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Subject: MotherLore: Teaching Tactics to my 56-Year Old Mom. rss

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David Moffett
United States
Toledo
Ohio
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Prologue
This is based on the 4th game of BattleLore I've played with my mom since I got it. She was interested in it from the very beginning, seeming, like me, to get that giddy feeling inside from all those miniatures; like a small child opening a new toy, they even have that rank plastic smell some of my old toys did. Being a lover of chess she said "Sure, this can't be to hard. After all Chess is the grandfather of all strategy games!" I taught her the rules, gave her some basic tactical advice and we played some games, I taught her more as we went.

So far we have only played the battle of Agincourt as my mom has not wanted to move on from it. I played twice as the French and twice as the English (the historical winners of the battle) tonight I will focus on our last (4th) game where I was the English.

Lesson 1: Use of Cavalry
"Mom, make sure you utilize your cavalry, remember how I told you last time that as the English you should have utilized your archers? Use against your opponent what your opponent doesn't have, or has little of and take from them what they have that you do not."

Most of the game involved me teaching her strategy and tactics which I found immensely fun, maybe even more fun than playing the game. For my first move, I pushed two of my regular infantry forward to fill in my lines and solidify my formation, in earlier battles I explained to her the absolute importance of holding formation as long as possible to take advantage of the discipline this brings, or, in BattleLore the concept of being "bold".

"Historically, the English won because the French, convinced their knights would carry the day, foolishly advanced across a muddy field. As a result they got caught up in the nasty terrain, the numerous English longbowmen ripped them to shreds. Don't make the same mistake, use your cavalry to flank, advance around or through forests while moving your infantry up the center, use the cavalry to break my formation, if you can break my formation and tie up my archers you can beat me through sheer force of arms."

Lesson 2: Timing

She attempted this after I advised her but couldn't quite get the command cards she needed. Besides being at a tactical disadvantage in this battle, the French also have fewer command cards available at one time. My archers picked off some of her infantry and cavalry and before getting the necessary support from the infantry she slammed her heavy cavalry into my right flank... but not the edge of my flank, opting instead to attempt to drive a wedge through and thus un-bolding two squads she hit the second to last regular infantry, which held, battled back and nearly wiped them out.

"Mom, hold your cavalry in reserve until your infantry can support them. Unsupported cavalry, despite being the tanks of the day, still were not fully capable of carrying a battle without support. Time your attacks, if you can, so that your infantry can move in and support or, if necessary, screen your wounded cavalry so my archers can't pick off the remainder."

Which they proceeded to do, later in the battle my mom effectively assaulted my left flank with a BattleLore card slamming her other heavy cavalry and two regular infantry into some soft, exposed archers and regular infantry which fell out of formation during the course of the attack. This decimated and routed my entire left flank, however, she wasn't able to actually destroy any of my units and they (mostly) managed to escape behind my protected center.

"THAT is how you pull off a flanking maneuver, very well done." she smiled and drew a new card, a light flickered in her eyes and a rough chortle emanated from the back of her throat, how ominous, my mom never did have a good poker face though.

Lesson 3: Formation and Maneuver is Paramount

After my next turn which involved loosing a volley of arrows on her center forces she triumphantly threw down a 'foot onslaught' command card and advanced her regular infantry in a line, what she hoped was cohesive. But I had a counter attack in my hand and played it, advancing nearly my entire center onto hers, I then commenced to pound the snot out the unsupported left side of the formation, causing it to collapse like so many cards and the entire formation routed in short order, but held together.

"Make sure that when you advance your forces in small numbers you do so in a broad-faced formation to maximize the support offered by the soldiers, you can also stagger the formation to screen injured front line units in the event that they are hit hard."

Lesson 4: When All Else Fails Retreat... Wait You Can't Do That? Then Throw Everything You Have!


In a desperate move she activated a 'mounted charge' and throw her remaining heavy cavalry and full-strength regular cavalry at my still regrouping left flank, unfortunately, she attacked the section that was actually ready for her. The heavy cavalry inflicted a wound and a flag, but the formation held and battled back, rolling three red helmets the single heavy cavalry was ground into dust. At this point, I held 3 pennants and she held none. Her regular cavalry hit the exact same spot and rolled three flags, driving the infantry into total retreat.

She smiled bitterly knowing the game was about to end, but it wasn't quite yet. I played a central attack (3) and pushed her infantry further back but inflicted no wounds, her next move was an identical command card in which she inflicted 3 wounds on my heavy infantry, this however was the last move of the game. Though she managed to critically damage Henry V's bodyguard, the crippled heavy infantry battled back for 2 wounds and a bonus strike securing the last pennant.

So, in the end, my mom sensing she had no chance in hell anymore just threw everything she had at me and her soldier performed admirably. There were several instances where she should have lost her last pennant but her soldier held on, at the point before the end of the game she had three regular infantry with just the banner carrier left engaging full strength and nearly full strength units and she was actually gaining the upper hand! It was a great game despite the fact that it was one sided. Playing a game is more about the journey than the victory, especially when you're playing the English in a battle in which the odds are stacked in their favor. Teaching games and tactics and strategy is one of my favorite parts about this hobby, that special kind of interaction between friends, parent and child, brother and sister, it's what makes it worth it.
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
Graduate of Barlinnie
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It's good to see family members playing together. Brings back distant memories of being a 56-year-old. Nice article.

Jim
Est. 1949

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David Moffett
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Thank you.

If you were truly established in 1949, 56 wasn't all that long ago, hehe.
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Ted Kostek
United States
Camano Island
Washington
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Nice article and good advice on the tactics of BL.

I've painfully learned the problems w/ a too-soon cavalry charge. It's just sooo tempting. Restraint is difficult to remember.
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David Moffett
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One of the things I've found so endearing is that the tactics of BattleLore (aside from the obvious things like magic and giant spiders) aren't all that different from actual battlefield tactics (or as close as a game involving pushing miniatures around a hexagonal board can be). So they come easily to me since I've been playing strategy games (of all sorts) since I was about 8 years old and been a history buff for about the same length of time.

Concepts of morale and formation, support, cavalry pursuit, etc.

One of the best things about BattleLore is it's logical employment of realism, but not to the point of bogging things down or breaking the easy flow of the game.
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joel siragher
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silver spring
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This is a really nice article. My mom passed away in her mid seventies in 2002 or 2003. During the 1990's she was displaced from her home and I asked her to come live with us. One of the fondest times of memory was this wonderful stubborn playful older woman playing Magic the gathering with me. During those days I also introduced her to some Eternal champion fiction Michael Moorcock (swords trilogy). I remeber her telling me how she read the lord of the rings/return of the king book back in the 60s. Somewhere floating around I still have the Ace edition.

Thanks for evoking the fond memories. Im 50+, and I am trying to give the pleasant legacy of board gaming over to teens in my neighood, and some adults. BGG brings me a lot of joy. Keep up the good work all.

Joel
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