Monday, August 25, 2014

New Horse & Musket rules from League of Augsburg

Large Williamite battalions deployed for battle
These rules have been developing for quite some time and I can hear some of you ask 'Why do we need another set of rules for the period from Wordtwister?' Very good question! Beneath the Lily Banners works very well and has proved a good seller and popular so am I potentially loading up to shoot myself in the foot?

Here is the answer:

Beneath the Lily Banners is a grand scale rule system which suits big actions and can be adapted for smaller battles. Donnybrook is a skirmish set of rules pure and simple. There is to my mind at least, a middle ground where battles were significant but not large. Killiecrankie, Sedgemoor, Newton, Dromore to name but a handful.

Jacobite gun position high on a hill top
Although I love the symmetry of BLB units and the standardization of their size I recognize that often, regiments were of differing sizes in a battle. I have experimented with larger units before but rarely within the context of a game. They have usually been completed for a painting competition or similar. I have a hankering to paint larger units and play around with the frontage and depth to create even more interesting variations.

Creating more period flavour within a rule system has also been an ambition I have long harboured. With all this in mind I have finally got the new rule set to the play test stage.

King James's Foot Guards hold the key central position
It is for small actions with a maximum of 8 units per side but normally 4 to 6. It is played on a 4 x 6 or 6 x 6 feet table (normally). It works on the same card driven principle as Donnybrook. Units can vary in size from 6 to 60 models. BLB units in your collection can be used 'straight from the tin' or, you can add an extra couple of stands if you like. Units could represent companies, detachments and troops or battalions and squadrons.

Other basing configurations are easily accommodated. Game length is ideal for club night as will be seen from the several play test examples we show you over the next few months. The rules have a name but that won't be shared just yet. In terms of use the rules will fit without modification from the Thirty Years War right up to the AWI but the core period they are aimed at is 1660-1746.

Hard fighting Danes press the enemy right
The system combines the fun and flavour of Donnybrook with serious decision making about formations, using pikes and bayonets, tactics and leadership. The pictures accompanying this introductory post show some moments from a play test game set in Ireland in 1691. The table is larger than the norm only because this was the first game we had played for months, my garage had been flooded out and the clean up operation prompted me to use extra tiles on the table to stop them lying on the floor which was drying out.

We kept our feet dry and had a great game with Bob as the Jacobite commander and Dave as the Williamite. We'll share the game action in the next couple of posts.

15 comments:

  1. Hopefully in a good way Ray! The question marks left some doubt :)

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  2. I think that 24-30 figures per unit will look a lot better with the large flags that you use. What you call "large" is an average sized unit here in the Colonies. :). I generally aim for units that are 24 to 36 figures for a regular game. Of course, we go crazy over here and also play with 60 figure battalions on a regular basis. It helps that we play on a large 24 x 6ft table, I admit.

    Jim

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    1. It's all those bloody big basements you lot have over there! When land is limitless, houses are large! I prefer big battalions myself but have been disciplined with Beneath the Lily Banners and that has paid off with the rule set seeming to have taken the 'centre ground' for a lot of people now. The new rules will be a broad church so all you 60+ figure battalion boys can mix it with those who want to use much smaller units. With small sized units the game could easily be played on a 4 x 4 with 28mm models. With 60+ models the big tables will look grand. Watch out for my own large battalions coming atcha!

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  3. Sounds good as i am looking for a rules set for 30 years war at this sized battle scale!

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  4. Very interesting indeed! Especially as I only have the kitchen table to play on.

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  5. All the playtest games have been great fun and varied In location from Ireland to somewhere in the Baltics. The last day of playtesting saw us play 3 games each of which lasted around 20 moves and only took seven hours which also included a lot of discussion about rule mechanisms and photo taking.

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  6. Sounds very interesting! So it sounds that the most difference to blb are the use of different unit sizes.

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    1. Actually Alex the rules are fundamentally different in very many ways. The card driven unit activation, the personalities of the 12 colonel types, the firing mechanisms utilizing d6,d8,d10,d12, the selection of detailed orders that can be issued, the points system, the choice of precisely how many musketeers, grenadiers and pikemen are in each unit, random move distances.. hmm well almost everything! One could say that a similarity is the fact you can use BLB units for the game without modifying them in any way. That IS the same!

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    2. Alex, the introduction of colonel personalities creates a new dynamic to the game. You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your subordinates when you design your tactics for a game. Some may be better suited to command a static position or lead your assault. In fact some may not be suited to command of any kind and you may find yourself wrestling with the fact that you've been saddled with the nephew of the king's favorite tailor or the man with the money to buy influence who is writing a treatise on military tactics!

      The dice mechanic is inspired by Donnybrook and streamlines a number of modifiers that deal with unit quality, making for less math at the table.

      You can grapple with the uncertainty of fixing plug bayonets (and restricting your ability to shoot). Is it better to combine grenadiers into elite units, or benefit from the extra strength they may bring to their parent unit? The card driven turn sequence creates lots of uncertainty and drama, but the addition of the command cards give you (a little) more control.

      ... and at first I was going to kick Barry in the shins the next time I managed to get on the same continent... I haven't finished painting two armies for BLB! However, I quickly realized not only do the rules work well with the standard 18-model units, but you can 'brigade' other units together for larger formations. For instance, I have two battalions of Dutch Guards, giving me a 30-model unit without painting anything else. I also have two units in grey with red facings to form a second 30-model unit. These form the core of my force and I can add a couple of 18-model units or some cavalry detachments from my existing collection to easily reach a force suitable for play on a 4x6' table! For that matter, simply using he standard 18-model units for all of your battalions works just fine.

      Barry's shins are safe...

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  7. Looking forward to different mechanics for different unit sizes. I had to made some compromises to represent certain units with the 3-stand foot and 2-stand cavalry squadron units.

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  8. If any of you gents are attending Partizan in September you can see the new rules in action as Barry and I will be putting on a display game.

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  9. I've actually been looking for a reason to invest in some of Clib's 10mm LOA figures to compliment the my WM 28s. I just pulled the trigger and ordered up some sample packs, I'm thinking 50-200 figure units densely packed to give a realistic mass appearance. Lots of terrain features all on a 3X5' table.

    I have a bunch of his 10mm AWI still looking for a purpose in life as well.

    I can't wait to have a look at these rules.

    Tim

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  10. Timely Tim! You have just contributed the 1000th post to the blog! The rules get another outing at Partizan this weekend in a Skane Wars scenario. There is also a fresh post this morning on the first test game

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