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Subject: C&C: Ancients vs. Memoir '44 vs. Battlelore rss

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Steven Barcelo
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I am very interested in getting at least one of the games in this series, but I'm torn as to which one. I've tried reading some of the reviews, but I thought it would be easier to compile peoples opinions in one thread (as I'm sure others have done before as well).

Anyway, my main gaming opponent will be my fiance, and our gaming preferences are slightly different.

She prefers to play the same game over and over so that she can gain a firm grasp on the strategy, while I like a new challenge, and once I think I understand the strategy I'm ready to move on.

Neither of us care too much about the quality of the bits,

I prefer long, involved games, but she gets tired if the game goes too long.

Theme doesn't matter to her, but I am particularly interested in all three themes, but probably prefer fantasy and ancient warfare.

Given these basic preferences, I have a few questions:

-Is Memoir significantly shorter (it's listed at 40 minutes, while the other two are at 60)?

-Why is it shorter? Is it less complex, or just shorter scenarios?

-Are they all the same level of complexity (# of different units and nit-picky rules to understand)?

-Is there some reason to think I will get less tired of one of these, while she will feel comfortable with a set of rules (more/better expansions and/or scenarios)?

-Why is C&C: Ancients ranked so much higher?

-Is the theme particularly well applied in any of these more than the others?

-Finally, are there any other reasons why one of these is better than the others?

I am still growing my game collection, and therefore will probably buy only one of these for now while I fill in other unique niches, but I understand I will get a lot of "buy all three!" anyway.

Thank you for any thoughts you have!
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the scrub
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My experience:

1. Memoir does seem shorter and it's primarily in the lack of complexity in rules, especially in the base version. (The only real complication are the Air Rules and more units in Breakthrough and Overlord.)

2. Complexity is basically M44 > Battlelore > CC Ancients

3. If complexity is your rationale then CC Ancients is your game.

4. My opinion is that the basic Battle Cry (or Commands & Colors) system best fits the Ancients theme and thus the higher rating. It just feels like an Ancients battle in that game whereas the Emperor's clothes are a looser fit in the other genres.

5. The main collection aspect is that overall, Memoir and Battlelore have ridiculously nice sculpted plastic figures and Ancients occupies a weird space in the block/mini paradigm.

If I were to choose (and I have) I'd go CC Ancients first and fill in Memoir or Battlelore to one's personal tastes.

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Seth Owen
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I'd definitely go the opposite direction. I think C&C:Ancients is definitely a somewhat richer game experience but it might be a little bit too big a bite to chew on for someone who hasn't played a lot of wargames.

I think Memoir' 44 is a better game to start with. There are only three kinds of units and it's instantly obvious what they are (I think identifying the different troop types among the block in C&C:A may not be easy for less experienced players, plus there are a lot more of them, and the differences between the different types can be subtle.) BattleLore is in-between the two.

The scenarios in Memoir will take less time to play and less time to set up (again, fewer and more obvious types).

If you like the system you may very well end up getting the others anyway.
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Steven Barcelo
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I assume you meant:

scrub wrote:
My experience:

2. Complexity is basically M44 < Battlelore < CC Ancients
?

scrub wrote:

3. If complexity is your rationale then CC Ancients is your game.


I like complexity, but it doesn't always work as well for my fiance. Is there enough difference that it might make sense to start at Memoir and build to CC Ancients (maybe skipping BattleLore)?

As additional background information on teh level of complexity we can take, we both like Twilight Struggle, but by the midgame she is starting to feel overwhelmed just when I am starting to hit a good groove and looking forward to adding the Late War cards to the mix.
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Steven Barcelo
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wargamer55 wrote:
I'd definitely go the opposite direction. I think C&C:Ancients is definitely a somewhat richer game experience but it might be a little bit too big a bite to chew on for someone who hasn't played a lot of wargames.


This actually makes me think that C&C might be better, since she's open to wargames, just not incredibly complex, endless wargames. If the difference is small, I think I'd go for the richer experience.

wargamer55 wrote:

The scenarios in Memoir will take less time to play and less time to set up (again, fewer and more obvious types).


Set up time is not an issue, since I can do that, as long as troop placement is not an issue. Troop placement is one of her least favorite aspects of games, from the incredibly long start to Risk down to the relatively simple first few influence points of Twilight Struggle.

Thanks again for the good suggestions already!
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Fedor Ilitchev
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Well, I haven't had a chance to play the others in the series, but CC:A has proved to be one of my best game purchases ever. Its that rare game that hits many sweetspots simultaneously: length of play, thematic immersion, strategic depth, replayability - CC:A excels in all these areas in a way that, judging by the reviews of BGG, the other two cames can't quite match.

As for the complexity comment, I have taught it to many people and no one thought it was complex after the first game.

I would (and did) go with CC:A.

- Fedor
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Bill Herbst
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If you and your fiance enjoy Twilight Struggle, complexity should not be an obstacle. Both Battlelore and C&C Ancients have incentives for keeping battle lines intact with units supporting each other and so on -- the absence of this harms Memoir in my opinion. I prefer Ancients to BattleLore because I prefer the ancient theme to the fantasy theme and I like the way leaders function and enjoy the additional troop types. I would go with Ancients or BattleLore given your stated preferences.

I would also advise against buying all three. I once owned Battle Cry, Memoir (with expansions) and C&C Ancients (with expansions). The differences are not significant enough for me to justify the box space and expense of owning all three so I sold off BC and Memoir. Now I have a realistic chance of playing all of the C&C scenarios from the base game expansions magazines etc. and I've never wished I still owned one of the others.
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marc lecours
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I have played all three and Command and colors is my favourite of the 3. There seems to be more strategy. The cards driving one third of the board at a time feels more like an ancient battle than a WWII tactical game.

On the other hand memoir44 and battlelore have much better components. Plastic figures, a better map, better overall components.

All three are long to set up. 10 to 15 minutes of set up for a one hour game.(though both the set up and the game speed up with experience.)

The units in Command and colors are difficult to distinguish but you get used to it. The player aid is very usefull since there are many more unit types that in memoir 44.

Battlelore is mid way between the two others with a bunch of random cards (lore) that you spend lore points on. This randomizes the battle even more. But there are lots of neat little gimmicks. Battlelore uses an almost identical combat system to Command and colors but with less unit types.
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Captain Spaulding
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My wife and I love Battlelore. The spells are the best part! I have asked her why she likes the game so much and she says it's the theme and spells. So there you have it.Plus, IMHO it is the best looking of the three, which goes a long way. I know people who prefer Ancients claim the lore cards are unbalanced, but in my experience, I'm always impressed by how balanced the lore aspect is. I say, Battlelore! Out of the three, definitely the most spouse approved (for me, anyway.)
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Steven Barcelo
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I guess I should have been a little more cautious with the Twilight Struggle statement. We are looking for a significantly lighter (or at least somewhat lighter and a lot shorter) game to play more frequently. We only play TS once every few months, because we rarely have the time and energy to know that we'll finish the game. Sadly, we don't have a game room yet to address this problem with multiple game sessions (we need the kitchen table). Maybe when we get a house...


 
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the scrub
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sbarcelo wrote:
I assume you meant:

scrub wrote:
My experience:

2. Complexity is basically M44 < Battlelore < CC Ancients
?

scrub wrote:

3. If complexity is your rationale then CC Ancients is your game.


I like complexity, but it doesn't always work as well for my fiance. Is there enough difference that it might make sense to start at Memoir and build to CC Ancients (maybe skipping BattleLore)?

As additional background information on teh level of complexity we can take, we both like Twilight Struggle, but by the midgame she is starting to feel overwhelmed just when I am starting to hit a good groove and looking forward to adding the Late War cards to the mix.


Yeah, sorry > was supposed to be --> going up. If it means anything, my wife hates complicated wargames but loves CC Ancients.
 
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Dan
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I was in your position before. I purchased M'44 because it was my first "wargame" and I didn't want to have to sticker ALL those units in CC:A. Like others have said, it's a good introduction to the concepts of LOS, cover, and assault planning. We played 17 games before we got a little tired of the streaky-ness of the luck.

I then acquired CC:A pre-stickered (thank you mbuckingham!). It's a far better game in my opinion. There are a lot of exceptions in the rules so it's not as quick to pick up as M'44 and you'll probably be making mistakes with leaders, evade rules, and other stuff. I made it a habit to reread the whole rulebook after each play and that really helped. CC:A also has "charts" which can be intimidating/annoying to some. They are not IFT by any means, more along the lines of "green units CC at 2 dice, but auxilia at 3, blue infantry CC at 4 but can't fire ranged, etc."

Whereas M'44 has 3 units and some "special forces," CC:A has 12 types of units IIRC. That and the battle back rules are what make CC:A a better game for me than M'44. Oh and in CC:A you're throwing 3-5 dice instead of 1-3. I like more dice!

Since you asked about time, consider this: with M'44 it suggests you play both sides. We always did this because the scenarios (especially the other ones are so short). CC:A runs a bit longer so we usually play one scenario before moving onto something else.

A couple of other considerations: I'm keeping M'44 to teach to people who haven't played wargames before, but I'd rather it be an entry for them into CC:A. I like the expansions for CC:A more. It will take a LONG time to sticker all your blocks--do you want to play right when you get it out of the box? And finally, I think the M'44 scenarios may be more balanced so that the historic loser will still usually be within one or two victory flags. CC:A has some scenarios where the loser just gets HOSED!

I didn't address Battlelore b/c I don't own it. It doesn't appeal to me at all.
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Dan Conley
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Hi, Steven! I'm a big fan of Mr. Borg's C&C system, so I just HAVE to weigh in here!!!

Memoir is definitely the LEAST complex of the three right out of the box. They've added loads of expansions which, of course, add to the complexity. With just the basic game, games tend to be brief and rules easy to grasp.

BattleLore adds magic to the mix. It's not AT ALL complex...just something else to think about! To date, I've only actually played M '44 and B'Lore. I prefer B'Lore just a bit due to the theme, but I really enjoy them both!

I have C&C:Ancients and have read the rules. While certainly not complex, there are LOTS of different types of units. They also add leaders to the mix. The game comes with player reference cards that are really helpful.

I am really eager to get some games of this one in. I take it to our every-other-week game group and actually set it up once. Sadly, it went unplayed. I'll keep trying!

Since you're primarily interested in fantasy or ancients thematically, I'd skip M '44 (for now!) and grab one of the others. You should know that the FUTURE of BattleLore is still somewhat uncertain. There hasn't been much news since FFG took over the game. Knowing their tendency to produce tons of expansions, I'm thinking the future could be bright! It's just too early to know.

On the other hand, Ancients has 3 expansions in print and 2 more set to release soon.

Nearly forgot to mention (though it was addressed by someone else) the prep. time involved for Ancients. Putting those stickers in the blocks takes awhile, so it's not a "play-as-soon-as-you-get-it-home" game. Not a BIG deal, but certainly something you need to know.

Godd luck with the decision and good gaming with WHICHEVER you pick!
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Captain Spaulding
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Battlelore already has over seven expansions available, most are relatively inexpensive. Mostly they add new units, one adds the ability to draft your own armies and one adds an epic sized board for epic sized games (and the ability to play with up to 6 people.)

I haven't picked up any of these expansions, as I haven't felt the need, but the game is already highly expandable if you're interested.

Edited to add: An earlier post mentioned CC:Ancients has battle back rules.. so does Battlelore, as well as formation rules for emboldening units, pursuits, etc. Not to mention special rules for Goblins, Dwarves, and of course creatures like the Giant Spider (all of which come in the base game.) Add to that the ability to create a "war council" with off board leaders of different types and levels that utilize lore/spells, and you've got a game with lots of depth right out of the box. Then of course there are many additional unit types you can get with the expansions.

I suspect Battlelore gets an unfair rep of having less depth than CC:Ancients because of the fantasy theme. I would say the difference is minimal, and if you plan on getting some of the expansions, then Battlelore possibly even takes the lead.
 
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Dan Conley
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Yeah I forgot to mention the B'Lore expansions. blush That's likely because I found most of them underwhelming. I had hoped for lots of other races (undead, etc.) in the Days of Wonder expansions. What we GOT were more of the same races included in the base game, but with variations like riding goofy mounts, etc.

Of the B'Lore expansions, I'd HIGHLY recommend going for the Epic one. Playing two boards with multiple folks is a kick! Like you, I wouldn't be able to do that on the table space at my house. So THAT comes out at our game club at the FLGS...
 
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Bartow Riggs
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I've played Command and Colors: Ancients with three different women, multiple times, and they all liked it very much.

Command and Colors is a richer play experience, only slightly more complicated than Memoir 44 and has better support rules, evade rules and battle back rules than Battlelore.

Start with the Ticinus River scenario for your first battle and play twice - once playing each side. Worked for me!
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Bartow Riggs
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rubberchicken wrote:

On the other hand memoir44 and battlelore have much better components. Plastic figures, a better map, better overall components.


I for one, much prefer the blocks of Command and Colors to the unwieldy miniatures of the other two.

The other two do have a mounted map if that is important to you.
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I quick shout out for Commands & Colors: Ancients. I love it. It doesn't get as much table time as I anticipated or would like. cry I fully recommend nonetheless.

It is quick enjoyable experience. Very tactical feel.
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Joachim Pehl
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I would get Memoir 44.

I think that Command & Colors is the best of the tree, but Memoir is quicker and easier to grasp. If you or your fiancee hate memoir this will most likely be true for the other two games either. However, if you like Memoir you can get CC:A or BL. Complexity shouldn't be a problem since you already know Memoir.
Furthermore, while they have the same mechanics Memoir and the other two have a complete different feeling. In memoir each unit can shoot and you try to spread your troops in order to use the terrain effectively while in the other two games, some kind of formation is much more important.


About CC:A and BL, I said that I think CC is the better game, but there is one but. FFG just took over BL and it is not unlikely that we will see some big changes for the game this year, Therefore I would wait and see what FFG has planned fo BL.



BartowWing wrote:


I for one, much prefer the blocks of Command and Colors to the unwieldy miniatures of the other two.

The other two do have a mounted map if that is important to you.


So true. I would love to see blocks for BL (with FFG artwork of course)
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Steven Barcelo
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Thanks again for all the great input! Fight now I'm probably leaning in the direction of this most recent post. I think Memoir '44 sounds like the game I have the best chances of getting to play, which is probably the most important aspect. It does sound to me that C&C:A would be the most fun for me, but I don't know how often I could really get it on the table. Hopefully building familiarity with the system using Memoir '44 for some early positive experiences will allow me to make the jump to C&C:A in the future.


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Dan
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I think that's a great decision. You will likely get a great deal of fun out of M'44. You are really only a few short steps away from having some plexiglass cut custom for your paper maps. GMail me when you buy your first set of nailclippers for clipping counters exclusively!
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Laurent COCHARD
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I enjoy both Battlelore and C&C: Ancients very much. Battlelore tends to be more fun (if you like things like dwarves riding hairy highland cows and ostrich-mounted goblins) while C&C: Ancients is more sober, realistic and wargame like.

Memoir'44 may be a bit too simple (but I've only played the base game).
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Chris Rudram
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Memoir '44 is easier to learn as the scenarios bring you through nicely.

However, it's a bit 'Chinese Take-away' light, and I'm not sure the it replays the same scenario as well as CC:Ancients. I found the 2-3 plays of 'Conquest of Heroes' much more enthralling than Mem'44, and really not much harder (due to the "ease you in" rules).

If C&C ancients had a programmed instructions, I'd absolutely recommend it. The game captures the warfare very well. And theme can be important.

I've never played Battlelore, so can't compare it to the others.
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Dan
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Odinsday wrote:
If C&C ancients had a programmed instructions, I'd absolutely recommend it. The game captures the warfare very well. And theme can be important.

To be fair, neither really have programmed instructions, as in, now that you know this, play scenario 1 then read section 2. The first scenario in M'44 has no tanks and artillery in the same way that the first scenario in CC:A has no elephants.
 
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Steven Barcelo
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I'm not really sure what is meant by "programmed instructions", but the concept of starting with simple scenarios and adding in units sounds like a pretty good teaching tool, while also allowing players to choose the complexity of the game to some extent.

Also, I know I'm not being perfectly clear, but I think it's a little difficult to convey what I mean, since I don't understand my fiance perfectly yet and can't always predict her reaction to games. Basically, I think the most obvious thing to avoid would be a game where you repeatedly have to ask, "Now what does this piece do again?", even if there is a good chart to explain it. I'm assuming that's more of a problem for C&C:A than Memoir. However, do you think we would get really bored just playing the first few scenarios of C&C:A over and over again to get used to the game with fewer units? If not, I might be wavering back towards C&C:A for the sake of just getting one game.

Finally, I'm aware that C&C:A takes a lot of initial setup time in stickering the pieces, which doesn't bother me at all. I'm more concerned about the setup time for each game. If it is just placing terrain tiles on a map and arranging units based on a scenario plan, I can happily do that, too, but if the setup time involves 10-15 minutes of planning your troop placement before actually getting to play at all, my fiance starts to get frustrated.

Once again, thanks for all of your help!
 
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