OK. I've read the rules Maurice rules twice. But, you never know a game until you actually play it. With the bitter cold keeping all but 4 us away game night, it was time to give Maurice a whirl.
I still haven't decided on what minis to use, and even if I did, it would be awhile before I got them done. Time to dig out my paper armies that have served so well in Unkerlant. The armies consisted of 6 infantry units (1 Elite, one Conscript, the rest Trained), 4 Trained cavalry units and 4 guns. THe Attackers got one extra infantry unit. We used no National Advantages for this play tests.
I played it pretty stripped down. As I said, no National Advantages, which you buy when creating your army. There are so many fun set up things, that just for time we didn't use. Sam Mustafa has made this a really easy pick up game. You draw cards for terrain set up, roll for who is Attacker vs Defender based on scouting, etc. We also used no Notables, those favorites of His or Her Majesty that can be a blessing or a curse to your army.
The Attacker gets 8 Action cards, the Passive 5 to start.
The terrain was simple the objective also. Take the town.
Turn Sequence is simple. First, Active player decides if there will be volleys (musket fire). If yes, he fires then the Passive player. If he declines, no shooting happens. Why won't I elect to shoot? Well, the Guards over there are near breaking. They may well get that volley off, but the return fire will most assuredly finish them. Simple mechanic, lots of subtlety on how to use it. Volley fire is tough to break a unit with. Cold steel will be needed.
Next, the Active Player choses an action:
He can Pass, doing nothing but gaining 3 cards.
He can play a card as an Event. These are usually something big, but he gains no new cards.
He can March, Bombard, Charge or Rally.
March is maneuver. Any Force, that is units of same kind is same formation may be activated and moved. On each card there is a number in the left corner. You must discard enough of the those card(s) to equal the distance to the Force in question. If the unit is 6 base widths away, you must discard enough card(s) to equal or excede. Again, easy mechanic, tons of subtle. Tough decisions. The better cards have higher numbers. "I really need to move that cav on the flank to keep them from getting cut off, but they are far away. Do I hold moving them another turn? Do I burn a really good card or cards to get them moving?"
This is where I've read a few negative reviews. You can easily get caught up in one part of the battlefield, sacrificing the rest of the army's movement. Tunnel vision if you will. You may move alot, then later have to pause to regroup because you've blown thru your cards.
Have these guys not read any history? This sounds like every battle I've ever read about, and its modeled perfectly on your tabletop. How many commanders have had to make the same decisions you are?
Oh well, back to the actions. Bombard is long range artillery fire.
Charge is the only way into hand-to-hand. Again, I pause to tell how simple the combat mechanic is. One roll for each unit involved. Even with multiple contacts and squirrel-ly angles it all gets handled easily.
Rally is that. You pick a Force and try to roll off Disruptions. THis is another tough one. Give up the momentum you might have started to pause and get your troops back in order?
Our actual game went pretty smooth. Yes, we had first game omissions and screw up but it was a great time. Loss of units can cause variable Army Morale loss. The Attacker must have lost some of the most beloved units in the army because just a few were destroyed and crappy die rolling meant their Morale plummeted.
This rules were everything I wanted them to be. For big, historical refights of the Lace Wars, Sam's other rules Might & Reason are my go to, but this is perfect smaller, pick up battles.
Some people have used Maurice for other periods like American Revolution and War of 1812. I can see that. Maurice has different levels of troop training and morale.
Where I can really see this game shine is as a campaign game for a club. The Wars of Succession Campaign rules in the back are beautiful in their elegance and simplicity.
Maurice gets 5 out of 5 Powdered Wigs.