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Subject: My Approach to Battlelore (Part 3) rss

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Jay Borden
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My approach to Battlelore – Part 3

Intro:
I apologize for the nearly 7 month delay on this article…sometimes life happens, even for us gamers.

For anyone new to this series, please first read the following 3 articles.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/148780
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/164161
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/167359


This article will add a few things I didn’t cover in the other articles, and show an example of setting up an advanced maneuver.

Additional terms:

Basic Maneuvers - tactical movements that can be done with a single command card in a single turn

Advanced Maneuvers - executed orders over multiple turns. Usually involves moving the same units more than once

Crits – the orange sword and shield side of the dice

Push - moving units forward to take the conflict to the enemy. I use the term mainly to imply orders over multiple turns centered on a single conflict.


Another Basic Advantage:

Terrain – There are 3 ways to use terrain to your advantage.

1. Block line of sight from enemy range attacks - If they can’t see you, they can’t shoot you.

2. Limit the base attack dice amount the opponent can roll against your unit – most terrain types have some battle restrictions. If attacking from a hill, you can still attack with up to 3 dice. If attacking into a hill, only allow 2 dice.

3. Hinder a withdrawal or slow a pursuit - water and forests hexes force movement to end when a unit enters them. If you are on a forest hex and withdraw, the opponent’s pursuing units are not likely going to be able to get into base to base with a single order next turn.

Claiming the terrain comes with the risk of increasing the danger from an opponent’s cleric spells. If your opponent has taken a level 3 cleric, avoid the terrain when adjusting your starting formations if possible.



Additional Basic Maneuvers
I’ve used the Battlelore Scenario Editor to put together the examples. The red numbers on the flag represent the number of figures left in the unit if wounds were taken. Flags with no numbers are still at full health.

Rotate to the Flank
Similar to the 2 order rotate maneuver I described in my last article, but using a 3 order allows you to fully screen the wounded unit and still get 2 attacks.



My full health unit will first move forward to the right flank position to give the wounded unit a way to move out of harms way. The wounded unit then moves two hexes right to a support position. Finally, the back unit in my original 3-pack will move forward to screen the wounded unit and set up a new 3-pack.



Aggressive Flank

The aggressive flank is used to block the retreat path for an opponent’s unit and get an extra concentrated attack to hopefully wipe out a unit. If mounted units are near or involved in the conflict, you can often keep you main formation supported while you swing around the flank. If no mounted units are available, the risk of an opponent’s counter attack is increased since more units will be left unsupported if you do not get the expected even dice.



In the example, my green foot unit moved around the wounded enemy unit to get the aggressive flank and then my blue unit moved up to take its’ place in the formation. With the 3 order I played, I’ll get up to 9 dice worth of attacks to finish off the last 2 figures and flags rolled against the unit can no longer help my opponent withdraw. I am taking a risk by leaving my units unsupported, but less then even odds will still wipe out the opponent’s unit. If the green unit gets the killing blow, I’ll be able to use the follow up action to move back into 3-pack formation (I’ll go over my thoughts on the order to attack later).

Note how not getting at least 2 wounds from 9 dice will leave that entire formation in a very dangerous position. This is an aggressive maneuver, so weigh the risks carefully before committing to the play. I use it sparingly (if time is running out, or if I have more orders in that flank and think I will be able to regroup after the counter and continue to press the attack).




Advanced Maneuvers

Setting up a Push

There is no one correct way to set up a push, so I’ll outline a few general thoughts to consider while trying to push and give a push example.

1. Match up the lines – This will need to be updated each turn as you advance to account for your opponent’s movements, but you should identify where and how you want your troops to eventually line up to the enemy. You should again think of how you can gain an advantage through superior troops, terrain, and concentrated attacks, and then look at the troops you will have available and look for ways to best gain those advantages.

2. Find the striking distance – When moving your line up to attack the opponent, the units will reach the point where the next order issued will allow them to close into base to base (1 hex away for blue and red foot units, 2 hexes away for green foot or red mounted units, etc.). Any movements done before reaching the striking distance will still give you time to adjust how your lines will match up in the conflict. Before moving into striking distance, be sure you have the required resources to not just get into base to base, but also influence the conflict on your next turn or 2 after the troops meet. If you are planning on using 2 or 3 orders to push towards the line to get more than 3 units into the conflict, do not cross into the striking distance until most of your troops are in a position where they’ll be able to get into a support position with only a single order

Some lore spells or command cards like Foot Onslaught allow extra movement that can increase the striking distance, so be careful to keep formations when breaking into those extended striking distances.

3. Evaluate orders - Consider not only how many orders you have that have to contribute to your push, but also how many it will take to put you in base to base with your opponent. Committing to a push doesn’t mean you have move all the way to the enemy all at once. It better to reevaluate your orders each turn when pushing to see if you still will have the resources to finish the job once you get there. Having 2|0|0, 3|0|0, C|0|0 orders shows that you are strong in the left flank and will probably have a command advantage if a battle were to take place there. If you use the 2|0|0 order to start moving up and do not draw another command that can help those units, you may want to hold off using the 3|0|0 order until you will have more than 1 command left to influence the battle after you cross into the striking distance.

4. Arrange advancing formations – When setting up a push, you will typically want the extra dice from heavier units to do most of your attacking if possible (reds and blues). Since the red foot units move only 1 hex at a time, they will need extra orders to get them across the board. Since we will ideally be moving 4 or more units during our typical push, you can set up your formations with the red units moving first and then having the other units pass them up along the way leaving the red in the rear support position for the initial strike and then rotating forward as the battle continues.

Alright, let’s look at an example of what I am talking about.

You hand:
2|0|0, 3|0|0, C|0|0, 0|0|1, 0|0|2 – I’ll be looking at using just the left flank from the Wizards & Lore scenario in my example to keep it simple.



Ideally, I’d like to come in from the left side to gain the terrain advantage from the forests and avoid the heavier units to the opponent’s center and terrain advantage. The striking distance is noted with the squiggly red line, so we are going to need more orders before we can get into base to base while keeping a command advantage.



Using the 2|0|0 order, I move my slower red unit forward since it will need more orders to get into the conflict and move the archer unit up to the woods to hopefully get a few lucky shots to soften the enemy line. My archer is now in striking distance to the opponent’s mounted unit and green foot unit, but he would be separating those units from his line and advancing into my strong flank if he did attack it, so I am using that archer to hopefully draw the opponent to me. Keeping units without support while not in striking distance may present an attractive enough target to draw the enemy to you. It’s always better to have your opponent waste his resources to move to your strength, but if he doesn’t take the bait we will be able to get back into a good formation before reaching base to base.

My archer will be shooting at the red unit since I am moving my line towards his line and he has the greatest damage potential of the units in range. I’d hold off here until I got another order that can help this flank. I’m still strong with a 3|0|0 and C|0|0 order, but if I use one of those to push again I will be close to the striking distance with only one guaranteed order to influence the conflict.

Fast forward a few turns until I draw another left flank card: a 2|0|2 (3|0|0 and C|0|0 still in hand)



It doesn’t look like my opponent will take the bait, so I need to tighten up my formation as my units approach the striking distance. Using my 3 order, I get back into a good supported formation while moving a bit further up. I know I’ll need to get one of those other 2 units up to take advantage of the C|0|0 order, so my next center command issued will use one order to move my mounted unit forward.

My example is flawed since I am not moving the enemy at all, so I’ll end it with this last snapshot showing my overall plan from this point. Move forward and to the left in supported formations and avoid the terrain and heavier units as long as you have a strong hand of commands to support the conflict



This slow approach is effective since you are never left unsupported when in striking distance and always have an extra orders available before you initiate movement towards the enemy. As your hand changes with each order used and replaced, you set up advances like this is each area of the board when you are strong or adjust formations or take the odd archer shot where you are not.

Remember to always try to set up each conflict in a way that you have the advantage. Your opponent will also be trying to do the same so every conflict will not be ideally set up, but you should force your opponent to initiate those advantages himself.


Attack order

The order you choose to attack can sometimes make a big difference. I always assume even dice when deciding which order to attack, but have seen 2 flags rolled to let a unit slip out of range and live too many times to not take the possibility into account before I roll.

General attack order guidelines

There are far too many possibilities, so I’ll go over my basic considerations when deciding which units to attack with first.

1. Attack with your already wounded units last - if even dice from 3 attacking units will destroy the unit, you want to make sure the expected battle backs go towards the full health unit rather than the already wounded units. If those first 2 attacks don’t cause wounds, you may no longer want to make the attack and risk leaving the already wounded with just 1 or 2 figures.
2. Remember the flags and the chance of a lucky kill – I try to attack with the units that will not have another target if the main target flees or is killed. I will often look to flee after 1 flag when supported to avoid taking extra attacks in a round. I’ll even break formation to flee knowing I can regroup on my turn before the opponent can take advantage of it (assuming I have the order and my opponent will lose attacks). Retreat paths should be considered when lining the attack up too, but try to make the attacks in the order that will maximize your chance to roll all the dice you can.
3. Think of follow up actions – This is especially true if mounted units are attacking. If using an aggressive flank maneuver, you’d want to get back in formation if possible when landing the killing blow. When attacking with a mounted unit and a foot unit, you’d rather have the mounted unit kill the single figure so you can follow up with another attack if you don’t need to break support to do it.

Attack order in the aggressive flank example above:



I would attack first with the blue unit since my other 2 units will still have targets if I get better than expected roll. If I get even dice for a single wound, I would next attack with the green unit hoping to be able to follow up back into an arrow 3-pack formation if I finish off the unit. If my blue unit doesn’t hit, I’d attack with my red unit before the green to again set up my green unit to make the killing blow so it could hopefully get back into support.

The attack order often won’t matter, but a mistake when it does can really swing an advantage back to you opponent.


Conclusion:

All my suggestions in this series of articles is just a rough guide to try to explain what I am thinking about when deciding which orders to use and troops to move. I also tried to add a few clear tactical examples of moves to help describe what I am doing, but there are many ways to accomplish the same goals with different variations of those same maneuvers. I often stray from the guidelines I have outlined, but I wanted to present a conservative approach as the foundation since that is what I rely on most often, and I think was a missing perspective in some of the other strategy articles I have read.

I welcome any feedback, missed points, counter arguments, or anything else you believe will add to the value of this series.

Above anything else, play the way that makes your game the most enjoyable to you.

Keep gaming!
~Jay
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PlanetSmasher wrote:
If anyone knows how to make those BGG user images larger, please send me a quick geek mail.


Done.
 
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Carlos Araujo
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Another excellent article! Great job!
 
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Ted Kostek
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Thanks for this outstanding article. This series is outstanding. BL is one of my favorite games, and your articles really add to it.
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Talorien
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Superb work.

I suspect you've not gotten too much discussion, because BL 'appears on the surface' to be a game with little strategy.

Most beginners (including me!) aim to move the maximum number of units per turn to roll the greatest # of attack dice per turn.

When both players do that, it's really down to who draws better, rolls better, and who happens to be in a better position to chase the last few kills.

The importance of formation, developing rear units, and not pushing too far unsupported isn't immediately apparent.
 
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