We've been playing Battlelore for more than a year now, and we still get the hankering to bring it out and get a few games in now and then. More so these days because we've come up with house rules to address the issues in Battlelore that we felt could be improved upon to increase our enjoyment in playing it. Theme is most important to us.
#1 Rolling flags can sometimes be beneficial to your opponent
In this game, it feels wrong when something that you roll benefits your opponent, and this happens way too often. Positioning your units to get the maximum number of hits in, only to have it retreat when you attack it with your first attack feels downright weird.
#2 Poor Command card draws can be unfun
Yes, the game is about hand management, so that's not going to go away. Still, when your units feel like sitting ducks because you didn't draw any cards for that section it's annoying. Yes, I know this is to simulate the frustration and all that, but I feel that giving you more choices is always good.
#3 Heavy units are just as vulnerable to damage as light units
Armor rules are largely omitted, and it just feels wrong that a unit of lightly armored infantry is just as soft as heavily armored dismounted knights.
If you feel similarly, then perhaps these house rules will help you too.
Units will retreat their full movement for each flag rolled against them in combat.
Whereas before flags would give you a break when surrounded by enemy units, flags are now more brutal since they will leave your lines wide open to assault. Actually makes Goblins a little better, but just by a little.
When a defending unit is attacked in melee, before the attacking unit rolls its dice, the defending unit has the option to try to battle back, defend or fall back. Cannot perform these actions against a battle back attack
Attacking units don't get these options, thematically because they're in less of a position to react, and mechanically because these rules are addressing poor Command card draws.
If the defending unit is not forced to retreat by the attack, if it chose to battle back, it will roll its own dice against the attacking unit, damaging it like normal.
Exactly like the battle back rules with battle savvy from the Heroes expansion. Your units aren't sitting ducks, support is still important, but not 100% necessary. It gives you the option to play aggressive and push your luck, at the risk of losing out on attacks.
After the attacking unit rolls its dice to attack, if the defending unit chose to defend, it will roll its own dice to cancel hits or flags with Swords on Shield on a one-for-one basis.
Really simple armor rules, it makes red units tougher on the battlefield, potentially allowing them to last longer than blue/green units, and it also helps avoid flags. A unit caught alone can try to hold its position as it tries to wait for reinforcements
Before the attacking unit rolls its dice to attack, if the defending unit chose to fall back, it must fall back towards its own side. Move 2 hexes if possible, if not; move 1 hex.
All Green units (except creatures) can fall back.
All Mounted units can fall back against Foot units and creatures.
All Blue Mounted units can fall back against Red Mounted units and creatures.
Creatures may never fall back.
The attacking unit rolls its dice, but only banner color hits will be counted, all Swords on Shield, flag and lore results are ignored.
If the unit is killed, the attacking unit may perform follow on actions, otherwise the hex is successfully defended and the attacking unit may not enter it.
Works almost exactly like the Evade rule in C&C:A, changed the name to Fall Back because of the Evade card in the Warrior deck. Helps you regroup units into formation even without Command cards, at the cost of potential damage.
There, comments are always welcome!
If you have units in an advanced position, and no cards to order them, more often than not it's your own fault.
Hoping to draw the right cards is NOT a strategy, it's foolishness.
Before I add another post of pooh-poohing, just wanted to say that if the above rules adjustments make the game more satisfying, all the power to you
However, in addition to Phil's point, I don't find the other house rules to be necessary to address your misgivings about the game.
I don't see how by bringing C&C:Ancients retreat rules to BL misgiving #1 is addressed. There will still be situations where flags will be beneficial to the defending player (and while I'm at it, I don't see anything wrong with that premise either). What it will do is significantly weaken the Mounted units as they will be very vulnerable to unignored flags. I think this rule was intentionally left out of the BL ruleset in order to make cavalry units the big cheeses of the battlefield, as opposed to their status in C&C:Ancients.
The armor rules do exist in BL (and other C&C games for that matter), they are just built into the combat dice values and other unit attributes (mounted ignoring the first bonus from foot, crossbows not hitting on bonus at point blank, stuff like that). Flanking "bonuses" and other tactical advantages are also built into the game - just not always by dice modifiers, but also due to morale, movement values, weapon type, etc.
I suspect that some type of "fall back" will be an attribute for an elvish race that is introduced - just an expectation, no inside information there Perhaps it was dropped from the base game in an effort to keep the rules simple, but I think it was due to the unit types involved. It may make sense for the cavalry to be able to evade, but I think the movement and combat dice handle the advantages well enough. Unlike c&c:ancients, there is no "leader" face of the die to contend with (lore is similar, but nowhere near the impact), flags are not as potent, and the first bonus strike is ignored - essentially operating like evade in c&c:ancients with regard to the lower combat dice numbers (and even moreso as it is ignored on bb's as well). For the ranged units I also don't find it necessary. In BL the ranges are longer than in c&c:a (typically by a hex or two), so by being able to evade cc as well, those units would be more powerful than intended in the game, in my opinion.
Again, I'm certainly not an out-of-hand opponent to rules variants - I just feel that there are subtleties to the choices that the designer has made that should be considered before embarking upon altering the rule set. But, perhaps I'm way off on my interpretation of those rule choices