Monday, March 26, 2007

Two Crises in One Evening

Wednesday saw a game of Battlelore - and we managed to play the same scenario twice, switching sides such that we got to try it from both perspectives. I don't recall a lot of detail from the game, so I'm going to paint with a broad brush my impressions of the game - as background, I have previously played Battlelore's ancestors, Battle Cry and Memoir '44, but have yet to try it's sibling, Command & Colors: Ancients (but I believe that is our plan for this week, so I should be able to do a bit of compare and contrast at that point).

Given that both Eric and I were quite familiar with the basic mechanics of the games (having played previously, or played similar games at least), we started with a scenario (Crisis in Avignon, hence the post title) that involved quite a bit of lore - each player has a pre-set war-council consisting of a level 2 Commander, and level 1's of each of the other Loremasters (Rogue, Warrior, Wizard and Cleric). As a result, the deck of lore cards had a little bit of everything mixed into it, and gave us a good chance to experiment with several of the different types of lore. I put the Rogue cards to good use in both games, but also got a lot of mileage from the Wizard and Warrior cards - I didn't see many Cleric cards, so therefore didn't get a chance to play with those.

As you might expect, each Loremaster focuses on a different aspect of the game - the Rogue tends to be surprise effects, like Ambush, which lets a unit being attacked attack first, or Surprise Attack, which allows a unit to move significantly farther than normal, and still attack. I used the Surprise Attack with one of my Calvary, managing to take the bridge that was worth a victory banner from a distance that would not have been legal otherwise. The Warrior has cards that directly affect battle - there is one (whose name I forget) that allows a unit to ignore one banner color hit that turn (Eric used that one extensively), and another that shields ALL units in a similar fashion. The Wizard tended to be more broad effects, but the Wizard cards were also more expensive to trigger - I remember using Chain Lightning in our 2nd game (where I was the French defending the bridge) to eliminate one unit, and seriously damage 2 or 3 others, for example, but this cost all of my lore at the time (IIRC, it was 9, but I could be off by as much as 2 here). As I mentioned, I personally didn't see many Cleric cards, so I don't have a good feel for what the Cleric's powers are (although I would imagine they include healing, protection and some damage dealing).

The Lore element of BattleLore is the primary new addition to the game - there are non-human troops (dwarves and goblins), as well as creatures (giant spider, earth elemental and hill giant, so far) which I'm sure will add another layer, but the main difference between this game and it's predecessors is Lore. On the whole, I think it's an entertaining element, but I'm not entirely sure what I think about how it affects the game - there are definitely more wacky turns of fate in games involving lore, as the lore effects can fairly rapidly change the on-board situation. I think this makes the game a bit less predictable - whether that is good or bad will depend on what you are looking for out of a game like this.

Me - despite generally preferring games with a bit less Chaos (I'm a EuroGamer by background, if not strictly dogmatic in my adherence to those sorts of games), I have so far really enjoyed this series of games, and BattleLore seems like it has a bit more to it than the previous two I've played. It will be interesting to compare it to C&C: Ancients - I believe the base mechanisms are quite similar, but Ancients introduces leaders to the mix, and I'm interested to see how that works.

Given that our plan (as I understood it) is to give C&C: Ancients a try this Wednesday, I'll have a better idea what the difference between the two is afterwards - and you folks will certainly hear what my thoughts are!

Until next week!

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