|Part of the Hougoumont cover artwork|
In 2013 Decision Games released their first mini folio titles using their cut down (quick play) version of the Musket & Sabers rules. These boardgames have a small footprint with no more than 40 game counters and an 11” x 17” map, making for a convenient play or travel companion.
Some of the earlier titles have already had articles written about them here (two sample links given in the Resource Section below), perhaps most notable being the Germantown game, which I ran as an e-mail campaign with nine other bloggers.
These four new titles not only bring some interesting subjects, but the rules have had an update. The ‘full’ Musket & Saber system’ carried some awkwardness in the rules and so the ‘quick play’ set for the mini folios came about. However, even these had some sticking points and there was errata to the Combat Results Table. Neither of these two things seemed to get any attention in the years of subsequent releases.
However, that has changed here. Firstly the rules have grown by two pages from 4 to 6. There doesn’t appear to be any new sub-system, so I can only assume that the space has been given to better explanation and streamlining.
Secondly, we have a new Combat Results Table. It is still differential based, though the differential groupings / values have slightly shifted and the results themselves have changed, plus Bombardments now have their own results table.
Be mindful that I am writing all of this within an hour of getting the bundle, so I have no idea whether the combat table has become stronger, weaker or roughly stayed the same, but the principles look similar to what went before. One oddity is that the ‘r’ result (usually noting retreat) is in fact an exchange result. I have only ever seen exchange results expressed as ‘Ex’ before! But hey-ho, all is good as these new rules are fully backwards compatible, which is very useful.
Anyway it was with the prospect of updated rules, that I ordered the new releases, which have arrived today. Over the holiday period, I will no doubt do an article on one or more of them, but in the meantime, this is a brief synopsis of my bundle.
Little Round Top: Flank attack at Gettysburg.
The map shows difficult terrain, with the ‘triangle’ of Devil’s Den, Little Round Top and Big Round Top represented together with Plum Run. There are 5 turns, each representing 45 minutes, starting from 1545 hours. A hex covers 175 yards of ground. There are few special rules.
Balaclava: Breaking the Siege.
The map geography is the obvious thing here, with high ground dominating and offering up the north and south valleys, with the redoubts on the high ground (Causeway Heights) between the two. Turns represent an hour and a half and start at 0600 hours and run for 10 turns until 1930 hours (i.e. daylight hours except 0600 and 1930 are twilight with some game restrictions). Ground scale is 352 yards to the hex. Special rules cover Russian coordination, Turkish Rally, Twilight and Redoubts.
Hornet’s Nest: Buying time at Shiloh.
The map is dominated by difficult terrain, with woods, slopes and streams. There are 10 turns from 0945 hours to 1630 hours at 45 minutes per turn. Ground scale is 176 yards to the hex. Special Rules give us Confederate Coordination, (coordination determination and uncoordinated attacks), step recovery, return of eliminated units and off map road movement.
Hougoumont: Key to Waterloo.
A small battlefield, only 11 x 8 hexes, but with the large farm complex showing the appropriate orchard, wood, walls and hedges around the farm. The French objective hexes are on the higher ground at the rear of Hougoumont and the associated Hollow Way. This has 10 turns starting at 1115 hours and ending at 1800 hours in 45 minute increments. Ground scale is 176 yards to the hex, but unit scale differs compared to the other sets, with battalions, companies and squadrons appearing in the order-of-battle. Special Rules cover Uncommitted units, potential recovery from the eliminated pile, French Howitzers, and the Chateau catching fire.
There is nothing in this release for the AWI enthusiast, but never-the-less, a good solid four titles of interest.
Anyway, as this blog has a cross-over audience of boardgamers and figure gamers there may be a wider interest in these games.
These are just £11 each in the UK (Second Chance Games) and $12 from Decision games (USA), making them a great ‘pocket money’ purchase for anyone who perhaps fancies a financially safe dabble with a first time boardgame. They are also good games for regular boardgamers, especially making good vacation games and since the map can sit on a small board, they are an easy fit for playing from a chair or bed for anyone with movement restrictions.
Here is a replay of the Salem Church mini folio. LINK
Here is a replay and some system notes of the Saalfeld (1806) mini folio. LINK
My sister webspace COMMANDERS is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and give a flavour of where current ongoing projects are up to. Link.