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BloodyBucket
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  Sell me, I'm Easy! Mon, 12 November 2007 06:14
OK, Here's my story, and I'm sticking to it...

Been playing Memoir '44 since it came out, have all the expansions and think it's the bee's knees. Before that, I got Battle Cry, and enjoyed that, although I think it's obvious that Mr. Borg has been evolving this system, and Battle Cry, while a good game, suffers in evolutionary comparison to Memoir '44.

While I'm mostly a 19th and 20th century wargamer, I'm not averse to medieval/fantasy games. It's not my main interest, although I used to dabble in D&D and love the Tolkien trilogy, have read other fantasy lit, and know enough about pre-gunpowder military history to get by.

My eight year old son, however, is a LOTR fanatic. I purchased "War of the Ring" with an eye toward playing it with him, but he really wants to just play with the figures! He does pretty well with Memoir '44, because I think that's more digestible to a kid his age.

Now, I've been dimly aware of BattleLore for awhile, but I've put off looking in to it more deeply because:

  • Have two Borg game now
  • Afraid of "death by expansion"
  • Have heard that BL is lite on the fantasy element
  • The wife is a pretty good shot

I'm pretty sure I can handle the wife (she really likes to see me game with the boys (got a five year old, too) and I'm thinking that if my older kid likes the army men in M44, he'll go ga-ga over the BL bits...he's a nut for bows, spears and such...now if only BL had Star Wars stuff, he'd go in to orbit!

So, after all that background, Is BL different enough from M44, beyond the setting, to warrant having both?

Is there a strong fantasy element, or does that only come via expan$ion pack$?

Is it significantly more complex than M44, enough to baffle me, er, I mean my eight year old kid?

Thanks in advance for the advice!
      
toddrew
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Mon, 12 November 2007 06:45
BloodyBucket wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 22:14

So, after all that background, Is BL different enough from M44, beyond the setting, to warrant having both?


Got to get to bed, so not a lot of time to post, but the short answer is: Yes!

I'll give you the full sell job tomorrow Wink

Happy Gaming,
Todd
      
Grendel
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Mon, 12 November 2007 14:53
Hi Bloodybucket,

Like you I was initially a Memoir44 player, and still like it. Also, like you, I was a bit leary of picking up Battlelore because I already had Memoir44. I did though and am I glad I did. The truth of the matter is that IMHO Battlelore is a more interesting game.

Now, I am a medievalist by hobby (studying the subject not pretending to live then...to be clear) and King Edward III is one of my favourite English monarchs, after Alfred the Great and Edward I...so obviously, I might be a bit bias'd. However, the buddy who I usually play with is a WWII buff and he agrees with me.

So far, we tried the basic historic scenarios and the lore system. We haven't tried the goblins and dwarves or the Call to Arms mechanics yet. So far, however, tthe lore system is what, INOO, lifts Battlelore beyond Memoir44. We played 3-4 games with the full lore system, and loved it, despite an expectation on my part that the fantasy elements would annoy me.

We are definitely looking forward to trying Call to Arms and even fooling around with Goblins and Dwarves.

I've also played with another friend's 12 yr old daughter and she enjoyed beating me up as well.

Grendel
      
toddrew
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Mon, 12 November 2007 15:41
BloodyBucket wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 22:14

Is BL different enough from M44, beyond the setting, to warrant having both?


To repeat from above, yes. I haven't played much Memoir '44, (yet Very Happy ) and the half dozen or so games I have played were after having played BL for awhile (and 3 or 4 games of Command & Colors: Ancients), but I think I've played enough to make some comparisons between the two games. More experienced players of both, please correct my observations Smile

In m44, agressiveness pays much greater dividends than it does in BL. This may seem like a minor difference, but the (relatively) simple concept of morale (which leads to the reason for the difference: battle backs) really does change the gameplay of BL from that of m44 (and, although cc:a has battle backs, the different way it is implemented in that game has subtle, but impactful differences from BL as well). In BL it is often times desirable to coax the opponent into initiating melee battles, get in some battle backs, then counter attack (maybe even using the command card of the same name Wink ) and hope to turn some opposing units into victory points. In m44 concentrating fire to finish off units as quickly as possible, before opponent can take a turn with them and return the favor, seems to me the way to go. Anyway, I see this leading towards, blah, blah, blah, and there will be plenty of that in the coming paragraphs, so,

If playing with the lore decks, game play is further differentiated. Within the command card deck of m44 there are cards that behave similar to some of the cards in the lore deck of BL. By seperating them into two decks in BL, players have greater options in deploying those tactics. Between two defensive-minded BL players, lore play often provides the opportunity to exploit for an assault (again, sometimes with a card of that very name Wink ) that will bring a well ordered game into chaos. I think it is this very mechanism that causes some players to consider lore to bring too many random elements into the game. I would argue that the lore decks add more control to the game and temper the random results of the dice, but fully respect differences in taste and perception.

The epic expansion for BL and the overlord expansion for m44 seem comparable but very different in a similar fashion to the core games. I've only played a few epic games and no overlord games (if I'm even calling those by the correct name Laughing ), so keep that in mind when weighing these comments. To me the epic expansion for BL does a wonderful job of enhancing the expansiveness of the game and making a very different experience from the base game 1 vs 1, but does not do a good job of making a multi-player game, save for the Reluctant Allies variant for 4 players. That is fun and, to me, a "true" 4 player game, where the straight multi-player rules involving one high ranking commander and subordinant commanders seems like a forcing of multiple players into a two player game. But, I've only played RA and 1v1 in epic, and do see that the conferencing amongst players on each side may be an enjoyable and different element of the game.

Call to Arms for BL has no equivalent in m44 that I know of, and while not a necessary component of the game, it is a very fun one. It really does add more strategic elements to the game as well as randomly (but not completely Exclamation ) generated adventures (well, more correctly, randomly generated unit formations to set terrain - Call to Arms terrain version, may not be too far away?) for even greater replay value, though simply lining up the official adventures again and again does a fair job of that in its own right.


Quote:


Is there a strong fantasy element, or does that only come via expan$ion pack$?


There is a strong fantasy element within the base game, through both the dwarf and goblin units as well as the lore cards. So far, the variety of fantasy units has been addressed by expansions, but I suspect other areas (more lore cards, war council items, terrain, heroes, etc.) will be brought along in the near to (hopefully Very Happy ) far reaching future.

Quote:


Is it significantly more complex than M44, enough to baffle me, er, I mean my eight year old kid?



Taking in all at once, the game may be a bit overwhelming compared to m44. However, the adventure booklet that comes with the base game does a wonderful job of introducing the elements of the game piecemeal. Having a background in m44, you would be acclimated in no time.

Hope that was helpful and not too wordy. If any clarifications are warranted, just ask. I can't keep away from these forums Very Happy

EDIT: O, and I forgot to extend an invitation to play a game or two (or as many as it takes Wink ) on Vassal to help you see for yourself. So, invitation extended Very Happy

[Aktualisiert am: Mon, 12 November 2007 15:47]

      
jdw1710
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Tue, 13 November 2007 05:53
Hey BloodBucket,

Here's my take on your questions. However, let me say that I've played Memoir before, but don't own it, so feel free to take my comments with a grain of salt.

As for expansions, BattleLore seems nearly identical to Memoir. Days of Wonder produces an expansion about every 3-4 months at a pretty fair price ($20-$30 each).

I would say, yes, BattelLore is different enough from Memoir to make it worth owning it on it's own. Toddrew gave a very accurate and thorough explanation of this.

As for BattleLore's fantasy girth, it's definitely fantasy lite. As a fantasy wargamer, it took me a long time to accept the fact that BattleLore is not a true fantasy wargame. The feel and emphasis of Battlelore is first a boardgame, second a wargame, and third a fantasy game. The game has human, dwarven and goblins races, cool monsters/creatures such as a giant spider, hill giant, or earth elemental but these fantasy aspects of the game play second fiddle to the game mechanics (which could be a positive or negative depending on your preference). Lore (~magic) in the game is more impressive as for fantasy and adds a lot to the game.

Should you buy BattleLore? Do you like Memoir A LOT? If you do, BattleLore would probably be an excellent medieval/fantasy war-boardgame for you.

      
toddrew
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Tue, 13 November 2007 15:09
O, and one other aspect that I meant to bring up as causing the games to play different was the power of ranged attacks in m44 compared to those in BL. In the ability to attack from range with only terrain penalties affecting the tanks, artillery units with massive range, and infantry that can attack (albeit at a lower dice value) as they advance makes the board play a lot smaller (even though same dimensions) than the board for BL. Although BL appears to be catching up in this aspect, with longbows and arbalests, those actually encourage engagement in melee, as the best way to reduce their power on the game is to engage them so they no longer hit on bonus and have to face a battle back from a more powerful unit if they do attack.

While I'm at it, the fact that infantry in m44 get hit on 50% of the die faces (67% if flags cause hits), and tanks and artillery hit on 33% (50% if flags cause hits) compared to BL where hits are harder to come by: 33% for foot units, 50% if flags or lore, only way to get to 67% is flags and lore, and mounted units are the same, except reduced by not being hit on the first bonus strike from foot soldiers, plus throw in common bows not hitting on bonus strikes, etc...
Anyway, all that is to say again how aggressiveness in m44 pays bigger dividends than aggressiveness in BL, with the greater chance of hitting units and no battle backs.
      
ColtsFan76
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Tue, 13 November 2007 17:36
M44 is the best game ever. I have all of the Borg games and enjoy them for what they are try to accomplish. BL is different enough from the rest (but closest to Ancients) in game play that you will feel like you have a brand new game - not just a fantasy paste up of m44.

The game is more expensive and more supported currently than M44. But you can also pick and choose what you want to add to it. Some of the expansion are "foundational" in that they expand the game play itself (such as "call to arms" and "epic") while others are more "flavorful" (all of the specialist packs). While M44 usually gets an expansion every year or two, BL has seen an expansion almost every month though the pace has slowed down.

Only caution is that it is a bit more complex than M44. You had the whole new elemant of the Lore deck. The strategies in M44 won't work in BL and you need to revise everything. But since it is still a Borg game, everything will feel familiar and it shouldn't be too steep of a learning curve.

So I recommend the game and do not think you will be dissapointed.
      
Captain Kremmen
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Tue, 13 November 2007 21:29
I have most of the M44 expansions, it is a good game. Battlelore is really quite significantly different.

Best version is Commands and colours ancients though, similar to battlelore but much more serious, whilst no more complex.

One of your early comments was pretty correct about Battlelore, it is very lite on fantasy, it is basically a medieval game pretending to be a fantasy game.


IMHO

Andy

      
toddrew
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Wed, 14 November 2007 01:21
Captain Kremmen wrote on Tue, 13 November 2007 13:29



One of your early comments was pretty correct about Battlelore, it is very lite on fantasy, it is basically a medieval game pretending to be a fantasy game.



This is going to sound more flippant than I mean it, but isn't that what fantasy is: pretend?

The following question is coming from someone (me Very Happy ) with very little background in the way of D&D, etc., but what makes BattleLore "lite" on fantasy? Is it the lack of a detailed backstory? That I can understand, but if the reason for labeling the game fantasy lite has to do with the limited play of the fantastical during the game, I would have to say that in a full fledged CTA game involving creatures, wizards, and clerics, plenty of alternate history being played out.

jdw1710's explanation makes sense to me, in that, like most board games, the mechanics dominate theme, but for me, anyway, it is very easy to drape that theme over that skeleton of abstraction.
      
jdw1710
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Wed, 14 November 2007 05:10
toddrew wrote on Tue, 13 November 2007 16:21

Captain Kremmen wrote on Tue, 13 November 2007 13:29



One of your early comments was pretty correct about Battlelore, it is very lite on fantasy, it is basically a medieval game pretending to be a fantasy game.



This is going to sound more flippant than I mean it, but isn't that what fantasy is: pretend?

The following question is coming from someone (me Very Happy ) with very little background in the way of D&D, etc., but what makes BattleLore "lite" on fantasy? Is it the lack of a detailed backstory?

For the most part, yes, BattleLore is considered by many as 'Fantasy Lite' because the lack of detailed fantasy background. All Fantasy elements (Dwarves, Goblins, Giant Spider, etc) are second thoughts in the game (maybe I'm going a little overboard here...beware long rant coming...). This gives the game the versatility of being either a medieval game or a fantasy lite game.

When I'm playing BL I don't really care that a particular unit is a Dwarf unit, I only care that it's automatically bold, or a particular unit is a goblin unit only that it can make extra moves and easily panics. There just isn't enough of story there to make me care that that a particular unit is a Dwarf or Goblin unit. Unlike BL, Memoir the story is well known, very deep, rich and intriguing. It's easy to see in your mind the troops hitting the beach under hellish fire or tanks firing back and forth in some great tank skirmish.

This doesn't mean that BL doesn't have the ability to be deep and rich game. It's just a matter of coming up with a story to say why your army contains Goblins, Dwarves, a Hill Giant (other than to waste my bow shots on Razz ), etc.

Ranting onward...the War Council is a perfect example of BL's dryness of a fantasy wargame mechanism. You have different heroes who help you out on the battlefield (via playing lore) Commander, Warrior, Rogue, Magician, and Priest. They aren't physically present on the battlefield, they aren't in danger of getting an arrow in the eye, routed off the field thus plunging the army's moral into the toilet, they don't battle each other face to face, it's just a way to decide which lore cards to select for a game. That's a fine board game mechanism but a lousy excuse for a fantasy battle game (Can you sense my wargamers frustration? Very Happy ).

Now in defense of BattleLore (against my own criticisms Rolling Eyes ) Days of Wonder are planning to come out with a Hero package which will hopefully mean that you can field your war council or their heroes on the field. Also, BattleLore is a fantastic ( Shocked Duh..did I say that word), I mean exciting and fun war boardgame with a great playing mechanism. If it lacks the necessary detail/background to give it preferable glamour and gore then maybe it should be up to the whining players (me and ?) to build enough background and detail into each game to satisfy our Fantasy wargames needs. Twisted Evil

Wheph! that's all. If you made it this far...thanks for listening. Razz

[Aktualisiert am: Wed, 14 November 2007 05:27]

      
Roobarb
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Wed, 14 November 2007 12:32
i think the level of background is perfect there is all you need to wage war ie its a hunderd years war era game theres loads of books n web sites that give you all the background you need but IMHO all you need to know is that it is the sport of kings Very Happy
i mean do you realy need to know that the knights of zigzagwandera are fighting the warriors of fastnbulbus over the planes of hexongarzity Question i mean will it make the game any better i think not Surprised
      
toddrew
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Wed, 14 November 2007 15:24
jdw1710 wrote on Tue, 13 November 2007 21:10

Wheph! that's all. If you made it this far...thanks for listening. Razz



Thanks, jdw, like I said, that makes sense to me that players would feel that way. I don't agree that they should Laughing , but I understand. I think DoW will flesh out some backstory as the game matures, and don't think plopping it in the midst of the HYW is a lazy way of going about beginning said backstory, but, yeah, do see where the criticism that it is, in light of no further development (yet Question ), comes from.

That said, while playing out particular battles, all those elements do come alive for me: Tales from the HYW Uchronia Campaign

Yes, I am a big nerd.
      
AK_Aramis
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Thu, 22 November 2007 08:38
BloodyBucket wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 20:14


So, after all that background, Is BL different enough from M44, beyond the setting, to warrant having both?

Is there a strong fantasy element, or does that only come via expan$ion pack$?

Is it significantly more complex than M44, enough to baffle me, er, I mean my eight year old kid?

Thanks in advance for the advice!


Yes, it's different enough. Similar enough to have some skill crossover, different enough to feel very different.

Yes, the fantasy element is strong once you add the lore rules. Sure, not a lot of non-humans, but big honking combat spells are fantastic (in both common senses of the term).


It's not terribly difficult. If you find M44 challenging, it will push the limit. If not, then it will be only somewhat more difficult. Moreover, the scenarios add difficulty progressively. That being said, however, most of my gamer buds learn the game with all the expansions in 3-4 plays.

The only expansion I feel is essential is Call To Arms... since it opens the game completely for the long term.

The others do add more variation, and more visual appeal, and more fantasy troops... but they are far from essential. (Tho' I've got them all!)
      
Caboose
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Thu, 22 November 2007 23:04
AK_Aramis wrote on Thu, 22 November 2007 00:38

BloodyBucket wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 20:14


So, after all that background, Is BL different enough from M44, beyond the setting, to warrant having both?

Is there a strong fantasy element, or does that only come via expan$ion pack$?

Is it significantly more complex than M44, enough to baffle me, er, I mean my eight year old kid?

Thanks in advance for the advice!


Yes, it's different enough. Similar enough to have some skill crossover, different enough to feel very different.

Yes, the fantasy element is strong once you add the lore rules. Sure, not a lot of non-humans, but big honking combat spells are fantastic (in both common senses of the term).


It's not terribly difficult. If you find M44 challenging, it will push the limit. If not, then it will be only somewhat more difficult. Moreover, the scenarios add difficulty progressively. That being said, however, most of my gamer buds learn the game with all the expansions in 3-4 plays.

The only expansion I feel is essential is Call To Arms... since it opens the game completely for the long term.

The others do add more variation, and more visual appeal, and more fantasy troops... but they are far from essential. (Tho' I've got them all!)


I'd have to agree with Aramis in the sense that CtA should be an almost "gotta have" expansion for BL. Just from the standpoint that one can generate random scenarios should be enough to see why.

Also, if you happen to always have 3-4 players, you MIGHT also want to look into the Epic Expansion, just because the "Relucant allies" expansion in it definitely is hands on the best thing for 4 players.

Lastly, I would like to add that almost all of the BL expansions have added new "elements" to the game (Epic and CtA being the exceptions), just like most of the M44 expansions did for it.

While demoing DoW this past weekend, I had found the following : M44 age recommendation is 8+ whereas BL is 10+. Should that matter, due take the ages of possible players in consideration.

Cab
      
BloodyBucket
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Thu, 29 November 2007 08:12
Thanks for all the detailed and well thought out replies....

I think the boy can handle the complexity of BL.

I know he'll love the theme, and I suspect the fantasy element will get stronger (if desired) through (sigh) expan$ion$. Note that I have nothing against free enterprise, the fine products of DoW, and I really do enjoy the games that they produce....It's just that I now know how a crackhead feels about his pusher.

Sadly, however, after consulting with my CEO, she's decided that he is full up on Christmas gifts. Sad

Dad, however, can ask for anything he wants. Very Happy Twisted Evil Very Happy

If Santa is good, we'll be a BL family. If he isn't, I'll just return a few neckties and make it happen. Shocked
      
*player29746
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Thu, 29 November 2007 22:15
Just an idea.

I play BL with 2 of my grandsons.

One is 13. He likes BL better than Memoirs, but that might mostly be due to subject matter. He likes fantasy.

The other is 3 1/2. He is on my side. He rolls my dice. He loves watching the results of his rolls being played out on the board.

As I hand him the dice I might say, "C'mon... we need you to roll some reds!" He is delighted when he does (and, so am I).
      
Chanfan
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Re:Sell me, I'm Easy! Thu, 17 January 2008 15:19
And he almost got BL, but instead, at the last minute, opted for other games. On the other hand, he did give a copy to me...

[Aktualisiert am: Thu, 17 January 2008 15:20]

      
    
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