Steve Zaccardi

A long time player and collector of board games and RPG's. Specializing in war games, conflict simulations, and historical subjects, I will play anything once, and some things for years.

Aug 022017

This years trip to Dice Tower Con (DTC) in Orlando was fantastic. This is a gaming convention that has progressively improved over the period of its short lifespan and while I am sure it was a challenge to almost double its size in one year, the managing company pulled it off with flying colors. I throughly enjoyed myself gaming with friends and meeting new people.

The big game of the con for me was an Epic BattleLore. I wanted to get some of my home-brew rules to the table and see what inevitable tweaks needed to be made to them.

I am an unabashed fan of BattleLore 1st edition and Richard Borg’s design. I think the world of its flexibility, the fun approach to medieval warfare, and the application of fantasy magic into the ruleset. After 1st edition was retired I followed along with Battles of Westeros and then BattleLore 2nd edition. BattleLore owes its core structure to the Command and Colors system, which is also a favorite of mine.

Being the tinkerer I am, it seemed to me that some interesting rules from the other editions could bring some extra fun to my games. I launched into a project to extend the base rules of BattleLore 1st edition to add leaders, develop a unit cost/point system, add support for 2nd edition units, a morale system, and bring some elements in from the 2nd edition. I was in for some real work.

Luckily some starting points made this job easier. Rules for these variations exist in the Command and Colors universe. For example: Leaders from C&C Ancients and Morale from Battles of Westeros.

I will explain in detail each of the home-brew rule sets I put together for the Dice Tower Con game in future installments. For now I will lay out the specifics of the scenario I ran at the con and what existing BattleLore 1st edition rules I modified.

My goals for the game were simple:

  • It had to be an epic game, which in BattleLore terms means BIG! Multiple players and lots of units and figures. At DTC 2016 I watched Richard Borg run an Epic game of BattleCry. He had six players, three to a side, with one of them being the “army commander” and the other two players, generals. I wanted to do something similar.
  • It had to be set in the Wars of the Roses. For one I love the history surrounding the conflict and the battle which were fought during it. BattleLore 1st edition is loosely set timeline-wise during the 100 years war, not too far off from where I wanted to be.
  • It had to utilize my home-brew rule set.

Getting coverage on the first goal was easy: I could utilize the BattleLore 1st edition Epic rules. Including the epic tactic card rack and the larger sized board. After some rough calculations on my target army size, the normal epic board wasn’t cutting it. Just too small. After doing a little digging I came across the “conquest” board configuration (from the now defunct This 13×33 hex board was the right size for what I had envisioned.

Goal two was a bit more difficult. There are many interesting battles that could be modeled with the BattleLore rules and many were given official scenarios after the base sets release. I had to look for a battle I could balance, could be modeled with my target unit count, and that could fit with my ruleset. I decided on the battle of Towton, 1461. The largest battle fought on English soil and a bloody conflict between houses Lancaster and York.

Goal three was of course the most challenging. Luckily for me, there have been other BattleLore fans that have developed their own home-brew designs for point-build systems, campaigns, and all types of variants. Just look through the board game geek files section for BattleLore 1st edition and it will be obvious, this system was built to be flexible and for the player community to add in interesting variations. After a lot of work, collaboration, testing and fine tuning, I had enough of my additional rules ready for the Dice Tower Con game. Next post Ill summarize the rules variants.

Jul 072017

After a marathon game of Eldritch Horror the night before, Thursday got off to a slow start. In order to ease into the day we dropped by the Cool Stuff Inc ding and dent sale to scout out some deals. 

Spying a reduced price on Shadows of Brimstone, I decided it was time to get in! I’m looking forward to build those miniatures and get the first play down. 

From a gaming perspective we were able to get in a game of Tin Goose, an excellent game bringing the flavor of the early development of airlines to the table. The mechanics of crash risk, oil costs and labor strikes were an elegant touch. 

Later in the evening we opened up our copy of SPI’s John Carter Warlord of Mars, still in shrink after 38 years. You can find that video in the twitter feed. 

The evening was wrapped up with a late game of Galactic Emperor. 

Tomorrow we may get Star Trek Ascendancy or BattleLore to the table. Looking forward to more fun!

Jul 062017

The rush hour din was still ringing when we began caravaning north from South Florida towards Orlando. Destination: the manor gaming convention in the state, Dice Tower Con. 

With a brief stop over in Boynton Beach to pick up another member of the contingent we made our way north through intervening traffic and under threat of an upcoming “lane blockage” which our trusty google maps indicated ahead. 

Arrival was uneventful but the first day parking was tight. We found a spot and begun the unloading process. The cargo contained:

  • Time of Crisis (GMT games). I had playtested this title a bit and looking forward to a play brought with my official copy. 
  • Eldritch Horror (Fantasy Flight Games). My daughters favorite and a title that is a must play on those rates occasions we get the gang all-together. 
  • ASL Starter Kit 1 & 3 (MMP). One of my fellow grognards in the clan and I have a hard time getting in sessions of this two player tactical wargame. This is the place for it!
  • Mega BattleLore (Fantasy Flight Games). The 1st edition on steroids. House rules and over 300 figures. This is a Saturday play for six. 
  • Star Trek Ascendency (Gale Force Nine) while we had hoped to see the expansions before DYC, it’s still a favorite for us. One of the best Trek 4X games ever. 
  • John Carter Warlord of Mars (SPI). An old favorite from our youth. We always like to do one “nostalgia” game. 

After some dinner at the nearby Olive Garden we hit the game hall for some five player Eldritch Horror. A serious tangle with Ithaqua commenced lasting five and a half hours. Typically these games end in a loss, but even after losing three investigators the team pulled it out with the indefatigable Lilly Chen putting the final Eldritch token on the third mystery. Satisfying. 

Now on to day two…