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Hex-A-Decimate: Battlelore Command

Battlelore Command is a digital adaptation of Fantasy Flight’s Battlelore 2nd edition, a fantasy boardgame based on Richard Borg’s Commands & Colors game system. The PC version, just launched on Steam with a purchasable DLC expansion already in place, is ported from a recent tablet release. I’m always excited when I see Fantasy Flight games on PC because I’d love to have a huge digital library of their games, particularly Arkham/Eldritch Horror, Runebound and Descent. I’ve never played Battlelore but Rab’s review of the boardgame makes it clear that I should do so immediately.

There’s a singleplayer campaign and several multiplayer modes. There are “demon-blooded barbarians”. Here’s Rab:

Battlelore, like all the Command and Colors games, is easy to learn and play. I think it flows so smoothly because you can only think about a few things at any one time. Because you are limited in your commands from moment to moment, it feels like you are zooming into different areas of battle. “I will think about this now” and then “I will deal with this now”. It’s always tense, but never overwhelming. There’s dice-chucking, sure, and every game under this game system will throw up a few moments of being horribly unlucky with the dice. But your opponent will have those moments too, and it’s your job to try to lessen the impact of your freak events.

I might not have played Battlelore but I have dabbled with the Command & Colors system. The splendid Memoir ’44 utilises it, as does Battles of Westeros, which seems like an obvious next step on the path to digital boardgame domination. I might want to sit in a corner shuffling my sanity counters but I’d wager the demand for a Game of Thrones wargame is louder than the demand for a theme-heavy but fiddly Lovecraftian token-shuffler.

A quick word on the port – based on the fifteen minutes it took to play through the tutorial, everything seems to work just fine. There’s none of the occasional frustrating tippy-tappy hangovers of a tablet port and the graphics are clean and colourful. The main problem is (and it’s a good problem), I’m tempted to play through the entire campaign rather than doing Important Things this evening. The tactical emphasis on positioning really gets me. Y’know – the way a good pop song gets some people? Wargame systems are my pop music. Yeah.

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Adam Smith

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