I was lucky enough to get this book for my birthday. The idea behind the book sounded promising; 8 sets of simple wargames rules that allow for fighting out short battles,using limited miniatures in a small area. Does it succeed? Let's find out...
The book covers 8 time periods. Each period is described in a few pages,explaining the methods,tactics and equipment used. A few paragraphs (sometimes more) are then devoted to explain some of the rules designs. The rules actually should the written in singular form as it is the same set of basic rules that are tweaked accordingly to match each specific era.
The basic rules are just that,basic and generic. Don't expect a high amount of options or detailed rules covering specific situation. Each period has its own set of 4 unit types (infantry,artillery,tank and anti-tank for WWII for example, infantry,artillery,cavalry and skirmishers for horse and muskets). The unit are different enough to differentiate themselves in play but are otherwise generic. A well trained british grenadier unit will fight exactly the same as a rag tag unit of american colonial because they both are infantry units. This decision in design is sure to annoy some people and it takes a bit of open mindness to accept this simplification. Moves are set and simple,ability to move and shoot is covered. Combat is a 1 dice roll affair with units being able to sustain 15 hits before being eliminated. Terrain affects combat by reducing or increasing the amounts of hits.
No scale is given or implied (although smaller,less than 20mm, are recommended). The book recommend the use of a 3'x3' area which seems pretty adequate. The second half of the book covers scenario to be played out using the rules. The scenarios are partly historic but once again generic enough to be useable by all time periods covered by the rules.
So is this book worth buying? Yes and no to be frank. The book is extremely well written and is a fast read. It's very entertaining and offer interesting insights. As a rulebook though,it suffers a bit. The basic premise of using a generic set of rules to cover vastly diferent period essentially means that it's an study in compromises. Ultimately,the amount of compromise one can put up with will decide if this is the right book for you. Can you accept that all units will perform and work the same way? Can you put up with a 1 d6 roll combat resolution? Are you looking for a "beer and pretzel" approach to your favourite period? If you answered no to any of those, you'd probably wouldnt be interested in this book.
One final consideration is relevance. Why should i buy a book that doesnt focus on a specific time frame and covers actual historical situations? Especially when one consider the gamut of free wargames ruleset available online? Perhaps one could see this volume as an easy introduction,as a way to get started relatively quickly and cheaply in a historical period.
Would I spend my money to buy it? I believe ultimately I would. While it covers nothing extensively, what it does cover is sound and well done. The rule do allow quick battles on a smaller scale but makes it feel like a bigger engagement. The use of the scenarios means quick campaigns can be set up and played in an evening. The units are also small which cuts down on painting quite a bit. More experimented player can also easily adjust the rules to fit their taste (because the rules are simple altering them is pretty easy and wont require extensive re-writes).
Hopes this review help anyone still on the fence about this book.