Author Topic: Horse and Musket.  (Read 2618 times)

bob48

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on: September 02, 2019, 08:46:53 AM
Played some of this on Vassal with panzerde and its a very good system. Its a development of the 'Hold the Line' system, published by Worthington Games (by the same designer), and now published as H&M by Hollandspiele.

Lots of additional stuff is planed for the series and it will eventually cover a considerable period of time and deal with topics not generally covered by other games. Well worth looking at if you are interested in predominately18th century warfare.

https://hollandspiele.com/collections/horse-musket/products/horse-musket-dawn-of-an-era

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bbmike

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Reply #1 on: September 02, 2019, 08:57:29 AM
Interesting. I do like ‘Hold the Line’.

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mirth

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Reply #2 on: September 02, 2019, 10:45:03 AM
Tempting, but I am on a purchasing hiatus.

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besilarius

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Reply #3 on: September 02, 2019, 11:25:52 AM
Ben King published a neat set of minaiture rules for the Marlborough period, b ut I'm having an old codger moment and cannot recall the title.
Had very detailed rules for a siege, which was a very different game.

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bayonetbrant

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Reply #4 on: September 02, 2019, 11:34:31 AM
So what are some of the key differences btw H&M and Hold The Line?

What does H&M do better/worse than other games in a similar period?

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bob48

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Reply #5 on: September 02, 2019, 11:39:05 AM
I'll let Doug answer that, as he is much more familiar with both games and the period - I'm just a novice in that respect.

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bbmike

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Reply #6 on: September 02, 2019, 12:59:10 PM
Tempting, but I am on a purchasing hiatus.

I'm trying that hiatus thing myself but shields are failing!


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mirth

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Reply #7 on: September 02, 2019, 01:04:22 PM
Tempting, but I am on a purchasing hiatus.

I'm trying that hiatus thing myself but shields are failing!



I think I have a bit of a head start on you

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panzerde

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Reply #8 on: September 02, 2019, 01:54:42 PM
So what are some of the key differences btw H&M and Hold The Line?

Horse & Musket is an evolution of a specific set of the Hold the Line rules; Frederick's War. HtL:FW covers the Seven Years War and nothing else. Horse and Musket currently covers from 1680 to 1763, including not just European conflicts but conflicts in the Middle East and North America. At present, the game and expansions include over 70 scenarios. There are battles as large as Blenheim and Neerwinden and as small as La Prairie and Sedgemoor.

The mechanics of H&M are similar to HtL:FW, but have been streamlined. National Characteristics and Special Scenario Rules add chrome to each scenario to reflect the unique circumstances of each battle and period. The base game and the two expansions use different player aid cards and charts to reflect the improving characteristics of the formations and technology of the period. French troops, for example have "Cadenced Marching" in later scenarios which allows them improved movement, while Prussians have "Steel Ramrods" which improves their fire combat capabilities.

All modules make use of a common set of units, a base map, and map overlays. This makes it possible to build any scenario covering and battle you'd like during the period. So, in addition to the included scenarios, players can easily modify scenarios or create their own.

What does H&M do better/worse than other games in a similar period?

You mean the dozens of other games covering the Nine Years War, or the War of Austrian Succession?

Obviously, one of the things H&M does better is that it's covering battles and periods no one else covers. You are simply not going to find many of the scenarios in this game anywhere else. This afternoon I think I'm going to play Neerwinden, a battle during the Nine Years War, for example. The only other treatment I've ever seen of this battle is a user-created scenario in Pike & Shot Campaigns and in some miniatures rules. I suspect some of the Middle Eastern battles don't appear anywhere else.

There are three key mechanics that I think make H&M really shine. First, unit capabilities are measured in Morale Points (MP) and not strength points. As combat happens, units lose MPs. Certainly casualties are happening, but during this period combat effectiveness often depended more on training and tenacity than on sheer numbers. When a unit loses all of its MPs it breaks and is removed from the map. Units can regain MPs by being rallied. This much more accurately reflects the nature of combat during the era than simply counting bodies.

Next is the concept of Command Action Points, or CAP. In each scenario each side is given a base level of CAP. CAP is spent to order units to take actions, like moving or firing, or rallying units that have lost MP. Nothing can be done without expending CAP, and there will never be enough CAP to do everything. At the beginning of each turn, each side rolls a D6 and receives anywhere from one to three extra CAP. CAP represents the command structure and capability of each side. For those familiar with Command & Colors, CAP serves a similar purpose to the cards used in that game. but isn't subject to some of the restrictions that can happen from not having a useful card.

Finally, leaders are vital. Each side will have at least one, and usually several leaders. One leader is designated the army commander. Each leader has a rating from zero to four, four being a military genius and zero being, well, a zero.  Leaders contribute to morale checks, activation, and rally. Army commanders can spend CAP at the beginning of a turn and "steal initiative" or reverse the turn order, giving their side back-to-back turns if they pull it off.

In combination, these three mechanics create powerful narrative in the game. In the game Bob and I played, for example, Bob had to cross a muddy ditch (the Bussex rhine) with his Royalist infantry to close the distance to my rebel militia. His infantry were in line formation, giving them better combat capabilities, but requiring them to perform a morale check if they moved into the ditch, possibly losing a morale point.

Fortunately for Bob, this infantry was commanded by John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough, one of the very few leaders in the game rated a "four." Bob moved Marlborough to take personal command of a unit of Elite Infantry - representing the 1st Battalion of the Foot Guards in this case,  and then moved them into the ditch. Normally, the Elite Infantry would have to roll their MP or lower on a D6 - in this case a "3," meaning he had a 50% chance of failing and losing an MP. Bob really didn't want to lose an MP. The rebels only need to score three VPs to win the battle, he'd already lost one, and losing an Elite Infantry unit would cost him two and the battle.

But with Marlborough in personal command, Bob received a +4 on his morale check! He couldn't possibly fail and lose an MP. And so, Marlborough and the 1/Foot Guards stormed across the Bussex rhine into the very teeth of Monmouth's rebel militia!

Who, as it turned out, hadn't been softened up enough yet.

Bob unfortunately hadn't managed to move up any of his artillery yet, and although he was poised to envelop both rebel flanks, he hadn't managed to do so. More importantly, Bob hadn't saved any CAP from the turn he moved across the rhine to attack, and so couldn't have his army commander, Feversham, attempt to seize initiative and give him back-to-back turns. Had he done so the 1/Foot Guards and Marlborough would have been able to fire a terrific volley into the rebel militia - Elite Infantry at range on hit one a D10 roll of 7-9, they receive a +1 DRM for being in line, and they roll four dice rather than the normal three. The militia battalion facing the 1/Foot Guards only had two MP - so two hits would have eliminated them. Bob could have them moved the 1/FG into the vacated hex, splitting the rebel line.

Instead, since he didn't get back-to-back turns, the rebel artillery fired and hit, costing the 1/FG one MP. Then in an action that must have been inspired as much by desperation and fear as any of the few days of training they received, the rebel militia fired a terrific volley into the 1/FG. Rolling two D10, they amazingly managed to roll two nines, which are automatic hits. That was enough for the 1/FG, who broke and streamed back across the Bussex rhine and winning the battle for the rebel Duke of Monmouth!

Now, very few games of H&M will come down to a single roll like that. It is indicative though of the nature of the system that it can capture the implications of the situation at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion that even fairly minor losses on the part of James II's small Royal Army could have lost them the battle. This was in fact exactly what Monmouth was attempting when he launched his night attack at Sedgemoor. Historically, it didn't work - but it almost did. H&M captures that, using a blank base map, terrain overlays, generic units, and thirteen pages of rules, the last three of which are all optional rules.

The series will eventually cover from the beginning of the Thirty Years War in the 1620s to the latter half of the 19th Century.  "Volume 0," Horse and Matchlock will be released in late September or October. This volume covers the Thirty Years War, the Franco Spanish War, the English Civil War, The Franco Dutch War, and the Scanian War with 20 new scenarios and a rules expansion to cover the unique characteristics of armies of this period. I'm very excited for this expansion, since it covers some of my favorite battles and leaders.

Full disclosure: for about the past year I've been the series developer for Horse & Musket. Sean Chick is the designer, Johan Brattström is the designer for Horse & Matchlock, David Fagland did the really superb Vassal modules, and Hollanspiele is the publisher. While my opinion is certainly not unbiased, I agreed to get involved with the production of the game because it does such a fantastic job of portraying the period in a really playable way. The core game can be learned in about five minutes, and it won't take much longer to set up a scenario. Despite its simple appearance, there is a lot happening due to the interaction of the simple mechanics.

I am, and will always be a huge fan of Ben Hull's Musket & Pike series. I'll play them at the drop of a hat and you can bet I'll pre-order every one of his new series that is starting with a Blenmheim game. H&M offers what I think is a faster playing, simpler alternative to that series that also currently covers a broader period. I don't see the two series as in competition at all. Each offers a different approach and different take on the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries that anyone interested in this period will enjoy.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2019, 03:47:11 PM by panzerde »

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bbmike

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Reply #9 on: September 02, 2019, 02:10:36 PM
panzerde!


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bob48

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Reply #10 on: September 02, 2019, 03:29:59 PM
So what are some of the key differences btw H&M and Hold The Line?

What does H&M do better/worse than other games in a similar period?

There! Does that answer your questions? ;)

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mirth

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Reply #11 on: September 02, 2019, 03:37:11 PM
So what are some of the key differences btw H&M and Hold The Line?

What does H&M do better/worse than other games in a similar period?

There! Does that answer your questions? ;)

Was a little light on details

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panzerde

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Reply #12 on: September 02, 2019, 03:40:59 PM

I actually don't really like games.

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Barthheart

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Reply #13 on: September 02, 2019, 08:51:01 PM
So what are some of the key differences btw H&M and Hold The Line?

What does H&M do better/worse than other games in a similar period?

There! Does that answer your questions? ;)

Was a little light on details

Really? I found it quite Prattonian in verbiage.....

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panzerde

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Reply #14 on: September 02, 2019, 09:56:59 PM
Really? I found it quite Prattonian in verbiage.....

Don't make me say "Zuckerian" to you again.  :tickedoff:

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