Now that I have had a chance to read through some of my Christmas horde, I have thoughts and reviews.
I tried this out with some of my Lunch Money gaming veterans. The play is much more light hearted but still all about killing your neighbors. You try to put together spells from the cards you've drawn. The ones with a Source, Delivery and Outcome are more powerful. Each time you get new and unique spell combos, and the artwork is great. Reminds me of Adventure Time meets old 70s Crazy and Bananas magazines. We had only a few players. Six would give even more fun and crazyiness. Great for kids.
4 out of 5 Flaming Skulls
Being a set of Foundry rules made to sell their awful new Renaissance miniature line, I put this on the wish list more for the pictures and background than actual rules. In these glory days of wargaming with all the new innovation in game mechanics, Frank Chadwick has stayed very, very old school. Single figure removal and using playing cards for casualty outcomes harkens back to the Sword and the Flame. It has to be geared more for smaller battles, I don't know how you get a bigger game in, in a decent time otherwise. Glad this one was a freebie. If I had spent $40 myself I'd be pissed.
2 out of 5 pikes (only for the nice pictures, too bad they are of the crappy new Foundry line).
This rules for Dark Age wars grew out of Glutter of Ravens, released some time ago. I remember thinking they were OK, but missing something. The new range of Osprey wargames rules have got alot of flack for being long on production values and pretty pictures but short on substance. For $12.96 on Amazon, I think they are a great little deal. Whatever problems I had with Glutter, seemed to be fixed now. There are quite a few wargames out now for this period, Dux Britainniarum being the big one. I found Dux Brit had alot of great set up and campaign ideas, but the actual combat rules convoluted and clunky (SAGA does it better).
Dux Bell borrows some ideas from all over and puts them together nicely. Each warhost is of base sized units ala DBA, but of whatever size/make up you want, because measurements are in base-widths (ala Sam Mustafa). Each stand takes a number of Cohesion hits (Black Powder/Hail Caesar) before it breaks based on a target to hit number (again BP/HC).
The real fun part that sets it apart, is the use of Leadership Points (LPs). LPs can be used in different ways to motivate your troops, block enemy fire, or help with other outcomes. Simple mechanic similar to command points in Grande Armee or Might and Reason, but perfect for a period of history were a War Leader, or Dux Bellorum, had more influence on a battle's outcome. Best part, I can use troops already mounted for other rules for this and think it has use for bigger, multiplayer games.
4 dragon standards out of 5.
Named for Marshal of France Maurice de Saxe, an under appreciated general who knew not defeat, and a true character in his own right. To me, much like Sam Mustafa's games.
Anyone who stumbles upon this blog knows I'm Sam's #1 fan. Many plays of Grande Armee and Might & Reason have convinced me he knows how to deliver period flavor without sacrificing playability, reasonable playing times or getting too abstract. I had all but given up on Nappies until GA.
So, on to Maurice. First, it is more of a two player game. Yes, that's bad for my gaming group of 6-8, but not necessarily. The games can be short. The campaign system Succession Wars included in Maurice would be perfect for our little group. My table split 3 ways would give 3 games going on simultaneously. Let the Imagi-Nations go! I could use the campaign simply for my own Unkerlant.
Maurice's mechanics for actual combat varies little from Might and Reason, but its the turn sequence and use of Action Cards (similar to Commands and Colors) that really makes it shine. It creates a natural ebb and flow to the battle. You can push and blow a bunch of cards to get the advantage, but then have to hold for awhile as your forces regroup.
Maurice requires the purchase of the card deck to play, and the game ain't cheap. Around $50 was the cheapest I found for both rules and cards. But, the rules give you everything from random battlefield generation to random officers (Notables) to campaign play. Well worth it. I'm currently rebasing a ton of dusty 6mm Marlburians that have never seen combat for this. So day maybe even some 28s. Can't wait to try.
5 out of 5 powdery wigs.