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Subject: Battlelore a light review rss

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Matt McMahon
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Warrenton
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This past saturday (5/19/07) shadowTerp and I sat down at our FLGS to play a few games of battlelore with the new Call to Arms expansion.


Components: 6.5
Days of Wonder really packed the box to the gills with peices. Unfortunately this led to 65-70% of the units being twisted into a mangle mess, including 90% of the mounted units. Nothing that a quick dip into boiling water won't fix, but could have been avoided by a little more foresight in desinging the box. Also for a game that will be expanded by additional unit, terrain and cards, there is no room in the box for these expansion.

After playing the first game it became clear that the three sculpts for melee ground units were unnecessary. In fact it lead to a lot of down time after the first game to reunit these figures with their units. But since the banner is the only important aspect of the unit the type and scuplt of the figures in the unit are just eye candy.


Rules: 7.5
The rule book although daunting in size is relatively well writen with plenty of full color examples. However the lack of an index makes for a large problem as questions arise in a game and requires a lot of page flipping.


Gameplay: 6
Our first game was very close, but this was do more to a lot of weird rolls. Like my blue calvary rolling 3 red hits on shadowTerp's red calvary at the very start. And the inablity of my units to slay the green spider (both games combined close to 0-21 on critical hit rolls).
These really showcase the luck factor and in the end leaves a bad taste int he mouth regardless of which side of the conflict you are on.

Our second game was a complete rout. We were playing the imprompto scenerio in the Call to Arms rule book witht he river running across the map. We both chose clerics in our war council (shadowTerp lvl 3 and a lvl 2 for myself). And of course as luck would have it I got River Rage. So on the 4th turn when I unleashed it he had at least 1/3 of his forces one man down and at least 2-3 units down 2 units. Due to the placement of some ranged units like my Hill Giant, I was able to continue to widdle down these units till the 7 turn when I got Chain Lightning and wiped out 4 units.

Having played Battle Cry, I kept thinking that aside from the fantasy theme there is littl differnce in the games. And in fact a lot more luck involved in Battlelore.


Overall: 6.5
I was disappointed in Battlelore. I had read a lot of the reviews and session reports here and had hoped for more than a fantasy version of other Borg games. But that is ultimately IMHO Battlelore is. I also question the balance of some of the spell cards like River Rage, Chain Lightning and other cleric spells. The cost of 7 Lore seems far too low for spells that can hit that many units. Granted they are situational, but so are some of the command cards like green/blue banner command cards. However neither of these cards led to such wide spread destruction without risk as those cleric spells did.

Also looking at the contents of A Call to Arms, I was left wondering how this was worth $20. No new units. 2 new different terrain types (marshes and cliffs), Fords/spike berriers terrain markers, extra battle flags, deployment cards and specialist cards were enough for an expansion. In fact it felt more like random bits that should have been included in the origional release, but were forgotten.
 
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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Boltana wrote:
Components: 6.5
Days of Wonder really packed the box to the gills with peices. Unfortunately this led to 65-70% of the units being twisted into a mangle mess, including 90% of the mounted units. Nothing that a quick dip into boiling water won't fix, but could have been avoided by a little more foresight in desinging the box. Also for a game that will be expanded by additional unit, terrain and cards, there is no room in the box for these expansion.


I don't think I've personally encountered the mangled plastic in quite the percentages you describe, but do agree that it's an unfortunate problem. I hope it won't be the case in the future. We'll see. Overall, I was very pleased with the packaging for the game. That game is packed to the gills and the decision to use just one color of plastic and simply swap around the banners was genius. There are places to put the cards and tiles and banner men, so I guess I'm more forgving. DoW could have gone with a harder plastic that might have negated the "mangling" problem with the mounted units, but those bits are small and hard plastic would make the weapons sharp, so I can imagine lawsuits from the parents of toddlers (not the target audience, but even so) were adroitly avoided.

Quote:
After playing the first game it became clear that the three sculpts for melee ground units were unnecessary. In fact it lead to a lot of down time after the first game to reunit these figures with their units. But since the banner is the only important aspect of the unit the type and scuplt of the figures in the unit are just eye candy.


Hmm. I've played some games where as long as a guy was a guy, a bow was a bow, and a horse was a horse, no one was too particular that a heavy infantryman wound up among the lights if the banner type and figure count for the unit were correct. One thing I've done, though, is to put a little colored sticker on the bottom of each figure and to have a ziplock bag to hold each type. I've found that that helps when it comes time to set up and take down.

Quote:
Rules: 7.5
The rule book although daunting in size is relatively well writen with plenty of full color examples. However the lack of an index makes for a large problem as questions arise in a game and requires a lot of page flipping.


I agree. An index is about the only thing missing from the rules.

Quote:
Gameplay: 6
Our first game was very close, but this was do more to a lot of weird rolls. Like my blue calvary rolling 3 red hits on shadowTerp's red calvary at the very start. And the inablity of my units to slay the green spider (both games combined close to 0-21 on critical hit rolls).
These really showcase the luck factor and in the end leaves a bad taste int he mouth regardless of which side of the conflict you are on.


After having played BattleCry and C&C:Ancients, BattleLore feels like a "scrummier" game. My opponents and I actually enjoy this aspect. It was pretty fluky to roll three red hits on three dice, but you might have rolled three shields, too, for the same result. Or any combination of shields and ablue helms. I think, overall, there is an 8% chance of Medium Cav putting the kabosh on a full-strength Heavy Cav unit. A remote possibility, but a tangible chance, nevertheless.

But I do have one friend who enjoys reading about the medieavl period who seems to think that BattleLore's combat system has about the right mix of "scrum" and "quick kill." We have toyed with a house rule that Heavy units can ignore one shield hit, but are worth two banners when killed. It makes heavies a bit more stolid, but you feel their loss, too.

AS for the Spider... I wish I were there to see how things developed that made the thing such a brute. Are you saying you hit the Spider 20-21 (over two games) times in all and missed a single green on the re-rolls? That's quite a run of bad luck, I'd have to agree.

But you might have generated enough Lore to use those River Rage and Chain Lightning cards that you talk about later. I've seen things like that happen in my games. A Mounted Charge whiffs, but I still earned enough Lore to put more over the top on a good Lore card next turn that connects.

Quote:
Our second game was a complete rout. We were playing the imprompto scenerio in the Call to Arms rule book witht he river running across the map. We both chose clerics in our war council (shadowTerp lvl 3 and a lvl 2 for myself). And of course as luck would have it I got River Rage. So on the 4th turn when I unleashed it he had at least 1/3 of his forces one man down and at least 2-3 units down 2 units. Due to the placement of some ranged units like my Hill Giant, I was able to continue to widdle down these units till the 7 turn when I got Chain Lightning and wiped out 4 units.


There has been some debate about the Cleric's cards and Lore in general. I can only say that, in this one game, you certainly played well by making the most of your trumps. Next time, your opponent might plan better for the possibility of a Cleric in your council.

However, my friend wth the medieval penchant and I once played a few games where we went through the Lore decks and discarded all but the "battle-oriented" cards. Cards with manuevers and tactics that we thought the troops could bring off themselves without the aid of "magic." (Like "Eagle Eye", for example.) That makes for an interesting variant, too. I find it pretty cool that the Lore system can stand up to thatsort of tweaking, too.

Quote:
Having played Battle Cry, I kept thinking that aside from the fantasy theme there is littl differnce in the games. And in fact a lot more luck involved in Battlelore.


That's one I really disagree with. I find that the system depresses wild swings by bringing down the number of dice you throw in an attack. That units can Battle Back under the right circumstances is an important difference from BattleCry and a big part of good strategy. Some units can ignore the Bonus Hit face depending on the class of weapon used by the attacker. The concept and implementation of Lore and Creatures. The more varied terrain, weapons, and troop types... Lots of things about Battle Lore distant it from BattleCry.

I'm sorry BattleLore wasn't a hit with you. I find it a lot of fun, even if it is a bit flukey at times. We try to laugh and shrug off disaster and wild triumph alike. And that usually gets one of us or an observer off on a jag about the weird things that happen in real battles.
 
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Matt McMahon
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BradyLS wrote:

AS for the Spider... I wish I were there to see how things developed that made the thing such a brute. Are you saying you hit the Spider 20-21 (over two games) times in all and missed a single green on the re-rolls? That's quite a run of bad luck, I'd have to agree.


Thats it to the tee. I could not buy a green shield on the critical hit roll. The worst was when my red calvary scored 3 hits and rolled 3 misses allowing the spider to battle back hitting once and poisoning the unit.

Yeah in both games that spider was on my right flank and I sent far too many troops to an early dimise against it. In the first game it took out or reduced to easy kill my green bowman (that it ran up to early on), blue dwarves, blue footman and blue calvary. In the second game I fared better on loses but it was still fustrating to watch red calvary, red foot man and blue calvary fail to score that single green shield on the critical hit roll.
 
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Michael Pennisi
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Why is this review for Battlelore posted under Battlelore: A Call To Arms?
 
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