Matt Sanderson
Canada
Thornhill
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Hey folks,

I know I'm late to the party when it comes to BattleLore, but I thought I'd offer up my own review of the game and its system, having just purchased it at a local games store a few days ago, and having been unable to stop playing it since. I'll let everyone know now that this will be a rave review. I primarily play games with my girlfriend, who has never played a wargame before, and is not particularly interested in the common WWII theme that's out there. So, I am going to include her observations during this, so that any guys out there that also play their games with their wives and/or girlfriends, will be able to figure out if their own miss or misses will enjoy it. So, without further ado, let me start.

Some Background - Like I stated above, I play my board games primarily with my girlfriend. We don't have a large group to come over and game every once in awhile or anything of the sort, so we basically are forced to stick within a set group of games that allow 2-player play and are fun, as a result. This is also our first competitive board game outside of Scrabble and the terrible Risk: Godstorm, as we usually play co-ops such as Castle Ravenloft and Arkham Horror, both of which she loves.

Anyway, going into BattleLore, I knew I would probably enjoy it, being I love war games (although I had never played any in board game form, only on the PC), and I prefer a fantasy-like setting. I love controlling hordes of monsters, what can I say? I was a little nervous, however, about whether my girlfriend would like the game or not. I knew she preferred the fantasy setting, too (most girls do), but I didn't know if she'd have much fun with a war game issuing tactical commands. It was between Memoir '44, Battles of Westeros, and BattleLore. I chose BattleLore, because, well, it's a fantasy-based game and isn't shy about it like BoW is, and it isn't a dry WWII themed game (in her opinion). So keep this in mind if you're looking to pick the game up and aren't sure if your significant gaming other would like it or not.

The Rulebook - Wow! 80-pages, eh? That seemed a bit daunting. Luckily, when I opened it up, I found the majority of the book is pages of beautiful art work and step-by-step illustrations of the text instructions. It's laid out in an easy to follow manner, slowly graduating you from chapter to chapter (which happen to be the phases of play, for the most part). Neither of us had played a war game in board game format, so we didn't know what to expect out of a rulebook going in. We were pleasantly surprised at its thoroughness and clarity (especially after the Castle Ravenloft booklet). It also includes a comprehensive glossary in the back of the book which comes in very useful. It's also charming just to look at -- colourful and well illustrated throughout.


The Adventure Book- I feel this deserves a separate review from the rulebook above. In the Adventure Book, all the game's scenarios are mapped out for you and are beautifully illustrated. Each one takes up two pages -- one for the board layout, and one for the story behind it and other information like how many lore cards each side gets, who goes first, etc. Nice and simple. The biggest positive, though, is the way the scenarios gradually grow more and more complicated, eventually incorporating all of BattleLore's gameplay. The first scenario is fairly straight forward -- Agincourt, using only traditional medieval units, and nothing, whatsoever, having to do with magic. Once you play that a few times, the next scenario has you concentrated on the slightly more complex "follow-on movements," such as battling back and cavalry pursuits. It also incorporates more terrain types. The next scenario is the first to incorporate the "lore" aspect of the game, and so on. A really wonderful system for getting you to learn the game.


The Components - Lots, and lots, and lots. So many little miniatures. And so detailed! The girlfriend was very impressed, and I love the goblin cavalry. The cards are quite sturdy and thick and don't bend easily, which is great. We will still probably get sleeves eventually, though, just because we love the look of them and want to preserve them as much as we can. We also appreciated the way all the cardboard chits were already punched out -- no work required. That being said, the artwork on the Lore cards, in particular, I do not care for, and the way so many of the miniatures were tossed into a pile and came bent (especially the cavalry) is slightly annoying. That being said, there are just so many of the miniatures, and the fact they even have plastic storage spaces for the banner bearers takes away the little bit of annoyance from those other issues.


The Gameplay - Going into the game, I was worried my girlfriend might find the game a little confusing and difficult to play with new tactical concepts being introduced to her. Too many things of importance like flanking or cavalry charges might prove too tedious and uninteresting for her, but, on the contrary, the rules are so simple and straight forward, I found she was doing many of these things without even thinking of them, right from the start. I had given the rules a once over before playing, and in our first game I consulted the manual a few times, but we both found the game went quite smoothly and without any -- whatsoever -- questions that we couldn't answer by a quick glance at the rulebook (those illustrations help magnificently). We played the Agincourt scenario, so sans lore, but this was the aspect I thought she may not like, but it turns out she loved it. Easy to understand rules, natural gameplay, and turns that run smoothly and quickly from player to player. Our first game took less than 60 minutes to go through. A real success! We quickly played another, switching sides, and went onto the next scenario. While luck does play a role in success and failure since you roll dice and issue command cards you draw randomly to order different units to move, we found that we enjoyed the "battlefield chaos" it created, and we were both quickly craning over the board waiting with bated breath for the right colours to come up. I can understand why some more hardcore wargamers may not like that element of randomness, but my girlfriend and I both love it. We are both eager to discover more of the gameplay as the scenarios introduce them.


Overall - My girlfriend really likes this game. I really like this game. The blending of a light-hearted fantasy theme (lizard riding goblins? Yes, please) with medieval tactics of war, great depth with War Council usage and Lore, and a well-done rulebook and scenario book that introduces you to the full game bit by bit makes BattleLore an entirely accessible, entirely fun, board game. My girlfriend, who isn't exactly wargame-oriented, and who had never played one before in her life, quickly caught onto it in the very first scenario and actually beat me the first couple of games. Strategy, at least on the battlefield, flows naturally, and the whole game is a joy to look at (minus the sort of ugly Lore cards, IMO). And there are so many minis, you could spend years painting them all.

If you're looking for a wargame that is both fun to play and to look at, and you're interested in the fantasy theme, BattleLore is a great choice. Especially if your gaming partner is your wife or girlfriend. I'm giving this game 4 and a half stars, with half being taken off because of so many of the minis being bent in the box. I guess I'll have to try the old hot water and cold water trick, although it didn't seem to work for me with my Castle Ravenloft minis. Once they're standing upright again, though, where does one store them? There are so many! Any ideas?










14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Storage wise: Well, I have two base sets and all the expansions so far released - I store them all across 5 Plano boxes - two for the Humans, one for Dwarves, one for Goblins and one for Creatures, Dragons,and Heroes - and there is still some room for the future (I say in hope).

In the Plano boxes the minis are stored by type - with a cell for the banners close by - this makes set-up much quicker than it could be otherwise. I'll try and post some pics if I recall when I get home.

Glad to read you enjoyed it! Have you been using the Battle Savvy rules that FFG introduced? I find they add quite a bit to the game-play personally - but your mileage may vary!

In any case - great review!

Cheers,

Giles.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Sanderson
Canada
Thornhill
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Hm, no, I don't know what those are. I'll have to check out the FFG webpage and see if they're available.

I'm also interested in picking up the expansions when I can, but they seem petty hard to get hold of (the specialist ones, anyway). I hope FFG reprints a few of them.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dystopialand wrote:
Hm, no, I don't know what those are. I'll have to check out the FFG webpage and see if they're available.

I'm also interested in picking up the expansions when I can, but they seem petty hard to get hold of (the specialist ones, anyway). I hope FFG reprints a few of them.
The rules can be found at the back of any of the Heroes, Creatures, or Dragons expansion rules (all available for download on the FFG site).

Basically the changes are:

All units may Battle Back when attacked in melee - provided they haven't run away or been destroyed (this is only Battleback - these units are not bold unless supported as per the usual rules).

Ranged weapons do not collect lore when firing.

I like the subtle changes these introduce - you can't attack a unit with impunity for example - all units can defend themselves - even without command cards to activate them. There are also effects on the use of terrain and ranged weapons in my view - but again, some people love it - some really don't... you personal mileage may vary!

Also - this is a game I predominantly play with my wife - and she usually thrashes me at it!

Cheers,

Giles.



Edit:

The old DoW expansions are hard to get hold of. FFG said they were going to release their stock of French sets with English cards (but still French rules - English ones can be downloaded from FFGs site).

The expansions add a lot of fun! Epic is a great place to start - that is a very cool way of playing the game.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matti Saarenketo
Finland
Rovaniemi
flag msg tools
Every Wednesday at 16:00 in the library.
badge
I'm going to love and tolerate
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In my opinion battle savvy troops is the worst rule in Battlelore. You can just send your red banner horsemen and they can get many kills alone. Without battle savvy the same trick would result in a dead horseman which should be the case when a single horseman unit attacks an army.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
On the other hand, I dislike the original rules where I could have an entire wing of my army attacked round after round without being able to lift a finger in response - or have a green unit attack a red unit with no consequence because I didn't have the card to activate the unit/s to defend.

Bold is still vital - I only get to battleback if I haven't run away or been destroyed - and causing damage through ranged attacks is also far more vital. I can sort understand where you are coming from - and as I said - it's a polarising addition to the rules - but I personally quite like it!

That's just my opinion of course.

Cheers,

Giles.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gregor Vek
Slovenia
Maribor
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Regarding rampant red cavalry - if you use a lone cavalry in that manner, you always risk having your retreat blocked, so that every flag counts as a hit in addition to any normal hits.

That danger is even more pronounced in the related C&C: Ancients, where a unit has to retreat it's entire movement for each flag it is unable to ignore. Thus, a lone blue cavalry with blocked retreat risks being destroyed by the roll of a single flag!

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Di Ponio
United States
Lake Orion
MI
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Matt,
Your never late to the party...you got into the game when it was the right time for you!

The game is fun and I find it a hit at the house with the kids and my significant other....she tends to beat me at it often!

Since storage was mentioned....I wend with a Plano Tackle box that I picked up at Bass Pro shops. I dumped all the boxes and stored everything in the tackle box. The box has seperate plano containers that I can sort out everything. In lieu of building a custom box, this does the trick.

Great job on the write up!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim W
United States
wilsonville
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Welcome to Battlelore! It's great to see new people jumping on board.

Glad to hear that you don’t mind the randomness of the game, because it has a lot of it (Battlelore is not chess). IMHO the randomness of dice, cards, etc. makes the game more fun, lighter, and somewhat more of a simulation war game (sit back and watch the game go) rather than a hardcore competitive war game. It’s very fun to see what freakish things happen when using Lore and Creatures .
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim W
United States
wilsonville
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The apparent ease of killing a lone cavalry group has always bugged me a little. Logically a charging cavalry unit should have the initial advantage (they roll first and have the pursue and 2nd attack option). As illogical as it is, it always seem like the battle-backs do more damage than the initial attack.

However, IMO this is where battlelore player strategy fits in. Do you charge your red cavalry unit into a large line of bold foot units? If you do, your either going to thrash foot infantry or be smashed by battle back and return attacks. Where Cavalry shines is in attacking weakend/ non-bold units (no repercussions). Unfortunately Battlelore doesn't seem to simulate the old medieval cavalry full on charge (run them down with heavy horse) much, unless you get your horse all lined up just right and get the right cards.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd Rewoldt
United States
Loveland
Colorado
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good review, Matt - you nailed the utility of the rule book (con with it is that it can be hard to find specific rules after reading it through, but the many unofficial player aides available remedy that - try The Guild downloads section of www.battleloremaster.com for a variety of those) and the smooth learning curve nature of the adventure booklet. Not sure this needs to be said, but keep in mind that this game was set up to be a system with the core game being the introduction.

As far as the Days of Wonder vs Fantasy Flight Games rules controversy goes (mainly "Original Medieval Tactics" vs "Battle Savvy") my advice is to play several games with each in place and then decide which you prefer. Myself, I prefer how the original rules force a player to have an account for ones entire force and play ones hand with more care than the more "position free" play and greater reliance on flag rolling to determine battle back or no battle back that Battle Savvy encourages. I'll stop there - not my intention to turn this review into a BS or no BS discussion
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls