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Subject: Battlelore, from box to "I bent my Wookie" rss

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Drinky Drinky
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Mr. Cat. Hold on I think I know my next move, just give me another minute....NO!!!!!!!
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Overview:: Battlelore has been out since before was a twinkle in BGG's user database. I will not be using this review as a great in-depth description of the combat as I am not there yet in capability for the game. So instead of making up tactics that do not work, I'll spare from blowing smoke up everyone's digested pie hole, pretending I do know tactics. When we all know I would weep and run like a goblin on double retreat.

Instead I will use this as a review so far. Starting from my experience out of the box to the 2 times I have played the game so far.

Be prepared as I will play the lore card “wall of text”.


Gamebits: This will be the crux of my review. Why? Because this and this alone piqued my interest to buy the game. Technically Mr Vasel has some responsibility of my interest in Battlelore as well when I first saw one of his reviews, and a darn fine job he did as well. Anyways, I want to give you all a firm perspective of the one item that made me buy the game. Especially when the box itself can seem a bit intimidating when you open it, and may offer OCD peeps a bit of dread when they open the box.



Opening the box: There are 2 layers of protected pieces in about 1 inch height of clear packaging. All the figures displayed in individual protective bubbles of pristine plastic goodness within the top slab that graces the opening of the Battle lore box. . Armies and banners all on display nicely, and some of the pieces are lumped into larger areas of the packaging.

Removing the plastic slab of pieces underneath is another plastic slab, this one holding the lore cups and giant spider prominently on the side, but this time there are not individual protective bubbles instead there are what look like entombed mass graves of troops intertwined in some abstract plastic version of what crushed souls would look like, underneath I can see another layer of less than plastic figurines. Where this seems some sick and twisted game piece version of Dante's Hells getting more grotesque as I go deeper into the packaging.

Miffed and confused I start liberating the pieces from their plastic (term to be used loosely) “protection”. Some troops are relatively unscathed, bent swords, slightly cockeyed or lowered shields. But some of the mounted units did not make it out so well. Directly out of the packaging, many of the horses are standing at a 45 degree angle, one of them dang near close to being bent at a right angle. I mess with some of the pieces trying to correct them like some battle veterinarian, fighting to keep the horse from being shot. I can manage to to remedy some of the crush damage, but they will never be the same again. For you “collector types” just learn to deal with it. I can really see some people getting bent out of shape over this, (no pun intended) but with the amount of pieces and unless you are hoping to paint some of them, just let it go.

Anyway now to the cardboard, there are 3 decks of cards to be separated and placed into movement, lore, and description quick reference cards. The cards are a bit flimsy, but they are not overly cheap, still would have liked to see them made a bit better as they are nothing to scream home about. You will also have to work the cards a bit as they will not slide over each other very will making shuffling difficult.

Next sheets of cardboard to punch out for the various hex terrains, special land features, battlements, and river pieces. The cardboard is very thick and nicely done being printed on both sides.

Next the game board , the game board is pretty awesome, it is well made and double sided, one side for a simple 2 player game and the 2nd side designed so it can be combined with another Battlelore board for a huge “epic/overlord” battlefield.


Plastic Parts:


Pieces, lots of little army miniatures. The main pieces are small miniatures with a small hole in the base to affix a banner to distinguish between Ye Olde English and French forces. The primary army miniatures are no larger than the size of your pinky finger, from tip of the pinky to the next knuckle. This in and of itself is amazing when I see people paint these things. Now to the armies.


Main Armies:


Humans: These figures are all gray, gray figure and gray base. The only thing that distinguishes a French soldier from an English soldier is the either the banner the main troop is carrying, or if unit is next to that banner. This makes finding pieces easy, but to purists they may scoff at the lack of originality. I personally like they are the same since most all the pieces are decided by “rank” it makes setting up the board easier.

Goblins: Goblins are gray makeup for the figure but dark green base. These are very easy to pick out of the group if you have a scenario that uses them. They have a few mounted units on lizards that are done very well. The sculpting/casting for the goblins look very well done.

Dwarves: Dwarves look just as you would expect dwarves to, they are gray figures with a brown base. There are not as many dwarf figures in the box as there are goblin figures, they also seem to have a Scottish theme to them.

Banners: Why do I mention these, because this is what you will primarily be looking at when it comes to your troops. The banner color and type decides gameplay of how you move, attack, and retreat. The type of figurine you have is technically for aesthetics as except for the slight distinctions of melee troop type for humans, you could probably get along without ever actually looking at the figure type as long as you have the banner. Luckily the game comes with extra banners, because you will break them.

Monsters: A full hex sized spider, it looks like a mix of spider/arachnid types, of a black widow wolf spider with a wasp's butt. It is still awesome and will freak out people who hate spiders. If you have a spider piece that can give some people the heebie jeebies, mission accomplished.

Extra Plastic

Lore Cups: These are primarily used to hold the cardboard lore pieces to spend to turn the tide of battle in the lore games.

Card holders: nothing fancy here, but more than a generous amount of card holders to keep form having to hold cards in your hand. This will allow you to hold command cards as well as a few “quick reference” cards if you do not yet remember all the rules.



Wooden Parts:


Dice: Yes the game has dice. The dice are all painted and slightly curved corner dice. Even after a few plays the pain is starting to fade. But the fact they are wood and they have their own special icons for the lore, hits, retreats, and banner type hits is a pretty nice touch.



Cardboard Parts:


Terrain Hexes: There are lots of thick double sided terrain hexes that will be told where they need to be place for each specific scenario.

Barriers and fortifications: These are punched out of the same cardboard as the terrain hexes. These smaller cardboard pieces represent battlements and fortifications your armies will have to deal with. These would have been nice as 3-D plastic pieces, but they do have a benefit being cardboard as units can “fight” from atop these battlements and fortifications, and makes placing the units easier.

Class Chits: Battle lore has the incorporation of classes, these classes cause benefits in the lore games to allow you access to certain lore cards for a lower cost, and access to certain terrain types. The level of the class as your War Council is determined by stacking these round chits on that class or monster type in your “tent”.

War Council Tent: This is more to show setup of your War Council with the chits listed above. The sheet is a small doubles sided piece of cardboard of a very thin quality. It is more a reference for your war council on cards to be drawn and class determination. Not necessary to the game, but it helps in presentation and ease of use.

Rule book(s): Rule books, it is actually one rule book and one scenario book. So I will describe the rule book here and the scenario book next. The rule book is beautifully done with lots of picture examples and a great learning setup for transitioning to starter battle to full on lore battles. The 80+ pages is VERY intimidating. But do not be, sections are even color coded to help you along. The reason for the girth of the manual is due to all the pictures in the rule book designed to make the game LESS confusing. Trust me this is a good thing. And besides you read this far for my shoddy review. Reading the rule book is also very natural as it is built like a magazine you would buy off the shelf of a news stand and makes it very easy to lay out and read. It is very well put together, and for 80+ pages it had better be.

Scenario Book: This is a book of how to setup the board for the 10+ scenarios given with the base set. It shows setup for each side, for their troops, war council, and card count. It also shows by picture where to put all the terrain pieces. If you are not familiar with the game this part can take up just as much time as playing the game itself. So feel free to try and play a few times with the same scenario, to save some time. Luckily this is not as think



Gameplay and Setup: I'm going to make this short, genuinely if you want to read about the gameplay check out some of the other reviews, this is about the pieces themselves.

I will tell you for your first couple games, setup can be just as long as the game, because the games play surprisingly fast. Literally I have not had a game take longer than an hour and most have been around 45 minutes. The setup adds a very large length of time to the game in comparison to the game play itself.

Overall I like the feel of the game, it is complicated with the right amount of strategy, tactics, luck , and presentation. But those who want a nice quick game of a fancy miniature wargame with some fantasy and magic thrown in will not be too disappointed. It does take some time to get used to the rules as I feel it plays like Sumo, either get knocked down or get pushed back past your own side. The cards deciding which area of the battle field you can move and act on is an odd feature to get used to. Especially when you have a killer move you could pull off but just to not have the cards to move that section of the battle field or move that amount or type of troop.


Pros, Cons, and Observations:


+ There are a ton of units and pieces. Small and bent, but still awesome.
+ Game board is awesome
+ Rule books are very well illustrated and do well to transition you to learning the full game.
+ Game board is very well made, thick, and durable
+ Quite a few expansions if you want to add to the game.




- Pieces will come out of the box bent and packed in like sardines. It is a very disappointing first feeling.
- There is a steep learning curve to play the full game. But as a plus it does help you learn very well, it just takes time.
- Card stock for cards are a bit flimsy




0 - When you first play setup will seem longer than the actual game play
0 - I recommend following the rules and playing the medieval version before lore versions
0 – Seriously get over the pieces not being perfect, there are a ton of them in the box
0 – You will want to get some sort of storage devices to where you can effectively store armies with their specific types for quicker set up of the game. Best I have been able to do and still fit in the box is using baggies =(
0 – Do not let painting pieces or lack of paint ruin the game for you


Personal Spin: The game is done very well, I am not surprised Days of Wonder originally put out a great game such as this. I have no clue why they sold it to Fantasy Flight games, but the overall quality of the pieces could have been improved, and not the usual DoW quality I expect. I was thrown off a bit when I saw the “days of wonder” label on the front of the box. But look at it this way, it could be worse, they could not put as many pieces in to begin with to cut corners. And if it is such a big deal feel free to go through Amazon or another dealer who will sell the game below list price.

After re-reading I found myself this is great...but. Don't let that dissuade you, but also do not think the game will perfect by any means. Instead think of this as priming you what the imperfections are so when you get the game you know what to expect and can enjoy opening the box and immersing yourself in the giant game that is Battlelore. Remember, I wanred you about the wall of text.

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Andrew Tullsen
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I've heard that if you dip the bent figures into boiling water for a few seconds, then straighten them out, they will be cured.
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Karl
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Howitzer_120mm wrote:
I've heard that if you dip the bent figures into boiling water for a few seconds, then straighten them out, they will be cured.
You don't even need to straighten them out. The plastic has enough 'memory' to bend back into correct shape after a bit in the hot water (wouldn't recommend actual boiling water). So just bath them together for a minute and then shock them with cold water. Done.
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Dan Conley
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Agreed! BOILING water would be a bad idea, but I did the hot water technique and it worked just fine.

Nice review! Welcome to BattleLore! It's been a favorite of mine since it was released!
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James Gambrell
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Nice review. I would just disagree with the idea that Battlelore has a steep learning curve. I was able to teach a friend to play the full game in only two sessions. Actually MASTERING the full game is certainly difficult, and perhaps this is what you meant, but I find the rules incredibly easy to explain to anyone familiar with basic wargame concepts. I believe the fact that there are only a few unit types and only three unit levels is what makes it easy to learn. In many ways it is actually easier to learn than "simple" games like Go or Chess (Go still makes no sense to me).
 
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