Publisher: Designer: Artist: Year:
Fantasy Flight Games
Richard Borg, Corey Koiecka
Command and Colors wargame
Theme and What is it?
Miniature wargaming can be a huge barrier of entry for curious gamers. From not knowing where to start or knowing people to play with, to the realization that you will be eating cups of noodles for a month after going all in on your brand new 2000 point army. Is this the case for all wargaming systems? Of course not. Arguably, they all have their own pitfalls to accessibility.
However when Richard Borg created the “Command and Colors” system for Battlecry in 2000, it paved the way for not only a very innovative system, but one that featured accessible head to head wargaming battles – all in one box!
Since Fantasy Flight Games announced their upcoming Runewars Miniatures Game, I thought we should take a look back and review another title that takes place in the same world of Terrinoth. A game that has the “Command and Colors” treatment. I’m talking about, Battlelore 2nd edition.
In Battlore 2nd edition you are taking control of either the noble Daqan Lords, or the demonic Uthuk Y’llan. Each game set up starts with players choosing a scenario card that will create their half of the board with terrain and objectives. Players then choose the units they wish to deploy by spending their “Muster Points” to create an army.
Both players take deployment cards for each unit and decoy cards and arrange them face down on their half of the board, creating an uncertain “Fog of War” like atmosphere. Then both players reveal the cards they’ve deployed face up and remove all the decoy cards. This is usually the point when one or both players laugh and groan as to what the future will hold. Players place their miniatures where the unit cards were placed and grab a hand of 6 Command cards and 3 Lore cards to begin.
A players turn in Battlelore is played over a series of 7 “Steps”. The first “Step” is the “Command Step”. This is where you play a Command card to determine what side of the board you activate and/or what units you will use this turn. You see, the board is separated into 3 parts (left, middle, and right). When you choose a Command card it will tell you what side of the board you can activate.
So by playing a “Left” card, the units that occupy spaces on the left half of the board have the opportunity to activate this round. Activated units proceed onto the “Move Step” and “Attack Step”. During the “Victory Step”, players who occupy spaces containing banners can earn Victory Points to inch them closer to their …uhhhh…Victory! In the last 2 steps, “Draw Step” and “Lore Step”, players will draw a command card and have the option to take Lore cards and tokens. The tokens are the currency you use to activate devastating Lore cards against your opponent to change the tide of battle.
Battlelore is my first and only foray into the “Command and Colors” system. It has really interested me in trying out more of Richard Borg’s other titles like Memoir 44’, Battlecry and Ancients.
Set up time can be a bit long. Although, the set up itself is like a mini game of deploying troops and guessing to see where your opponent might be bulking up his forces. So I can forgive the lengthy set up time.
Quality of Components and Insert
The miniatures and components are of what you would typically expect from a top notch Fantasy Flight Game. The 92 miniatures that come with the game are wonderfully detailed with a large variety for both sides. As with most Fantasy Flight Games, the insert is as good as firewood. The Command cards and Lore cards are very clear, precise, and accompanied by beautiful artwork. Plenty of tokens, but not to many too make it seem fiddly.
The artwork for the game is just gorgeous. From the grass plans of the board where the battles unfold, to the art that visually describes the unbridled wrath you will bring upon your opponent with Lore cards. There are several artists that worked on this game and the cohesion between all of their styles marries wonderfully.
Everyone I have played this game with has always had a great time, including my kids. Games tend to run a little longer I’ve noticed for people who are more familiar with the rules, but that’s to be expected. More experience, more strategy. But that’s not to say someone who has never played before can’t beat the pants off someone who has played many times before. I should know.
Difficulty and age range suggestion
Among all the board games I play, I’m also a miniature wargamer. With all honesty, Battlelore hits the table much more often than any of the other miniature wargames I have. Why? Because Battlelore scratches that same itch with much less effort. I can bring Battlelore to game night and get anyone to play with me, even my kids. When I bring out Warhammer 40k or Frostgrave to someone who hasn’t played before, I have to break out the books for references, terrain, all the miniatures (which isn’t a bad thing) and try to teach someone the learning curve of those games. This can be a daunting task not only for me, but also for the person who is feeling very overwhelmed by the rules and magnitude of the game. Battlelore is a very easy game to teach and learn. With that said, Battlelore doesn’t possess the same type freedom a typical wargame has. But with the lack of freedom comes an incredible system that “Command and Colors” can only bring.