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Subject: Why I don't think BattleLore is such a great game rss

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Thomas Emil Hansen
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Most people seem to like the CC system and especially BL, and I was therefore eager to finally try the game myself when a friend invited me over one night. We used to play Warhammer Fantasy Battle some years back, but I lost interest after while, mainly because I don't like to collect and paint an army of miniatures, but also because it takes forever to play. I still think, however, it's one of the best games I ever tried, and I was kinda hoping that BL would catch at least some of that game's atmosphere and tactical finesse (yes, it's true that WHFB may not be the most tactical game out there, but it still has a lot to offer when it comes to utilizing different troop types in different situations). Sadly to say, BL was a big disappointment.

First of all, for a game that is supposed to be a near-masterpiece I was stricken by how mundane and, well, careless the design was done. For example, why have three different helmet colors on the dice, when the result is always the same (i.e. 1/6 chance of rolling the matching color)? It doesn't add any clarity, rather the opposite. The cards are the core of the game and they, too, seem not very well thought out or even balanced (to say the least). The "Cavalry Charge" for one is far too overpowered while other cards are rarely ever played. I had sincerely expected something ingenious along the lines of choosing which card to play involved some considering pros and cons. Instead it is almost always quite obvious what is the better option.

Movement was also below standard. All units move around freely entering and leaving combat as they please, and even though it is sometimes fun when everything gets mixed up in fierce melee, you never get the feeling that you're commanding an army. All you have to do is try and stick your units together so they get "bold", making any advantages of attacking them almost non-existing. Realizing that, the players soon end up in a deadlock waiting to draw the killer cards. At least that's what we did. And even though some may say we didn't play the game as "intended" I still believe a real good game should lead new players in the right direction while providing them with a good experience from the very beginning. I could mention other games that certainly do.

It's not that there aren't any great ideas in BL or the CC system, it's just that they are not very well carried out. The fantastic job Days of Wonders have otherwise done with the materials seems wasted, and that's the most disappointing. I really wanted this game to be good. But it isn't.

The good:
- Everything in one fairly small box (quite impressing how much is in there!)
- High quality production
- Easily to learn
- Fast play (we easily played 6 battles in one evening)

The bad:
- The victory point system (we ended up hunting down those squishy goblins for an easy victory)
- The units are too similar (this may be a matter of taste)
- Not much tactics
- Not as "epic" a battle game as you would (probably) like

The ugly:
- The unimaginative cards and the CC system
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Inno Van
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For example, why have three different helmet colors on the dice, when the result is always the same.

This alone shows that you haven't even played the game before reviewing it.

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Bill Abner
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I personally really enjoy BL but there are a few things that are a bit puzzling even for a lite-wargame: archers LoS being blocked by friendly units and that a unit can withdraw from combat without fear of being whack-a-moled. I'm also still somewhat dicey on the fact that all armor seems to do is slow you down and not offer any real protection. Heavy Inf and Regular Inf are the same sans for speed and attack dice/rules. Then again, I guess you don't want to make them too powerful, either, so I can see the reasoning behind that one to a certain degree.

However, I strongly disagree about the cards always giving you a clear best option. In my experience, many turns involve several options worth considering, and at times being forced to pick the lesser of two (or more) evils.

Quote:
The "Cavalry Charge" for one is far too overpowered while other cards are rarely ever played.

I don't follow you here. What cards are never played? How many 'mounted charges' came with your game? I have three in my deck and in most games we may see one...maybe two per battle. I don't follow your battle dice complaint, either. Always the same, how? I also disagree about the game not being tactical, but to each their own.

Did you use Lore at all, btw? I notice you didn't comment on that at all which is a huge part of the design.

For me, BL fills a void. I really enjoy(ed) mini gaming back in the days of college when we had way too much time to kill and beer to drink and slogged out hours of Warhammer and other similar games. BL provides me the fun of mini gaming but on a smaller scale so that we can play a few battles in a couple of hours.

There are things about the design that are in fact a bit puzzling, but overall...I'm more than happy with it.
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Thomas Emil Hansen
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As I wrote, I did play the game 6 times. I may have misunderstood something in the design of the dice then. Please explain what the intention of the colored helmets are.
 
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You can only kill a unit of the correct colored helmet. Orange helmets also kill but only for certain units in special occasions. So if you're attacking a green flag unit and roll say 3 red (helmet) dice, they all miss.

If you played 6 games with the incorrect method of combat I can see where you may have missed a critical game aspect.
 
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Thomas Emil Hansen
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Thanks for the comment, Bill.

Maybe we had a freak accident with the "mounted charges" (I'm sorry I didn't remember the correct name), but the fact is it turned up in almost every battle and was quite decisive in some. Not that a card may not be decisive, but it seemed that playing this card was so obvious because not only could we move all of our most powerful units, they also got additional benefits. Cards rarely played were the ones only moving a single unit.

We didn't use lore, since this was our first session. I expect this aspect adds to the game's complexity, but I still think that the basics should be in place. And IMHO they aren't.

I agree that there is a void and that BL somehow fills it. But it could do so better, and that's why I'm disappointed. I really would like to have a game in this category that just made me go "wow"!
 
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Thomas Emil Hansen
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My point with the dice is:

You attack green, you must roll green (and sometimes orange as well).
You attack blue, you must roll blue (and sometimes orange).
You attack red, you must roll red (and again sometimes orange).

Since there's one green, one blue and one red helmet on each die, the result is always 1/6 chance to roll a hit (or 1/3 if you include the orange). It would be much simpler to remove the 3 helmets and have 1 "hit" instead.
 
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Rudi Geudens
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Abekongen wrote:
My point with the dice is:

You attack green, you must roll green (and sometimes orange as well).
You attack blue, you must roll blue (and sometimes orange).
You attack red, you must roll red (and again sometimes orange).

Since there's one green, one blue and one red helmet on each die, the result is always 1/6 chance to roll a hit (or 1/3 if you include the orange). It would be much simpler to remove the 3 helmets and have 1 "hit" instead.

If you really dislike the above, try the battle system as proposed in our BL tabletop variant:

http://www.tsoa.be/html/titelblad_battlelore.html

(download the pdf file of the rules and look under 6. (combat))
Our system spreads the chances of hitting or missing more than in the BL game and includes saving throws if you wish.

Rudi
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Abekongen wrote:
My point with the dice is:

The BattleLore card specifically requires the different faces.

Other than that:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/148980
 
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Jim Patterson
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Regarding Mounted Charge: It seems liek every time I draw it, it's later in the game and at least one cav unit is already dead.

Anyway, one balancing-out factor with Mounted Charge is that there tend to be fewer cav in play than infantry, so you're trading off making fewer units momentarily better at the cost of perhaps moving up more units total. Also, I may want to give one of my cav units a boost but not the other because it's in a different section, so now, even if I have two cav units, I'd really be playing a card to move and attack with one unit. Finally, I think Mounted Charge also isn't *that* powerful because it's easy with cards like that to move a cavalry unit or two way out of support, leaving them vulnerable to future attacks.
 
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Barry Kendall
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Comparing Warhammer Fantasy Battles to Battlelore is awkward because the games are founded on such divergent premises. WFB practically hinges on units tailored individually according to a combination of available points and optimal benefits. Because WFB must also create a market for the wide (and expensive) range of GW miniatures, it teems with special units, special abilities, and all manner of variations therein.

Playing the game involves making the most of your powerful units and special abilities before the other guy does the same. Certain units almost always get positional and move/fight priority.

Battlelore is composed of more standard unit types. One Medium Cavalry type will be like the next, and even Heavy Cavalry performs similarly to Medium in most respects. A rank of five units of footmen looks like . . . well, like a single force.

What makes units "special" in Battlelore is not what Banner or Hero is attached to them, nor what Charmed Sword or Magic Power has been assigned to them. Units shine in Battlelore when they are in the right place at the right time to perform optimally according to the commands issued.

Add in the opportunities created by the Lore system and you have great potential for a unit to distinguish itself in some exceptional way, without that potential having been foreordained by the special characters or attributes that exist in WFB.

WFB has its attractions, although I have played better ancient/medieval miniatures systems. Battlelore has a different set of attractions and is quite a different game.

I do find it infinitely preferable to play a game with expansions that harmonize with the original product rather than have to adjust to a new incarnation of the WFB system every three or four years in which previous editions are rendered obsolete in order to drive sales of new products to equip the same armies.
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Bill Abner
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snedueg wrote:

If you really dislike the above, try the battle system as proposed in our BL tabletop variant:

http://www.tsoa.be/html/titelblad_battlelore.html

(download the pdf file of the rules and look under 6. (combat))
Our system spreads the chances of hitting or missing more than in the BL game and includes saving throws if you wish.

Rudi

I haven't had time to read all of that Rudi -- but there's a lot of good stuff there. Thanks for the link.
 
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Lee Hancox
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jpat wrote:
Finally, I think Mounted Charge also isn't *that* powerful because it's easy with cards like that to move a cavalry unit or two way out of support, leaving them vulnerable to future attacks.

Not as powerful as the card in BattleCry that allows you to ride on up, attack and ride on back. The mounted charge is great fun, but you have to expect that they are going to take a lot of damage when they are left out there without support. Especially attacking red bold troops.
I played the game twice without Lore and thought, ok, its like Battlecry. I then played 2 games with Lore and it made a HUGE difference. Made it much more interesting. In the last game, twice it seemed that I was doomed, I managed to pull back in a defensive group and fought to the death with bold units, twice I managed to use Lore spells to relieve pressure, until finally I had the opportunity to strike out on a weak spot caused by my opponents desperation to bring my tightly formed group. I really enjoyed the chaos a spell can bring, especially when you dont know all the spell cards, as you havent seen them all yet, and you clump all your forces around a wooded area for defensive purposes and he slams a wood chaos spell (cant remember the name of it). That raised my eyebrows and lowered my troop count.
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james napoli
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Hi Thomas,

I'm pretty new to BL and have never played any of the previous incarnations of the game (memoir, C&C:A, etc) and also had fairly high expectations b/c of the hype around the game.

My findings have been this thus far:

1) the initial scenarios are really just to learn basics, especially the 4th one i think, where it's dwarves vs goblins...is really just a lesson that dwarves far out weigh the weak goblins. If that happens to be the scenario you are basing this review on than i can totally see where u r coming from. I found them to be 'ok' and if that's all there was to the game, i wouldnt be too happy with my purchase either.

2) Advanced Scenarios/Rules really add to the game. Playing with/against a variety of units on a battlefield with mixed terrain add a lot of flavor to the game. Getting your (weaker)units into the forests and hills is big part of the game that we really only learned after a few plays of the advanced scenarios.

3) It's all about the Lore/War Council. I dont know i would really be up for playing a game without lore at this point. Well timed spells can really turn the tide in a game(i've been on the receiving end of a fireball at least twice now). Playing with a customized war council and creatures really makes it for me. Do you go for more command cards, go for a creature, or cover your bases with a well balanced council. These factors along with the lore are what makes BL a great game for me. I would give the game another try with a more advanced scenario, lore and a customized war council and see if that makes it more enjoyable for you.

I originally thought the same thing about the dice, but after realizing that you rolled x# of dice depending on the unit type did it make sense to me.

-
James
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Bill Abner
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Abekongen wrote:
Thanks for the comment, Bill.

Maybe we had a freak accident with the "mounted charges" (I'm sorry I didn't remember the correct name), but the fact is it turned up in almost every battle and was quite decisive in some. Not that a card may not be decisive, but it seemed that playing this card was so obvious because not only could we move all of our most powerful units, they also got additional benefits. Cards rarely played were the ones only moving a single unit.

We didn't use lore, since this was our first session. I expect this aspect adds to the game's complexity, but I still think that the basics should be in place. And IMHO they aren't.

I agree that there is a void and that BL somehow fills it. But it could do so better, and that's why I'm disappointed. I really would like to have a game in this category that just made me go "wow"!

Thomas -- I certainly cannot guarantee that using Lore will change your opinion, but you really, really need to play the game with the full ruleset (Lore and the War Councils). Quite honestly, if the game were just Agincourt-type scenarios, I'd be pretty letdown by the game as well because there are some pretty basic wargame doctrines that are ignored by BL (attacking flanks/rear, archer rules, and so on) but the Lore part of the game makes an enormous difference in terms of sheer fun factor. I'd hate to play the game without the fantasy stuff that makes the game what it is.

And the cool thing is -- slapping down some advanced house rules is pretty easy to do.

Good luck and I hope you give it another shot.

 
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Andrew Gross
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Just to echo what the previous several posts have said, in order to reinforce the point for anyone that's on the fence about this game:

It's called Battle*Lore* for a reason. The Lore is an incredibly integral part of the game. IMHO, DoW did the game a disservice when they marketed it as being appropriate for 100 Years War battles.

When learning the game, I suggest 1 game (or 2 maximum) using the historical scenarios, and then skip directly ahead to full war councils.

I find BattleLore to be the C&C system with the least dependence on good command card draws. I would far rather get lucky on Lore cards or missile fire die rolls. You can have your fancy Mounted Charge and Foot Onslaught cards-- a well timed Mass Shield or Forest Frenzy will make far more of a difference in the outcome.
 
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Ethan McKinney
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Worst part of Battlelore. The blue and green helmets are all but indistinguishable under neon lights in a hotel ballroom at a convention. They're easily confused even in direct sunlight. We simply gave up and made red hits in all cases.

For the Battlelore card, we had to examine the dice closely.

Second worst part of Battlelore: setup time. Takes about four times as long a CC:E, in most cases. It's the "sucking all the fun and excitement out of it" phase...
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james napoli
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elbmc1969 wrote:
Second worst part of Battlelore: setup time. Takes about four times as long a CC:E, in most cases. It's the "sucking all the fun and excitement out of it" phase...

i hear that in some regards. i recently purchased a $2.00 beads case at an arts supply store which i'm hoping will help speed the setup/break down time.
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Inno Van
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Quote:
It would be much simpler to remove the 3 helmets and have 1 "hit" instead.

I'm sorry, but so far you're just an attention seeking fraud who hasn't even played the game. You're still confused by the most basic rules and gameplay, and yet you want to present your opinions of this game to the community as credible and reliable, and then be paid geek gold for them.

First you claim to have played 6 games ...in one evening ...at a friend's house.

And this one session, which is the sole experience you claim with the game, which included overpowered Mounted Charge cards coming up over and over... while there's only 25 different card types in the entire Command deck, you never once encountered the Battlelore card in any of your games, leaving you in complete mystery to the multiple helmet dice. This is highly implausable at best, an outright lie at worst.

MUCH LESS you apparently never encountered any of the Lore cards that also use the multiple helmet dice in different ways than simply a 1/6 chance. You did play with the lore cards, right?

* The game title is called "Battlelore", but your shallow, worthless review doesn't even touch upon how the lore cards function at all. It should have been rejected by the review admins on this point alone.
* What about the Council balance? No mention either.
* You claim "The units are too similar", and yet you never mention Goblinoids or Dwarves. You did play more than just the first scenario, right?
* Oh no, you mention "hunting down Goblins for points", which given that they're green banner with no faster units on the board, is again highly unlikely. I have serious questions if you have played the game AT ALL before attempting your "review".
* What about Creatures? Are they also "too similar"? You did try all the units before then declaring them all too similar, didn't you?

There's plenty of criticism of this game, a lot of it valid and interesting, already present on the forums here and at the DoW site. You should have taken the time TO READ THEM instead of rushing in to post such an amateur, surface effort.

I've already almost written almost as much text in pointing out the gaps in your review as you did in originally writing it. It would be difficult NOT to exceed the low effort you've expended in this sub-par at best effort that leaves all major features untouched.

You should delete your review, read the forums first, and at least play all ten scenarios before you come back to us, hopefully with better informed opinions by then than "I don't understand the dice yet."

If I could, I would revoke your geek gold for turning in such a crap job and trying to pass it off.
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John Lopez
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Quote:
There's plenty of criticism of this game, a lot of it valid and interesting, already present on the forums here and at the DoW site.

My wife and I have played out the basic scenarios and are on to the ones on the web site. We love the game, but I would agree that there are quite a few items I can see as imperfect. But I also agree that this "review" is tending towards a screed by the uninformed rather than any kind of evaluation of the game.

The real flaws in the game (and they exist) have nothing to do with this drivel.
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Bill Abner
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I agree that this should probably go in the General section rather than Review because he said he didn't use the Lore system at all which to me makes any review of BL null and void (he did mention Goblins) -- but Innovan...good lord man. You seem to be taking this thread a wee bit too seriously.
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Brian M
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I have to disagree with both the original poster and some of his critics.

The helment color confusion is easy to make. When we opened up BattleLore and read the rules, we had the same thought ("Why not just have one 'hit' symbol?") This thought stayed with us even after a few games, in which he had played the BattleLore card and needed to roll the dice; it just didn't directly connect. It was a while later before it clicked that "Oh, wait, the helmet colors do matter!" So I give that one a pass as being easy to miss.

As to having to play with Lore cards before reviewing the game, to me that means no one should ever write a bad review of BattleLore. You need to play 5 scenarios or so before getting to the Lore cards; who bothers to keep playing 5 sessions of a game they don't think much of? I sure don't!

I don't really think the Lore cards change the game all that much; sure, they add some interesting twists, but I find the game solid and enjoyable even without them.

Quote:
there are some pretty basic wargame doctrines that are ignored by BL (attacking flanks/rear, archer rules, and so on)
Flanking: Attacking on an unsupported edge of a formation of units so that the target unit is not Bold. This is extremely important!

Rear Attacks: Encircling an enemy unit means that each flag scored will kill a figure, and the target won't be able to retreat out of range of multiple units attacking it. This is very deadly to do.

Archer rules: Archers attack at range, and shoot less effectively on the move. What more do you want?

To the original poster...
The mounted charge is indeed useful and good to have. But to really get good use out of it, you must maneuver to use it at the right time; you want all of your cavalry in striking range of useful targets, and able to attack without being left totally unsupported. Getting that situation makes for interesting game play.

Card choice shouldn't usually be straightforward. Lets say you have a move 2 and move 3 on the right wing. Sure, the move 3 is better. But, you may not get another right wing card anytime soon. If the right wing is important, when do you play each card? Right now, only 2 units can strike, so maybe you should just use the move 2, but if you move 3 you can get another unit into support position. But if you just move 2 right now, maybe shortly you can play your move 3 and get to attack with all the units. Or maybe you should hold off both and concentrate on a different wing until you have more right wing cards and can make a really solid offensive.
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Gabe Alvaro
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Innovan wrote:
You should delete your review, read the forums first, and at least play all ten scenarios before you come back to us, hopefully with better informed opinions by then than "I don't understand the dice yet."

If I could, I would revoke your geek gold for turning in such a crap job and trying to pass it off.
Pretty much agree. This is a very incomplete review. It should have been a session report stating what scenarios were played and observations on the game through those sessions. The reviewer also pretty much states his bias outright.
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Bill Abner
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StormKnight wrote:

Flanking: Attacking on an unsupported edge of a formation of units so that the target unit is not Bold. This is extremely important!

Rear Attacks: Encircling an enemy unit means that each flag scored will kill a figure, and the target won't be able to retreat out of range of multiple units attacking it. This is very deadly to do.

Archer rules: Archers attack at range, and shoot less effectively on the move. What more do you want?

Hi Brian -- hey first off thanks for your AH stuff. Made that game immensely more fun. As for the BL comments:

I am certainly not an expert on BL having only logged about six or seven battles myself, and I can see certain instances when a flank attack like you lay out would be beneficial but there are several cases when you can hit an enemy flank (or rear) and that unit is still 'bold'. The flank attack is meaningless in that case.

D
D DA

D- Defender A- Attacker

The attacked unit in this case is bold, correct? And yet the attacker doesn't get any attack bonuses for flanking which I am aware. In fact, the defender gets to battle back even after being flanked unless he runs or is killed.

Rear attacks...I don't follow what you're saying. I understand that if you completely surround a unit that it loses 'health' when it cannot retreat but what is stopping a unit that is attacked from the rear from retreating as normal if there is open terrain available to do so?

Archers: Well, yeah, they lose a die when moving and shoot at range. How about stuff like: Shooting over friendly units or hell how about standing on a HILL and shooting over units to reach a target?

Like I said, I really like BL quite a bit; we're all having a ball with it but I still feel that there are a lot of pretty basic wargaming principles, at least ones that I am used to, that are not present in the game. Zone of control being another. It took me a few games to get used to the fact that I could move past enemy units and withdraw from melee without any fear of getting whacked. I also don't feel high ground gives a big enough advantage (why does a Heavy Inf unit LOSE an attack die when on elevated ground?) In fact, it's smart for an archer unit to attack Heavy Inf when the Inf is on a hill and the archers are on low ground. They still get 2D and the Inf loses one. Why?

If I'm wrong about any of these rules please share -- as I said I'm certainly not to the point that I know the game inside and out just yet. And of course nothing is stopping me or anyone else from adding house rules to add these sort of things.

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Andrew Gross
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Quote:
In fact, it's smart for an archer unit to attack Heavy Inf when the Inf is on a hill and the archers are on low ground.

Minor quibble, but I don't think this is accurate. The archers don't hit on the yellow "bonus" hit symbol, so they're only hitting 1/6 of the time; the heavy infantry are hitting 1/3 of the time. And, of course, the archers are only rolling 2 dice, whilst the heavy infantry are rolling 3. (If you had used forest instead of hills as the example, both units would be rolling 2 dice).

Nitpicking aside, I agree that it would make sense to have archers on a hill be able to shoot over friendly units in the 6 hexes adjacent to the hill hex, and if I were going to play with house rules, that would be the first one I would suggest.
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