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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Battlelore

 

Hi, I've got another game that I like a lot and it happens to be from the same designer and company as Memoir 44.
Battlelore and Memoir 44 are almost identical (on surface), so if you'd like ww2 theme check my previous review here . It's got same card driven mechanic with a twist of magic cards, and mostly fought in melee combat. Three races to choose from, mighty and fearless dwarves, pesky goblins and noble human knights, every rase has their own abillities.

I like it so much that I even tried to paint it, but there is literally tons of miniatures here, I am talking like 220 minis in the base game alone, and there are 10 expansions adding roughly another 20 each.
Unit variety is enormous, but none is overpowered. You can field archers, cavalry, knights, spearmen, drummers, balistas, ostrich riders... the list goes on and on and a cherry on the top, just look at that! creatures, dragons, spiders, hydras yummy.
Its beautifully produced, artwork is kinda childish but very thematic, everything is in bright colours popping on the table and pleasing eyes as you play, the book is a piece of art, glossy and in full colour,  leaves no doubt about how to play. Sadly in times of recession noone want to publish it anymore because of cost to produce.

Everything has its place in the box insert, every miniature is cut out from their sprues, and stickers glued to flags... ready to play out of the box, they realy made an effort to make you happy.
I would recomend grabbing one while you still can find them on ebay, especially to those who start with boardgames/wargames/miniature games (be aware that there are french refurbished versions that has english cards but the booklets are in french, rules can be found on FFG website, link on the bottom of this review.)

Its a fast, fun and bloody game, setup might be a bit lengthy (setting up map overlays and units usually takes me 15 minutes) but gets quicker the more I play it, usualy plays in an hour, but it depends on scenario. Rules are so simple anyone could learn it in 5 minutes, every stat and rule like in Memoir 44 is printed on a cards that you lay in front of you, in case you forgot, scenarios start simple and progressively introduce player to more advanced rules as you play. Gameplay revolves around command cards, that allow you to move your units on the split in 3 sections board, some of them have specific instructions printed on them, and allow you for more advanced manouvers. The genius thing about those cards is that both players draw from the same pile and because your right is my left flank (mirrored board) and there is only as much cards of one type, when you start using cards to go down one section opponent also has more chances to get cards of opposite side (same section as you) leading to intense fights.
 Basicly there are three strenghts of units: green banners (pansies), blue regular troops, and red mighty heroes, each group rolls different number of dice when attacking, banner colour also determines how fast your unit will be, weak units will be swift on the battlefield while your heavy infantry is cumbersome and drags like hell, different terrain overlays also affect speed and attack strenght (from inside out and outside in different values), and blocks line of sight. You score hits on banner colour or shield (depends on weapon used) and when you eradicate completly a unit it counts as a victory point. Flags force you to retreat and this shiny purple thing is in my opinion the best part of this game... lore!
Yes, you guessed it... magic! and I am telling you, despite rolling it means a miss... you crave more and more of those shiny things on your dicerolls, because every time you get a point into your gobblet, you are saving it to cast powerfull spells, fireballs, you name it. You also get a choice to collect some lore tokens and cards on end of each of your turns, so magic is often played.
Four advisors are there to help you spend those points: warrior, rogue, cleric and wizard and each of them has their special deck of magic cards that are shuffled into common magic deck (playing card out of character cost penality points)
With an expansion you can field those advisors on a board and grow them in might, they get xp points, and can aquire new abbilities but when they die you want to cry.

Because the use of dice and cards luck can be a factor, but for me it just spices up the gameplay. Strategy is important as well as resource management, to know when you can attack and when to hold your ground is attribute of skilled commander. Every game I played was dramatic and till the very end it was hard to predict winner.  One time I was loosing a point and knew I won't last the next round and just got enough lore tokens this round to send down a fireball and kill off entire squad winning me the game, that was awesome.

With a additional board you can set two together creating a huge ass map, and play 4 players.
It also features a well designed custom setup mechanic that ensures replayability for ages (in an expansion).

Why not checking it for yourself on Vassal?
Here you will find the latest module ver 2.9 (in module section there is ver 1.2, this one is developed by fans and include all expansions).
Download rules from Fantasy Flight Games website here

There is a reason this game is on 64 place in board game geek list.
I'll try to explain how to connect to vassal and operate it in next posts, might be of some use to someone.

Enjoy.

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