Posts tagged ‘BattleLore’

Battlelore: An Epic Fantasy Game


In Battlelore, Richard Berg (the designer) once more employs the battle system based on command cards that he used so effectively in Command and Colors: Ancients as well as in Memoir ’44. Like Memoir ’44, Battlelore started out as a Days of Wonder game, although the rights to it are now owned by Fantasy Flight Games.

Battlelore aims to recreate the battles of the Hundred Years War, but does so by adding a fantasy element. You can command the English longbows at Agincourt against the flower of French chivalry, or you can send a horde of goblins to attack strongholds staunchly defended by stalwart Dwarfs. With over 200 miniatures, numerous command and lore cards, a good variety of terrain tiles that allows you to customize each map as you like, and much, much more – this is not just a game: it’s a gaming system.

If you’re looking for a game that has endless re-playability and completely immerses you in theme, then look no further.

Innovative Rules

With a rule book that has more than 80 pages, this game may seem a bit daunting at first. However, many of those pages have full-page colour illustrations, and indeed this is one of the most accessible and even beautiful rule books that I have come across.

What is unique about Battlelore is that you don’t need to learn all the rules at once. For instance, when you play the first scenario from the Scenario Book (Agincourt) you only need to read the first few chapters. No need yet to worry about the dwarves, the goblins, the lore council, or the monsters (the Spider, Hill Giant and Earth Elementals – the latter two are expansions). All you need to know are the basic rules of combat. And if you ever forget a rule you can use the handy compendium at the back of the rule book for a quick reference check.

So, rather than review all the rules, let me point out some of the elements that really set this game apart.

The Command Cards

In every game you will have access to a number of command cards that allow you to control troops in the centre or on the flanks of the map. This is the only way you can allow your troops to attack the enemy, so if you run out of command cards for one section of the board then you’re in trouble. It’s important therefore to make the best of your command cards and manage them carefully.

Troop Strength and Resolve

Each infantry unit includes four troops and each cavalry unit has three horsemen. However, the number of dice rolled for the entire unit always remains the same, even if individual troops are lost.

The Battle-Back Mechanic

When a unit has two friendly units beside it, it is said to be supported, and so it can battle back when attacked. This means that if you keep your troops in formation you allow them to fight even on your opponent’s turn.

The Dice

The dice make resolving battles very straight-forward. Three of the sides show a helmet (coloured green, blue, or red). Each colour corresponds to a level of troop strength. A red unit, for instance, includes the most heavily armed fighters. For each helmet that matches the colour of the troop’s banner that you’re attacking you score a hit. The other symbols on the dice are the bonus strike symbol, the retreat flag, and the lore symbol (which allows you to collect lore tokens).

The Lore Council

More advanced scenarios allow players to recruit a lore council. You can recruit various leaders who will help you in battle. These range from a rogue to a cleric, and each one allows you to play lore cards (once you collect enough lore tokens) to play alongside your command cards. These cards further range in strength, with the most powerful costing 13 lore and allowing you to command all your troops at once for the entire turn.

Final Assessment

Personally I think this is a great game, and I play it regularly, even two years after pre-ordering it. An average game takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half (including set-up time). The game also lends itself well to a tournament setting, if you can get enough friends together for a series of sessions. Despite my enthusiasm I will point out that the game has a few drawbacks. For one thing, the set-up time can be quite long. It often takes around 10-15 min. to set up a scenario, although if you play two sessions in a row the set-up time for the second scenario will decrease dramatically.

Another issue some gamers may have with Battelore is that strategic planning will not always win out. The dice add a significant luck element. If you know this in advance then you can enjoy the thrill that comes with rolling the dice. If you want complete control, then this game will not be for you.

Lastly, some players may not like the odd mixture of medieval and fantasy warfare. What is a Giant Spider doing in medieval Europe? And why are goblins riding on ostriches? Who came up with that ridiculous idea? Yet the gaming experience Battelore offers is rich enough to overcome these challenges. The different types of troops, the banner and command card systems, the lore council – all these elements are woven together seamlessly. There’s nothing quite like playing a command card like Darken the Skies (which unleashes a storm of arrows), along with a lore card that doubles the effect. Or let’s say you have a mighty cleric in your lore council, and you notice that all the enemy troops are crossing the river that flows across the board – time to cast River Rage and watch the enemy get swept away!

The game also appeals to a wide audience. Compare this, for instance, to a system like Warhammer – which is really only for those dedicated to invest in huge armies of miniatures and an extremely complex rule-set with many modifiers – and you’ll see the difference. Battlelore will appeal to the whole family. Even younger children can play, and the ability to customize the rules and set-up to allow for different gradations of difficulty really helps.

This is a game I will be playing for many years, and the fact that there are many expansions will keep this game fresh for a long time to come.

You can get your own copy of BattleLore here


March 17, 2009 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment

The Board Game Scrabble As A Strategy Board Game

Author: Lyndon Lampert

Okay, let’s start with a quick quiz:

Name three of your favorite strategy games.

If you’re a fan of the the classics, you would probably put Chess and Go on your list. If you’re a Eurogamer, you’d likely name modern productions like Puerto Rico, BattleLore and Power Grid. I have no argument with any of these choices.

But, would anybody besides me put Scrabble on their favorite strategy game list?

Maybe not, for the much-loved and much-despised Scrabble is generally thought of as a word game and not as a strategy game. And that’s a crying shame, for to win this classic game, you need to be just as savvy in strategy and tactics as you are in spelling.

To win Scrabble consistently, you need to think strategically and tactically in three areas:

1. Plan for the long term

2. Maximize short-term opportunities

3. Avoid giving your opponents tactical advantages

Let’s briefly look at how each of these translates onto the Scrabble “battlefield.”

Plan For The Long Term

In truth, Scrabble offers more tactical, short-term opportunities than strategic, long-term opportunities, but one area of long-term planning can pay off big in this game. The 50-bonus point rule for playing all 7 letters in one word is attractive enough to make it a goal in every game. Those who are able to manage even one of these in a game often win on the basis of that one play, frequently totaling 70 or 80 points for one word.

Good players “build their hand” as they play towards the goal of creating a 7-letter word. Thus, a good strategy is to build and hang onto an “ING” combination when possible. An amazing number of four-letter words can take the “ING” suffix and will put you in position for big points. Other good letter combinations to hold in reserve because they’re so common are “ED”, “ER” and “TH”. And, of course, an “S” can be an invaluable suffix that can make your six-letter word really valuable, as well as enabling it to be tacked onto the end of many words already on the board.

Maximize Short-Term Opportunities

Expert Scrabble players shine in capitalizing on short-term opportunities when they arise. Since the board is always changing, new opportunities are always coming up. Most players pay attention when the chance to play on a red Triple Word space opens up, but all of the colored spaces on the board offer similar excellent scoring opportunities. Rather than “building a word in your rack and seeing where it will go,” then, develop the habit of looking for the “multiplier” spaces on the board first, and figuring out how to maximize your tiles from there.

Another short-term opportunity that skilled Scrabble players utilize effectively is “side-by-side” building. For example, if the word AWE is on the board, playing HEM directly underneath it makes four words and probably scores much higher than if HEM were played elsewhere. Obviously, knowing lots of nifty two-letter words helps this tactic work exceedingly well.

Avoid Giving Your Opponents Tactical Advantages

This may be the single most common error in playing Scrabble.

The rule is simple: don’t set your opponents up for big scores!

Even if you score moderately well on a word, if it sets your opponents up for an even bigger score, you’ll suffer a net loss of points! The most obvious place this happens on the board is when you open up a Triple Word for them. Except in very unusual circumstances, just don’t do it! Play elsewhere, and let someone else set you up for a Triple Word instead.

A corollary to not setting up an opponent is being prepared to make a defensive move when necessary. For instance, if a Triple Word comes available to you, but you can only score 12 points on it, but 20 if you play elsewhere, you may be better off taking the Triple Word anyway, to prevent someone else from taking the Triple Word for a huge score. This is a judgement call, of course, but the general rule is, when a Triple Word is available, take it for yourself if you can, for more often than not, you’ll regret it if you don’t!


Scrabble isn’t quite in the same category as BattleLore, but there’s much more tactical play in it than is often recognized. Scrabble will always be thought of as a word game first, but those who practice some “tactical savviness” will come out on top more often than those who don’t.   

December 12, 2008 at 7:58 pm Leave a comment

Days of Wonder Signs Exclusive Distributor Deal

Late last week, I got a call from my game distributor. They told me some unfortunate information. They were no longer going to be able to sell Days of Wonder games due to an exclusive agreement that had been signed.

This may sound like a trivial event, but for many of you, it may mean that you are not able to get the games you like or the expansions to them for a period of time. For example, it means that I need to get a retailer account with a new distributor so I can provide you with the best games in the world.

The games made by Days of Wonder include:

  • BattleLore and its expansions
  • Memoir ’44 and its expansions
  • Ticket to Ride and its expansions and new card game
  • Shadows Over Camelot and the upcoming Merlin’s Company expansion
  • Pirate’s Cove

As you can see, these are some very popular games and for a retail stores to not carry them would be a disservice to gamers. So, a retailer must do a couple of things -1) buy up a bunch of inventory from our current supplier and hope to not sell out until the new distributor agreement is settled and 2) set up a new distributor agreement with the new distributor.

This can affect pricing do to shipping options or exclusive rights, which is essentially a sales monopoly. Days Of Wonder also recently raised their prices. So essentially this turns out to be a negative for the consumer. However, I have played many of their games and I can say they are great games, so it is worth the wait and the price increase.

At, we have two games of theirs available due to larger retailers buying out inventory at the distributor level. These games are: Ticket to Ride Europe and Ticket to Ride Card Game. All other Days of Wonder games are not available for sale until we set up our new distributor account.

If you are considering any of these games in the near future, please check with your retailer of choice to confirm game availability.

When we have access to these games again, I will post a new blog about the availability. Until then, try a great game from Z-Man games. Our Game of the Month is 1960: The Making of a President. Another game you may consider is the new Catan expansion game: Traders and Barbarians.

July 6, 2008 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

NEW Game of the Month! BattleLore

We introduced our Game of the Month, about a month and a half ago.

This month is BattleLore Month. If you are considering checking this game out, I think this is the time to buy – consider it as a gift to yourself, a Father’s Day, or a July 4th US Stimulus Check game.

This month, you can get BattleLore for $41.25 + shipping. It typically retails for around $58.00. Remember, days of Wonder recently raised all their US prices, so this is a really good deal.

BattleLore is part of a gaming system that includes many expansion packs and a bunch of scenarios. If you are looking for a Fantasy style, low end wargame system you can play for a long time, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

June 11, 2008 at 11:10 am Leave a comment


Best Dang Games

  • RT @SunburstOrlando: Mention this post today at The Sunburst Convention and get half priced tickets to our showcase....only $10. 12:30m ... 5 years ago
  • Played Jambo for the first time on Saturday. Great fun for a 2 player Euro style game. 8 years ago
  • Descent Sea Of Blood board game on sale for only $38.99! 8 years ago
  • Free shipping over $100 is back on most board games! Check out our selection today. 8 years ago
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  • New game request feature and video center with all of our YouTube video now available directly on the website. 8 years ago
  • New board games re-stock including Cosmic Incursion, Runewars, and more. 8 years ago
  • @scitadel Good luck at the Con! Let us know what it turns out... 8 years ago
  • @scitadel I agree. More than likely, more board games will move online. Pogo and some others I won't mention are proof to that. 8 years ago