First off a brief introduction. Hi. I’m jk. While I won’t be posting at the same frequency as our esteemed host my goal is to have something posted here every week or so. I can’t promise that it’ll always (or ever, for that matter) be interesting, but I’ll do what I can.
One of my gaming goals for this summer is to play a fairly decent sized La Bataille scenario using the Règlement de l’An XXX ruleset (the “full regs”). My initial foray into La Bataille started several years ago with a game of the 2nd edition of Quatre Bras that left my opponent and myself with a seriously negative opinion of both that particular game and the system as a whole. It was so bad that my buddy ended up selling off his entire La Bataille collection and I shelved my game with the intention of ditching it some time in the future. I really wanted to enjoy the system, as it appeared to have a lot of interesting aspects to it, but it just didn’t work out. In retrospect there are several things that we did in preparation that really hurt our chances of enjoying the game but that’s a story for another time.
A couple of years later Clash of Arms announced that they were going to release a third edition of La Bataille de la Moscowa with a simplified set of rules. Being the sucker I am for shiny new games and the fact that I still had a nagging suspicion that I hadn’t really given the system a fair shake I decided to preorder the game and have a go at it. I’m glad I did.
The game looks awesome set up on a table. It’s very well done in that regard. There are a ton of well thought out player aids and the new Règlement des Marie-Louise rules are very well written and pretty straightforward for a game of this detail. Remember that while the Règlement des Marie-Louise is the “simplified” ruleset, it’s the simplified version of the full regs, so there is still plenty of detail there. I’d put them on par, difficulty-wise, with the Great Battles of the American Civil War series rules if that’s a helpful comparison to anyone.
After playing a few of the scenarios from Moscowa and the full campaign of Orthez using the Marie-Louise rules I found that for a system I had initially all but given up on I was really having a lot of fun. I did notice, however, that a few of things that initially intrigued me about the system when attempting to play Quatre Bras weren’t anywhere to be found in the Marie-Louise rules. This led me to download the Règlement de l’An XXX ruleset to see if what I was looking for was still there. Multi-hex formations? Check! Artillery ricochets? Check! Ridiculous amount of cavalry detail? Check! I was sold. I needed to find some time to learn this system.
That time is almost here. I have no major plans for the summer other than a full, multi-player campaign game of It Never Snows scheduled for 22 & 23 June, but after that the big table will be free. Will it be Moscowa, Orthez, or maybe even the initially ill-fated Qautre Bras that hits the table as I meticulously work my way through a solo game with full regs in hand?
Probably none of the above. Why? One three-letter acronym. BAR.
A few weeks ago in order to prepare for an upcoming VASSAL game I tore into my copy of the latest game in the Battles from the Age of Reason (BAR) series: The Battle of Fontenoy. I had browsed through the BAR rules before but never gave them a thorough reading. Once I had I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. While not quite the level of detail as Règlement de l’An XXX the rules are fairly involved and do include things like multi-hex formations, leader command and control, special results, and an interesting initiative system. A lot of the other things that had drawn me to La Bataille are found in BAR as well and are handled in a very similar manner.
Right now I’m absolutely fascinated with the system. Having completed a solo play of the beginner’s scenario Ingoldsby’s Attack I’ve now moved onto another beginner type scenario called Hypothetical Melle which adds a little bit of cavalry into the mix along and some more units to play with. I’m still at the stage of taking way too long to do anything on the map as I’m reading along in the rulebook with just about everything I do. That’s just the method that works the best for me when learning more detailed systems. Very slow; but effective.
One of the more interesting aspects of the system are the Special Results. In the BAR system almost all of your die rolls are done using percentile dice so that your result is always between zero and 99. During most actions, such as Fire Combat or a Disorder Check, any result from zero to nine calls for a game dependent Special Result. In Fontenoy, for example, if the French roll a 03 during a Fire Combat they’ll get to double their fire strength and roll a second time. I find this to be a fairly simple way to add a bit of randomness to the whole experience.
So the plan for now is to continue on with BAR for at least the next month or two and eventually get to the point where I’m comfortable enough with the rules to try one of the other BAR games I have sitting on my shelf. I’ll get back to La Bataille eventually as it’s just too good of a system not to be played but for now it appears that this will be a BAR summer.
For those that aren’t aware the BAR series covers battles that were fought from around the time period of The Seven Years War up to the American Revolutionary War. There are currently nine games in the series and a BAR Primer is being released in the next month or two to help ease new players into the system. My only wish is that they would make the series rules available online. Why companies are so paranoid about doing this is something I’ll never understand.
tl;dr – I wanted to learn and play La Bataille using the Règlement de l’An XXX ruleset but got hooked on the Battles of the Age of Reason instead. I’ll still learn Règlement de l’An XXX but it’s going to have to wait until my infatuation with the BAR series has died down a bit.