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BattleLore: Call to Arms
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A Command & Colors Game (Currently Restocking)
A BattleLore Game
This expansion does NOT rely on the point-based army buying approach common to many miniature games. Rather, it uses a novel, card-driven deployment mechanism, centered around the use of Deployment decks, Specialist cards and Feudal Levy tokens.
The deployment mechanics introduced in this expansion closely mimic medieval deployments of yore, and will provide you with a uniquely fun and enjoyable way to customize your troops and deploy your armies.
Time: 75 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Weight: 352 grams
Language Requirements: Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.
- 6 sets of Deployment cards
- 10 Specialist cards
- 8 new Summary cards
- 16 double-sided Terrain tiles
- 3 new Obstacles
- 12 Feudal Levy tokens
- 6 Supplemental Banners
- New Long Bow weapon
- 20-page rulebook, including 6 new Battle maps
Average Rating: 5 in 1 review
I was extremely excited about Battlelore expansions, but I enjoyed the basic game enough that I didn’t pay much attention to upcoming announcements; so when I received Call to Arms: Battlelore Army Deployment System (Days of Wonder, 2007 – Richard Borg), I was pleasantly surprised but knew next to nothing about it. There didn’t seem to be a lot involved in the expansion; but as Battlelore is my second favorite game, I immediately gave it a whirl.
Really, I can’t believe how this expansion introduces a simple system of scenario building that gives the game nearly infinite replayability, even MORE customization of armies, and a really fresh look at building armies. This is more of an extension rather than an expansion, and one that I would consider necessary when playing the game, although I had previously thought the base game nigh perfect! Let’s look at some of the aspects of the expansion…
1.) Components: The expansion comes packaged in a plastic case with a cardboard slipcover. It works, but I immediately transferred everything over to the main box. Included are some additional banners, some tokens, a deck of cards, some double-sided terrain hexes, and a rulebook. Everything is of the same quality as the original game.
2.) Terrain: This game includes two new types of terrain – marshes and cliffs. Marshes simply cause a unit to stop and roll fewer dice when attacking but do not block line of site – their major difference from forests. Cliffs are more interesting, as they only block some of the sides of the hex, making it impassable from one side but allowing firing off the other side. They are great defensively and add a little flavor to the battlefields.
3.) Specialist cards: Ten specialist cards are included in the game. When using the “organized” deployment mode, each player may use two of these cards, giving their armies special abilities. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on each.
- Dwarven Mercenaries – replaces two regular units with Dwarven mercenaries. This card has gotten picked in every game I’ve played – and I can’t deny how useful it is, because dwarves can wreak havoc across the table.
- Illusionary Troops – duplicates a troop, with the type depending on the level of the player’s Wizard. Good card – I’ve taken a level three Wizard solely to use it. I must say duplicating heavy cavalry is quite enjoyable.
- Prayer – adds two lore tokens to the goblet per level of Priest. While not as useful as the other cards, I might take it if I have a high level priest and want to start using cards on the first turn.
- Vantage Point – allows you to deploy your reserve units adjacent to friendly units, rather than the back line. I think this is a useful card but one that I would take only if none of the others appealed to me.
- Bow Upgrade – equips all human archers with long bows. Long bows, unlike a common bow, have a bonus strike. They do not give Lore tokens; but if you have two or more archer units, this is incredibly valuable – suddenly giving archers power they didn’t have before.
- King’s Allies – adds one or two figures to units. I take a level three Warrior just so that I can have two heavy cavalry units with four figures each. This may possibly be my current favorite card from the set, because it’s great to have an “elite” cavalry unit.
- Archers Stakes – Allows a player to place three archer stakes on the board. These give archers some more defense against melee attacks and are nice; but if I have archers, I’m taking the bow upgrade first. Using both of them is a nice combo, though.
- Goblinoid Mercenaries – replaces one foot unit with two goblinoid units of the same color. Nice idea, but I’m not too fond of Goblinoids currently, since they keep running towards the back lines!
- Infiltration – Allows two free moves for each level of Rogue that a player has. I cannot emphasize how powerful this card can be, as it allows you to gather almost your entire army together before the battle begins. My second favorite card.
- Forced enrollment – Allows a third deployment from the reserve card. This is a little weak, in my opinion, since a player usually has already played the two best units from the card, and other Specialist cards would probably be a better idea.
4.) Deployment cards: There are forty-two deployment cards included in the expansion. These are split into six sets of cards, three for the Pennant army and three for the Standard army. Each set is marked “A” through “C” and consists of seven cards. There are two modes of play using these cards – Impromptu and Organized. In Impromptu mode, each player shuffles one of the sets of deployment cards and draws four of them randomly. In Organized mode, players pick ANY two sets of deployment cards and draw four of them randomly. Players then decide which card will be used in the left, center, and right flanks, and which is the “reserve” card. Cards are revealed, and players place the units on the cards on the positions on the battlefield EXACTLY as they are shown on each card. Let me pause here and note how nifty this idea is. Each card has a different assortment of units (dwarves and goblinoids included), and while that’s important, the layout of the army is also quite useful. I might want to use a card that has a monster and two archers on my left flank, but that might fit better on the right due to terrain and matching the rest of my army. This card selection sounds random, but I cannot emphasize enough how it simply works well in the game setting. The player who has more green units on the board is considered to the better “scout” and the other player then chooses two units from their reserve card, placing them on the base line, after which the scout player places their two. Feudal levy tokens are used if a player doesn’t have enough figures (I use two sets, so don’t run into this problem). Players then set up their War Council and use the Specialist cards, if playing Organized Mode (which incidentally is the only way I’ll play).
5.) Scenarios: The book also includes six scenarios, many of them utilizing the new terrain in the game. But honestly, I really don’t care. You can now set up the board any way you want really, and the deployment rules allow you to have a very fair, enjoyable battle. It’s amazing how the armies will look completely different yet clash in a balanced way. I almost never want to start with a pre-arranged scenario again, simply because I like the deployment scheme that much. Still, if you’re in a hurry, these scenarios are a quick guide to setting up an interesting battlefield.
I enjoy all of Richard Borg’s Command and Color’s games and have had a hard time picking my favorite of the bunch. With this expansion, it’s Battlelore – no question. The deployment cards and scenario cards are unique, refreshing, fair, and fun. The game takes no longer to set up and play; yet I have the feel of a completely customized army in a lot less time than the awkwardly long army builds of miniature games. Honestly, Games Workshop better look out. With this expansion and the future promised one that brings Heroes, I think Battlelore will make most fantasy miniature games obsolete. Folks, this is an invaluable expansion!
“Real men play board games”