Sunday, October 28, 2012


BattleLore is one of many games in the Commands and Colors series by Richard Borg.  At least four different companies have published games in the series, all of which share similar core mechanics.  I first wrote about this series back in 2008 with Commands and Colors: Ancients.  BattleLore shares many similarities with that game, but there are a number of important differences, as well.  BattleLore tries to straddle the line between medieval warfare and swords & sorcery fantasy.  The game comes with archers; light, medium, and heavy infantry; and light, medium, and heavy cavalry for each side.  All of those units are the same for each side.  You can use these units to fight a couple historical battles included with the game.  They are also used in the "fantasy" battles, as well.  To get that "fantasy" feel, the game also comes with goblins and dwarves, as well as a giant spider unit.  The goblins and dwarves are essentially just regular infantry or cavalry with special rules.  If you wanted to focus only on historical battles, you could use such units as 'foreign' mercenary troops, or something like that, and not worry about whether they are humans or not.  The giant spider doesn't lend itself to such treatment, naturally.  It is pretty cool, I must admit, though like all such special creatures (more are sold separately!) lucky die rolls can kill it before you get to do anything neat with it.

Up to this point, everything is pretty much standard Commands and Colors game play, as described in my write-up of the Ancients game.  The use of light, medium, and heavy units is the same, the way the board is set up is the same, the way that command cards work is generally the same, etc.  There is one thing that sets this game apart, though.  That is the use of Lore.  Lore is represented by a separate deck of cards.  In some battles, the players can buy levels of "lore masters," which are special individuals that are part of your army.  You can have a wizard, a priest, a rogue, and a warrior.  Each of those character types has 15 cards that represent special abilities of those types.  For example, the wizard can use fireballs to try to kill an enemy unit outright, or move units around the board, etc.  You figure out what type and power of lore masters you want in your army, and then set up the lore deck with the ability cards for your chosen masters.  All of the cards are powered by "lore tokens," which build up during game play.  Every turn you have a chance to get up to two new tokens, but you can also get additional tokens by rolling lore symbols on the dice during combat.  The more powerful lore cards require more lore tokens to use them, so the luck of the draw doesn't overly influence the events of the game.

The addition of the lore system does set BattleLore apart from others in the Commands and Colors series, and since I like the series you would think that I would be all over this game.  In reality, though, I've owned the game for about four years but have only played it a couple times.  Why?  I really am not sure.  The figures are nice, and game plays pretty quickly, it lends itself decently to solitaire play, but... it just is lacking something.  I can't even say what.  If I want to play a game in the series, I gravitate towards Memoir '44 or Ancients.  Thus, even though BattleLore is a solid game, it just sits forlornly on my game shelf.  Alas.

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