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Subject: A game I hate to love, but forced to give a good review rss

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Sean Shaw
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BattleLore

This is a review of the Battle Lore edition game just released by GW.

Summary is

Materials=10
Rules Presentation=10
Gameplay= 10
Personal Tilt=4
Replayability=7
Usefulness=7

I've done a little history. I enjoy History. Normally I can disregard historical inaccuracies in games for the enjoyment of a game. A prime example of this would be Axis and Allies. Battle Lore is one of those that bugs the heck out of me. There are some glaring things that drive me crazy about this game. I would rate this game terribly, if given to my own personal tilt, however, as rating it in a more impartial and balanced measure, it seems this game rates rather highly.

Materials - This game is expensive, there's no getting around that, but for the price, what you get is mind boggling. You get a ton, and I mean a TON of miniatures. If I were try to get a set of D&D miniatures or Warhammer miniatures for the same amount, I'd have a piddling small squad. It would cost me a small fortune to get the same amount of miniatures in another game. That alone shoots this game up to a 10 instantly. However, it gets better, as these are not just cheap miniatures, but have some quality about them. The board is mounted, and the rules book is even bound! I don't care for wooden dice, but everything still emits pure quality in regards to this game.

It scores a 10.

Rules Presentation - Once again, this game scores a perfect score. If someone can read and follow instructions, they can play this game. The rulebook literally walks you through the game and how to play. It's simple and direct enough that it might even drive you crazy, but it's HIGHLY effective. With the scenarios written to slowly introduce new rules to you, it's simple enough that just about anyone can pick it up and learn how to play this game. Of course it takes quite a number of pages to explain it all, but it's all there with color illustrations and step by step directions. If every rule book was written like this, a lot of those complex games would suddenly seem much more simple.

It also scores a 10.

Gameplay - Note, I didn't like the game, but I have to give gameplay a good score. It runs flawlessly from what I can tell. The game flows quickly, smoothly, and simply. To further aid one's understanding, it has summary cards of your different troops. The instructions of your command decisions are printed out on cards from which you pick and follow.

It's pure simplicity, and pure ease of play. In fact, it's far more complex a game than it seems, but due to the way the rules flow, and how the summaries are written into the game, it plays as easy as Candyland (though a little more depth then candyland).

Once again it scores a 10.

Personal Tilt - I told you I didn't like this game. I could swear I mentioned that above already. Now a 5 or 6 is about average, a 7 is above average and an 8 is doing good. That means for me, this game is going to score below any of those. Now the game isn't the worst game I've ever played (so it's not a 1 or 2) but it has some features which I hate. First, notably are Archers. Archers were powerhouses in medieval times. In Battle Lore, they are next to useless. You might as well have them stand there as mere stops, cause they sure don't have any arrows that are effective. I've heard this changes in the expansion call to arms, but in the Base game, any realism of archers to how they were enacted in battle is not even close to realistic. There is no reason to have archers except for guys which are going to be chopped to liver in two moves. They have a limited range, and with the ability to only roll fewer dice than other troops, their ability really is hampered in trying to cut ANYONE down before someone reaches them and kills them.

Then there's the entire heavy vs. medium idea. It's boiled down NOT to how effective they are defensively, but how much damage they deal. So a Heavy troop will be able to deal out more damage, but for some unknown reason their armor is just as useless to them as it is to a medium troop. Forget the days where an armored knight could stand up to dozens of normal men at arms, because no weapon could penetrate their armor (except via cracks in the armor), forget the days when an unarmored man was more easily hurt than an armored one, if you roll a wound, they both fall as easily.

There could have been multiple ways to do this, such as rolling a defense type dice (as was done more than a DECADE prior with a similar game called Battlemasters), or having a heavy troop have more men to represent how much damage it could take than a medium troop, but in the end, it's all about how much damage a troop can do rather than how much they can withstand.

I can see how this works however, as it does inspire more aggressive tactics rather than defense, and moves the game along at a faster pace.

I'll end my rant, but overall, the nitpicks of the game drive me crazy.

It scores a 4.

Replayability - With terrain being able to be placed differently each time, and a LOT of different scenarios presented, there is a great deal of replayability in this game. You can play over a dozen times and play a different game each time. I hear this only increases with the expansion Call to Arms. However, this is just on the base game, and the base game is replayable multiple times. In fact by the time you replay a scenario, you may have forgotten how it runs due to all the other scenarios you've played. Of course, there are only a limited number of scenarios which also hurt it from getting a perfect score.

It scores a 7.

Usefulness - The game is two player as it stands, however it can be expanded with an epic set for four players. The games can move quickly enough as well, to actually have a short Battle Lore tournament on a game night, making it so that all can play. It's quick enough, and flows smoothly enough that all can get involved. Even more, with all the pieces, everyone can assist in set up, and with the various scenarios, multiple games can be played in a row with no one getting bored. Still it's only a two player game in it's base version, which restricts its score.

It scores a 7.

In final summary, I greatly dislike this game, but it's strengths far outweigh my dislike, and so grudgingly I must give it a Good score.

It scores an 8.



(Edit: For reference, link to explanation of my game ratings http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2426690#2426690 )
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William Gaskill
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Nice Review BUT..."Just Released" its been out for 1 1/2 years
& its by DoW not GW?
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S G
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Time hasn't been kind to BattleLore for me....I think you're trying too hard to overlook its faults. It isn't bad, but for me BattleLore can just never live up to its big brother, CC:Ancients....now that's a great game!
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Joe Geerkin
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Your review reminds me of when the Disney movie Pocahontas was up in the theatre where I used to have a part time job. There was a big media blitz at the time; every time the movie was mentioned someone would point out that it wasn't historically accurate.

People would come into the theatre and tell me the same thing. "It's not historically accurate." After hearing this six or seven times, I got kinda annoyed and I asked the person, "You do know there is a talking tree in the movie?"

There are goblins, giant spiders and magic in the game. I don't think they were trying for a history lesson.

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Todd Rewoldt
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Not looking to change your mind, but just a few comments that may change your perspective on the issues that bother you (or, may have zero impact on how you feel laugh ):

GreyLord wrote:
First, notably are Archers. Archers were powerhouses in medieval times. In Battle Lore, they are next to useless. You might as well have them stand there as mere stops, cause they sure don't have any arrows that are effective. I've heard this changes in the expansion call to arms, but in the Base game, any realism of archers to how they were enacted in battle is not even close to realistic. There is no reason to have archers except for guys which are going to be chopped to liver in two moves. They have a limited range, and with the ability to only roll fewer dice than other troops, their ability really is hampered in trying to cut ANYONE down before someone reaches them and kills them.

It is true that the archers become more of what you are looking for with Longbows rather than the common bows (as it is the Longbows that tore up the forces ). These are introduced in Call to Arms and in the 100 Years War expansions (and I think that the 100 Yr War expansion is more of the flavor you're looking for - the Medieval Lore rules tend to fit the players who prefer the more historical aspects of BattleLore). That said, the Common Bow units do have an important function in the game, namely weakening advancing forces, and when used with lore, can cause significant damage - especially when Magic Missiles and Darken the Skies is used in combination.

Just like in C&C:Ancients, one cannot be careless with the archer units, as they will succumb to close combat rather quickly (though as you note further on, not any quicker than other units ). Not being able to evade as they are in Ancients is just something that one has to take into account. Though they cannot evade, they do have a longer range than in Ancients, and stationing the common bows on hills and protecting them with nearby heavy units are generally good tactics to employ.

Quote:
Then there's the entire heavy vs. medium idea. It's boiled down NOT to how effective they are defensively, but how much damage they deal. So a Heavy troop will be able to deal out more damage, but for some unknown reason their armor is just as useless to them as it is to a medium troop. Forget the days where an armored knight could stand up to dozens of normal men at arms, because no weapon could penetrate their armor (except via cracks in the armor), forget the days when an unarmored man was more easily hurt than an armored one, if you roll a wound, they both fall as easily.

The scales can vary in terms of how many and what type of combatants the units in the game comprise. When I'm thinking about it, I consider each of the units to be comprised of several different types of combatants (i.e. archers, cavalry, regular infantry, elite armored infantry, etc.) but the unit type represented on the board being that of the dominant combatant type present. The dice rolling for the attack representing the affectiveness of the unit as a whole.

Regardless, I didn't intend to get to involved in the discussion from that point of view, but rather about the defensive capabilities of the unit also being reflected in the potency of the battle back. I think this is an aspect that isn't grasped at first play by those not familiar with Ancients and BattleLore. During game play, the threat of a hefty battle back does play into the decision making on a regular basis, and is a good abstraction of the defensive capabilities of the units on the board.

Quote:
There could have been multiple ways to do this, such as rolling a defense type dice (as was done more than a DECADE prior with a similar game called Battlemasters), or having a heavy troop have more men to represent how much damage it could take than a medium troop, but in the end, it's all about how much damage a troop can do rather than how much they can withstand.

The way combat is implemented in C&C games does account for the types of units being attacked in some instances (like having sword and shield rolls be ignored, increasing the number of battle back dice, mechanics such as that), but in general, the dice represent the outcome of forces engaging, the sum total of the attack and battle back telling the players what the outcome is. Having the dice simply represent the attack potency is not how it is meant to be viewed. I'll attempt to illustrate this, and see if you buy it: If a Green (irregular) unit attacks a bold Red (Heavy) unit, it rolls 2d, and hits at a 33% rate. If the Red unit is at full strength, almost assuredly it will get a battle back and hit at that same 33% rate, but rolling twice as many dice have twice the likelihood of hitting, and a greater variance of possible damage (ie, could wipe the whole unit out with Bonus Strikes and Green Helms). So the defense in that case is very different than if that same Red unit is attacked by another Red, as the initial 4d do have a chance of wiping it out before a bb can be rolled. As the units' cohesiveness changes, indicated by the number of figures it has remaining, these tilt, as the likelihood of breaking the unit (removing all figures) increases, or in the case of a green unit attacking, becomes possible. I don't think I did a very good job there laugh but hopefully you get some of the gist.

Quote:
I can see how this works however, as it does inspire more aggressive tactics rather than defense, and moves the game along at a faster pace.

Defensive manoeuvres are important as ever - just takes some play to realize how to execute them and in which situations it is best to sacrifice an offensive. Ultimately it comes down to rolling more dice that hit at a higher rate than ones opponent, and the game being about utilizing the command cards (and lore, for those games involving lore) to enact that on the board, at an abstract level - the way the game goes about this is "real" enough for me, and more importantly, pretty fun to play

Anywho, the only reason I would encourage you to give this game some more play is for you to have the same fun I'm having with it - if it still offends your sensibilities, which is certainly anybody's wont, so be it

EDIT I&II: a couple of typos/grammatical errors, I'm sure there's more
EDIT III: yup, there's more
EDIT IV: all sorts of agreement issues, how fitting laugh
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Tom Grant
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josgeerkin wrote:
There are goblins, giant spiders and magic in the game. I don't think they were trying for a history lesson.

True, but that doesn't mean all bets are off. Suppose, as the game develops, the audience for Battlelore tilts more in the direction of purely historical scenarios than "fantasy alternate history" ones. What then?

More importantly, though, there's a certain amount of credibility that's still necessary, even in a fantasy setting. There's no obvious reason why a heavy cavalry charge at Pelennor Fields should be different than a heavy cavalry charge at Agincourt, even if there are wizards and monsters at one battle and not the other.
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Jordan Elton
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GreyLord wrote:

Then there's the entire heavy vs. medium idea. It's boiled down NOT to how effective they are defensively, but how much damage they deal. So a Heavy troop will be able to deal out more damage, but for some unknown reason their armor is just as useless to them as it is to a medium troop. Forget the days where an armored knight could stand up to dozens of normal men at arms, because no weapon could penetrate their armor (except via cracks in the armor), forget the days when an unarmored man was more easily hurt than an armored one, if you roll a wound, they both fall as easily.


Sometimes I get annoyed about this same thing, but I've thought of a pretty decent excuse. I tend to think that each squad isn't in the same scale. For instance, a squad of Heavy infantry could represent about 50 men, while a squad of green infantry could represent about 200. That covers up something like that for me pretty well; I guess some may have trouble with it.
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Ted Kostek
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While I understand the concerns raised by the OP (no explicit modeling of armor, potentially underpowered ranged combat), these items don't bother me. YMMV.

Red units are more dangerous than blue who are more dangerous than green. Ranged units can hit you before you can hit them. Long bows are better than common bows. Archers fire easier than crossbowmen. The exact magnitudes or reasons may or may not be correct, but spirit is correct.

I admit there are times when I wish some things about BL were different, and I wouldn't mind a little more accuracy, especially if it buys more game depth.

IMO, however, BL accomplishes what it sets out to do. You have a fairly simple game with the theme of fantasy/medieval warfare. No game is a perfect simulation. If BL is worse in this regard than most wargames, it's far better than most euros. Plus, many of us think it's a lot of fun.
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Sean Shaw
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Old Dwarf wrote:
Nice Review BUT..."Just Released" its been out for 1 1/2 years
& its by DoW not GW?

Oops, that's right, it is DoW, don't know why I put GW. Brain missed a beat probably. thanks for the correction.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Kingdaddy wrote:
There's no obvious reason why a heavy cavalry charge at Pelennor Fields should be different than a heavy cavalry charge at Agincourt, even if there are wizards and monsters at one battle and not the other.

Agincourt is remembered because it marked a turning point, not because it was typical of battles in that era. Mounted knights had ruled the battlefield previously, and common archers had done little to hold them in check.

It was the increased range and power of the English longbow that changed the equation. Had archers done as well against knights in previous battles, the outcome would not have come as such a shock to the French.
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Todd Rewoldt
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Rambling Rocket wrote:
Firstly I will say that I think this is a good game, and that I generally accept the abstraction of this game.

However, I do agree with the OP on various points, although I will limit my comment to armor for now. GoW itself seems to be inconsistent about armor. Example: Stoneskin spell - it potentially negates a hit like you would expect armor to do (and what is stoneskin if not very effective armor). So it can not be justified that the attack dice reflect armor when this spell goes against that.

I don't understand why this necessarily points to an inconsistency - the spell/answered prayer/what-have-you happens in conjunction with the dice rolling that is going on and the results tell the players what has happened.


Quote:
Also, red heavy cavalry (Scottish Wars) can ignore a hit in the same manner as the stoneskin spell, although it is said to be due to the lances. Makes more sense for it to be due to armor. Even if battlelore just had the simple sytem of amored or unarmored, that would be enough. After all, they effectively already do have it, but not in a consistent way (or should I say 'consistent reason'). It is a pity, since many other aspects of the system flow so well.

It is subtle, perhaps, but the Mounted Knights ability works differently than Stone Skin, in that it allows the Knights to ignore two Bonus Strikes from Foot units and one from other Mounted units and Creatures, rather than one color hit. If either allowed one hit regardless of the source to be ignored, the subtleties would be non-existant, but as it is a play of Stone Skin on a Mounted Knight being attacked is generally a much more rewarding play than one on a foot unit being attacked.

I do believe that it is more complex than armored/unamored that is reflected in the dice values, but all that said, it does often come down to rolling +/- 1d, ignoring a bonus strike, etc. to reflect these differences. From a gameplay standpoint (for me anyway) how these differences match up between the different units involved is one of the mechanics that make the game interesting.
 
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Sphere wrote:
Kingdaddy wrote:
There's no obvious reason why a heavy cavalry charge at Pelennor Fields should be different than a heavy cavalry charge at Agincourt, even if there are wizards and monsters at one battle and not the other.

Agincourt is remembered because it marked a turning point, not because it was typical of battles in that era. Mounted knights had ruled the battlefield previously, and common archers had done little to hold them in check.

It was the increased range and power of the English longbow that changed the equation. Had archers done as well against knights in previous battles, the outcome would not have come as such a shock to the French.
Well that and french command was horrible lol, charge over our own troops? No problem!
Fire massive archer volley's into your own infantry lines?
OUI Monsieur!


/
 
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Simon Barnes
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Sorry to necro..but if like me you are still reading reviews to decide whether or not to add to your collection I would just like to point out a few misconceptions about archers and their usefulness.

It is being selective to assume all archers should be as effective as the English Longbowmen (more accurately Welsh Warbowmen). The Warbow took a lifetime to master. Most archers of the time weren't as effective as those using the warbow and only English armies were able to muster them in large enough quantities to be effective (they couldn't be aimed at a target.. more at a general area)

Agincourt wasn't as huge a surprise as some people think.. the prelude to the battle involved the slowly diminishing English army offering battle to the outnumbering French, who refused. The French were forced to fight because the English closed on Calais. Agincourt came almost 60 years after Crecy, the French knew all about the power of the Warbow by the time Agincourt came round.

Therefore I don't think it is right to assume that because the archers in this game aren't as good as the Welsh Warbowmen that there is something wrong with the game. Maybe there is room in the rules/expansions to have some archers being warbowen.
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