February 23 2010

Battles of Westeros Officially Announced

Battles of Westeros

Fantasy Flight Games has officially announced their new game Battles of Westeros.

In news articles on their website, FGG announce the new upcoming release and Christian Petersen, CEO of FFG, answers some questions about the game. The official minisite has also been launched.

The interview gives us some very interesting insights into what is happening with BattleLore at FFG, and possibly, what happened with it at Days of Wonder. Apparently, due to various factors, the original game can no longer be produced at an affordable pricepoint. This is pure speculation, but I think we will see ‘classic’ BattleLore re-released in a completely new format at some time in the future—perhaps a core game with far smaller armies, and then small army packs as expansions.

After reading the information available so far, I must admit I’m in two minds about this new release. Firstly, it looks like a great game, and I have no doubt that I will buy it and enjoy it. But I am confused about it being branded a BattleLore game. Petersen himself admits that they “have some slight similarities” but are “different games”; that “we acquired BattleLore to be our core brand for medieval tactical warfare games … the BattleLore name is not necessarily tied to Richard’s Command and Colors system”; and “the key value to FFG was the BattleLore brand.”

Well, this is new … and very confusing to BattleLore players and non-BattleLore players alike.

According to Petersen, BattleLore has “an eclectic mix of a fantasy and historic medieval theme that FFG has never been comfortable with”, and that Battles of Westeros is a non-magic, gritty medieval game that is more in line with their vision.

Petersen goes on to say that “classic BattleLore” will continue to be supported. This is great news, but again, confusing to the game-buying public that isn’t keeping track of these developments by visiting the website and reading the articles. It seems to be completely reasonable for someone who sees a game on the shelf branded ‘A BattleLore Game’ to expect that it will be compatible with the game BattleLore, does it not? And doesn’t it seem strange that a game specifically targeted as not including magic is branded with a name—and a logo—that specifically emphasises ‘Lore’, or magic?

Again, I think the new game looks great and I will most likely buy it. But if it’s not BattleLore, why brand it BattleLore? Why change the name BattleLore into a generic brand name, when there is already a specific game system by that name? A specific game system that will now be rather clunkily referred to as ‘classic’ BattleLore?

I can see what FFG are trying to do—creating a generic brand for a game series—and no doubt when all the dust settles and time has passed, the fan base will accept that BattleLore is now a brand name and not a particular game system.

Personally, I don’t expend energy worrying too much about these matters—there’ll always be plenty of quality games to play from FFG, and I have enough gaming goodness to happily fill my available hours. But it seems a shame that the uniqueness—the ‘eclectic mix’, if you will—of the BattleLore game has been diluted in this way.

What do you think? I’d be interested to hear your opinion. And should this website cover all the ‘BattleLore’ releases from FFG, or just ‘classic BattleLore’?

View/Add Comments: 13 Comments

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brent
    Feb 24, 2010 @ 01:15:46

    Your site should remain true to Battlelore and not be distracted by Westeros. Those truly interested in Westeros can start their own website. We need one site devoted to Battlelore the way it was meant to be….


  2. Jeremie
    Feb 24, 2010 @ 03:53:20

    I agree. I’m not buying in to this Westeros thing nor am I interested in it. I like your site as it is. I just hope you’ll have enough to write about.


  3. Me
    Feb 24, 2010 @ 07:03:40

    Without having read the full “interview” (really, it was a promotional puff piece by the head of the company publishing this new game), I think FFG just took a big steaming dump on a great game.
    Sources will remain anonymous, but I believe that FFG’s management was never completely sold on BattleLore’s world. They figured they publish a bunch of expansions and make money off the brand and its fans. Then the economy took a dive. My guess: Management was not able to make produce expansions at the rate they had planned, partly because of the economic downturn and partly because of the expense to hire the previous artist(s). (FFG is notoriously cheap — employee salaries are low and they pay the majority of their freelance artists next to nothing. And they better like it, or there is some other poor bastard ready to take his or her place.) That would help explain why it took so long to get any expansions, and when those came out, why they were so small. I understand intellectual property takes time to develop and costs money, but the rules for dragons, monsters, and heroes are extensions — not entirely new creations — and thus seem over-priced.
    Under those circumstances, Management decided to target their core audience: Ameritrash players. Expect an obscenely long and poorly playtested game that will have pages of errata and tons of expansions that either dilute gameplay or fix problems that were missed during development.
    I hope that something posted on the web will change my mind, but for now…


  4. Vicking
    Feb 24, 2010 @ 13:50:44

    We live in a world where only money counts… Then FFG will not have my money for this Westeros “thing”. I don’t like FFG “vision” has for Battlelore, I don’t like the Game of Thrones settings.
    I still hope we will have some substencial “classic” Battlelore products in the future but I’m not very optimistic.


  5. Affro
    Feb 25, 2010 @ 16:35:44

    I share the feeling of UniversalHead, and I see how many ambiguities there are in this situation (I find the insight of Jeremie particulary disquieting), but I think that a section devoted to Battle of Westeros could not hurt the site. The question about the quality of the new game will remain unanswered until its release, but admittedly A Song of Ice and Fire is a solid and popular setting, and minis are good (I can see even some less cheesy inclined gamers like the more than the previous line). In term of internet traffic treating both lines could do well, I don’t know if better with a separate minisite in “UH net” or here.
    Finally: glad to see the site alive and well! I confess that an untimely series of coincidences made me feel a bit disconforted!


  6. Pomakli
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 08:22:05

    I am interested in the new game,but the marketing way of FFG is awesome!
    Because it’s not a Battelore game and that’s also the reason why it shouldn’t take place here!
    Thanks for this FANTASTIC website by the way!
    Best regards


  7. Brady
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 09:35:24

    I’m a BattleLore fan who is interested in the new Westeros game. I don’t feel cheated or let down by any of the news I’ve read so far. It’s a shame that DoW and FFG were unable to reconcile the historical and fantastic elements of the game with their “uchronia” approach.
    Some historical players avoided it for it’s light-hearted (cartoony) presentation. Some fantasy-driven players felt it didn’t go far enough in the direction of heroic fantasy. It looks like FFG is simply splitting the game into two separate products to recapture both audiences: ‘Westeros, aimed at players wanting a more historical, wargame-like approach to Medieval battle. And BattleLore, which will run in the direction of what FFG calls “traditional fantasy.”
    I haven’t read GRRM’s series, but it’s established, popular, and loosely based on the War of the Roses. If Westeros is their new, gritty, no-magic medieval battle game, it’s possible that a set of books based on actual Medieval battles (Hundred Year’s War, War of the Roses, etc.) could arise from it.
    As for a new edition of BattleLore… Could it be that the new, revamped core game will be set in FFG’s Terrinoth? That will tie it to Runebound, Descent, and Runewars—which sounds pretty good to me! Or maybe they can set in Conan’s Hyboria? Especially given FFG’s latest BattleLore expansions (Heroes, etc.) that soundsfine, too! Maybe it could be set in Glen Cook’s Dread Empire/Black Company series. There’s a broody, magic-laden fantasy series that would be a good counterpoint to ‘Westeros!
    As for the BattleLore brand name… I get it. It’s similar to the way Hasbro uses the name Axis & Allies. FFG is using their BattleLore brand to represent a core game as well as a larger line of medieval battle games. I’m not confused by it.
    The name BattleLore itself means, literally Battle Knowledge, not Battle Magic. In the original game, “Lore” is acquired (in tokens) and is used to cast magic AND to employ battle tactics. The “Medieval Lore” rules are a tweaking of the Lore system to leave out magic but leave in the battle tactics. (Evade, etc.)
    Overall, I’m more optimistic about the system’s future. If anyone can pull off a one-two punch with ‘Westeros and a renewed, lean-and-mean BattleLore, FFG. If not…I don’t know who could!


  8. Sevej
    Mar 06, 2010 @ 02:44:14

    Well, it seems I’m in the minority here. I’ll reserve my judgment about whether it’s a BattleLore game or not until I play it. But so far, looking at the newer preview about the battle dice and considering that it will use a more complex version of command card, I think it’s good enough to be ‘BattleLore Game’.
    BattleLore is my favorite boardgame, and I think in its current state, it’s a great system. We have a solid base game, a deployment system, heroes, creatures (and dragons), a slew of extremely unique units, and the ability to conduct massive battle. If BattleLore has to stop now, it’s fine by me.


  9. toddrew
    Mar 06, 2010 @ 15:07:17

    It is more in line with my personality to feel as Brady does, but not this time. BattleLore is a game in which I have invested a lot of time, care, and consideration. Perhaps it is a rushed judgment (though I have been mulling it over for a couple of weeks now, and it is the same judgment as first blush), but I don’t see much good in this for me, personally. I wish FFG the best, but they have dropped the ball with BattleLore.
    Happy to be wrong about this, but I didn’t want to hear “new and exciting”, I wanted to hear “fleshing out the existing armies and the Call to Arms system, expanding the races of the game, bringing in more Lore Cards, introducing formal campaigns, and [why not be greedy here ;) ] you guys won’t believe the web support we are rolling out…”
    I continue to be amazed out how easy it would be to build around the extensive framework Richard Borg has provided, yet the game has been on a grounding trajectory since after the release of Scottish Wars. It isn’t the game companies solely that I am amazed by, I tremendously underestimated the ‘segregationist’ attitudes that often come across. Arguments that the game is too historical/not historical enough/too fantastical/not fantastical enough really miss the mark with me. The game provides a setting of very wide open possibility, and we chose to limit it?


  10. Me
    Mar 06, 2010 @ 18:56:05

    I’ve read a lot more about this, and I think I figured out why this is a bastardization of BattleLore.
    If they expand on the Traditional/Original BattleLore, every fan would expect the IP to be Richard Borg’s. Richard is a contractor, so anything he did for FFG would require royalties (and an advance on them). By making this Battles of Westeros it-is-but-it-isn’t-a BattleLore game they can have their staff do everything as a work-for-hire. That means FFG owns the IP, so Christian Petersen doesn’t have to argue with Richard Borg (and Petersen LOVES unnecessarily complex, absurdly long games–compare to Borg’s creations), and, more importantly, FFG doesn’t have to pay anything to Borg.
    If I am right, that’s it for the BattleLore we knew and loved.


  11. toddrew
    Mar 09, 2010 @ 06:59:27

    I don’t know much about the gaming industry, but if that is true, Me, that is pretty shitty.


  12. caradoc
    Mar 09, 2010 @ 10:54:26

    I think this site should stay plain Battlelore.
    Hopefully FFG’s mention of new plans for the existing BL means some new expansions – and not a ‘dark new vision’ for the game, because frankly – while I enjoy runebound etc. I have enough of that style of game to keep me entertained – and I was quite happy with BL with the theme it had. Yet another dark or ‘FFG-style serious’ fantasy game is not appealing.
    I dearly hope this is not a way for FFG to take control of their version of a C&C game without appropriately paying RB. I also hope that the pricing of Heroes, Creatures and Dragons isn’t so high because FFG wants to make it’s $$ back on BL before dropping the ball.
    Fingers crossed for new expansions. Fingers crossed for maintaining BL, even with a new ‘starter set’ (so to speak).
    I guess we shall see.


  13. Boromir_and_kermit
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 01:54:45

    I have no interest in the abomination that Battle for Westeros will be.
    I want Borg’s Battlelore. I want it to be a completed vision, with all the races, deployment decks etc… that go with it.
    I only hope that it can be possible. Though with FFG owning it now, I’m not sure how that could be. Perhaps it could be relaunched through another company, or Richard could release the rules for the races we didn’t get (I’d pay through the nose for them!)
    I only hope this isn’t the end of Borg’s vision of Battlelore. As its the only one I want.


Leave a Reply