Designed by Richard Borg; published by Days of Wonder; 2 players; ages 10 and up; $65 (approximate).
BattleLore puts players in control of armies that mesh history and fantasy on a battlefield in medieval Europe, using a card-based system similar to that of Memoir '44 (my pick as the #4 game of 2004).
More than 200 plastic miniatures, nearly 50 terrain and landmark tiles, a large double-sided board, a dozen dice, and more than 150 cards are included in the plus-size box. The contents more than justify the higher-than-average game price. BattleLore also comes with 10 adventures, each of which can be played more than once.
Each army is made up of many units, and each unit has a flag bearer; the goal of each adventure is to capture a certain number of your opponent's flag bearers by winning battles. Players order units by playing cards and fight battles by rolling dice.
BattleLore is remarkable for many reasons. At its core, the game is simple -- which may not be evident from a quick look at the 80-page rulebook. But only the first 34 pages are required reading for basic games, and those are all lavishly illustrated with examples and other BattleLore art. Players who want a richer game experience will dive right into the advanced rules. Monthly expansions for the game are scheduled starting in March 2007, including two boxed expansions and eight smaller expansions during the course of the year.
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