Choices abound in Land of the Free by Joe Krone.
first choice a gamer must make with Land of the Free (LotF) is
in which period to fight. LotF
covers horse and musket warfare from 1754 – 1815 in North America.
With a span of 60 years, French & Indian War, American War of
Independence, Northwest Indian War, and the War of 1812 are all
possibilities. With more than two dozen scenarios included, the
gamer will have plenty of battlefield variety and scenarios from
choice is what scale to select. With a game that allows for actions
from 2-3 men per maneuver unit for skirmishes up to 10,000-30,000 men
per maneuver unit at the Division or Army level, all size of
collections can be gainfully employed. Really, no collection is too
small nor too large to enjoy these rules. The rules will also work
for figures of 6mm up to 40mm (or larger!).
choice not required of the player in LotF
is how to base or rebase figures. Having no set basing restrictions
or figures per base requirement, rebasing an existing collection to
try the rules is not necessary. Players may use what they have in
their current collections. Basing and figures/base suggestions are
provided for those not already committed to a basing scheme.
Land of the Free, Wargames Rules for North America 1754-1815
Osprey Publishing, 2014. *
book, itself, is a very well constructed hardback with 192 heavy stock,
glossy pages. The layout is functional and loaded with color plates
from various Osprey books, color photos of miniatures in action, and
diagrams explaining assorted rules' mechanisms. While there is no
index, the Table of Contents provides enough detail to pinpoint the
required section quickly. Very thorough effort.
* Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book directly from Osprey Publishing for review purposes.
book is laid out in a logical order with chapters detailing,
LotF uses six-sided die (D6) for resolution but
many outcomes are determined by the usage of a D3. D3? That is a D6
where a roll of 1 or 2 becomes a “1”; 3 or 4 is mapped to a “2”'
and 5 or 6 as a “3.” LotF can become a
Buckets-of-Dice game in firing and melee so having six to eight on
hand per player would be prudent. All measurements are in inches
with the most common increments of 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 inches. To speed
play, I made an assortment of Range Sticks with these given
Markers: LotF requires a LOT of markers. The player
will need markers or Rosters to track,
Discipline Levels (Fit, Shaken, Exhausted, Shattered)
have even forgotten one or two.
basic maneuver unit in the game is termed an Element and may
consist of a variable number of stands. Since the number of figures
per base and number of bases per element are completely at the whim
of the players, any basing ought to work as long as both sides are
based similarly. LotF has no figure removal and no
incremental stand removal so element size is strictly used only to
assist in identifying the relative size of an element.
element size is important for identification because LotF
allows for force scaling. That is, the game can be played from a
skirmish level game all the way up to a division or army level game.
No ground, time, or figure scales are given. Ranges are the same
despite the level of game chosen. Elements can consist of four
distinct sizes of Tiny, Small, Medium,
and Large. Each size carries its own distinct set of
can have three basic types: Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery. Each
element type may have more than one weapon choice with different
ratings based on element size. The element attributes are:
of Maneuver Orders
of Combat Orders
of Action Dice
Points (used in building or balancing opposing forces)
|Sample Element Roster|
example, the element, “Prescott's Massachusetts battalion” is of
Medium Size and carrying the smooth-bore musket. A Maneuver Order
rating of three allows the element to perform up to three Maneuver
Orders with each activation. Similarly, a Combat Order rating of
three allows the element to perform three Combat Orders per
activation. A Discipline rating of “3” signifies that the
element must make a Discipline Morale Test every time the element
suffers three or more hits and measures the ability of an element to
stand up to combat stresses in battle. An
element can have one of four Discipline Levels. From best to worst,
these are: Fit, Shaken, Exhausted,
and Shattered. When an element reaches Shattered
status, it is removed from the table. The Morale rating shows that
Prescott must roll a modified “7+” on 2D6 to pass a Morale Test.
With an Action Dice Number of “4”, Prescott will add 4D6 to his
Dice Pool for both shooting and melee.
in the example roster above that American militia and British
regulars have the same values for the core efficiency measures.
Discounting the Special attribute of Self-Preservation
for the moment, in LotF, American militia can maneuver
and deliver musket volleys equaling British regulars. Puzzling. Of
course, militia drop some effectiveness once Self-Preservation is
added but maneuver is the same. Combat Orders are reduced from three
to two. With commander guidance, militia could deliver volleys three
times per turn and still stand toe-to-toe with the British.
element has a central leader stand or point from which all
measurements and movements are based. Elements are assembled into
combat forces termed “Groups.” Each Group must be under the
command of a Group Commander who, in turn, under the command of a
Force Commander. Each commander has a Sphere of Influence (SPI)
within which an element may operate efficiently. Outside of a
commander's SPI and an element will stand idly by watching the
action. Suggested minimum number of Groups is two with each Group
commanding between 2 and 6 elements.
Commanders and Group Commanders are essential in LotF.
Most elements outside of a commander's SPI are unable to activate to
execute orders. Commanders issue Command Points to elements within
their SPI to provide extra assistance via special Orders. This extra
help can take the form of Rally, Forced Order (allowing an extra
order), re-roll missed die rolls, or promoting a new commander. In
most cases, a commander must attach to issue these Special Orders.
When attached to an element, only that element may receive Special
uses an Alternating Activation mechanism for Turn Sequencing. What
that means is that each player alternates between activating one
group at a time rather than one player activating all of his units
before handing play over to his opponent. With that, the Turn
players roll for Force Commander CPs
players roll for initiative. Winner gets choice of being either
first or second player.
player activates one Group Commander and rolls for CPs.
player activates each element within his Group
player moves Group Commander
player activates one Group Commander and rolls for CPs.
player activates each element within his Group
player moves Group Commander
3-8 are repeated until all Groups have been activated
players move Force Commanders
Elements may move
multiple times per activation. For each element's move, the active
player spends one Maneuver Order. If an active element has three
Maneuver Orders, it could make three moves in three 3” (6” if in
march column) pulses for a total of 9”. Besides forward movement,
an element could expend one Maneuver Order to move backwards,
oblique, change facing or formation, charge, remove disorder, or
multiple moves, an element may fire multiple times within a turn.
The number of volleys allowed is governed by the number of Combat
Orders the element has remaining. An element may fire during its own
activation or during its opponent's activation. If firing during the
opponents activation, it may fire as a response to enemy activities
within its Threat Zone. A Threat Zone is an area to the front of an
element (limbered artillery and elements in march column have no
Threat Zone) extending 12” out, frontally, from the outside edge.
To fire during the enemy's activation the firing element must either
have a Stored Combat Order or be the target of a charge. In an
oddity, weapons' ranges are the same regardless of game scale. That
is, a patrol element (8-13 men) in a skirmish game has the same
musket range (12”) as a Division of 10,000 men!
fire on an enemy element, the target must be within the Threat Zone
of the firing element's leader stand. If not, pivot the firing unit
such that the target is now within the Threat Zone. This pivot is
free but tends to break up a linear battle line if not targeting
elements directly to the front.
that the target is properly aligned within the Threat Zone, the
firing element creates a firing Dice Pool. This dice pool will be
the total number of dice thrown in the volley. To 2D6 add the
firing element's Action Dice number and then add or subtract die
(dice) for situational modifiers. After dice adjustments, roll the
dice. Hits occur on 5 or 6. Roll two or more '1's then the fire
results in a Ragged Volley. Subtract one hit from the total. Roll
two or more '6's and the target receives a Punishing Volley,
disordering the target as well.
If hits applied to the target meet or exceed its Morale Rating, it
takes a Discipline Morale Test. Hits in excess of the Discipline
Rating become negative DRMs. Pass the Discipline Morale Test and the
target drops a Morale State. Fail the test and the target drops a
Morale State and retreats 1D3 movements. For example, an element
with a Discipline Rating = 3 sustains three hits. Since the number of
hits taken equals the Discipline Rating, the element must make a
Discipline Morale Test. If it fails the test, it withdraws 1D3 moves
back. Otherwise, no effect.
complicated? Took longer to write the explanation than to execute.
The number of modifiers is about a half-dozen and easily remembered
after a few shots have been fired. Resolution is quick and morale
tests are equally easy to remember. The shooting process is fast and
straightforward. Not only may an active element fire more than once
during activation but it could target more than one enemy too. Also,
the same target may be repeatedly hit with fire. In our first game,
players were resolving fire quickly midway through the first game
melee, an active element must declare a charge and expend one
Maneuver Order. A charge move is twice the regular move broken up
into two 3” charge pulses. After the first 3” move, the inactive
player may interrupt. If not the target of a charge, a passive
player may either Snap Fire (similar to Opportunity Fire) or
Counter-Charge. Each of these actions requires either a Stored
Combat Order (Snap Fire) or a Stored Maneuver Order (Counter-Charge).
On the other hand, a target of a charge may fire or counter-charge
without expending a Stored Order.
in contact, following the second charge pulse, the resolution process
takes a twist. The hit process is similar to shooting resolution but
in melee hits from the Dice Pool become DRMs in the final resolution.
In melee, each combatant begins with 2D6 and adds his Action dice.
That total is then modified by a number of situational dice modifiers
to arrive at the total dice pool for each. Each player rolls the
handful of dice. Hit on 5 or 6.
player adds the number of hits to a list of Melee Resolution
Modifiers. The player with the largest total wins the melee. The
loser applies hits sustained, makes a rout move, and is disordered.
The distance of the rout move is based on the Melee Results
differential. That is, for each incremental difference between the
two totals, the loser routs that many 3” moves. For example,
Attacker has Melee Results total of 6 and Defender has Melee Results
total of 8. Attacker loses the melee, becomes disordered and routs
6” (2x 3”). If the Melee Results differential is greater than
the loser's Discipline Rating then the loser drops one Discipline
Level. Winner applies hits taken and is disordered as well.
noted earlier, Discipline has four levels of Fit, Shaken,
Exhausted, and Shattered. Over the course of the game, an
element's Discipline Level will likely fluctuate. Commander's may
rally an element from Exhausted to Shaken but never to Fit. A
Shattered element is removed from the table as combat ineffective.
actions require an element to take a Morale Test. Which Morale Test
taken depends upon the triggering event. There are three types of
Morale Tests. (Simple) Morale Test has no negative consequences other
than to deny the action attempted. Rally, Inspirational Change, and
Concentrated Volley fall into this category. Disorder Morale Test
results in disorder if failed. Examples of these are Forced Order,
Charging when not Fit, formation change during charge reaction, etc..
Finally, a Discipline Morale Test is triggered each time an
element's Discipline Rating is equaled or exceeded or a Group is
broken. If failed, the element withdraws 1D3 moves to the rear.
element may find itself accruing Disorder Markers too. These
disorders are gained for a variety of reasons and are removed by
either expending Maneuver Orders or by a Commander Rally. Elements
are disordered by interpenetration, punishing volley, hits from
artillery, melee, failing a Disorder Morale Test, and crossing a
linear obstacle. If an element has any Disorder Markers then
Maneuver Orders must be expended first to remove as many as possible
before any other action.
ends the summary of the basic rules mechanisms. Now, there remains a
section on scenery and linear obstacles but those can be distilled
down into Terrain Effects. Advanced Rules are present too and
provide Special Element Rules to give each element type more
historical flavor. For example, American foot militia are given the
special skill of Self-Preservation
which has militia beginning the game already at Shaken Discipline
Level and unable to use Battle line modifiers in melee.
scenarios? That is an understatement! By my count there are eight
generic scenarios and 20 historical engagements. The historical battles
cover the periods French & Indian War, American War of
Independence, Northwest Indian War, and the War of 1812. Many of the battles included for the AWI are huge affairs with many having more than ten Groups each! Having that many groups would push the limits of multi-player playability in my mind. With such large forces, why not scale up to the next level to reduce the number of independent commands?
sequential element activation and multiple movement and firing, holes
in an enemy line can be opened and exploited. Competent play with
these rules will likely require deployments in depth, elements having
Stored Orders ready to interrupt the enemy's decision cycle,
judicious use of commanders, and a reserve to plug holes and exploit
opponent's weaknesses. Plenty of choices for the battlefield
While I mentioned a few of my observations in the review, I enjoy the overall dynamic nature of horse and musket conflict that Krone has created. After two test games using 28mm AWI collections, I am looking forward to pulling my 15mm AWI collection from the shelf. LotF presents a perfect opportunity to field these armies on the gaming table once again.