Review: Battlelore Second Edition – war in Terrinoth
Arrow whizzed just a few inches from my ear. That was a signal, that they are getting really close. And we still have not assembled our formation. I used all air in my lungs to let a loud command out. Trees almost shattered and movement of men visibly accelerated. But will it be enough? Our race is not good in maneuvering, they are simply standing confused. Their strength is demonstrated, when it comes to fighting. But today, this may be too late..
And you have to pay attention to your soldiers in board game Battlelore, which recently underwent its second edition. And Battlelore by Richard Borg was revised for second edition by Robert A. Kouba. Game was originally published in 2013 by Fantas Flight Games.
Box is dominated inside by large folded game board, which is divided into three areas at first glance. Smaller division is then offered by hexagons scattered across a green field on which the battle will take place. Yes, we already know well, that there will be a battle and no negotiators can stop it. That’s why you need units and there is a total of 92 miniatures. Five species for each side, ranging huge from Chaos Lord to smallest archers.
Battle will with certainty also use four dice with symbols of swords, flags and helmets. And the battle will be supported by pile of cardboard pieces, among which are additional pieces of terrain to increase variability by battleground flag tokens, victory points, lore and other effects, such as poison.
Both players will be accompanied by many different cards. Most decks are divided by side of battle to Daqan and Uthuk. The same is true for other support card, whether it is a scenario, deployment, orders or descriptions of units and their abilities. Each such card belonging to unit is wearing its price for sending it to battlefield, health, attack power (including type of attack) and speed of movement.
Each player selects his own side and takes all components associated with it (miniatures, cards and deployment and learning scenarios). Already at that time, both adversaries will find, that game is test to their tactical skills. Once game board is placed in the middle, they choose (simultaneously and secretly) one of their cards of deploy scenarios. They reveal it, deciding location of terrain pieces on their half of the board. Then, they are able to deploy their troops, so they have best starting position for battle.
But before that, they should prepare a supply of tokens next to the board, as well as shuffled order deck. Now is the right time, when both generals will be using their deployment deck to create army of eighteen units. Their value is limited to top fifty points and cost of each unit can be found in the lower left corner of its card. Among the cards, there is also a bait, that allows for any combination of eighteen soldiers, without enemy knowing. These cards are selected at each one’s discretion and deployed face-down. Only then players will unveil identity of their units and replace them with realistic miniatures of their color. Everything is now finally ready for battle, all it takes is for each opponent to draw hand of four order cards and two more from lore deck.
Players take turns, which always consist of exactly two phases. First active general selects and plays one order card from his hand, he reads text to his opponents and does, what it says. In addition the special properties, each card always provides some order points and determine, in which region he may fight.
He can simply command, whether any of his units should move and then can attack. Both activities thus have an upper limit set by command card. The distance moved depends on ability of particular unit, indicated on a card by number (= speed) in a blue circle. One can only move to places, where there is no other unit. Movement (and lien-of-sight) can be prevented by a variety of terrain.
Only then is the time to attack. And how this is done should be clear, because this is a true cornerstone of every militarily oriented game. Again, however, this chance applies only to units, that were ordered at the beginning of the round and had just their opportunity to move. Using offensive value in the red circle, then active player rolls as many dice to determine hits.
Attack can be a melee or ranged, depending on the orientation of the specific unit. Range is another value, printed above attack digit. Symbols on the dice also distinguish type of attack, so melee needs a different symbol, than distanced assault, while shooting is less accurate (has lesser number of symbols). In addition to various kinds of hits, players can get tokens, activate some special abilities and also prepare defending unit for its morale. As a result of their fear, soldiers must after attack retreat back for several fields. If the unit is not destroyed, it can immediately retaliate.
Unit typically consist of multiple miniatures, each hit removes one of them from the board. Such units are becoming weak, when there is only one piece left and its hit options become limited (one dice side does not apply to them). There are also individual units, which have their own health and number of hits is marked by injury tokens.
Attack phase is followed by administration. Players earn victory points for controlled positions with flag and takes therefore the number of victory tokens corresponding to the flag. Player also gets a new order card and in particular has ability to get lore cards or tokens. Individual lore cards can then by played upon payment of a sufficient number of tokens at any moment (described on the card) and its effect evaluated. These actions often have the power to reverse outcome of the battle.
Military skirmishes continue until the moment, when any of players received sixteenth victory point. The exception is, when one side completely destroy’s the other, leaving it with no units on the battlefield. In both cases, winner is entirely clear.
Battlelore: Second Edition is an honest military entertainment with tons of fantasy elements. It plays nicely, fantasy setting enriches it and makes it a very exciting experience. We have no experience with previous version, so we will not compare. What we do know for sure is, that new Battlelore is great fun and excellent tactical game.
Most gameplay elements are actually the same as we are used in similar games. Movement of troops, combat and players rolling dice. All this was already here. But there are several exciting enhancements, that provide interesting and unique experience, giving this mix a unique look and feel. First of these is division of the board into thirds. They limit the choice of units a player can activate, together with drawing correct order cards and adjusting to available selection in hand.
Basic units are grouped into formations of three miniatures, which can only then represent true power of the card. Once the unit is weakened, its ability of melee combat is also lowered. Shooting from a distance is solved classically, but chance of hit is consistently lower, than in close combat, which leaves a nice taste from tactical point of view.
The game is, of course, also affected by random draw of order cards. Only they allow players to issue orders and they are different every time. This luck is not so large, that it could destroy properly prepared plans. Generals must simply be able to cope with them and use them to their advantage. Command system itself is interesting, because players can activate only a few units per round in conjunction with the afore-mentioned sections. And this limiting element goes in favor of quickness and lowers choice.
Playing one card is elegantly simple and players have their decisions clear from the beginning. Those options are not too tensile for players and they are not inundated as in other games. Whoever is active player, he simply plays one card, activates units and passes.This contributes well to the flow of the game and players are constantly entertained.
And then there are lore cards and even special abilities of units. These two cases are supplying the fantasy play feel, that brings necessary spice and interesting situations. Suddenly, you cast spells and perform incredible things. It is certainly good then, if players know each other’s decks, so they know, what counteractions to expect. Indeed, very uniqueness of both factions is at excellent levels, each addressing a different direction, but are usually well balanced in the final chances to win. Yet, in some scenarios, fast Daqan has a slight advantage over brute force of Uthuk.
Variability between games is guaranteed at the beginning of the scenario, when players select distribution of their units. Building your own army is a way to adapt to the environment and combat conditions, which may vary according to each story. A lot of it also depends on the location of the flags, that need to be controlled in the game to get such important victory points. It forces players to do true tactical approach.
The game is not difficult to explain and even rules are not long. And who should have some questions after reading, there is a second booklet, which examines in detail specific mechanisms and answers everything. Battlelore: Second Edition is proper game even for less experienced players, who are only starting their interest into field of combat board games. Because it is designed specifically for two warring parties, it is always a purely tactical combat. It takes a total of about an hour to complete one battle and the only deficiency remains in longer setup, that can take up to ten minutes.
Whole game looks fantastic, hexagonal arrays provide enough space for units of all sizes and additional pieces of terrain hold in place. Then there are of course beautiful and detailed miniatures. There is already prepared a small expansion for market (reported for 2015), created for existing parties and certainly also addition of whole new armies will be added as well.
Battlelore: Second Edition takes place in the world of Terrinoth, which is also home to other games (Descent: Journeys into the Dark). The fantasy theme is so obvious and breathes from the game on all sides, but the main thing is fun. And there is a true bunch of this in this box. Although you will find deficiencies in this game, which will precipitate enthusiasm slightly, but as a whole, Battlelore: Second Edition is an excellent choice for players loving tactical combat or seeking journey into a world, where orders mean everything.
Review: Battlelore Second Edition – war in Terrinoth
Battlelore: Second Edition is a tactical game with miniatures, which has gone through simplification. Everything is very straightforward and players do not have an unnecessary amount of options in their turn. Yet, game is staying true to tactical choices. It plays smoothly and very fast, completed within one hour. Players will enjoy interesting tactical maneuvers, that are performed using cards. They always specify only one third field to activate units in, which is interestingly limiting. The game is directly designed and balanced for two players, further enriched by lore cards, that add another level of fantasy combat and are often tied to a specific unit. Luck at dice and cards can become pretty big, but thanks to speed of the whole match, that is perfectly okay. Much bigger drawback is the fact, that human side has bigger chance of winning in some scenarios, because of their speed. Despite this, but Battlelore: Second Edition is true experience and an excellent gateway into the world of tactical games. It guarantees to entertain, but remains tempting also for demanding audience.
Reader Rating0 Votes
two unique sides and wide possibility of expansions