Friday, 19 December 2014

rules of the year - maurice, art de guerre and dystopian wars

I've played more games than I've posted here, so I thought I'd post a year end view of some of the most fun and interesting rules of this year. 

First up is Maurice by Sam Mustapha. These are rules for 18c games, card driven and a whole lot of fun.  The base game cards are used to move and modify the actions of either your own army or to interrupt your opponent.  Then you can add 'national modifier' cards to give a bonus to some of your troops. Then there are 'notables' cards which can add additional general officers to help or hinder your army. The rules can be played with historical armies or with 'imagine-nations'. 

One of the great things about Maurice is that there is a free Maurice Lite version available on the Honor website. This is a trimmed down basic rules and cards set but which can still give a good game.  Above all though, it lets you try the basic system with minimal outlay.  

The first time we played at the club we threw in everything; base cards, terrain setup, national modifiers, notables, irregulars - the works.  And we stumbled a bit trying to learn everything and ended the game a bit uncertain about the rules. 

One chap definitely wanted to persevere with the rules, so I suggested we go back to just the base rules and learn the basics first.  We did that, essentially playing an expanded version of Maurice Lite but using the full card deck.  It was a great game. 

The next game we added national modifiers and had another great game, even allowing for some hilarious loser grumbling about re-rolls not rolling higher that the initial roll.  

And so it goes on, with more games affirming the basics and slowly adding complexities.  For me, I'm not sure about using the notables cards but will use them as the other chaps want. 

We've mostly played with Great Northern War figures so far, but it's got me looking at the basing my own GNW and Seven Years Wars figures.  

Overall - just a great game and highly recommended.  

Next up is actually my newest purchase - Art de la Guerre.  
(and a quick plug for Wargames Emporium in the UK - very fast delivery on these rules.)

It's a set of ancient rules and in scope it sits between DBA/Armati and DBM. It uses more bases than DBA but about half of a DBM army. 

Now I've not actually played this, but the chaps at the club have had a few games and really like it. And the games look good.    

It's a well produced book, nicely laid out with good diagrams and most wonderful of all - the rules AND the army lists are all in the one book.  Yeah!  Three cheers!  A major plus and the writers of ADG are to be applauded for taking this approach.  None of the nonsense of glossy rules and endless supplements to wring every penny from gamers.   

Apparently, these rules have been on the go in France for the past 5 years but it's only this year that an English translation has been produced.     
I'm looking forward to playing these in the near future. DBA, DBM and Armati were some of my favourite rules and this could re-awaken an interest in ancients.  There have been some good reviews out on t'internet and a few comments by people who are also looking to get long forgotten armies out of boxes and on the table again using these rules. 

And finally - Dystopian Wars.  
I'd stayed away from this, and for no other reason than it meant another set of rules to learn and more models to be painted.  But after a conversation at the club one night, I gave in and got the rules and a couple of American fleets off that on-line auction site.  Some great games followed - successes and failures (though I can't remember the successes now!).  

Then the chaps in the club decided to go for the second version of the rules. As a rules set, is supposed to be better but I find the amount of bold print to highlight important stuff a bit off-putting.  And the mish-mash of land, air and sea rules seem overly confusing to someone like me who only wanted to play naval games.  And the second edition cards - 4 quid for only 24 cards seemed a bit of a rip-off. All just a bit disappointing.  

But the biggest farce to me are what look like revamped air and carrier rules.  Unless I'm reading it wrong, under version 2 rules, tiny-flyers don't have to actually land on a carrier to refuel or rearm; they just have to get to within 4 inches of a carrier and then magically rearm. Maybe it's intended to be simpler, but I liked the idea of tiny-flyers having to land to rearm etc.  

And tiny-flyers ( a great name ). What was wrong with tiny-flyers that they had to be renamed 'wings'?  Bah humbug!  

But it's still a good fun game for naval combat, and for rolling lots of dice looking for exploding sixes.     

Roll on 2015 and more of these 3 games as well as some old favourites.   


  1. Highly interesting post, and have to say I may have a look at the free basic rules you mentioned.
    May search up on Art de la guerre also, I've still never found an ancients-medieval rule set that I don't pick fault with.

  2. An intersting post and I might look into Art de la Guerre as well. Not having any DBx style based figures puts me off as all my ancients are based for Impetus.
    I know what Russ is saying about rules but sometimes you have to run with the rules and accept a few grumbles. There will never be a perfect set of rules for any period :-D
    Cheers, Ross

    1. It's like the itch that can't be scratched, I have 2 favourites at the moment, Impetus and Warmaster medieval, but both have small parts I don't like.
      We all want that 'goldilocks ' rule book.

    2. I have taken the plunge and ordered a set to see if these are the goldilocks of rules. Warmaster I have as pdfs and might look into this next decade :-D
      Cheers, Ross

  3. Thanks for comments. I should have expanded my own comments on ADG to say that they (and Maurice) use base widths as the unit of measurement for movement and ranges etc., so no need to rebase.
    In Perth we're focussed on 15mm for ancients and nearly everyone has armies, so ADG is a chance for getting figures back on table.
    And just in case you're interested, on 8th Jan, 6 of us will be gathering round a table for a game of ADG, to run through the mechanisms.