Perhaps you have heard some of the hype and buzz around Battle Lore and now you are curious about it. It rocketed into the top ten on Board Game Geek...and sits there looking comfortable. This review is written to those who want to be introduced to the game without rules or strategy tips. I trust this simple overview helps you get a sense of what the excitement is about.
What is it?
Battle Lore is a board game that uses spectacular looking miniatures (especially after they are painted. Painting also helps players differentiate the two factions.) As the combination of words suggest by the name, this is a fantasy war themed game. The game places you in command of an army of troops on the battlefields of Medieval Europe. Players attempt to guide their troops to victory using clever deployment and spell-casting, using magic in tandem with might. The quality and workmanship that went into the game is almost legendary. There are ample pictures offered on this site; you should take a look. There are 210 miniatures altogether. Some find their minis arrive bent. But Days of Wonder have offered a home remedy...you just need a little hot water.
Who can play?
Battle Lore is designed for two players (or two teams). There is a bit of set up time (which does put some players off) but the game plays in about an hour. Players who do not enjoy direct conflict will probably not enjoy this. This is a war game after all! (The game is listed at age 10 and up.)
Is it difficult to learn?
The 80 page rulebook gives the impression that this game is complex. However, the rules are not difficult to understand and the book is full of colourful illustrations. A scenario book is included. These scenarios ease players into the game by slowly introducing new aspects of the game with each scenario. It will only take a few games to get comfortable with everything that is going on. The summary cards are also good step by step reminder and useful for teaching the game to new players. And while Battle Lore is unique, the game play will be recognizable to anyone familiar with Memoir ‘44.
How high is the ‘Luck Factor’?
There is a luck factor and anyone looking for a pure strategy game has best steer clear of this one. The game utilizes twelve dice as well as 60 Command Cards and 60 Lore Cards. The use of the dice and cards can give the impression that Battle Lore is merely a luck driven exercise. The cards allow troop movement and the dice determine the victor in a battle. (When the final figure in a hex is eliminated in battle, the victor receives a Victory Banner. Banners determine who wins.) The dice rolling does frustrate some players as occasionally a weaker unit will take out a stronger unit. Ultimately, however, a player’s use of his cards tactically (and tactfully) will overrule the random action of the dice...usually.
What is the ‘Lore’ aspect?
Some of the Battle Lore troops are creatures which also have extraordinary abilities and can be tough to battle with...let alone defeat. But what really adds a level of fun and excitement is the use of Lore. Lore is collected through various battles if a special face is rolled on a die. When a player collects enough Lore, his Wizard (or Cleric, Commander, Rogue or Warrior) is ready to assist with an array of magical wonders to help deliver a powerful punch. (And who hasn’t wanted to see a Fireball thrown at your enemy, now and again?!) In this way if/when a player is unsuccessful in battle, they ultimately gain strength through the ability to play better cards. This helps them regain an advantage, without unbalancing the game.
Players have found Battle Lore to be engaging and fun. It game grabs your attention from start to finish. It is fairly simple to learn and full of some great battle moments. There is little down time as your mind is always working. As a battle commander you are either planning your next move, or trying to figure out how to combat what your opponent might be scheming. The short game duration, great game mechanics and high production values make this game, not only enjoyable to look at, but re-playable. And if that were not enough, there are expansions in the works to add to the fun. It is only a matter of time until there are more races and creatures, and weapons.