« September 2006 |
| November 2006 »
October 29, 2006
Days of Wonder:
Report and photos here, pics here, here and here (Agincourt scenario); Days of Wonder booth here; designer Richard Borg here. Day One video: Brief look at BattleLore starts at 2 minutes into the video.
Impressions and reports here, here and here; lots of pictures in the image gallery here.
Report with photos here (about a third of the way down the page).
Two photos here (shows the thickness of the box well).
Jeux de Nim:
Photos here and excellent photos of the sample painted miniatures here.
A look inside the box
The French website TricTrac has posted one of their ‘wacky’ box-unpacking videos, giving us a close—albeit high-speed—look at the packed contents of a BattleLore box (Flash plugin v8 required). That thick colour rulebook looks great.
It certainly gets across the excitement of opening a new game, but personally I wouldn’t let ‘Monsieur Phal’ anywhere near my precious games!
October 28, 2006
Official Site and Primer launched
On Oct 13 the official Days of Wonder BattleLore site was launched at Battlelore.com. Not only do we see our first glimpses of the Hill Giant and Earth Elemental promotional figures and their packaging, but the BattleLore Primer is available for download (3.5Mb). This lavishly illustrated and designed twelve page document (available in print from game stores) gives us a good overview of the game, a glimpse of some more detailed game elements and a good look at what comes in the box. Beautiful stuff and essential downloading for any interested gamer.
In addition, pre-orders from the DoW website are now available. The battle has almost begun!
Official Word: Monstrous Creatures
On October 16, the last game-related post on the official DoW blog covered Creatures in BattleLore.
Creatures in BattleLore are rare, but dangerous. A Giant Spider will be coming with the base game, and of course the special promotional figures, the Hill Giant and Earth Elemental, also fall into this category. They are brought into play at the cost of a Lore Master level token just like Lore Masters, as described in that entry—which makes them valuable battlefield assets not to be misused!
Creatures have a distinctive banner shape, as shown. They are represented by a single figure with a large hex-shaped base, but considered a unit for game purposes.
Creatures are eliminated only when they receive a Critical Hit. When attacked, any dice that would have normally scored a hit are set aside and rerolled—only if the creature’s banner colour (Bonus Strikes don’t count) comes up in this second roll is it eliminated (and the victor receives both the Victory banner for the kill and one Lore token from the Lore pool).
Not only that, but Creatures can be ordered if in a different section from the Section card just played Out-of-Section Ordering at a cost of 3 Lore tokens.
Creatures are Bold, but must always ignore one Flag rolled against them (ie, they can never opt to retreat, even when this is a preferable option).
For each Flag, the Creature must retreat 2 hexes (unless stated otherwise of their summary card); risking a Critical hit if it cannot. The attacker rolls a die for each hex of retreat ground not covered, and any hit that when re-rolled hits again, the Creature is killed.
If the Creature’s retreat is blocked by enemy or friendly units, they are Trampled, and lose one figure for each hex of retreat ground not covered. This affects both units if there are two blocking a Creature’s path!
Creatures provide Support to adjacent friendly units, but never receive the benefit of Support; aand do not benefit from a Morale boost when occupying a Landmark.
Creatures also have Special Powers, which are detailed on their summary card and triggered by rolling the requisite number of Lore symbols. They can Power-up by temporarily storing Lore rolled in combat and unleashing, for example, a more potent Special Power later on instead of a lesser power right away.
The Web and Poison tokens shown mark the victims of the Giant Spider’s special powers.
Big ‘catch-up’ updates coming soon! I’d like to heartily thank Kenntak for taking care of the forums while I was gone. Sterling job!
October 13, 2006
Taking a break from the battle
Over the next two weeks if you don’t see any updates here on BattleloreMaster.com, don’t panic! I’m having a holiday far from computers, websites and email (but not from games, I’ll pack a few small two-players in the bag). As always, you’ll still be able to keep up with the latest at the official official DoW blog.
Don’t forget us here though! I’ll be back at the end of October and will immediately catch up on all the news I’ve missed, and then we’ll be heading into the final few weeks before the big release.
If anyone is going to Essen in October and would like to write up an on-the-spot report about BattleLore, perhaps with photographs, please contact me at the end of October (there’s a email link at the bottom of the page).
Of course, the BattleLoreMaster forums will still be up and running over this period. See you in two weeks for much more BattleLore!
Universal Head, your webmaster.
October 12, 2006
New BattleLore Pictures
Some pictures of BattleLore in play have surfaced on Boardgamegeek.com, including our first glimpse of the giant spider figure (though it appears to be on the dwarves side!) and what looks like a goblin on the back of a lizard (no doubt what’s pictured on the box cover). Note the spider’s large hexagonal base. Also this confirms that banners come pre-applied. Imagine how good these games will look with all the figures painted … Pictures by Jens A. Czaplo
Official Word: The War Council
The latest post on the official DoW blog is a much more indepth look at the War Council. We’re starting to see the level of complexity and the number of options that BattleLore players will enjoy.
At the start of a Lore adventure players assemble their personal War Council. It’s now obvious that one side of the War Council sheet shows the tent with a single Wizard; but the other side shows all of your potential Lore Masters gathered together. The players agree on the total number of Lore Master levels, and then assign Lore Master level tokens (shown at left) to the Lore Masters they wish to be in their Council.
This total number of levels is specified in the adventures, but the recommended total is six levels. The sample shown (possibly taken from an adventure page) puts you in the role of Jean de Brosse, Marshall of France and Seigneur of Sainte-Sévère. (You can learn more about de Brosse, a French general of the Hundred Years’ War, here) In this case he has in his Council a Commander of Level 2 (which gives the player five Command cards); a Rogue of Level 1; and a Cleric of Level 3.
In addition, the level of your highest level Lore Master character (Cleric, Wizard, Rogue or Warrior) determines the number of Lore tokens you have in reserve at the start of the game; how many Lore cards you can keep from your intial draw of four; and how many Lore cards you can keep in hand and play from at any one time.
Looking at the War Council sheet, we can see that in the case above, since the highest level Lore Master is a Level 3 Cleric, Jean de Brosse would be able to keep three of his initial draw of four Lore cards; will start with three Lore tokens in reserve; and may keep a maximum of four Lore cards in his hand at any one time.
Players also build different mixes of the common Lore card deck depending on whether there is a Lore Master of that class present on both sides (14 cards of that class), on a single side (8 cards of that class), or on neither side (5 cards of that class).
Should a player wish to use a Lore card for which he has no corresponding Lore Master, he must pay a heavy price: it must be played out-of-character, which means that it will cost 3 more Lore tokens to bring into play, and it can only be played at a strength of Level 1.
The Lore Drain card on the right, for example, would cost Jean de Brosse five Lore to drain three Lore (1 x 1 +2) from his opponent, since he has no Wizard in his Council.
In true Days of Wonder style, all this information is neatly summarised on the War Council sheet.
If Landmark rules are in effect and you are the only player with a Level 3 Lore Master of a particular class in your Council, you will enjoy the benefit of a unique ‘family property’.
Shown at left is the Healing Pool, the privilege of a Level 3 Cleric, such as de Brosse has in his Council.
And finally, you can also use Lore level tokens to bring a Creature to your side; the wielders of fearsome powers to be revealed soon (the Hillgiant and Earth Elemental?). No doubt we will also soon learn the meaning of the mysterious Guest, who has a space at the bottom right of the War Council sheet.
Eric Hautemont of Days of Wonder has confirmed that they are not planning to release the entire BattleLore rulebook online. What they will release however, both online and in print, free of charge through retailers, is the BattleLore Primer, a 12 page document that sheds a bit more light on the game and its contents. It should go live by the 2006 Essen Game Fair (Oct 19 to 22).
Update: It has been revealed on the French forum that the base game will include ten Adventures (ie, scenarios). Two will be historical adventures and eight will be Lore (fantasy) adventures. Apparently the armies will be fixed in these scenarios, though different configurations of the War Council will make games play differently.
October 10, 2006
Official Word: The Lore Masters
Lore is the unique aspect of BattleLore that everyone is eager to know about. The latest post on the official DoW blog gives us our first indepth look at how it works.
Lore tokens (kept in a common Lore pool) are used as currency to fuel the legendary actions of the player’s legendary characters, the Lore Masters. (As an aside, that was a fortuitous choice of name for this site—I had no idea there would be a ‘Lore Master’ in the game.)
These advisors sit off the map on the player’s War Council sheet. They are the Wizard, Cleric, Warrior, Rogue and Commander.
It is implied that at the start of an adventure you will have to decide which Masters to invite to your side, and that the Masters can be at different Levels.
The Wizard allows the player to draw a single Lore token from the pool and ‘place it in a goblet’ to become your initial Lore reserve. (This goblet is no doubt the cup we saw in our first glimpse of the game set up here.)
You also must choice one from a draw of four random Lore cards from the Wizard’s Lore deck. (Since there are 60 Lore cards, and four Lore Masters that use them, it’s possible that each has a deck of 15 cards).
Spells have a Name, a Power Cost (to be paid in Lore tokens when the spell is cast), a Phase of Play (when the spell may be cast), a Target, and an Effect.
The card also has a Lore Master Class symbol, which in this case is the Wizard’s Hand. The Spell shown is an expensive (7 Lore tokens) Portal, which allows you to teleport a target unit up to 3 hexes (+1 hex per Wizard level) in any direction to a vacant hex.
The shot of the War Council sheet shown seems to be the top half of the sheet; the Wizard is shown in place, though it’s not clear if, since the Wizard appears to be printed on the sheet, he is a permanent part of any Council. Note that the map of the battle on the table is a BattleLore board.
With the Wizard, you may cast a Spell once per turn by paying the appropriate Power cost in Lore tokens. At the end of your turn, after drawing your Command card, you may either draw 2 Lore cards, selecting one and discarding the other, OR draw 1 Lore card and 1 Lore token, OR draw 2 Lore tokens.
The four remaining Lore Masters are as follows. The Cleric can ‘soothe, protect and heal’, not to mention ‘wield a heavenly wrath upon his enemies’.
The Warrior ‘never seems to sleep, may lack a sense of humour, but his sheer grit and determination more than compensate’.
The Rogue is ‘cunning and nimble … a jack-of-all-trades. His talent lies in his remarkable resourcefulness and ability to disrupt the enemy’s best laid plans.’
The Rogue’s Backstab card is shown, which causes Bonus Strikes rolled by your enemy to rebound against himself.
Finally, the Commander (shown here) does not play Lore cards, but instead dictates the size of your hand of Command cards.
The Lore cards and Lore Masters certainly add a whole new level of play to the Commands & Colors system, not to mention a whole new set of choices. A player’s selection of Lore Masters will influence the entire character and fighting style of his army. Next, we’ll hear about the War Council and, presumably, how you choose your group of Lore Masters and their Levels.
October 8, 2006
C&C Games: C&C: Ancients
Continuing our series of three articles looking at the other games in Richard Borg’s Commands & Colors series, our guest writer Brian Mola (a.k.a. ColtsFan76) examines the third game: C&C: Ancients.
Published 2005 by GMT Games LLC. 2 players, ages 12 and up, playing time approximately 60 minutes.
1 heavy-stock hex map, 159 Roman units, 150 Carthaginian units, 16 victory banners, 45 double-sided terrain tiles, 60 command cards, 2 reference sheets, 7 plastic battle dice, 28-page rules and scenario booklet, 5 block and dice label sheets.
For those familiar with Memoir ‘44 and Battlecry, one of the most striking visual differences is the lack of plastic figures. The map and card hexes are much thinner and a sheet of Plexiglas is recommended to force the map to lay flat. The units are wooden blocks of varying shapes. Each army has its own color and nation-specific labels are applied to two faces of the blocks. While some will find applying the stickers tedious, many feel that the ranks of wooden blocks are very appropriate for the period represented in this game. Others have commented about the name of the game printed in the center of the battle field, although it shares this layout with Battle Cry.
This edition of Commands & Colors covers the ancient period of warfare from approximately 3000 BC to 400 AD. The base game introduces us to Rome’s emergence on the world scene as she battles her nemesis, Carthage. Players activate units with cards from their hand, combat is resolved by rolling dice and the victory goes to the one who captures a set amount of banners.
While the mechanics of the game are similar to the others in the series, Richard Borg, the designer, once commented that his Civil War C&C Battle Cry was the least complicated of the games while Ancients was the most complex. Of the three published games it offers the most depth of play and probably the most historically accurate depiction of line of battle and flank management.
The gameboard is the typical 13 hexes wide by 9 hexes deep with two dashed lines separating the field into three sections; however the dashed lines have been shifted by half a hex each to shrink the center to 4 hexes, while each flank receives 4 ½ hexes. This shift from the previous games represents the importance of the flanks in ancient battles.
Players select a scenario that represents an historical battle in the ancient era. As with the other games, C&C: A gives a historical backdrop for the scenario, making this both an entertaining and educational experience. The scenario includes the number of forces and their setup positions, the number of cards drawn per player, any special rules, and the number of banners needed to win the scenario.
The terrain hexes represent a half dozen different field conditions. Terrain can affect the movement of units, such as forcing an advancing unit to stop, or being outright impassable. It may also affect combat, usually hindering the attacker while helping the defender. Some features can also block line of sight (LOS), which is important in ranged combat. However, the importance of terrain is minimal in this edition of C&C: almost half of the scenarios do not utilize the terrain hexes.
During a player’s turn, he plays a Command card which indicates how many, in which section, and which type of units can be ordered; these units may then move, and once all movement is completed, engage in combat.
The Command cards are fairly familiar. Section cards activate X number of units in a particular section (between two and four units and/or leaders are activated with each). Unlike the previous versions of C&C, these cards have straightforward names such as Order Three Units Center, or Order Two Units Left. The special cards are Coordinate Attack, allowing one unit from each section to be ordered, and Out Flanked, which allows two units on each flank to be activated.
The Tactic cards allow special movements and are usually accompanied by lengthy instructions, allowing some alteration of the rules such as moving beyond a unit’s normal range, increasing the number of dice rolled in battle, or allowing two attacks in one turn. Unlike Section cards they can be played anywhere on the map. Clash of Shields allows two additional dice to be rolled in combat and all units starting the turn adjacent to the enemy can participate in the battle. You may also Counter Attack, Strike First, and Rally your troops. A few cards reference your Command, which is the number of cards you are allowed to hold based on the scenario. An important Tactic card is the Line Command card, which allows you to order any number of foot units that are in adjacent hexes to move one space and battle. If you can link your units, you could activate a dozen or more units in a massive onslaught.
A new concept in C&C: A is different types of troops (in addition to the variety of units). Each unit is classified as a light (green), medium (blue), or heavy (red) unit. Troop cards allow you activate one of your troop types regardless of the unit type up to your Command. Another unit type is the Leader, which plays a decisive role in the game. The Leadership cards allow you to activate a leader in a particular section and three or four additional units linked to the leader’s hex.
Combat is resolved by rolling a number of dice equal to the unit’s strength and modified by any conditions (such as terrain or command cards).
Ranged combat attacks units that are more than one hex away and is only possible if no enemy units are adjacent to your attacking unit. The enemy must be within a unit’s range (typically two to three hexes away) and you must have clear line of sight. If the attacking unit moved prior to the battle, they may only roll one dice. If they did not move during this turn, they may roll two dice. For each die result that matches the target symbol, the unit takes one hit and one figure is removed. If a leader is alone in a hex and the Leader (Helmet) symbol is rolled, the leader is eliminated. If he is attached with another unit, a leader check must be made first. For each Banner symbol rolled, the unit must make one retreat movement. The Crossed Swords result is a miss.
Close Combat occurs when two adjacent enemy units engage in battle. The number of dice rolled is based on a unit’s strength. Most light troops only roll two dice in combat, medium troops roll three to four, while most heavy troops roll four to five dice. Any die result with a colored shape is a hit if it matches the attacked unit; but the Crossed Swords now counts as a hit. If the attacking unit is attached to a leader or if there is a leader in an adjacent hex, all Leader symbols rolled are now considered hits also.
The most striking differences in C&C: A are in combat. Each Retreat move corresponds to the maximum number of spaces a unit is allowed to move. Since most units move at least two hexes under normal circumstances, each banner usually causes a retreat of two hexes. In the case of light cavalry, their maximum move is 4 hexes, so if you roll two banners, the light cavalry must retreat a total of 8 hexes. With only a 9 hex deep board, two banners can be fatal to your cavalry!
A unit attacked in close combat may have the option to evade. Typically, heavy units cannot evade unless they are faster than their attackers. The defender declares that he will evade before the attacker rolls dice and must have at least one open hex on his side of the board adjacent to the unit’s hex. When you evade, you still must withstand the results of the dice. However, you can only be hit on dice that match your unit’s colored shape. Banners, crossed swords, and leader symbols are ignored. If your unit survives the attack, then he must now evade two hexes if possible but a minimum of one hex.
You may also support your troops. Any unit (except elephants) that has friendly units touching any two sides of its hex is considered supported. A supported unit may ignore one banner in each round of combat. A wise general will not allow himself to be outflanked where the troops are most likely to split. An attached leader also supports a unit by itself.
Those who cannot evade or choose not to run away may battle back. One of the criticisms of the C&C series is that the non-active player has no way to fight back unless he has the proper cards in hand. In C&C: A however, any unit that survives an attack and is not forced to retreat may now battle back.
As in other C&C games, momentum allows units to advance into a vacated hex if they destroy their target or force it to retreat in close combat. Some units may battle in close combat a second time. Mounted units may also move one additional hex in between their advance and second battle. When a leader is attached to a unit, that unit may always engage in a second close combat if there is a qualifying target.
There are two basic unit types in the game: foot and mounted. Foot units consist of archers and other types of ranged attackers, infantry, and war machines. Mounted units consist of cavalry, chariots, and special units like war elephants and camel cavalry. Infantry units are made up of four figures; cavalry contain three figures, two figures make up a unit of chariots, elephants, or war machines. Units are further classified into the light, medium and heavy categories. Only light units (and war machines) can participate in ranged combat. Mounted units can move father but must retreat farther also. Heavy units are slow but powerful.
In addition, units interact differently with certain other units. Horses are afraid when elephants attack and must retreat one additional hex in addition to their retreat movement per banner. Cavalry may evade foot units. Elephants battle with a number of dice corresponding to the unit they attack. The warrior unit is the only unit to date (with the exception of the Japanese in Memoir ’44) to have differing conditions based on if their unit is at full strength: with four figures, they may ignore one banner rolled against them and they may attack with four dice. Through this all, leaders impact the roll of units.
Once a unit or leader has been eliminated in battle, the winner gains one victory banner. A player usually needs to 5 to 7 banners to win the scenario.
In the fall of 2006, GMT released their second printing of the game, taking the opportunity to clarify some rules and modify a few scenarios. The use of War Machines was defined in anticipation of the expansions. The scenarios are now in their own booklet and include scenarios that were previously exclusive to 1st edition pre-orders. In response to criticism of the original dice, the 2nd edition includes solid plastic dice.
The ‘Living Rules’ and new scenarios are available for download at GMT’s website.
Expansion Pack #1: The Greeks & Eastern Kingdoms
This first expansion introduces 20 new scenarios and two new armies: the Greeks and the Persians. The expansion includes over 300 new wooden blocks and new labels. New unit types will also be introduced such as the camel unit. It is also rumored that the revised dice from the 2nd edition will be included in this expansion. Scheduled for shipment at the end of October 2006.
Expansion Pack #2: Rome and the Barbarians
The second expansion will introduce another 20 new scenarios and focus on the Imperial era of Rome. New unit types will include Briton chariots and specialty leaders such as Caesar. The expansion is in the final stages of art and game development. Once production is ready, pre-orders will be accepted. At that point, the game will be ready within 6 months.
Valley Games Inc. of Canada has been given the rights to produce a set of 7 wooden dice for C&C: Ancients. These are similar to the Memoir ’44 dice and smaller than the C&C: Ancients dice. Pre-orders of this limited edition set can be made on their website.
October 6, 2006
300 Film Trailer
It’s somewhat off-topic (though appropriate for C&C: Ancients players), but while waiting for BattleLore if you feel like a taste of historical mass combat and some pretty astounding visuals, check out the new trailer for 300, the new film based on the Frank Miller graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae. More information about the film here. Directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead), the film stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, Rodrigo Santoro and Dominic West and will be released in March next year.
October 3, 2006
Official Word: Morale
The latest post on the official DoW blog talks about morale.
Troops are considered to be at a Normal level of morale by default, which means they retreat one hex towards their side of the board for each Retreat flag rolled against them.
As in the other C&C games, if a path of retreat is blocked, the unit loses one figure for each hex it cannot retreat.
This behaviour can be changed by the morale level of the troops however. If the troop is Bold, it can ignore one or more flags.
If a Bold unit is engaged in melee from an adjacent hex, and it survives the attack and did not retreat, it may also Battle Back against the attacker (unlike C&C: Ancients, in which all units can battle back).
Interestingly, you can boost a unit’s morale to Bold by supporting it with at least two friendly adjacent units. This has important ramifications, rewarding players if they keep their units in formation. It’s also pointed out that self-supporting triangular formations, as shown on the right, are particularly effective.
Units can be Bold, but they can also be Frightened, in which case instead of the standard one, they must retreat two or more hexes for each Retreat flag.
They must also make a Panic Loss check; for each hex of retreat ground covered during a retreat move, the unit must roll one battle die, and any helmet rolled that matches their banner color forces the removal of a figure. All other dice results are ignored.
The morale states Bold, Normal and Frightened are summarised in the table above.
By default, Landmarks, such as this Camp, boost a unit’s morale to Bold when they are occupied.
Morale is also affected by racial attributes—it seems that Dwarves are permanently Bold and Goblins permanently Frightened.
Following the above rules, a unit of Goblins may be naturally Frightened on their own, but when backed up by their fellows they become Bold and may ignore a retreat flag and battle back. More than one retreat flag however, and their nerve would break, forcing them to retreat two hexes per flag and make a Panic Loss roll.
Magic and Lore cards also modifer morale in as yet unexplained ways.