My friend, Graham, travelled from Brussels for the weekend. The weather here has turned rather Arctic and my permanent games table is located in the garage, which is not the most salubrious place during the winter months. Therefore we decided to limit ourselves to a mix of boardgames and small wargames that could be played on our regular dining table.
On the Friday night, after dinner, we settled down to play a couple of quick card games; Parade and Sushi-Go Party. Both have simple rules to explain to a new player, and Graham is a fast learner anyway. I think I won with Parade and seem to remember Elaine winning Sushi-Go. Both games are fast but taxing, and are ideal intro games, especially when most focus is on general chatting.
Next day, Graham and I settled down for s a couple of games of Battlelore 2, which Graham had never played before. I have recently finishing painting the purple, Undead army and was keen to get the figures on the table. So I played purple against the red, Barbarian army. The battle was nicely balanced. I had the lead and got to 15 victory points first, but my now decimated army lacked the strength to achieve the final victory point to win! Graham picked off the last weak purple units for a red win instead. In the next game, Graham stuck with the reds and I changed to the blue, Medieval army. Another tight, bloody game but this time I did maintain focus and reached 16 victory points, only 2-3 ahead of Graham. Overall we both felt Battlelore gave a good game. Graham is normally a competitive wargamer who plays detailed historical rules (DBM, FoG, FoW etc.), so I was concerned he might find the system a bit simplistic. I think he enjoyed the unique Richard Borg command card mechanism and combat dice system, and felt the different armies had a different feel and characteristics, accentuated by the Lore decks. The fantasy setting allowed the game mechanisms to work and we both thought that transfer to a historic genera would raise too many anomalies, and would not feel right. So, Battlelore 2 gets two thumbs up, and is an ideal simple war/boardgame where space and time are limited.
We still had a couple of hours until dinner, so we played Jugula. After creating our gladiator schools we set to for a couple of rounds of combat. Interestingly Graham won both clashes but my school achieved the most Glory and had a Paulus-grade fighter, although Graham had the most cash. We both really liked the campaign system which lies at the heart of Jugula, the combats are an enjoyable interlude between pre- and post-fight decisions. In the combat stage Graham showed how important it is to get the crowd on your side early on, whilst I tried to demonstrate how a fast moving Veles figure can run rings around heavier opponents. I did manage to force Graham’s gladiators in to tight corners but he managed to punch his way out with the support of the partisan crowd behind him.