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Subject: Joey's Take on BattleLore rss

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When the initial buzz on BattleLore hit the gaming world, I was in a state of disenchantment with Days of Wonder. Days of Wonder had been releasing rehashed versions of successful games; originality was not at the forefront. Not that BattleLore is the most original of games, and that was another reason that I had little to no interest in BattleLore. Additionally, I had Memoir '44, loved it, played the hell out of it and wasn't interested in dating its blonde cousin. Things have changed.

I attended BoardGameGeek.CON last year, so did Days of Wonder. I reluctantly visited their booth. I knew they'd be demonstrating BattleLore and didn't want to be sold. I'm of the belief that if something needs a salesman to sell it, then it doesn't need to be bought. So I tried to steer clear as long as I could. This isn't saying much, as I am a crack whore and I would inevitably need my fix. Days of Wonder did not come to me, I came running, salivating, trembling to Days of Wonder. I have no willpower.

There it was. The hype. The free nickel bag. The hook. Laid out on a table in all of its overproduced glory, BattleLore. There were a couple of guys playing it and a rep from Days of Wonder guiding the two guys playing it and the crowd surrounding the table through the finer points of Days of Wonder freebasing. I immediately tried to play the skeptic card, asking questions that cast shadows on some of the frillier parts of the game. Countered! The Days of Wonder rep knew I was coming and deftly parried my attempts. I should mention that no one was listening to our exchange. They couldn't take their eyes off of all the glorious bits. I wanted to shout, "BattleLore is people!!" But the masses around me were lined up for their next wafer of the 'Green. However, I wasn't sold yet. I left, looked at the poor shlubs that were already out their pre-order $70 and thought, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Round One: Days of Wonder 0, Me 1.

Days passed and I found myself being drawn back to the Days of Wonder table and slowly being worn down by the sales rep. I found myself asking questions about the game. I sincerely wanted to know. Step by step, little by little, the sales rep eased the $70 out of my pocket and snatched it away like the senior Mr. Dawes did Michael Banks' two pence in Mary Poppins. Once again, Days of Wonder had done it. Prestidigitation. They had dazzled me with their left hand as the right hand removed the coin from my ear. AND, I was excited, pleased and entertained by the whole spectacle of it. I was the simple kid, in your first grade class that your mom made you invite to your sixth birthday party, over-laughing at the rent-a-clown's jokes (?). That being said I could hardly wait for BattleLore to arrive.

December came and so did BattleLore. It took me a few days to get it open, organized, rules read and ready to play. Normally, it doesn't take me that long to get a game from shrink-wrap to table, but I kept passing out while I was reading the rules or organizing the minis (into the Plano tackle box, baggies are for chumps) from the unbridled, grotesquely gratuitous glory that IS BattleLore. Angelic choirs and heavenly light are only included in the Lunatics Edition of the game (read: my copy).

I am a huge fan of Assault on Hoth and all of the games that Richard Borg has based off it. I am especially fond of Memoir '44. BattleLore uses the same Command and Colors system as his other games, but despite this similarity BattleLore and Memoir '44 play much differently. In Memoir '44, I am always diving for cover (heading for terrain) and maximizing my position all the while defending myself. Game play in BattleLore focuses more on organizing your ranks and keeping them in formation as you move them into the fray. I'm not saying that one is better than the other, but for me I prefer the feel of Memoir '44.

In regards to Memoir '44, some aspects of BattleLore feel simplified (terrain modifiers and effects) and others feel advanced (battlefield formation and the varying unit strengths). This could go either way for me. I am not really put out by these differences, but I'm not exactly raving about them either.

First off let me tell you what I like about the game:
- The production of this game is off the charts. The minis are beautifully sculpted, the board art is grand and the rules book is something to behold.
- This game is expandable; not collectible, expandable. Days of Wonder will be releasing supplements and expansions to BattleLore in a manner that doesn't leave you guessing as to what you MIGHT get, should you buy a booster. I praise you, Days of Wonder, with the same breathe that I curse you Peter Atkison. Ptooey!
- Memoir '44+. This game adds elements that make it a hair's breadth more complex than Memoir '44. When I feel like playing Memoir '44 but could go a little heavier, BattleLore scratches that itch.
- The War Council. I love the War Council. The fact that every scenario can be a bit different, by selecting a different War Council keeps me coming back. I cannot wait to see what the Guest seat at the War Council has in store for us. Also as more expansions are released, so will more Lore Cards and this will make the War Council even more interesting.
- Lore and Lore Cards. As briefly mentioned above, the Lore Cards that are included with the game and the Lore Cards that will be released in later expansions are the biggest and, dare I say, the best addition to this game. There is a Lore symbol on the Battle Dice that when rolled give you a Lore Token. This is basically a consolation prize/token given in lieu of a hit and more preferable than an all out miss. Lore Tokens may be collected over time and used to play Lore Cards (the big guns... sometimes). There's nothing like saving up a good amount of Lore and unleashing something really nasty on your opponent. Good stuff, that Lore.
- Days of Wonder’s support of the game has been phenomenal. There were a few bugs and whoopsies in the release of this game. Days of Wonder has fixed these problems (dice bleeding) and provided remedies (bent figures), either preemptively and/or at their own cost. Once again, Days of Wonder has raised the bar.

Here are some issues that I have with BattleLore:
- Most of the minis are left-handed and, as we all know, lefties are of the devil and will burn for all eternity.
- There are more than the usual vagaries in the rules. Days of Wonder does a really good job with getting it right the first time and very rarely do I put Days of Wonder and Rules FAQ in the same sentence. But here, for you, as a necessity: Days of Wonder, BattleLore, and Rules FAQ.
- Like a lot of games, the pieces don't fit back in their original packaging or if you want to easily access certain pieces the original insert is not accommodating. As mentioned before, a Plano tackle box (or baggies, shudder!) fixes this issue.
- Memoir '44+. This game adds elements that make it a hair's breadth more complex than Memoir '44. Memoir '44 is a very streamlined system. Adding more to it doesn't make it better, just more. Lately, this seems to be an industry trend. (Doom -> Descent, Ticket to Ride -> Ticket to Ride: Europe and Marklin) Slap a new theme on it, tweak it a bit and voila! New Game... (sorta, sigh)
- Table space. This is not so much an issue as it is a caveat. You're going to need a bigger than average table for BattleLore. There are a good deal of reference cards included in the game and until you get accustomed to the game, to the point that you won't need all of the reference cards spread out everywhere, a good deal of space is required. This is something my wife noticed. When I'm playing a game, I am immersed. Games that require a big table are a plus in my estimation. So, one time, my wife walks up mid-game and says, "This game needs a big table." There, are you happy now, Babe?

When I first received BattleLore and began playing it, I felt bad for Memoir '44. I thought that I might never play Memoir'44 again. As time goes on, I find that both BattleLore and Memoir '44 are different games, which have different feels and atmospheres. BattleLore does not replace other games in the Command and Colors series, it adds to it. I rarely pay MSRP for a game. I did for BattleLore and so far I haven’t regretted it.
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Kevin Long
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i too have found myself playing with both memoir and lore. they both have a great play. and thanks for your honesty in liking both

on another note: why do people predetermine that they will not buy a game or play it because of silly ideas about a publisher or some other "principle" i hear people coming up with. this game for instance, i know a lot of gamers will be eating their words about this one and i think it is pretty silly and irresponsible to hammer DoW and their games and then end up liking them after all - WTF?
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Personally, my preconcieved notions about any game company's releases are based on their track record.

Days of Wonder had mostly been releasing variations on their previous releases. I still am a big Days of Wonder fan, but I'd like to see some new titles. I am excited about Colosseum, mostly because it is not Ticket to Ride: Ancient Rome.

Fantasy Flight, another of my favorite companies, is also on notice with me. They have been releasing re-workings of games from twenty years ago. Granted the games that are being re-released are great games to begin with.

I have limited resources and I prefer to play entirely new games and not the same game with a different theme or slight tweakings.

That being said, I am a total sucker for anything well-produced, fun and thematic... I can pretend to be idealistic. But when my wife gives me my allowance every couple of weeks, I always blow it on pulp.
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John Lopez
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joebelanger wrote:
Personally, my preconcieved notions about any game company's releases are based on their track record.

Days of Wonder had mostly been releasing variations on their previous releases. I still am a big Days of Wonder fan, but I'd like to see some new titles. I am excited about Colosseum, mostly because it is not Ticket to Ride: Ancient Rome.

Fantasy Flight, another of my favorite companies, is also on notice with me. They have been releasing re-workings of games from twenty years ago. Granted the games that are being re-released are great games to begin with.

I have limited resources and I prefer to play entirely new games and not the same game with a different theme or slight tweakings.

That being said, I am a total sucker for anything well-produced, fun and thematic... I can pretend to be idealistic. But when my wife gives me my allowance every couple of weeks, I always blow it on pulp.
An well executed update of a classic game trumps the dreck that often passes as "new game design". Additionally, the updates have tended to open up those games to people who had never heard of the originals, and would pass on playing the earlier due to rules issues and component quality.

Really, does it matter who publishes which game? I think it doesn't. It simply matters, on a game by game basis, is *this* game a good game that will hit the table. Any avoidance or purchases of games based on meta-criteria about the publisher simply means you will miss good games and buy bad ones.

EDIT: yes, the proofreading got *most* of the errors :/
 
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Godeke wrote:
joebelanger wrote:
Personally, my preconcieved notions about any game company's releases are based on their track record.

Days of Wonder had mostly been releasing variations on their previous releases. I still am a big Days of Wonder fan, but I'd like to see some new titles. I am excited about Colosseum, mostly because it is not Ticket to Ride: Ancient Rome.

Fantasy Flight, another of my favorite companies, is also on notice with me. They have been releasing re-workings of games from twenty years ago. Granted the games that are being re-released are great games to begin with.

I have limited resources and I prefer to play entirely new games and not the same game with a different theme or slight tweakings.

That being said, I am a total sucker for anything well-produced, fun and thematic... I can pretend to be idealistic. But when my wife gives me my allowance every couple of weeks, I always blow it on pulp.
An well executed update of a classic game trumps the dreck that often passes as "new game design". Additionally, the updates have tended to open up those games to people who had never heard of the originals, and would pass on playing the earlier due to rules issues and component quality.

Really, does it matter who publishes which game? I think it doesn't. It simply matters, on a game by game basis, is *this* game a good game that will hit the table. Any avoidance or purchases of games based on meta-criteria about the publisher simply means you will miss good games and buy bad ones.

EDIT: yes, the proofreading got *most* of the errors :/

That's a bit of an overgeneralization, don't you think? What's meta? Isn't everything, when you think about it? The only data that's not meta is actually trying a game before you buy it, with your game group, under normal gaming conditions. And since that isn't always the case for me, I must depend on a heap of meta, and I imagine most users here do to. Some people buy their games entirely dependant on the game's BGG ranking and if that's not meta then I don't know what is...
 
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joebelanger wrote:
Ticket to Ride: Ancient Rome.
Where can I buy this? I don't really agree that DoW was releasing the same thing over and over. Yes, there are 3 version of TTR and an expansion, but each on stands on its own and each really caters to a differnt type of gamer. What else from DoW is variation of a theme? M'44 has EXPANSIONS, but other than that, every game from DoW is unique, IMO. I'm not some huge raving DoW fanboy, but just because there are three TTR versions is a strange excuse to 'boycott' a pubisher.

joebelanger wrote:
Fantasy Flight, another of my favorite companies, is also on notice with me. They have been releasing re-workings of games from twenty years ago. Granted the games that are being re-released are great games to begin with.
As you said, these are all updated versions (for modern sensibilities, I suppose) of games only available on the Secondary Market. What's wrong with that? FFG is 'on notice'? I don't get it.

joebelanger wrote:
I have limited resources and I prefer to play entirely new games and not the same game with a different theme or slight tweakings.
I can see this if you already have the original editions of the aforementioned games, but if you don't already own them, I don't see the point. That is like saying you won't watch a TV show you have never seen before because it is a repeat.

joebelanger wrote:
That being said, I am a total sucker for anything well-produced, fun and thematic... I can pretend to be idealistic. But when my wife gives me my allowance every couple of weeks, I always blow it on pulp.
Me, too.
 
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3 points for using the word prestidigitation in a review. I knew my D&D days would pay off some day.

Footprint - BattleLore can be be played on a standard folding card table. You just need somewhere to roll the dice. I'm looking into a dice boot.
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John Lopez
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joebelanger wrote:

That's a bit of an overgeneralization, don't you think? What's meta? Isn't everything, when you think about it? The only data that's not meta is actually trying a game before you buy it, with your game group, under normal gaming conditions. And since that isn't always the case for me, I must depend on a heap of meta, and I imagine most users here do to. Some people buy their games entirely dependant on the game's BGG ranking and if that's not meta then I don't know what is...
Hmmm, I guess that's why I like my FLGS and gaming group. I can get hands on with anything I want to buy... buying blind is a rare occurrence for me. So yes, I guess it is an over-generalization if you aren't experiencing the games for themselves, but being forced to buy on reputation.

For me, I don't care who made the game, as long as I like it.
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N. Pomeroy
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So when are you going to bring it by my place to play?
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Godeke wrote:
For me, I don't care who made the game, as long as I like it.
I think that if you look past the hyperbole, you'll see that I do too.

 
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njpomeroy wrote:
So when are you going to bring it by my place to play?
As soon as you move into that nice, available, affordable, brand-new 5&3 down the street from me.
 
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(stands up)

My name is Zinos and i am a battlelore addict.

(sits down)

Hello ZiNOS!
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Philip Johnson
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blindspot wrote:
3 points for using the word prestidigitation in a review. I knew my D&D days would pay off some day.

Footprint - BattleLore can be be played on a standard folding card table. You just need somewhere to roll the dice. I'm looking into a dice boot.
You should go for a nice quality dice tower, wooden preferably. I traded for one a while back and I love it, although I mostly use it for RPGs.
 
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