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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Got game!

Battlelore bonanza! #2: DHL delivers days later

Still flushed from the excitement of DiceCon the day before, I checked my inbox last Monday to find an email from DoW informing me that my preordered copy of Battlelore- complete with my 2 free promotional miniatures- had been shipped 2 days previously. Making haste to the tracking site via the enclosed link I found that the package was sitting in a depot somewhere in Germany. You can be sure that I checked that URL several times daily thereafter, labouring perhaps under the obscure superstition that I might thereby somehow speed the precious cargo on its way!

The game finally arrived on Friday morning; very timely because Bill was due to visit on Saturday. A serious gloat later I set to work. Taking a hint from Tom Vasel in his review over at the The Dice Tower I bagged-up the miniatures: they are presented in lidded plastic storage trays which are at least as fiddly as they are nifty. And I followed the advice posted by DoW on how to fix the miniatures bent by the sheer weight of the contents stuffed into the box (a good reason for dispensing with the trays in favour of alternative storage). This very necessary task (some of my heavy cavalry miniatures were so bent as to be lying flat) proved even easier than the DoW webpage makes it appear.

Bill and I got 4 games in on Saturday. Our games at DiceCon having convinced us that it is the Lore scenarios that make the game, we decided to find out how the goblins and the dwarves played. So we began with scenario 6: A Complex Web.

To save me repetitive reminders you can find an explanation of the various symbols on the DoW site: the Battlelore Primer- handy downloadable introdction, and the Battlelore Chronicles- the dedicated blog which has tantalised so many of us in recent weeks. Beyond that I just need to add that the round badges denote the dwarfs (white saltire on blue background) and the goblins (the yellow thingummy on a dark red background), and that the singular green banner surrounded by the dwarves denotes the giant spider. Dwarves and a giant spider on the same side? Well that's mercenaries for you I guess.

Two easy victories for Owain the Red Hand later we'd concluded that the key to this scenario was saving the goblin wing of Edward of Woodstock's army from a fearful rout. Rising to the challenge, I resorted to driving Woodstock's human troops towards the right of the Red Hand's line.

I took a leaf out of Bill's book by using Greater Portal to bring one of Bill's heavy cavalry units right in among my goblins so that my hobgoblin lizard riders could surround it and ride it down, while my other cavalry got stuck in on my left. A brutal exchange of cavalry charges ensued with the result that I had cleared the Red Hand's right flank. The giant spider scuttled out to try to retrieve the situation for Bill, to no avail. My troops, battered after their hard-won local victory, withdrew so that Bill couldn't easily just send out a unit in a sneak attack hoping for an easy victory banner or two.

I wasn't having everything my own way though, and we were pretty much neck and neck as we entered the end game, which was fought around the centre/left of the map as Bill's dwarves marched forwards in search of victory. Luck was with me in the end and Woodstock's army proved triumphant, although it was a very close run thing.

For our final game we wanted to see what happened with a fuller range of Lore cards available, which took us to scenario 7: Crisis in Avignon.

Playing the English I began by positioning my archers to fire at Sire Arnoul d'Audrehem's medium infantry by the river bend. I was hoping for a quick kill to weaken d'Audrehem's left wing so opening up the possibilty of seizing the bridge which offered me a victory banner.

The best-laid plans doing what they always do, the battle soon took a different course, devolving into a bitter nip-and-tuck melee in the area bounded by the 3 hills straddling the section divider away from the river. The raging battle again saw careful manoeuvring as Bill and I sought to maintain our own formations while looking for weaknesses to exploit in the opposing lines. A heroic stand by one of Bill's medium infantry units reduced to a single model almost saved the day for d'Audrehem, but I won in the end in yet another near thing.

And that was it. Eight games played, and I'm feeling that I've got to grips with how the new elements in Battlelore affect the gameplay. As with the move from M44 to C&C:A the changes are subtle but decisive, giving Battlelore its own dynamic and set of challenges. I'll give a rundown of those changes and how they work just as soon as I can. ;)
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