The Song of Battle
Combat in BattleLore Second Edition
“I am a guard of the Citadel, and I am made of steel!” -Battle cry of the Citadel Guard
As the armies of Terrinoth engage in open war, the Citadel Guard will soon have the opportunity to test their steel against the fury and blood-magic of the Uthuk Y’llan. BattleLore Second Edition is a two-player board game of fantasy battles in Terrinoth, placing you in the role of commander of an army. In the game, you will take control of one of two factions – the noble Daqan Lords or the barbaric Uthuk Y’llan. In order to reach supremacy, you must seize control of banners, which produce victory points if you control them at the end of your turn.
In past previews, we’ve examined how to choose a scenario card that supports your overall strategy, as well as the process of mustering an army to pursue that strategy. Our last preview examined how to deliver orders to your units with command cards, as you move them to strategic positions to claim banners.
Combat and battles result naturally from the struggle to control the banners and achieve your objectives, and conflict is at the heart of BattleLore Second Edition. In this preview, we’ll take a deeper look at the mechanics of combat as you lead your army into open war.
Lead The Charge!
In BattleLore Second Edition, every unit type has distinct statistics for movement and combat, listed on the unit’s reference card. When your unit engages in combat, you roll dice equal to the unit’s combat value. Whether your unit can successfully damage your opponent’s unit, however, depends on what results you may roll in combat. Under normal circumstances for melee combat, two results cause damage – ‘strike’ and ‘cleave.’ For each of these results rolled in combat, your opponent must remove a figure from his unit. Units armed with bows or another ranged weapon have the advantage of being able to shoot from a distance, but what they gain in safety, they sacrifice in damage potential. Ranged units only deal damage when you roll a ‘pierce.’
In our example, Taylor’s Flesh Ripper Brutes unit has moved adjacent to Sam’s Citadel Guard unit, and the Flesh Ripper unit is about to attack. Flesh Rippers have a combat value of three, so Taylor rolls three combat dice. She rolls two ‘strikes’ and a ‘pierce.’ Because Flesh Rippers are a melee unit, they deal two damage to the Citadel Guard for the two ‘strikes.’ The ‘pierce’ has no effect because the Flesh Rippers are not a ranged combat unit.
Throw Them Back!
Damage is not the only result of combat, of course. While your units charge the enemy, you may roll one or more ‘morale’ results. When you roll ‘morale’ in combat, the unit you have engaged must retreat one hex for each ‘morale,’ moving directly away from your unit. If your opponent’s unit cannot retreat because of impassable terrain or the edge of the board, it takes one damage for each unresolvable ‘morale’ result. By cleverly maneuvering your own units, you can contrive to separate your opponent’s forces, pushing them away from each other and into your traps.
When your units engage in combat, you can also roll ‘lore.’ Each ‘lore’ result gives you a lore token for your supply. These tokens are used to play lore cards from your hand, representing magical spells or cunning maneuvers performed on the field of battle, as we’ll cover in a later preview. The final possible die result in combat is ‘heroic.’ Although this result usually causes no damage, it can often be used to trigger unit abilities to gain an advantage over your opponent!
Engaging in a successful assault is never as easy as it might seem, however. If your unit ends its attack without destroying its target or forcing it to retreat, that unit has the opportunity to counter and attack your unit, potentially causing even more damage than you did. Every battle must be weighed carefully, as you decide if your potential gains are worth the risk of putting your units in direct combat, where they may take damage and become weakened.
If a unit has lost too many of its figures, its combat ability is compromised. Units with only one figure left are weak, and can no longer cause damage from ‘cleave’ results. Weak units may not be the best units to lead a charge, but they can still serve an important function in your army by supporting the rest of your troops.
In the example from above, Sam’s Citadel Guard unit now has the opportunity to counter, because it remained adjacent to Taylor’s Flesh Ripper Brutes. The Citadel Guard rolls dice equal to its combat value, which is three, and rolls a ‘cleave,’ a ‘morale,’ and a ‘lore.’ The ‘cleave’ would normally cause one damage to the Flesh Ripper Brutes, but in this instance, it has no effect because the Citadel Guard unit is weak – it only has one figure left. Even if the 'cleave' had not been ignored, the building hex occupied by the Flesh Ripper Brutes would have absorbed the first damage dealt during a combat roll. The Flesh Ripper Brutes must retreat for the ‘morale’ result, however, and Sam takes a lore token for his ‘lore’ result.
Being forced to retreat can shatter your battle plan, but fortunately, your units don’t have to retreat, provided they have the proper support. If one of your units would retreat into a hex occupied by a friendly unit, the retreating unit immediately stops retreating and ignores any unresolved ‘morale’ results. In BattleLore, it pays to arrange your units into strategic formations to ensure they have the support they need to stand firm against your enemy.
If you manage to eliminate an enemy unit or cause them to retreat, your units always have the opportunity to capitalize on their gains. Your attacking unit can advance into the vacated hex, an action that can be critically important if you are trying to claim a banner from enemy defenders. By advancing, you may risk separation from the rest of your forces, but sometimes, the benefits of advancing outweigh any potential setbacks.
Crush Your Foes!
In addition to their normal combat strength, your units have special abilities to provide you with even more options when engaging in combat. For example, the Citadel Guard’s unit reference card introduces their two abilities. Their first ability is Superior Tactics. As a cost to trigger this ability and cause one retreat, you must commit one ‘strike’ result. In other words, you have the option to give up a potential damage to force your opponent’s unit to retreat. The Citadel Guard also possesses the Pursue 1 ability, which enables them to move into a vacated hex before attacking again. The combination of these two abilities has the potential to make the Citadel Guard a vigorous defender, pushing back against the oncoming Uthuk Y’llan and keeping them from getting to your banners.
While the Citadel Guard work excellently as defensive troopers, the Uthuk Y’llan Flesh Ripper Brutes can easily break enemy formations and pursue the stragglers. Flesh Ripper Brutes have the Bloodthirst ability, meaning they can use a ‘heroic’ die result to cause an additional damage, provided the unit is already damaged. In addition, the Flesh Ripper Brutes possess Pursue 2, which means that after a unit is eliminated or forced to retreat, the Brutes can move two hexes and attack again, potentially attacking a new unit, or pressing the attack on a retreating unit. They could even circle around a unit to make sure it retreats back towards enemy lines, rather than towards safety!
Every unit has its own special abilities, which you have the opportunity to utilize in combat. By making sure each unit attains its full potential, you can help ensure that your units survive and that you are the victor at the end of the game. BattleLore Second Edition is now available for preorder! Preorder BattleLore at your local retailer today.