Jake came over last Last Saturday to give Honours of War (HoW) by Keith Flint an initial spin on the gaming table. The testing of a new set of rules offered an opportunity to get my little used SYW collection back out onto the gaming table. Last time the 18mm SYW collection saw light of the gaming table was two years ago when they were employed in giving Maurice a test run.
Since the Battle Kolin was used in the first test of Maurice and I could put the table together quickly, Kolin was chosen for the initial test of HoW. With Freddy on the attack and outnumbered, perhaps Kolin is not the best scenario selection for testing a new set of rules but I pressed on anyway.
Using the OB from Maurice gives the following troop forces and their ratings:
2 x Grenz light infantry - Standard
1 x Grenadier - Superior
8 x Musketeer - Standard
3 x Cuirassier - Superior
2 x Hussar - Inferior
2 x Dragoon - Standard
5 x Artillery - Superior
2 x Grenadier - Superior
5 x Musketeer - Standard
2 x Curiassier - Superior
2 x Hussar - Standard
1 x Dragoon - Standard
3 x Artillery - Standard
After making note of the specific National Characteristics for each combatant, we were ready to begin. No rosters were needed to track characteristics or casualties.
|Initial - Austrians on left, Prussians on right|
The Austrians hold both the high ground and the numerical advantage. The Prussians hold a slight quality advantage and a command advantage. Based on the earlier, Maurice, replay of Kolin, Freddy has a tough row to hoe in this one.
HoW is played in a series of Igo-Ugo activations. After determining who holds initiative for movement, each commander alternates between activating either one brigade or one independent unit. Units moving suffer a firing penalty during the later Fire Phase. Before each formation moves, it must check its Command Performance. Unit performance is based on its commander's rating crossed referenced with a die roll. Commanders may be classified as Dithering, Dependable, or Dashing. A unit's move performance is then rated as one of Feeble, Poor, Steady, Admirable, or Inspiring. A Feeble performance necessitates movement away from the enemy if half or more of a brigade has at least one hit. At the upper end of the performance spectrum, an Inspiring result allows a brigade to make a double move.
Units may charge and counter charge. Some counter charges are automatic and some require a successful die roll. Targets of a charge may also attempt to change facing or formation. Targets of a charge may fire at their attacker and other units may use "crossing-fire" during their opponent's movement.
Once all move activations are completed, commanders roll to determine initiative for the Fire Phase. Like movement, activations are by brigade and alternate with the other player. Winner gets to activate and resolve fire with one brigade first. Casualties are not simultaneous but if a target is forced to retreat, it holds its ground until it has the opportunity to return fire.
Infantry have two firing ranges of Short or Long while artillery have three ranges of Canister, Short, and Long. Infantry battalions can either have battalion guns inherent in the battalion or not. If battalion guns are present, long range is increased from 10cm out to 16cm.
Casualties are inflicted by cross-referencing the firing unit's Class (Superior, Standard, Inferior) with the result of one average die. About two dozen modifiers may modify the average die. When a unit suffers five casualties, it routs one move and then is lifted from the table during the Rally Phase. There are no stand or casualty removals in this game. The unit's footprint remains intact until eliminated. Perfect setup for my single BMU SYW basing.
Target units react to fire dependent upon the number of casualties carried. Two or fewer total casualties, the unit responds as normal. Three hits and the unit suffers a -1 penalty in both fire and melee. Four hits causes the target to retreat at least one move but not more than two moves. Reformation is required before rejoining battle. As noted earlier, a unit accumulating five hits is "Done For" and removed from play during Rally Phase after a rout move back.
For units in contact, melee is resolved after the Fire Phase is finished. A unit may only be attacked by one opposing unit per face (sector in HoW terms and refers to front, flank, rear). Melee is resolved using the same table as Fire with a different set of modifiers. Melee rounds continue until contact is broken. Both units participating in melee may break contact in the same round resulting in both units scampering off. Cavalry may pursue and cause great destruction to a retreating foe especially if the retreating unit passes through supports.The final act of each turn is the Rally Phase. In this, units may attempt to remove hits it has suffered. Superior and Standard Class units may rally off one hit if distance from enemy is between 15cm and 30cm. These units farther than 30cm from enemy rally off two hits. Inferior Class units may only rally off one hit if distance to enemy is greater than 30cm. Units may never rally off their initial hit. A CiC may rally off one additional hit from one unit withing 3cm. Dashing leaders may rally an additional two hits from one of its subordinate units.
So, how did HoW play out? Given that this was our first trial with the rules, the game progressed smoothly with an occasional stop to pinpoint an answer to a question in the rules. Most game mechanisms seemed straightforward and quickly learned. Player interactions were frequent keeping both players engaged throughout the turn. Game was enjoyable but the casualty rates were high. When the game was called, both forces were on the brink of breaking. Each side was only one unit away from reaching its Army Morale Breakpoint. At that we declared a bloody draw. Austrians' ended up losing eleven units to the Prussians' six. Combat is not of the attritional variety. Even with the ability to rally off hits, a unit with no casualties entering into the Fire Phase can quickly be severely damaged or eliminated with little effort. Very bloody results. Austrian artillery rated as Superior is LETHAL! Many a Prussian fell to the iron balls of the gunners.
At only 64 pages (38 pages of rules in a typical Osprey MAA sized booklet), the rules are well illustrated with useful diagrams. Writing is clear and concise. Some of James Roach's fine game photos grace the pages of HoW. HoW is a good effort by Flint and Osprey to produce a low complexity set of rules. A bargain at the USD$11 paid. I look forward to trying them again soon.
Maybe next time, Freddy, will taste victory?