Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Will FFG's BattleLore be fish or fowl -- or remain a platypus?

Clearly the sale by Days of Wonder of all rights and inventory for the BattleLore game system to FFG won't result in any immediate changes in direction. The next expansion is produced already and existing inventory of the rest of the inventory is apparently adequate.

But DOW seems to have struggled with what direction to take BattleLore, although that struggle hasn't hurt its popularity. But there have been several changes in direction and it's unclear whether a final direction was ever decided on.

On the one hand, BattleLore is a fantasy wargame. The Lore system is the aspect of the game that most distinguishes it from its sister Commands & Colors games.

But on the other hand, it was much like a historical wargame. Creatures made little more than cameo appearances in a few scenarios. There were two non-human races -- goblins and dwarves -- with interesting characteristics, but neither was so far removed that they couldn't stand in for humans in "historical" scenarios.

Indeed, I found the whole faux historical scenario presentation kind of odd. The game seems neither fish nor fowl to me. Not enough fantasy to really be a satisfying fantasy wargame, but way too much for a strictly historical game either. Instead it resembles more of a platypus-like theme, with a strange juxtaposition of elements.

FFG will have a chance to assess the direction the game ought to go from here. The company could take it either way, as it has both history-based and fantasy-themed games in its line already. Or it could leave BattleLore a platypus, I suppose.

My sense is that players want a more fantasy-oriented game, though. There are already several more history-oriented Borg games available with Memoir '44 and C&C: Ancients (plus maybe a Napoleonic one and an updated Battle Cry) so de-emphasizing the medieval elements may be well-received. It certainly wouldn't bother me.

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