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Subject: BattleLore - First impressions by a Commands and Colors fan. rss

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eryn roston
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The following is my first impression of Battle Lore from the perspective of a “Commands and Colors: Ancients” fan. This is after playing the first Lore scenario (#5 I believe) where I got smoked 6 flags to 2.

I know that Markus_kt has a review up already with the same subject but I wanted to add my personal impressions. Hopefully this won’t be too redundant.

I had been looking at Battlelore a lot since the news of it’s impending release broke. While I was intrigued by the cool miniatures, I wasn’t sure that it had enough to really distinguish it from the excellent C&C:A. I have been very curious to play it, but never really motivated to buy it.

Fate brought it to my doorstep when a good friend of mine sent it to me as a gift! So this week I broke it out with my usual opponent – Adam. We were both experienced with the system and jumped right into the first Lore adventure. Looking back, this was the exact right call. The whole Lore aspect really seems to be the game’s strong point. If you know the basics of the Commands and Colors system, you should never play without lore.

A quick recap incase you don’t know the main differences:

C&C:A has on-board leaders, all units can battleback, all green units have ranged attacks, and many units can “evade” (making them harder to score hits against).

Battlelore has an extra deck of spells – powered by “lore” (essentially these are off-board leaders), unique monsters (which seem to fill a role that is similar to C&CA’s elephants). Streamlined unit types.

To me it always seemed like a Game of C&C:A is centered on your leader(s). Usually the outcome of a given scenario is going to be heavily influenced by who can take advantage of their leader the best. Since all leaders are more or less the same, and they are on the board, a player can take actions to thwart that leader or at least minimize its effectiveness.

In Battlelore a player’s ability to make the best use of his spells seems tantamount to a C&C:A’s player to maneuver his leader. Battlelore’s spells have lots of variety, and you never know what’s coming out. Also, because Lore just seems to constantly accumulate, both you and your opponent are going to be throwing down spells all game. You can’t really do much to prepare for it, or stop it. You just have to keep up.

I think a lot of players might initially dislike this because it feels less “strategic” but Battlelore’s spells are guaranteed to make for some wild moments and generate a lot of old fashioned “fun”.

A couple other things that struck me after that first play:

Battlelore’s archers seem more powerful to me. Not only do they have longer range, but there are more cards (thanks to lore) that give them a boost.

Battlelore’s cavalry also seem more powerful than their counterparts in C&C:A. Part of this has to do with retreat rules that are less punishing, but most of it has to do with the fact that they are the only unit’s that get to “bonus battle”. (In C&C:A units attached to leaders also get this option).

I would also venture to guess that the importance of lore, combined with the lack of a green units ability to evade make green units less powerful overall. Lore seems so important to me that you want to avoid rolling fewer dice whenever possible. The more dice you roll the more chances you have to gain lore. It’s sort of “risk-like” in this respect. The lure of powerful spells encourage one to engage in combat maneuvers over defensive ones.

The most important thing about this game was that it did feel distinct from C&C:A. My opponent seemed enthusiastic about it and I think even went to so far as to call Battlelore superior to C&C:A. I’m not so sure. I do like the sassy chrome of Battlelore. I LOVE the nice thick mounted game board. But I also really like the look of the blocks that GMT uses for BL’s predecessor. C&C:A’s blocks evoke a feeling like being in the commander’s war tent, and going over tactics, pushing blocks across the map in preperation for tomorrow’s battle.

On the other hand there’s no doubt that Battlelore’s miniatures, and high quality artwork, are impressive to behold and evoke a more “in the battle” feeling.

In the end I think I can sum up my feelings on the two games like this: I am definitely looking forward to playing more Battlelore, but I’m still fascinated by Command and Colors: Ancients. If I have my way, both games will still get plenty of table time.
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Barry Kendall
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Eryn, I agree with you that both games are worth owning/playing.

At first I thought the BLord system was just dumbed-down C&C:A with the War Council and Lord material added.

After playing I concluded that Richard Borg and Pat Kurivial have done something more subtle: they have altered the Ancient rules to reflect the medieval battlefield.

Archers are annoying, though usually not decisive (they do tend to infuriate Knights, as they should). Armored cavalry does have a greater relative advantage in BLord, but we believe this cleverly reflects the medieval reality that these were the best-trained and best-equipped troops on most battlefields and the most aggressive to boot.

Infantry, even when well equipped, tended to be less aggressive than armored horse in most armies. In addition, the average medieval army as a whole lacked the drilled maneuverability and cohesion of ancient Roman or Macedonian armies.

This plays out rather well in BLore games, even without the fantasy or Lore elements in play.

The Addition of War Council considerations and Lore use really adds a significant dimension to the whole system and has us thinking about applications in other games using the "Commands & Colors" system.

We are hoping that if/when Richard's Napoleonic version appears, there will be some sort of "War Council/General Staff" feature which will provide for the use of the right general in the right job at the right time (for instance, NOT Ney at Waterloo) for optimal battlefield performance.

Good fair review.
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Sifu
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Re: BattleLore - First impressions by a Commands and Colors
Thanks for sharing your impressions. I look forward to giving BattleLore a spin!
 
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