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

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Rob Leveille
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I find that the biggest complaints about Battlelore are twofold, and completely different - depending on who's doing the complaining:

---1. Too Much Luck
- aka The Eurogamers' Lament: the dice rolling, the cards - how can you plan a strategy if all it takes is a bad roll against you to wipe out your big guns. Eurogamers (i consider myself one) have grown accustomed to perfect - or near-perfect - information games where 'luck' is a bad word, needing to be minimized at every chance.

---2. Not Realistic Enough - aka Grognard Grumbles: retreating from battle should draw opportunity attacks, archers should be able to shoot over their own units, what about the weather? support lines? that's not what happened in the 100 Year War! Wargamers expect much more from a 'combat' game. They love to wallow in the minutia

Battelore, like all games, is merely a series of mechanics. Every game involves attempting to manipulate the mechanics to your favour. Granted, maybe the mechanics aren't for you. I find the people that don't like Battlelore are ones that, for the most part, are trying to make it into a different game.

Once one embraces the game design - and the random elements that it contains - it's easier to sit back and enjoy it for what it is: a pleasant, quick-playing light-combat game with really nice bits.
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John Lopez
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Phelonius wrote:
Once one embraces the game design - and the random elements that it contains - it's easier to sit back and enjoy it for what it is: a pleasant, quick-playing light-combat game with really nice bits.
Exactly.
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Gregory Wong
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elbmc1969 wrote:
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.
You could get out your sharpie and draw pips on the dice. Green gets 1 pip, red gets 2 pips, etc.
 
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A C
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Being a former WFB player when I was younger, I understand how you would want to compare it with BL. WFB is a more time consuming, expensive game that I wouldn't have the time or (will to spend) the money to seriously pursue these days. It was great as a kid. BL is great as an adult. It takes less time, plays on work nights, and doesn't require the attention that WFB would. That's why I like it - light and easy, scratches the niche.
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Brian M
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Quote:

D1
D2 D3A

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.
(Added numbers to discuss more easily)

Why is A flanking? While A is getting into that position, why wouldn't D3 (which safely has its back and side protected by D1 and D2), be turning and preparing to face A?
In fact, what you are showing is A going unsupported into a well formed rank of enemy troops. This doesn't remotely seem to me like a flanking situation.

Quote:
stopping a unit that is attacked from the rear from retreating as normal if there is open terrain available to do so?
Nothing stops it; but if you haven't cut off its line of retreat and supply, what makes it a rear attack? Why wasn't that unit moving to face you or moving to retreat while you moved into position?
Why should you get a bonus for starting right in front of a unit, then running around to the other side of them instead of concentrating on fighting them?

Quote:
How about stuff like: Shooting over friendly units or hell how about standing on a HILL and shooting over units to reach a target?
Dang it, I can't find the thread to link to! Check around; this has been discussed quite a bit.

BattleLore is a fairly abstract, large scale game. Hexes are large; units in adjacent hexes aren't neccessarilly in direct contact. A unit moving forward past in enemy isn't blithely walking past then attacking; its fighting a moving battle while pushing forward. And so on.

Just my take on it.

Glad you like the AH ideas!
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Bill Abner
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Andrew -- very true about the archers. Bad example on my part. I still dunno why heavy infantry and heavy cav lose attack dice on a hill...but you're right about the archers.

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---2. Not Realistic Enough - aka Grognard Grumbles: retreating from battle should draw opportunity attacks, archers should be able to shoot over their own units, what about the weather? support lines? that's not what happened in the 100 Year War! Wargamers expect much more from a 'combat' game. They love to wallow in the minutia
Rob,

First off I think it's a pretty big leap from "archers can't fire over units when on a hill" to "why isn't weather and supply lines simulated?" I just don't see that as 'wallowing in the minutia.' I think it's very unfair to label every "realism" complaint (or even question) as just the rantings of a grognard who wishes every game was played with chits and a crusty small print rulebook. That is definitely not where I'm coming from at all.

I bought BattleLore specifically because it was a 'lite' wargame that we could play in about an hour. And the game has delivered in spades despite some rule curiosities that have popped up.

We haven't adopted a house rule for archers because I'm sure that there's a reason why the rule says what it does. I find it hard to believe that archers are the way they are because the goal of the game is to be 'lite.' How hard would it be to say, "When on a hill, archers can fire as normal" or whatever. I doubt that would melt the brain of a player. So I'm sure it's there for a reason. Perhaps it's a balance issue? Like I said I've only played about seven battles so I cannot say with any degree of certainty either way. But it is kinda weird. Everyone I have played the game with, from experienced tabletop gamers to my wife, have asked why they can't use archers as you'd assume you could. The only answer I have is because the rules say so. I really don't have a problem with it, I'm still just trying to understand it.

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Why is A flanking? While A is getting into that position, why wouldn't D3 (which safely has its back and side protected by D1 and D2), be turning and preparing to face A?
Brian, I was really just throwing that together as an example -- you could slap two more "A" units in front of D2 and D3 for a more traditional flank action. It's sorta the same with the rear attack stuff -- usually a unit is already engaged when slammed from the side or rear for the full effect. Getting into this stuff, along with zone control could complicate things a bit; I just need to rethink the way I usually play these types of miniature games.

These are just some of the things that have popped up in our games (the elevation thing is really bugging me a bit, I gotta admit) but they certainly haven't stripped away any level of enjoyment, though. My dad even wants to see it this weekend so that should be fun. Even $ says he asks about the archers though.
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Gabe Alvaro
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Personally I thought this was a very nice HONEST review about the basic game.
Aren't most reviews honest? I didn't realize people were lying when they wrote reviews.

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The basic game concentrates on the backbone of the system, all the 'advanced' stuff with the exception of lore is really additional chrome. This review criticized the backbone very fairly I thought.
Lore is not chrome. Used wisely in combination with the right command cards it can completely change the direction of a game. Plus DoW has dedicated a whole Lore Cards Compendium on their site for clarfying rules questions related to the use of each of the lore cards. That would be a bit much for some chrome.

Quote:
Battlelore is a great game if approached as a simple, fast, boardgame. If that's how you approach it you will have fun. If approached as a miniatures game however it doesn't cut the mustard. The system is just too simple, and doesn't support enough variety that one finds in a miniatures game.
Why would someone approach it any other way? Just because it has minis?
 
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Anthony Simons
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Hello Bill,

Just a few points:

wabner wrote:
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.
You're absolutely right; no bonuses for flanking and a well-supported unit won't be affected as easily. But this is not a weakness in the system; it simply means a defender can strengthen his flanks. I would be disappointed if he couldn't; there should be no infallible strategy.

wabner wrote:
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?
It seems you are missing the point that units always retreat towards their own rear - their commander's side of the board. If both those rearward hexes are occupied then every flag rolled incurs extra losses.

wabner wrote:
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?
You need to realise that a large formation of archers cannot accurately direct their fire over intervening troops - that's Hollywood stuff and was not used during Medieval combat (even if this is fantasy, it follows a Medieval basis as its milieu). Archers were generally deployed on the flanks to give support to troops advancing in the centre; otherwise they would deploy in front in open formation, allowing footsoldiers to move through them after they had fired a volley of arrows.

Of course, some are employing house rules to this effect - and why not? but this cannot be cited as a tactical omission in the BL rules.

wabner wrote:
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.
The concept of zone of control is usually only useful at the strategic level. It represents a formations subordinate units and their influence over the surrounding ground. When you play a wargame where a large unit is represented by a single counter you have to account for the fluidity of its tactical elements.

Games such as BL are played at the tactical level; the ZoC is not necessary because engagement is represented directly through melee, firing, battle-back, retreat and so on.

wabner wrote:
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?
Probably because there are difficulties when fighting downhill as well as uphill. An archer is still likely to be able to fire his arrows uphill with little discomfort so they are not penalised. If this answer seems a little too simplistic for you, then consider that even terrain is abstracted in this (like any other) wargame. A single hill might represent part of a big hill, a sharp rise or generally undulating ground; it's not necessarily the knoll it appears to be.

It would probably be easier for you to explain to us why the heavy infantry shouldn't lose that die.
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Jon Quinn
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First, I disagree with the reviewer. I think BL is a great game. But I thought he was giving his own fair opinion arrived at after 6 games of play, and saw nothing that caused me to doubt that.

Second, I think that there are some ways BL can be improved, and some of the house rules mentioned in this thread do so.

Third, I do wish the blue helmets on the dice had been lighter or the green darker or something to make the contrast a little greater. But the different colors do effect more than just combat. Even in a basic game without lore, the battlelore card uses the different colors to activate units on that turn.

Fourth, I do not agree with the reviewer that there is always one card that is the obvious choice to play. There have been many times when it was a toss up as to whether to play a left flank card or a right flank card. I had important things to do on both flanks, but one flank was just going to have to wait.

Finally, setup time is no big deal if you organize your game bits. It is well worth the effort
 
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Inno Van
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However I do not understand why so many people are getting on this guys case when it's clear he is just giving his honest opinion.
Because its a review, and was passed by the mods and is now top posted in the review section. But its not a fair review. It has an agenda from the start: "Let's talk about how the #5 game on bgg is just overhyped and not such a great game."

Does he give it a fair review? Does he even cover the most basic mechanics of the game?

No. No he does not. He doesn't even understand how the dice work.
That would get in the way of his agenda of trashing the game.

He spent one evening playing a game that has an 80 page rulebook, allegedly getting in 6 plays in one evening (yeah right). That makes him qualified enough to write the 26th review of this game for bgg, apparently.

And he writes a review without even taking even a moment of time to read all the information already posted to bgg on this very forum, which would have answered all of his points in under 5 minutes.

It's not "honest". It's lame, lazy, completely uninformed and with the axe to grind of "other people like this game, so I must trash it" from the beginning.

May people write negative reviews? Sure they may. But, as with all public forums, they must also face the democratic voices of their peers responding to their negative review. When you decide to trash one of the popular titles of the moment, of course a lot of people are going to respond and its extremely silly to think that people won't. In my opinion his review is just attention seeking and borders on trollish behavior, looking for just such a rise.

Hansen's review has holes large enough you can drive a train through them, they're so big. I pointed them out. Every criticism I made is valid, to the point, and about his review.

Now if I'd came on and wrote a personal attack like, "Please go and eat some fiber before you give yourself hemorrhoids.", that would be a personal attack and getting on the guy's case. Such a comment wouldn't even be about the review he wrote.

Instead, I focused purely on the review, its poor quality, his extreme lack of knowledge of even basic ideas of the game that disqualify him from being a competent reviewer of the title, and why it should have been rejected as a review by moderators instead of accepted.
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Miguel [working on TENNISmind]
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One of the problems with recent reviews here is that some people are confusing a Comment, which is something you can do even after just one play, be brief, just focus on one particular detail or mechanism, etc, with a Review, which is something people should do after a lot of plays, as complete and informed as possible, trying to cover most of the basic aspects of the game, etc, and trying to be useful to other BGG users, not just repeat things almost anyone here knows about a game (or can learn from the game description) without going into any detail.

I don't know why, but it's happening more and more. Among the games I own there are some I play a lot, and among these there are very few about which I feel able to write a review that would be useful to other BGGers. Just think about that before writing your next "Review", and remember that Comments are very useful too (I use to check them) but please place them in the Comments section.
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John Lopez
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franchi wrote:
One of the problems with recent reviews here is that some people are confusing a Comment, which is something you can do even after just one play, be brief, just focus on one particular detail or mechanism, etc, with a Review, which is something people should do after a lot of plays, as complete and informed as possible, trying to cover most of the basic aspects of the game, etc, and trying to be useful to other BGG users, not just repeat things almost anyone here knows about a game (or can learn from the game description) without going into any detail.

I don't know why, but it's happening more and more. Among the games I own there are some I play a lot, and among these there are very few about which I feel able to write a review that would be useful to other BGGers. Just think about that before writing your next "Review", and remember that Comments are very useful too (I use to check them) but please place them in the Comments section.
Could it be the lack of geek gold for a "comment"?
 
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Godeke wrote:
Could it be the lack of geek gold for a "comment"?
Good comment. Here's a geek gold for it.
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Inno Van
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Really? You didn't make any personal attacks? Lessee.
Yes mole. With the sole exception of "attention seeking fraud", an accusation I still stand by, every one of those statements is about his review.

But you already knew this. Now you're just using cheap tatics like flooding the board with quotes because you've got an agenda and Hansen is a useful tool to you.

You've rated Battlelore a 6, and hate the idea of any new game challenging Memoir '44, which you've rated a 9.

You don't really care about Hansen or his review at all. You will just champion anything that trashes games that you consider competition.
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Quote:

You need to realise that a large formation of archers cannot accurately direct their fire over intervening troops - that's Hollywood stuff and was not used during Medieval combat (even if this is fantasy, it follows a Medieval basis as its milieu). Archers were generally deployed on the flanks to give support to troops advancing in the centre; otherwise they would deploy in front in open formation, allowing footsoldiers to move through them after they had fired a volley of arrows.
Repeated for emphasis. What he said...
 
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Inno Van
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Public record is now "secret"?

I think the tinfoil hat fits the skeleton.
 
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MrSkeletor wrote:
Innovan wrote:
Because its a review, and was passed by the mods and is now top posted in the review section.
Exactly. Which means the general community, or at least those who bother to make a contribution by Geek Modding, concidered it acceptable. So who on earth are you to say otherwise and strut around and tell the rest of us otherwise? You don't own the place. I'd never even heard of you before.

Everything you said except this I agree with.

I don't think the general community should be the consensus of how things are defined. I think there needs to be defined rules for what is a full review and what is a comment, and what is personal footnote after playing a game six times. And those should not change with the opinion of the general community, or we'll have chaos for every fifty people who join who have a different opinon on what those mean.

Seriously, while I understand and agree with what is being said, I think this entire thread belongs under a personal footnote. I was waiting for his comments on a myrad of other rules mechanisms to be discussed, and they didn't come up. Not once. Didn't review the rest of the game, only commented on the parts that he did not approve of. That's not a "review" as much as it's a comment.

And Innovan, please - your lack of civility on the issue does not help.

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Matthew M
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Here's a novel idea...let's focus future replies to this thread on being about the review. Personal disagreements, etc, can be taken to GeekMail, or feel free to make a new thread in the general forums (linking back to this one if necessary for context) if airing it in public is, for some reason, an absolute must.

Personally, I like BattleLore, but I also like differing opinions. The use of the three helmet colors on the dice is minimal, but there are some cards that use it, they provide a bit of a different psychological feel when playing, and there is potential for more uses for them to come up in expansions.

-MMM
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Inno Van
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It's called reading their public posts.

Mole has written that after playing BattleLore he went straight home and hugged his Memoir '44 box. He even accuses people who buy BL of having been drugged under "Fun, but the hype is overblown":
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1231197#1231197

Go look it up. It's easy.

Likewise Skeltor claims, "If you can't get through 6 games of battlelore in one night, then frankly you shouldn't even call yourself a gamer." Yet he himself has actually only logged playing Battlelore eight times in his entire life ...the most times in one night being twice, on 12-26-2006, on the holiday after Christmas.

There are some strange numbers in the battlelore gamelog entry, several of which appear to be typos. (like the person who says they played battlelore 32 times in one day. zombie )

While there does seem to be one user who legitimately is claiming to have played BL six times in one day, this was well after he had 20 games under his belt, and seems to have been played on the American school holiday for Martin Luther King ie. over an entire day, not just in one evening. And this was hardly as someone learning the game for the first time having to look up rules as they go along. He'd already been playing the game for weeks.

Since Hansen has never logged any of his plays, there is no evidence to support he has played the game at all. Much less the amazing feat of having played it six times in one night. The first time.

His inexperience with the Command Card variety and lack of any coverage of the major features of BL that distinguish it from the other Borg designs would also tend to indicate he has not actually played the game.

Are there people who just glance at games and then post reviews based on what the see on the box back? Yes, sadly, there are. Are there people who post reviews after only reading the rules once and playing the game solitare? Yes, sadly, there are.

My position is while with games with little to no coverage the user community may find this useful, after a game has loggged several hundred plays (much less Battlelore's current 4148 plays), and in particular with games where the rulebook is more than 4 pages long, posting these kinds of slap-dash reviews hurts the community and turns off potential players.

And that Hansen's review did not even meet bare minimum standards.
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Do I need to keep a shotgun under my pillow when I go to bed ...?
I thought that was an entry requirement for Ameritrash gaming.
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MrSkeletor wrote:
Do you read that as me being stuck on a dessert island?
Oooh, that sounds lovely! Is it cheesecake or chocolate mousse?
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Innovan wrote:
It's called reading their public posts.

Likewise Skeltor claims, "If you can't get through 6 games of battlelore in one night, then frankly you shouldn't even call yourself a gamer." Yet he himself has actually only logged playing Battlelore eight times in his entire life ...the most times in one night being twice, on 12-26-2006, on the holiday after Christmas.

There are some strange numbers in the battlelore gamelog entry, several of which appear to be typos. (like the person who says they played battlelore 32 times in one day. zombie )

While there does seem to be one user who legitimately is claiming to have played BL six times in one day, this was well after he had 20 games under his belt, and seems to have been played on the American school holiday for Martin Luther King ie. over an entire day, not just in one evening. And this was hardly as someone learning the game for the first time having to look up rules as they go along. He'd already been playing the game for weeks.

Wait, are you serious?

I've played probably a thousand games out of the sixty or so I own, and I don't exactly log every game I ever play and when I play it. I don't understand how you came to the conclusion no one can play 6 games of BattleLore in one night. I know people who play a game's scenarios in their entirety from front to back in one night. And the game I'm thinking of have 15 of them. It's not impossible.

I'm also not sure what attacking Mr. Skeletor's play record has to do with anything we're trying to discuss. You are totally losing me here. I think you already lost everyone else.

Quote:

Since Hansen has never logged any of his plays, there is no evidence to support he has played the game at all. Much less the amazing feat of having played it six times in one night. The first time.
See what I said above. I know people who do that. They get a game, they play through every scenario right out of the box. It takes awhile, sure, but why is this an issue? My slight issue is that he only played it six times total - not that I doubt he played six times in a row.

Quote:

His inexperience with the Command Card variety and lack of any coverage of the major features of BL that distinguish it from the other Borg designs would also tend to indicate he has not actually played the game.
Actually, that's not what it says to me. What it says to me is that he may not have played it correctly right out of the box. That doesn't really invalidate ALL of his opinions, though.

Quote:

My position is while with games with little to no coverage the user community may find this useful, after a game has loggged several hundred plays (much less Battlelore's current 4148 plays), and in particular with games where the rulebook is more than 4 pages long, posting these kinds of slap-dash reviews hurts the community and turns off potential players.
That's kind of contrived. Someone airing their complaints about something overall after a few plays doesn't necessarily hurt anyone. I mean, to me, I think it just meant that he didn't like what he initially played, and that experience turned him off to playing. That's not turning people off to the experience. People with any kind of enthusiasm for BattleLore will play it anyway. Even new players.


Quote:
And that Hansen's review did not even meet bare minimum standards.
I thought it met the minimum standards, but it is not my place to argue with an admin or other members about what qualifies or doesn't qualify as a review in a thread in public who's topic is about something other than What is a Review?

It is clear that you are emotionally invested here. That does not help your case. I agree with some of the complaints made here - and some I don't. The objective is not to let it get to you. You let it get to you. And now all your insistent finger-pointing has done nothing but lower other people's opinions about you. When you review something, it is going to be hard to overcome this perception that you don't remain neutral or fair when it comes to making statements about a game.

Quit where you are at while you can. It's more productive for all involved.

On-topic, I do agree that the scenarios can be a put-off. And some of the mechanics are cumbersome. Does the game seem rushed to me? A bit. I think there could have been some more consideration and testing put forth in the game to make it somewhat more pleasing. The Lore cards add a certain finese to it, but other than that, it's like playing BattleMasters to some degree for me.



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Paul DeStefano
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emceekhan wrote:
it's like playing BattleMasters to some degree for me.
You say that almost like its a bad thing.
 
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Nathan Baumbach
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Geosphere wrote:
emceekhan wrote:
it's like playing BattleMasters to some degree for me.
You say that almost like its a bad thing.
LOL

I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm saying the complexity for me is lower than other games. Battle Masters is not a complex game, and sometimes, it's more fun when you play games like that. I just expected more complexity out of BattleLore.

I'm assuming that with the expansions it will get more complex with more options. I might get more excited about it as time goes on. Right now, it sits in my "light wargame" category.

 
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Thomas Emil Hansen
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Hi all,

I would like to stress that the review is my own personal opinion based on my limited experience with BL and my not-so-limited experience with games in general. I didn't intend to write a full and objective review that you expect in a magazine (hence the title of the post), although I honestly tried to avoid being influenced too much by my own idiosyncrasies. For example, I don't like the high luck factor in BL, but accepted that as a reasonable premise in the game's design. And therefore I didn't mention it. Maybe I shouldn't have posted the review as a review, but rather as a "first impressions" or just a comment. However, as somebody mentioned, if you get the impression that a game is not so great already after 6 games, should you still expect that it will suddenly turn into a revelation later? I don't think so. The lore aspect seems like a good idea, but unfortunately the basic rules didn't give me much inclination to try it out.

I would also like to stress, that I didn't expect BL to be another WHFB. Rather, I expected (and certainly hoped for!) something lighter and faster albeit with some tactical depth and complexity. IMHO BL lack the latter - at least in relation to the way the units move and fight. It's not a matter of realism or lack thereof. Being a euro-gamer myself, I don't care much for realism. As long as the game mechanics somehow reflect the general concepts of the theme (in this case commanding an army) while retaining the "good balance and proportions" (I don't know how to express this more clearly) you would expect from a game on BGG's top list, I'm satisfied. Unfortunately, I honestly don't think the BL mechanics do any of that very well. Rather, as I said, I think most of the rules are too simple and quite uninspired.

My feeling is that it's ok to post a short and personal review when you've given the game a fair chance, and I did that. At the same time I fully accept that other people find what they are looking for in this game, and I won't take that pleasure from anybody.
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