There are things to like and things to dislike in BoW. Where Battlelore was really steamlined and had a very easy learning curve, here things are more complicated.
- Customized command deck. This will allow for a lot more planning ahead and more strategic options.
- Command tokens: Very usefull when you sorely need just a slight push to make all pieces of a plan stick together.
- Zones of Control for Leaders: Allows for powerful pushes but if you stray too far you'll have to rely on your tokens
All of the above mind you could be done in Battlelore using the Lore Deck or the Heroes expansion. What BoW offers is much greater control. You know what you'll get, while in Battlelore you could never depend upon the goodies that the cards delivered. You could get a super duper card which could ruin the day of your opponent or you could get nothing. There is a much larger element of the unknown in Battlelore which we don't see here as far as I can tell.
- Morale track: the posters before me have said it all already
- Personally I like the relation with a strong theme behind it. I disagree with those who say that it's pasted on. The books, while focusing mostly on behind-the-scenes power struggle, do have descriptions of battles. As a matter of fact, the third scenario which refers to the encirclement of Jaime Lannister by Stark forces is described in detail in the first book. Battlelore on the other hand seems much more generic to me since it tries to float on a semi-historic world (Uchronia) where there is a medium - light fantasy element and in the end we see a clear shift towards the fantasy part. I was very much disappointed by the lack of development of the background world in Battlelore, although this was strongly hinted upon both in the rulebook and by DoW.
- Taking turns within a round for players. Makes the battle seem much more "real-time" (although the new battle-savvy rules for Battlelore have much the same effect)
- The artwork promises to be stunning (We'd expect nothing less from a theme for which FF has commissioned so much art in the past)
Things for which I'm uncertain:
- Black and white turns and flag twisting: seems awfully fidgety to me. I'll wait and see how this goes. I predict flags dropping off or flag poles being twisted....
- Tokens tokens and yet more tokens: Again I'll have to wait and see
- Flanking: Interesting....I see yet more tokens though......and again this was already done in Battlelore
- Using an 8 sided dice: Again these things have been said above, it will lead to more direct carnage (less black flags) and maybe more powerful red units.
Things I dislike:
- This game shouldn't have had any relation whatsoever with Battlelore period. This is not a Battlelore game. This is a cheap marketing attempt to create hype and make people like me write long pages in forums whether this is better than Battlelore or not. This is an attempt to draw gamers who had heard about Battelore but where too intimidated to jump onboard because the game had moved on with so many expansions. This is an attempt to make use of a license acquired from Dow with which FF ended up not knowing what to do with. Finally, this is an affront to Battles of Westeros itself. Let the game stand on its own two feet, you don't need pseudo crutches supporting it, especially when those crutches have nothing to do with it in the first place. Battlelore is a light family oriented wargame (it's the kindergarden of wargames). Battles of Westeros is a step ahead of that and the theme attached to it is much more dark than the one implied in Battlelore.
- The manual: Since FF chose to brand the Battlelore name upon Battles of Westeros then it's only fitting for us to compare the two manuals. Battlelore has BoW's manual beat by a very wide margin. Probably the best rulebook I've ever read on a boardgame. Very well written, full of images and examples, perfect structure and scaling. Here we have the usual FF stuff. Nice, but...you have to constantly jump back and forth the pages to understand something. And the important parts may be hidden somewhere in between the plain text too.
- I'm a bit apprehensive about the bases not being pre-fixed on the miniatures. Cost saving measure to be sure but a colossal time waster if all these need glue to stay put. We're not talking here about a couple of broken Starcraft minis. If I have to glue 120 miniatures to their bases I'd die of boredom first (leaving aside the fact that I'm a butterfingers when it comes to handling tiny miniatures)
- I fear that the expansion path may have taken a wrong turn. A Lannister expansion will mean for certain a Stark expansion coming up very quickly. This is the policy which effectively destroyed Battlelore's wider popularity. The endless milking of the dwarves and the goblins. Please don't go down that path. I know it will make you a ton of money and you're not a bunch of saints, you're a company out there to make money but....Why not create at least House Baratheon first and then start pumping out the smaller expansion? This will show to the fans out there that yes, we'll fleece you for all you've got but we'll add variety first. A token of goodwill to the paying customer is never a waste. Something, anything to show us that the game is not going to spiral down the Lannister - Stark confrontation.