The primary changes are:
- The Heavy Arrows ability was removed as being ahistorical.
- The Take Prisoner ability replaced Heavy Arrows. This increases the melee-to-missile abilities ratio slightly.
- The Massed Volley fire has been re-worked and no longer looks anything like the Norman ability of the same name.
This is a cool new ability that most Meso-American peoples will have on their battle boards. Taking enemy warriors prisoner not only gave the priests more fodder for sacrifices and appeasing the gods, but conferred rank and privilege upon the warrior who made the capture.
If you play this ability and an enemy figure is removed during the course of a melee, it is considered captured and taken prisoner, as opposed to being killed. The figure is still removed1, but the player gains Prisoner points for the capture. The number of points awarded depends upon the figure removed. Levy garner 1 point, Warriors 2 points, Elite Warriors 4 points, and Warlords 8 points.
This allows you to create a new set of scenario victory conditions centered around taking prisoners. You could, for example, play until one side reaches at least 20 Prisoner points.
Ralph didn't like the "2 x L" range for bows, as per the Norman ability. The idea is that the unit lays down a barrage of arrows and thus is more likely to damage the enemy. In order to accomplish this, however, the unit cannot move either before or after the volley.
Due to the space limitations on the board, it is probably necessary to have some clarifying rules. By "no movement" it is intended that the player not have activated the unit for a Movement action prior to playing this ability and not activating for Movement after the ability. If the enemy plays an ability that forces a unit to move, that would not necessarily count.
That is how I am going to play it on this draft. I think the easiest route to take is that the unit cannot take any action other than Resting that turn when using this ability. This gets away from exceptions on moving, future abilities that move a unit without using Movement actions, etc. and also does not allow a unit a Shooting action either before or after the ability. As the intent is for the unit's entire turn to be taken up with delivering a barrage of arrows, represented as a single Shooting action at a single target, something cleaner like that might be better. But, I need to test it as it is first. The whole doubling of Attack dice might be too powerful as it is. Especially when combined with Aimed Volley (which allows you to re-roll missed Attack dice).
I think this faction is starting to look pretty characterful. It already means a change to my FSM program for playing the Tlaxcaltecs solo!
In Other News
The Russian expansion for Command and Colors: Napoleonics arrived yesterday. As always the GMT Games components look great. I have not looked over the rules yet, but I started adding stickers to the wooden blocks when I needed something mindless to do. If the Command and Colors: Napoleonics on Vassal tournament for North America ever gets off of the ground, I will start playing those rules again. I just need to keep the differences between those rules and those of BattleLore straight.
My BattleLore on Vassal gaming buddy and I played a game last night that was an absolute blast, however. It is the round six scenario and it was to be practice for both of us. In all honesty, I played that scenario solo three times before, and each time I got a worse result. My opening moves were just awful and I was still searching for a strategy for when it came time to play the actual tournament round.
But as the game progressed my vulnerable troops hung on and my card hand kept getting better. I was finally able to move my cavalry into position to charge – I had been holding a Mounted Charge card since the beginning of the game – when I drew a second Mounted Charge! I played the first and really hammered the enemy units, bringing us even in score. I then drew a Counter Attack card to replace my first Mounted Charge card and what should my opponent play but Counter Attack. This meant he got to pull off a Mounted Charge of his own (it duplicates the previous card played), but it now meant that I could use my own Counter Attack to get the equivalent of three successive Mounted Charge attacks. Given that I had two Red Lancer Knight units, that hit on 6 dice with Mounted Charge, I would be able to throw 36 dice over the course of three turns, just with those two units! Added to the fact that I also had two Blue Cavalry units also charging, that would have been 60 dice total in three turns! As it was, the enemy could not withstand even two turns of that kind of horsepower (pun intended), so I turned a 1-3 game around to a 5-3 win.
In case you are wondering what the image to the right was, that is an odds chart for BattleLore. It came in really handy for understanding the odds of success for any given attack. It has a table for each type of attack (hitting on one face, two faces, two faces but ignore one shield, and three faces), listing the number of attack dice and the percentage chance of getting a hit. What is interesting about the chart is seeing the difference between hitting on two face (banner color and sword-on-shield) and hitting on two faces but ignoring one shield. Given that most attacks are either three dice (Blue infantry or cavalry) the chance of obtaining any number of hits goes down from 70% to 48%, a substantial drop! Something to remember when groaning about your "bad dice" after you attacked with all that Blue infantry against the enemy cavalry and came up empty.
Also interesting is the Critical Hits chart, which shows you the chance of killing a creature. Let's see my charging Red Lancer Knights can kill a creature 29% of the time or wipe out an enemy unit with strength 3 32% of the time; hmmm, which should I do?
Feel free to pilfer it. It works for all Borg designs. (For example, for Memoir '44 hitting infantry uses the Hit on Three Faces table while hitting armor uses the Hit on Two Faces table.)
1 Prisoners are considered to be immediately removed. As capturing prisoners was a large part of Meso-American warfare they had it down to a science. People were assigned the specific task of binding, collaring, and escorting prisoners away when they were captured. So, no figures from the unit need be assigned to guard or move prisoner figures (which were often unconscious or wounded); they are simply removed and points awarded.