This week we tried a new set of Seven Years Wars rules – well fairly new, they are another of the Osprey rules collection. They are called Honors of War and written by Keith Flint. I had bough the kindle version of these a while back and recently read them while traveling on business. So wanted to give them a go. With that I thought I’d write up a quick report of the battle we played and add some thoughts of the game and rules. I’m not going to provide a full detailed summary of the rules etc – you can check various other review blogs for that if your interested. Overall though I do like the game and recommend them for those interested in the period. Read on for the why’s and wherefores.
So lets start with a quick summary of my thoughts about the rules. Then you can see how a medium sized game with 4 players played out. Overall, the I liked the rules and will play the game again. I see this as becoming my go to rules set for multi-player or large SYW games. It feels quite like Black Powder, but removes the genericness of those rules as well as having a better command and combat mechanism. I guess that’s really rather good praise thinking about it. The command and control rules still provides a level of randomness in what you can do, but means that you do not have the ‘side out’ effect which is quite common in the BP rules. By that I mean where a player rolls a bad die for command and does nothing for a turn. That can be frustrating and not make for a good experience. The combat mechanisms and rally rules allow for combats which are effective but not instantly deadly. I like the balance between the different arms of cavalry to infantry to artillery as well. All in all the command and combat all add to the feeling of being ‘right’ for the period. Even the use of average die for combat is not an issue as I have couple of those in my dice collection!
In comparison to Maurice by Sam Mustafa, which is the other main rules set I have used for the period it’s a little like comparing apples to oranges. Maurice is a very stylized game, which uses cards for command and control as well as other game modifying factors. Thus, you end up playing the game and cards as much as the battle. That’s cool and you think about the game in a different way when playing Maurice – often worrying as much if not more about cards and command movements as the position of troops. This is great and gives a great game but it’s completely different style of game than Honors of War. The forces and style of game in Maurice are very specific in size. I would never think of going a real historical game in Maurice even after playing many enjoyable games. It’s for imagi-nations and stylized games of a certain size for me and I really like it for that. Others may disagree but there we are.
Honors of War is much more a ‘traditional game’ and there is nothing wring with that. It has enough command elements to remove the helicopter view and total control of troops in your command. But you focus on moving troops and what they do and roll dice for combat. The game style and action order is also set up so it’s more interactive than a traditional ‘I go U go’ game which makes really well suited to multi-player games as well as 1 on 1. No one was bored or waiting long to do something in our game, which was great.I like that the rules do move initiative and then firing initiative separate as it gives a very interesting dynamic game. The alternating command move and fire system also means that often is a decision and risk/reward for the player and a choice of where to concentrate first. Honours of war also allows you to play real realistic games of the period and even very large ones in 6mm, which is cool. I believe it will also work for smaller number of unit games as well but as I have 6mm for this period my main focus is on larger games to be honest.
So overall I really liked these rules and will play them again. They won’t replace Maurice but will sit along side them. They allow me to play a completely different style of game with the same figs. That’s a real bonus in my opinion. It may get me painting more 6mm figs SYW figs in the end as well. So I’d recommend anyone have a look at these rules. They are well worth a try.
So with that intro, onto our first game…
In the game we used 2 of the painted Maurice forces (with a few extra troops) to create a medium sized game on a 6 x 4 table. Each side was identical, to try out the game in an easy way. It was an Austrian Civil war! Each side had 1 brigade of guards (superior infantry with battalion guns) and 2 infantry bridges. Each had 4 battalions and a supporting art unit. Each side also have 2 brigades of Cav. Both had 4 normal units and one had 2 supporting inferior cavalry regiments as well. Each side had 2 independent light infantry battalions to round things off. So that was 27 units to each side in 5 brigades with 2 players on each side jointly handling the command tasks.
In using 6mm we started the forces 2 feet away from each other. Which was maybe a little too far away really to get the game done in 2.5 hours with this size of game. We should likely have had the art start limbered but it was man pushed though the whole game. Ah well next time…It did allow space to maneuver though. You can see a nice shot of the starting center from our side of the table below. You’ll see I forgot my small dice for hits and command tokens for the different levels of command. So as you can see the the big dice we used in the game. It makes the board look a little less great but heck, it worked out ok in the end for us. Below you can see our right flank with the cavalry and the light infantry covering the woods.On our left we had a dashing cavalry command and a dithering infantry one. We left the dice roll of the commanders level by the brigade commander to remind us (as no markers from me as I mentioned above…). Those command levels are interesting enough that they came into play a few times during the game. So it really is a fun mechanic and interesting but not so overpowering as to leave players sat doing nothing for a long time. In the first couple of turn the battle lines closed. We saw the various command rules work out with some of the opposing infantry commanders deciding not to move forward. Entertainingly it seemed the opposing Guard commander was more interested in not losing his troops than committing them to the battle as that command was the one most often not moving forward. On the right flank though things seemed to be going well with our cavalry moving confidently forward along with the supporting light infantry. The opposing light infantry would be happened with poor command all game – not using their 2 to 1 numerical advantage at all on this flank. In the end they did win a brutal hand to hand struggle but it took all game too do.In the first aggressive move of the game the right flank cavalry (under my command) got a double move and charged into their opposition. This was our smaller cavalry brigade vs their larger one. The first combat saw our cavalry drive off a light cavalry unit. The next turn saw us get move initiative and with another double move rolled I followed this up with further attacks which drive off the other light cavalry unit. It also got a standard cavalry unit locked in melee with one of ours. So an aggressive move on the right seemed to have worked so far…On the left the battle lines closed. The decisive cavalry commander on the left was an advantage as the extra moves he rolled had allowed our stronger cavalry to move around the flank with the light cavalry riding though the fields, while the heavy stuff moved up vs. the opposing horse.
All the time the infantry slowly marched towards each other and the artillery started some long range shots. The dithers on our left formed a second line behind the cavalry after it’s aggressive forward moves. So we ended up with 2 lines of combat forces on the left.On the right flank though the whirling cavalry combats continued. Each side lost one regiment of normal cavalry and I had 2 driven back to reform, while 4 of the enemy were likewise in a poor state. This left me with one disrupted cavalry unit, on 3 hits out of 5 vs a fresh enemy unit. The unit positions meant that my unit was in a perfect position to charge down one of the enemy who needed to reform. This would likely route the enemy and likely the unit behind it as well. But of course this is where my command roll failed. My nicely positioned unit sat in place rather than following up on the charge. All the while the fresh enemy cavalry moved around in a position to flank it next turn. At least they had not rolled a double move which would have allowed them to do that charge in a single turn.On that turn though left flank cavalry did clashed. The cavalry battle here for us was less effective though. One unit retreated and the others were locked in combat. The commander was dashing but maybe not so effective in combat…A little too much dash and boasting not enough real steel maybe. Still we had a second line of infantry and it had not gone too bad either. Although, we did notice that having a second line meant that they took a hit as the first line routed through them. Still better than not having any support I guess. Spacing for retreats is obviously important and something we’ll have to think about in the future.All this time the center infantry bridges were still matching up to each other and starting to get in range. The art shots were being exchanged and the first hits were received – including one generating a bounce through. Units right behind each other beware. One of the enemy command elements also felt this, loosing a level of command, going from dashing to normal after the effects of cannon fire. The shot obviously had an effect or killed some of the commanders staff, or maybe the commander himself. The second line of infantry got involved in the cavalry fight on the left. The tactical aspects of the choice of ordering of bridges moves in the right sequence became even more apparent here as although moving to a flanking position can look really good one turn, if you don’t get to move first for the next one you can end up in a bad position as can be seen with one of the enemy foot units below.
Our light cavalry used the fields to evade charges of the remaining enemy cavalry while our own brigade was completely spread out. The troops were mostly safe though and slowly rallying. They had destroyed 2 enemy cavalry to the loss of one of their own and opened the flank for our infantry. In the center the two guards brigades clashed with a suitable amount of mayhem. We saw how better the superior vs normal infantry area. There is an advantage for the superior but not so great as to be overpowering. Hits started to mount on both sides.On the left flank I finally got my remaining cavalry unit to change the reforming opposition – again the order of movement was important. They won that fight and did destroy 2 enemy regiments (they routed their opposition which had to pass through a still rallying unit, which destroyed that as well), but were also routed by the combat in that action. The other cavalry units of both sides were rallying while our infantry on this side were coming up on the flank of the opposing guard and also on the now much diminished opposing cavalry. The action really then focused on the center with another couple of turns of our guard, supported by the various infantry fighting the enemy infantry, guards and all. The mechanics of the game kept this every interesting and a few turns of shooting provided hits on all sides but it was not as bloody as may have been expected. It takes a few turns of combat to kill units in this game and you have some options for helping units at time. So it was a nice dynamic of risky combat but with risk of death as well.
However, as we were playing at a store our time was up and at this point the store was closing. It was 10:30 in the evening after all…So at this point we called the game – dusk fell over the battlefield without clear victory. I could say that it saved the enemy as both of their cavalry bridges had come out worse of the combats and the center infantry combat was still undecided but looking good for us. Well that’s my view anyway.
So just to finish up, the game worked well with 6mm and we had fun playing a very simple scenario. This is a game which I will definitely play again. I need to make some custom measuring sticks to make play easier and remember the small dice for casualties for next time of course. But this did have me thinking about getting some 6mm painting done again as well, so overall a fun game which we all enjoyed.