, upgrade a unit. what I find odd is that the spells that cost less tend to be the ones that I would want all the time (I would rather add dice to my roll than to pick a card from the discard pile) This ends up feeling more like playing two command cards a turn.

There are also monsters incorporated into the system. There is only a spider in the main box, but there are already others floating around that you can get. The spider itself doesn’t hit very hard, but has the ability to put a web on other units so that they can’t move. When we played with the spider it didn't seem all that great because:
1) the web can be nullified with 1 lore, which you almost always have.
2) the spider goes down with 1 critical hit. (Dice which hit in the normal manner are rolled again and any green result then kills)

Sum Up:
This is one of those games that I am willing to play with someone else, but would not suggest playing myself. I feel that it is too random and that I can kind of tell who is going to win about halfway though the game. All games seem to go like this: things stay even for a while, someone gets a great roll, and even though the other player can hold the wave back, it still comes crashing down.

However, this and other complaints are common across the whole C&C line of games, and there are plenty of people who love these so take into account your own tastes! If you like this sort of thing, then this is different enough to own.

[EDIT: updated to fill in a few holes about magic, which I finally played with today, 2 years later. As it turns out, I really like M44 and C&C Ancients now, but I still don't "get" BL. I think the main thing that irks me is that in the best cases your chances of landing a hit per die is 50/50 and it it usually less than that. If you attacked and did't kill anything, you probably just opened yourself up for a trouncing. To be continued...]
 
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Hector Flores
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
elcomadreja2 wrote:
I feel that it is too random and that I can kind of tell who is going to win about halfway though the game.


Can you further elaborate ont this statement? I mean, a game that is "too random" often has come-from-behind wins, whereas a game whose winner is determined by halfway through the game tends to be less random.

I've played by C&C:Ancients and Memoir '44, and I would say that the games in the C&C system tend to be heavily random, whose victor is not easily determined until very late in the game, with upsets possible but unlikely.
 
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Universal Head
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I'm sorry, but I personally thought this was a lazy review, but then I'm biased - I think the C&C games are excellent. But I do think a statement like "I can kind of tell who is going to win about halfway though the game" really needs some facts behind it to make it worth making.

And then there's this:

Quote:
The minis themselves are quite detailed… almost to the point where one feels compelled to get them painted somehow. This is somewhat annoying ...


Ummm, yeah ... OK ... huh? Perhaps they should have been less detailed?

I'm not asking for every review to be positive, but if it's negative - or wishy washy kind-of negative like this one, at least give us real reasons why, beyond "this is not my kind of game."

Of course that's just my opinion, others may have found this review informative rather than irritating.
 
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Tim K
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At the start of each review, I think that people should at least list their general biases. Here is his review of C&CA: "Not my game. I didn't like memoir 44 much either, so take that with a grain of salt." I think its safe to say if you do not like Memoir or C&CA you will not like this one.

I'm on the fence with this game. I'd really like to see some real reasons why people do and do not like it. His mini's comment was just plain silly.

TK.
 
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Ian Buttridge
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"I can kind of tell who is going to win about halfway though the game"

After playing a Scenario in Memoire 44' it's easy to figure who will win most of the time unless one side gets really lucky. It's what I hate about Memoir and why I don't play it so much. I have found C&C ancients to be much better and more tactical. - frankly the "fiddly" bits add enough to the game such that maybe it isn't the same every time like Memoire.

If this game leans to Memoire I won't get it, if it is like C&CA then it's worth considering.
 
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Steve Willson
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
I appreciate the less than stellar review. Aside from comments of warped minis (not a terribly hard thing to fix), this game has had little in the way of criticism on BGG. I've already paid for a pre-order copy, for I know my feelings on the system, but I still like to see and read reviews that show that this game isn't for everyone. It's an opinion you don't see much of in the other forums for this game.
 
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James Forsythe
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
I've played the game twice. This game definitely leans towards C&CA more than Memoir. Without lore or creatures, the system is pretty close. It heavily emphasizes melee and supporting your troops. The game can have big swings if you break through your opponents lines, so I feel comebacks from behind can happen nicely.

The lore system is what makes the game though. In some senses it adds some more randomness and chaos, but I think at the same time it adds a lot of strategy, as there is a lot of thought that needs to go into when to play lore, and with what command cards (there are some good combos). Also, since you get lore tokens when you roll a lore icon, which is normally a miss, this means it helps to balance bad luck a bit.
 
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Denise Lavely
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I appreciate this review, and I'm nearly beside myself waiting for my FLGS to get my copy in. I wouldn't even say this is a terribly negative review, he says it's not for him, but it seems that it's the whole CC&A system that he's not so crazy about. He doesn't even say he hates it or anything, just that he wouldn't suggest it to play. So, what's wrong with that? Lots of people feel kinda 'ehh' about a lot of games for all kinds of reasons.

From reading the review, I get the impression that it's the dice rolling and card drawing randomness that he dislikes. So this review is actually quite helpful to me, because my husband dislikes Memoir for the same reasons, so this helps me know that husband probably won't get too excited about Battlelore (sigh).

Hmmm - wonder if my six year old will be able to handle a dumbed down version of it? She loves Memoir!
 
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Matt Keyes
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Quote:
After playing a Scenario in Memoire 44' it's easy to figure who will win most of the time unless one side gets really lucky. It's what I hate about Memoir and why I don't play it so much. I have found C&C ancients to be much better and more tactical. - frankly the "fiddly" bits add enough to the game such that maybe it isn't the same every time like Memoire.


Excellent point - there really isn't a way to have a fighting retreat on part of the board as a tactical move in M44 - losses are going to simply be that: losses. However, C&C:A allows you to mitigate losses as strategy: i.e. light units can range attack enemy units and evade when engaged by the same units. This can cause losses of your own troops, but it can also draw your enemy into a strategic trap.

While i'm still awaiting my shipment of BL, it appears that BL will fall closer to C&C:A in this regard, which is a good thing.

M44, while i do enjoy it, does rely heavily on luck, and i will probably be pulling it out only to introduce the C&C system or to play with my young relatives and children.
 
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Hilary Hartman
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the_grip wrote:
While i'm still awaiting my shipment of BL, it appears that BL will fall closer to C&C:A in this regard, which is a good thing.


Until this past week I would have disagreed with you, having played only Battle Cry and Memoir' 44. My wife convinced me to finish the stickering of C&C:A, followed by a game. I found, in the end, that I really, really enjoyed the latter game over its two siblings. Now I can't wait to play C&C:A again.

So, the closer BattleLore is to C&C:A the more I'm going to be inclined to like it.

And for what it's worth: I liked this review even though I disagreed with some of his points. Who knows? Maybe I'll also feel the same way after playing BattleLore...
 
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Don Cooper
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"I feel that it is too random and that I can kind of tell who is going to win about halfway though the game."

I'm not sure I understand this statement. If the game is random how can one tell who is going to win? My wargame group has recently started playing CC:A and discovered that in all games the outcome was not predetermined. Many if not all of games came down to one attack or the failure of an attack.

Gamers who play games who random occurences do so because they have a system down that works. The only random feature included is the opposing player. However, is that enough? Very often the games are played by the same group of players. There are few surprises in the game and repetitive skill trumps everything else when playing the game. On the tournament level these games can be interesting but otherwise end up being to predictable below that level.

With games like CC:A system chance and randomness allow for interesting play between the same group of players time and time again. I would say that Memoir doesn't work for me. There is an attempt at following history, where as CC and Battlelore have either depend more on imagination than history. For example, a player of CC:A who discovers that he has a handful of cards regarding the left flank but has no units on the left flank must understand to keep all of his flanks operational. It is not the randomness of cards that has hurt him, but rather it is his play. The randomess in most games is generally fair. In games like Midevil by GMT I think the randomness effects the game too much. In GMTs Wellinton, the game can end on the first turn if the French roll a high die for victory results. However, it must be said that the failure of the British to sucessfully thwart the French on their first turn is more repsonsible than the die roll.

I haven't yet gotten my game of Battlelore but I suspect that it will suceed where CC:As has. The randomness will add to the color of the game and replayability.
 
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Barry Kendall
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Denise, if your six-year-old daughter loves Memoir, then she will definitely enjoy Battlelore. You'll be able to layer in the Lore and War Council features as she becomes more comfortable with reading; she'll be glad to tell you when she wants to use them!

Does she like the LOTR movie series, or are you waiting on that until she's a bit older? It would make a good primer for the fantasy genre, as would reading "The Hobbit" together.

Sounds like you have a great little one there! Congratulations.

Now she needs to work on Daddy . . . who might come around if he has a War Council to constitute instead of just cards and dice.
 
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Eli Smith
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
DUMASCLUB wrote:
For example, a player of CC:A who discovers that he has a handful of cards regarding the left flank but has no units on the left flank must understand to keep all of his flanks operational. It is not the randomness of cards that has hurt him, but rather it is his play.


This is the one aspect of the C&C system that a lot of Eurofans will complain about, and I think your response hit's the nail squarely on the head.

I've found as I've played these games more and more that there is a great deal of skill involved, and it shows in the releated plays. If a game is "so random" can one consistently win? Well only if you're very luck, but I have opponents that I beat 9 out of 10 times, and it's mainly dure to some key mistakes in play.

In any game where combatiis to have any level of realism some random elements must be recreated (either by dice/cards or pop-o-matic bubble). The skill in these games comes in learning how to mitigate bad luck and exploit good luck.

Battlelore like C&C: Amncients tends to reward certain strategies (keeping your foromations and knowing what units to place on what terrain), in memoir the strategies are noticably different (mainly fuled by the abundance of ranged units).
 
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Chris Farrell
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
Quote:
I've found as I've played these games more and more that there is a great deal of skill involved, and it shows in the releated plays.


It really depends on the scenario. Many scenarios in M'44 can be very luck-heavy - when one side has an empty or extremely weak flank, or is purely infantry, or when there aren't many units or the victory total is low, luck can matter a lot, far more than skill. And many M'44 scenarios are so ludicrously unbalanced that it hardly matters.

But, when a scenario is well-designed, things are a lot better. They key thing with all these games is to separate the wheat from the chaff, scenario-wise. Unfortunately, they haven't made this easy for you, because in the games I've played the wheat:chaff ratio hasn't been particularly good.

I'll be very curious to see how BattleLore does in this regard.
 
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tony brotherton
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
DUMASCLUB wrote:
My wargame group has recently started playing CC:A and discovered that in all games the outcome was not predetermined. Many if not all of games came down to one attack or the failure of an attack.


I totally agree, having played the second scenario (which has identical force sizes) twice, I can appreciate how the strategic use of an otherwise random selection of cards affects the outcome of the battle. You have to allow for the fact your attacks may not come off how you expect and the tide of battle can turn very quickly.

I'm really looking forward to trying out the "Lore Adventures" part to see how that influences the game. Also hoping that someone writes some homebrew campaign rules and posts them here.
 
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Kevin Moody
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
Quote:
I’m sure one of the big draws of this game is the magic system, so let’s take a look at that briefly, as we did not actually play those rules.
You've written a "review" of the game, tailored it to those already familiar with the C&C line, and you didn't play with the only rules that make it stand apart from its siblings?


Thanks! shake
 
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Universal Head
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At last! Someone agrees with me! cry
 
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Kevin Moody
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Re: Review mainly for those familar with the C&C line of gam
Well, we heads need to stick together.
 
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Crazy Bob
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Wow, I was not expecting so much responce here. I haven't written many reviews, so the feedback is appreciated. I tried no to go into to much of why I didn't like the game because I didn't want to pull the game down with my bias.

First to address the thought of why would I say that it's random and I can tell about halfway whos going to win? Because this is how most of my games have played out... things stay even for several turns, at some point one player gets a lucky break (die roll), and though the wave of destruction can be held back a while, it still crashes down.

I *will* add more details to how the magic system goes as I get the oprutnity to play more, but the other night we kept playing without magic to make sure we got those rules nailed down and that we weren't missing anything tactics-wise. I wrote this review to push what I already know about how this game compares to the other games into the community here while it's fresh on my mind.

[EDIT: I never, never got to use the magic rules because there are zero people that want to play this in my group(s) after trying it out on day one. Even our local DOW rep hasn't found anyone to try it out with]

Yeah I suppose the minis comment seems kind of silly, but that's the thought that popped in my head when we were playing. Maybe a better way to say it would be it's hard to tell what the minis are supposed to be when you're leaning back playing the game. It's like I'm not wearing my glasses and takes away something from the feel of the game. I just kept focusing on the flags.

 
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Daniel Karp
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Giving constructive feedback about a review is fine, but please be polite. Complaints and overly discouraging comments are counterproductive.
 
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Don Cooper
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Let me say your review exposed the break between the Eurogames and American style games. It's Chess versus Monopoly. Both are great games and your opinions are no less valid. It wasn't long ago in the states that card driven games (CDG) were considered too gamey and an unnecessary layer of chance. And there are still many grognards that hold onto that belief. If one plays a Euro-game expecting to get lucky he will lose. If one plays an American-game with a set of disciplines and denies the element of chance he will also lose. I think Borg's games are clearly an attempt at a Euro-style game but to be honest are clearly American in play and design. A thought provoking review.
 
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Joe Steadman
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"memoir 44 system with magic spells"

Thanks, you saved me some cash....

Joe
 
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JoeSteadman wrote:
"memoir 44 system with magic spells"
Thanks, you saved me some cash....
Joe


I think if you read some other opinions Joe you might find that is in fact a lot more than that. However, I can't deny that if you don't like the Command & Colors card-driven system, then it's not your thing.
 
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Joe Steadman
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I don't mind C&C cards... I just don't like "magic"...


Joe
 
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"Magic" in this case is just another balancing mechanism in many ways. Instead of just missing, now somewhere like 1/3rd of your misses become lore, which can be used to either power special abilities, or to gain lore to cast lore cards later.

Most of the lore cards aren't that unbalancing, with most of them being "your units now hit on lore symbol rolls" or "add +1d to all attacks".

There's a few that are quite powerful, but it's not that unbalancing.
 
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