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Subject: Battlelore with Blocks - An ongoing project rss

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Ben Boersma
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G'day guys,

I have been playing Battlelore since its beginning and have loved every minute of it. I have tried painting the miniatures that come with the box, I have tried painting my own and have enjoyed doing that. For larger games, this looks great! On a bigger board it is easy to move them and visually it looks stunning!

I have also been playing C&C: Ancients lately and have really enjoyed the elegance and ease of use the blocks give the system with the regular size board. I have also been developing my own armies for Battlelore, but that's more figures to find and paint and it makes it hard for others to play using these rules as they would have to find the figures and paint them too.

It is for these two reasons that I have been looking at "blockifying" Battlelore. This thread will document the process.

I will be looking for feedback on the designs from people interested in the idea and hopefully, once I have a template set out and decided on, it will be easy to add new armies to share with others.

Here is the first attempt and the subsequent revisit the next day to get us started!

The first attempt:


The revisit, with added banner flag and larger illustrations:


You will notice that it looks pretty bright and the white stroke on the crossed swords looks a bit blown out. This is due to the size of the printing of these stickers. When printed at size, it looks right.

Which brings me to my first big question, what size blocks do we use for these armies?

We can go for GMT's C&C blocks
PROS:
* Can mix with C&C: Ancient armies easily. Compatibility.
* Has four sizes of blocks for Infantry, Cavalry, Heroes and Monsters.

CONS:
* Very small for home printing - Infantry in particular (15mm x 15mm), so Infantry would be printed on 14mm x 14mm stickers - hard on the eyes unless professionally printed.
* They aren't regularly available unless you ask and they happen to have some left over, or you buy blocksets by just buying another C&C game.

Or Columbia's Blocks
PROS:
* Regularly available
* Lots of colours available
* Larger for easier viewing

CONS:
* Not C&C size blocks, so not as compatible if mixed with C&C armies (20mm x 20mm for Infantry, 24mm x 24mm for Cavalry)
* Only two sizes available - Heroes and Monsters must be done another way...
* Possibly expensive (20c a block, or 40c for the larger ones) But really, its probably going to be expensive unless someone has any better ideas.

Anyway, that's probably enough for now. I haven't given up on miniatures and have still been painting them for bigger games, but for the regular size, I think blocks are a very nice choice.

EDIT: 13th Jan 2012
Newest Template:

Left to right across the top:
Race (Iron Dwarfs), Weapon (Short Sword), Banner (Blue)

EDIT (AGAIN): 21st Jan 2012
We are trying to decide on the template that will be used out of the following options:
Option A: Simple C&C:A style shape and colour with regular size image.


Option B: Simple C&C:A style shape and colour, with larger image.


Option C: Block sticker retaining Battlelore banner images and race shield.


Option D: Block sticker with just banner image.


Ken has printed some of these out to the size of a C&C:A block so you can get an idea of how small they would be.


So, please vote below as I think we've just about exhausted all the options and it would be nice to now come to a consensus on what we like. Thanks to everyone for their help with this.

Poll
Please help us make a decision on a template to use for the Battlelore Blocks project.
1. Which template style do you think will suit the Battlelore Block Project?
Remember that these will be printed very small, so ease of identification needs to be an important aspect.
Option A - C&C:A style with regular size image
Option B - C&C:A style with larger size image
Option C - Block sticker with Race Shield and Battlelore Banner image
Option D - Block sticker with Battlelore Banner image
2. What type of blocks do we use for the project (for scaling the images)?
C&C: Ancients size blocks
C&C: Napoleonics size blocks
Columbia Games size blocks
Other (please specify below)
      19 answers
Poll created by Boromir_and_Kermit


So, looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

EDIT - 17th March 2012
This is what the final template will look like (banner and icons cleaned up). The race banners can be added at a later date easily if needed (just making the layer visible).


EDIT - 12th July 2012
New style of illustrating and colouring. Thoughts?

Battlelore Base Game
Humans
Human Shortbow Archers (20mm block)

Human Irregular Infantry (20mm block)

Human Regular Infantry (20mm block)

Human Heavy Infantry (20mm block)

Human Medium Cavalry (24mm block)

Human Heavy Cavalry (24mm block)


More to come, but so far there are enough to play the first few scenarios of the base game - exciting!

Cheers,
Ben.
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Kent Reuber
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I've been thinking of doing something similar. If you want to make the blocks compatible with C&C Ancients, you should probably make the symbol a blue triangle. (Though C&C Medium infantry use 4 die and BattleLore infantry use only 3 dice--medium infantry just aren't what they used to be, I guess).

My concern with the 2nd block style (with the BattleLore banner) is that you're tying the unit to the "Standard" BattleLore army. If you use a generic symbol (e.g., the blue triangle), you can use the same sticker on two different block colors, one for the Standard and one for the Pennant side.
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Ben Boersma
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G'day Kent,

Great minds think alike eh?

I thought about the use of the Standard long and hard and decided that I would only use the Standard for all troops as the other banner type would be too large for the block anyway.

You could still see the difference in armies by the block colours.
For example:
Iron Dwarfs on blue blocks.
Goblins on red blocks.
English Humans on ? blocks.
French Humans on ? blocks.
Lizardmen on Green blocks.
Undead on Black blocks.
Embedded units on White blocks.

Which begs the question, do we need to have the icon for the race on the block as well? To distinguish Iron Dwarfs from Goblins or is the picture enough? For example, with Ogres, they aren't goblinoid units. So there may be the need to distinguish.

Hmmm... will need to think about what's the best option. Do we just go with the C&C symbols despite the dice numbers not matching up? Or stick with using standards for all units, thus relying on the block colour to determine the side? Either way, its sort of the same. The flags differentiate themselves from C&C:A so there would be no confusion...

Thoughts?
What size blocks to go for?

Cheers,
Ben.

PS. Just to clarify. The sword, banner colour and banner are all separate layers in the file, so its easy to swap out a symbol or colour very quickly.
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Sean
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I don't play Ancients, Ben, so compatibility doesn't mean anything to me. But I like the banner simply because it helps retain the BattleLore aura. The images suffice to identify the races, but (if you're going to use the banners), it would be cool to use the various symbols to distinguish unit types - e.g. axes for the axe-swingers, slingshots for the slingers.

Also, what artwork are you using for the images?
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Ben Boersma
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Thanks mate.

The double crossed swords are there to denote these are just Blue Banner Iron Dwarf Warriors. For the double handed Axe Weilders and every other unit type, the double crossed swords will be replaced with the appropriate symbol. It is a floating layer on top of the banner, so easy to remove and change once set up.

The artwork is just images from the Battlelore cards, scanned, simplified to line art and then vectorised and coloured. It sounds like it takes a long time, but the more you do it the quicker it gets.

Check out the graphics for the Goblin Lizard Riders on the Goblinoids race card from the base set. Soooo cool. The only issue doing it this way is that I have to complete sketches that aren't fully represented. We'll see how effectively I can do this as time goes on.

The edge of the Dwarf Warrior's shield, the axe and edge of his hand had to be completed for this one and I think it looks ok. So fingers crossed.

Cheers,
Ben.
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Giles Pritchard
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What about setting up a model that can be applied to all unit blocks.

I would like to see the following symbols:

Banner Colour
Weapon Type
Special Ability (ie: the clan leader blck would have the weapon symbol of a short sword, and a special ability icon like the clan leader banner)
Race (Yes - while block colour may differentiate Goblin from Dwarf, eventually you may want to have Highland Dwarves as well as Iron Dwarves, or even something slightly less tacky).

Something like this:


Sorry for the white space - mucked up.

The downside is obviously a risk of over crowding with information density. However - I think the payoff in clarity is worth it - especially if you can develop or utilise simple symbols for each.

Great work Ben - looks magnificent - love the idea!

Cheers,

Giles.
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Ben Boersma
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Thanks Giles.

Something like that would be great info wise, but as it is, printing these at 14mm x 14mm for C&C:A blocks renders them pretty tiny.
I do think that it would be important to have race icons there though (especially for the Ogre) and if you mix block colours.

It would be great to combine the banner colour/ability to utilise the space more effectively. The race banner can go on the left and the weapon type (if required in the centre top). That means that each icon would have more space, meaning they could be slightly larger or provide more space for illustration.

If someone else wanted to try printing them at 14mm x 14mm and 19mm x 19mm and seeing what they think, it would be really helpful. More opinions on the sizing would help put the issue of space on the block stickers into context I think.

Personally, I think if we went with more symbols, I'd prefer to go for a larger block (the Columbia ones).

I'm really glad that its not just me interested in this!

Cheers,
Ben.
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Giles Pritchard
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That's what I forgot to mention! Yeah - I've played Ancients, but the desire to match them up size wise isn't really there for me so much. I was thinking Columbia sized blocks.

If the smaller blocks were to be used perhaps some more compact symbols could be utilised. Leaving off the race symbol could leave room for the other two in a smaller form:

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Ben Boersma
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Cool, I'm leaning towards Columbia style blocks too.

I think if we go that size, I might leave the banner in the top right corner, which can be its colour and ability, leaving the weapon in the centre (for those units that require it) and the race in the top left.

I'll work up a mock up later.

My graphics table arrives on Monday, so I can start going nuts on this (as well ask more graphics for some other projects)
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Kent Reuber
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One thing you could do to indicate race is have a color boder around the graphic. E.g. Brown/green for dwarves/goblins.
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Giles Pritchard
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kentreuber wrote:
One thing you could do to indicate race is have a color boder around the graphic. E.g. Brown/green for dwarves/goblins.


The key comes when thinking of the future - if Ben or anyone else wants to develop further races/cultures there may be several 'Dwarf' races or whatever - I think it would be cool to have all Goblin blocks as say dark green, all dwarf blocks as say brown, and then indicate 'culture/ or kingdom' by a symbol on the block. That way we aren't just restricted to block colours, we're able to further differentiate into sub-cultures or kingdoms as desired.

That's just my opinion though!
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Ben Boersma
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I like that idea as well Kent, but have to agree with Giles. It future proofs the design I think by having a Race logo on the block.

The example I'd use is with the Goblins. If you want to do Orcs... you might as well just add them to the Goblin army and use the same coloured blocks. But if you want to separate them or need to separate them due to the resolution of certain Orc abilities that don't affect Goblins, or Goblin Rush/Goblin Panic that don't affect Orcs etc...

Something for us to think about anyway. Once the template is done, it would be good for it not to have to be altered down the track. A universally coherent design could help others down the track.

Here is the newest design. Just roughly put together. When I get my graphics tablet, it will make it easier.



Across the top, left to right: Race - Iron Dwarfs, Weapon - Short Sword, Banner - Blue

Thoughts guys?

Cheers,
Ben.
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Sean
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Boromir_and_Kermit wrote:
I like that idea as well Kent, but have to agree with Giles. It future proofs the design I think by having a Race logo on the block.

The example I'd use is with the Goblins. If you want to do Orcs... you might as well just add them to the Goblin army and use the same coloured blocks. But if you want to separate them or need to separate them due to the resolution of certain Orc abilities that don't affect Goblins, or Goblin Rush/Goblin Panic that don't affect Orcs etc...

Something for us to think about anyway. Once the template is done, it would be good for it not to have to be altered down the track. A universally coherent design could help others down the track.

Here is the newest design. Just roughly put together. When I get my graphics tablet, it will make it easier.



Across the top, left to right: Race - Iron Dwarfs, Weapon - Short Sword, Banner - Blue

Thoughts guys?

Cheers,
Ben.


Looks great. But...yes, a little crowded.
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Panagiotis Zinoviadis
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Race will be shown with the different coloured blocks, just like the other C&C games. This will make the block less croweded IMHO?

BTW, GMT sells bags of blocks?
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Ben Boersma
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The other idea to keep it less crowded were these:
Removing the weapon (we would normally have to remember this anyway) and just keeping the banner and the race. Tidies it up a bit, but retains important info.




Options are always good.

EDIT: Putting the race on the block makes it future proof. It also means that colours of blocks are less important. So if we run out of colours, we can keep making armies.

GMT does but only sporadically from what I gather.
The other issue is domestic inkjets don't print that well at 14mm x 14mm which is the size the infantry stickers would have to be to fit on a C&C block. We are currently considering this, but looking more at Columbia as it will be a bit larger and easy to see/print.

Its all up for debate though. We are just coming to an agreement on the template first.
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Mac McKinlay
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The artwork looks great, and blocks will work fine.

But this just reminds me of what seemed like the major flaw in the production of this game - It just doesn't need all those miniatures. All the non-banner minis are just force reduction indicators. (Of course, your strength isn't really even reduced.) Somehow, in Memoir 44' the extra minis don't seem quite so pointless. In Battlelore, I just use old teakwood Risk pieces in two colors for the extra forces, along with the banner minis and monsters. Makes set-up much simpler, and the board more clear.

You could do the same with your banner blocks, which are all you really need to define the units.
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Jim Jones
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What are your thoughts on units that change banner colour? Like the training ground tile that upgrades a unit or when a unit starts upgraded in a scenario.

For example, in one of the Heroes scenarios, the Human spearmen are red banners instead of their usual blue banners.

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Giles Pritchard
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Perhaps an 'elite' marker that can be used to mark such a unit?
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Ben Boersma
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An elite marker is a great idea Giles. They are used in C&C: Ancients for some scenarios, no reason we couldn't do the same here.

Although, I think that Heroes scenario may be a mistake. Off the top of my head, I don't remember there being a red banner for Spearmen.
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Kent Reuber
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ZiNOS wrote:
Race will be shown with the different coloured blocks, just like the other C&C games. This will make the block less croweded IMHO?


I think I agree with you. What if you have goblin or dwarf units on both sides in a single battle? Maybe the thing to do is to have an additional block that indicates whose side the unit is on, kind of like a special unit block in C&C Ancients.
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Jim Jones
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With regards to the Heroes scenario with the red spearmen, R. Borg mentioned in a thread on the FFG BL forum that you need to use the red banners from the Goblin spearmen.
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Ben Boersma
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That's correct - I recall that now. Thanks!
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Ben Boersma
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Well, I have another option here for people to check out. It simplifies the look of the block sticker a bit, but at the size it will be, I think this is a good thing.



Thoughts and comments would be most welcome. It would be great to come to a bit of a consensus on the the layout, so I can finalise it and try and get some blocks pumped out.

Cheers,
Ben.
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Sean
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Boromir_and_Kermit wrote:
Well, I have another option here for people to check out. It simplifies the look of the block sticker a bit, but at the size it will be, I think this is a good thing.



Thoughts and comments would be most welcome. It would be great to come to a bit of a consensus on the the layout, so I can finalise it and try and get some blocks pumped out.

Cheers,
Ben.


So, how about the race-emblem in upper right as you have here. But in the left the banner symbol for unit-type like what's in the middle in this one,



simply laid over the blue (or green or red) color?
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Ben Boersma
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Like this?



I think I prefer it with the Battlelore banner... not sure.
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