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Subject: > A session with my little brother - Agincourt I rss

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The Pillow Demon
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I got this game as a semi-birthday present for my brother Michael who recently turned 12 (22nd of January). I have two other brothers - one 15 and one 8, both of whom share the same interests as I do. It never gets boring around the house

Because of school and work on my behalf - I'm 19 btw, a sophomore at Cal Poly Pomona - my brothers and I were unable to play a game of BattleLore until just tonight. In the meantime my brothers buried themeselves in the manual and memorized every card in the set. So I got home tonight around 11pm and found Michael messing around with the set in my room.

"Let's play a game." I said, making him jump - he didn't notice me at the door.

---

At this point I should quickly mention that the only boardgaming experience my brothers and I share prior to this are Risk, Monopoly, and AoEIII (purchased on impulse Xmas'07). We're smart kids though, so we catch on to rules and gameplay pretty quickly. Each of us have rich videogaming backgrounds so I guess that kind of thing helps.

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As recommended by the manual, we set up Agincourt for our first battle. I gave him first choice of sides and he went for the French, clearly tempted by the power and mobility of calvary units.

Michael spent his first few turns organizing most of his units into triangle formations, showing he understood the value of morale; it would be tough to break his formation.

But that was the flaw in his strategy: by stubbornly keeping his calvary and swordsmen grouped, he limited his mobility. He would have to wait for excellent command cards if he planned to move and attack with a single formation of 3 units composed of 1 calvary and 2 medium swordsmen.

I caught on to this immediately and assembled my archers into a perfect line, stretching from the left red line to the right red line, with an open hex path in the middle for foot units to pass through. I also placed one archer on each the left and right sides of the board on one of the forest hexes.

My strategy was to draw his formations closer, using my lone foot units as bait. Assembled in a straight line from the left of the center region to the right with several hidden in the forests on both sides, my archers would suffer little from blocks in LOS. Michael's tight formations would be a good defensive strategy for a melee onslaught, but he failed to realize using this against archers would expose him to fire from all sides, no matter which region he chose to battle. Additionally, effects of morale don't apply to rolls from ranged attacks.

His initial charges into my archers' range resulted in lots of sword-on-shields on my behalf of the rolls. Apparently encouraged by this, he played Surround and moved his entire *line* of formations up one or two hexes. This was suicide, because I'd recently drawn Darken the Sky.

My strategy worked - he sent two formations against lone foot units I'd tactfully placed in range of my archers. He rolled well but was unable to score any banners. I went next, slapping down Darken the Sky. He could only watch in horror as one of his heavy calvary and one of his medium infantry fell against my onslaught of rolls, with significant damage to two other units. Though he was confident his formation would be strong against my lone units (the bait), my counter strategy worked in that my line formation of archers helped alleviate blocks in LOS.

His approach, which was too careful and slow, gave me time to draw Darken the Sky - had he used the calvary properly he would have been able to knock out two or three archer units before they could have posed a significant threat.

In desperation he lashed out with the units left from his former formations and managed to kill off one of my medium infantry, moving up with two other units he'd left in reserve towards his end of the board. This was another mistake, as he was still in range of my archers. Playing CounterAttack, I wiped out what the weakest of what was left in that formation. The score was 3-1.

Michael wisely began rotating out his weakened units, charging with his remaining strong units. Realizing what he'd done wrong the last few rounds, he charged forward with one calvary and several foot units, disregarding formations - a couple of his units were down to two men each.

He was able to approach my archers quickly (by now I'd rotated out my weakened foot units), but I was also able to form triangle formations with my archers by the time he was in range of attack (my pot shots at his units as they approach weakened his charge by very little). By the time he launched a roll, I was able to battle back and kill off one man in a unit. On my next turn I was able to move up with my weakened medium infantry and roll 3d to wipe out his unit, resulting in my victory.

---

*Extremely* satisfying match, given that I'd started the game thinking I was at a disadvantage. But Michael's inappropriate use of triangle formation and my own line formation of archers, supplemented by lone foot units for bait to get the enemy in range (and reduce blockages in LOS), led to my victory.

Impressions so far:

Strategy plays a strong part, actually - not just tactics. I was able to see flaws in his approach and react accordingly over the course of the next few turns; I used the cards available to me to *set up* a possible counterattack, knowing his slow approach would give me more time to draw the card I needed: Darken the Sky (which happened). Even then, a Green Banners card would have sufficed. While I recognize the game as mostly tactful at this point, I recognize that strategies can be used in setting up advantageous situations based on the opponent's approach.

A quick rundown:

-Michael depended too much on formations, which decreased his mobility.
-I sent out lone foot units to tempt his charge (it worked), since it would be hard to resist attacking a lone unit with a triangle formation of Bolded units.
-his slow approach led to me eventually drawing Darken the Sky
-by the time he had reached my bait, he had put himself in range of archers on practically all sides. his attacks, at worst, would give him two banners. But my subsequent counterattacks gave me 6-8 rolls of two dice each at any of his four exposed units. This led to two of them being wiped out.
-those left from his formations were weak, so he wisely made them retreat
-he then charged with his remainging strong(ish) units - "ish" because he charged with 3 and 2-man infantries and one full-power calvary. I was able to get my archers in triangle formations (with foot units too) by the time he arrived to attack, and I was able to weaken him on battle back.
-my follow up on my turn allowed me to clean up his remaining units.

I'm loving the game so far , I look forward to our next battle and eventually getting into Lore.

Some things I learned:

-Calvary, though powerful and mobile (and having the Pursuit ability), are easy to kill. They essentially have only 3 Life Points, so keeping them in the range of several archers is basically the same as handing over your opponent a banner.

-Archers can be devastating if placed and defended properly. "Defending" archers can include, effectively, using other units to take your opponents' attention off them.

-Lone units can be used to stall for time to get better cards and set up for a devastating counterattack.

---

Watch out for my review of BattleLore, coming in a week or two!

For now I love the game (I know, I know. I've only played one game thus far). Though luck *can* play a decisive role in victor turn-out, it's hard to deny at this point that effective strategy/tactics can be just as, if not more, decisive. A player who spends time thinking through his game will definitely be rewarded.

And even if you're getting screwed by Luck, the game lasts only an hour (that's how long our session lasted, anyway). Unlike Risk (which I mention on another thread here on the BattleLore forums), the mechanics never overstay their welcome. Players don't and won't have to play for hours only to eventually get pummeled by bad dice rolls. And there exist far, FAR more options for strategic and tactful maneuvering to diminish the effects of luck. AND, finally, Luck helps keep things *interesting.* This game's utilization of the luck factor is in perfect balance with its playing time, mechanics, and integration with strategies and tactics that can diminish it.

Edit1 and 2: Typos
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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great write up, thanks for sharing. This is on my wishlist, I really want this game, and after reading your session report I want it even more, 1st time playing and you are using a lot of strategy, which is cool, your little brother had no problem with it, sounds like a real solid game worth having.

It is always nice to win the first one also, great job.



 
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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great write up, thanks for sharing. This is on my wishlist, I really want this game, and after reading your session report I want it even more, 1st time playing and you are using a lot of strategy, which is cool, your little brother had no problem with it, sounds like a real solid game worth having.

It is always nice to win the first one also, great job.



 
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