Habitants & Highlanders (H&H) is a set of miniature wargame booklet for the Seven Years War in North America (the French & Indian War) by Bruce McFarlane published by the Canadian Wargamers Group (CWG). The booklet contains an introduction to the war, details of the combatants, an outline of the geography, tactics, uniforms, flags, an overview of wargaming the period, a set of miniature rules, eleven scenarios and a campaign game. The miniature rules can be played at two levels, "Battle Scale" where 1 figure represents 50 men and "Skirmish Scale" where a company is represnted by 9 privates, 2 NCO's and 1 Officer figure.
In common with most of the other CWG booklets (Flower of Chivalry: A Guide to the Late Middle Ages, For God, King and Country: A Guidebook to the English Civil Wars, The Whites of their Eyes: A Guide to the American Revolution, Rocket's Red Glare, Great Battles of World War Two: Volume II – Drop Zone) H&H is a 72 page letter sized stapled book with colour card covers and black and white interior. The text is in a two column format with various illustrations and is laid out in the relevant sections with a table of contents and a select bibliography. The rules are accompanied by a quick reference sheet (which need to be photocopied as it is bound in) but with no examples of play - although the rules are pretty straightforward and this did not present any particular problems.
A single page introduction is provided.
The various combatants (New France, the American Colonies, Indians and European Regulars) are covered in seven pages with some simple back and white illustrations (of varying quality). This section provides an overview of the background, troops, strategy and basic unit organisation for the period and serves as a good introduction for anyone new to it.
A single page with an accompanying single page back and white overview map are included.
Two pages are devoted to covering the basic tactics of the troops.
Uniforms have four pages devoted to them including a full page drawing of a regular indicating the various uniform elements and a full page table detailing the coat, facing, breeches and waistcoat colours for the various units. The other pages contain a description of the uniform types.
Two pages are given over to flags albeit mostly containing (unfortunately) back and white drawings of the main flags along with a table detailing the colours for the french flags (the British Regimental flags following their facing colour).
A brief, single page introduction to wargaming the Seven Years War in North America preceeds the miniature rules.
As I mentioned earlier the rules cater for two levels of play; however, the core mechanics remain the same with only minor changes made between the Battle and Skirmish scales. This allows a wide variety of sizes of scenario to be played and thus widens the choice of potential historical encounters which may be gamed. I will outline the Battle scale rules first and then briefly look at the Skirmish scale.
Battle scale assumes 3 figures per 1.25" x 0.5" infantry base with Skirmish scale being 1 figure on a 0.5" base.
The rules are based on a traditional "I go, you go" system with the number of actions units may make being driven by a card draw. Commanders in Chief are allocated ratings - excellent/good/average/poor (see my comment in the summary) - which determines their command radius and also the make up of their card deck. The card decks comprise 10 standard playing cards per commander made up from a jokers, aces, twos and threes. The value of the card determines the number of actions available with the joker representing 2 actions but forcing a reshuffle of the deck (an optional non-draw version of the action system is provided with players choosing which card to play but with some restrictions). Units outside of command radius may still act but must roll against their initiative to do so.
The rules handle movement (infantry in line 3" per action), formations (skirmish, line, square, field and road columns) and the like in a fairly traditional manner with firing being calculated by multiplying the number of firing figures by the weapon's factor modified by cover etc. to produce a percentage score. Firing scores in excess of 100% cause a guaranteed casualty with the balance being rolled against to determine whether a further casualty is scored. Artillery works in the same manner but with "bounce through" permitted.
Close combat is not a unit action and is resolved in initiative roll order which allows a defending unit a chance of firing before being contacted. Morale tests are required to close with the enemy and for the receiving unit to stand. If contact is made the entire units are then involved in a melee. Combat is calculated in a very similar manner to firing. Attached leaders may be killed by either fire combat (10%) or melee combat (30%) but provide a significant bonus for morale. Charging units which win a melee are then entitled to a further "exploitation action" which may result in a second melee combat.
Morale is tested whenever a unit takes casualties, charges or is charged but is only required to test once per phase. Morale failure creates an additional figure loss and forces the unit to withdraw 12". In addition, the rules have the concept of army morale through the initial level (1 point per unit) being reduced by each unit rout (-1) or unit elimination (-2). If the army morale reaches zero the player loses.
Skirmish scale necessarily modifies the representation of formations, introduces the concept of fixing bayonets and modifies firing to include a fire effects roll which introduces wounds.
Eleven scenarios are included with a historical introduction and full details of forces, special rules, victory conditions and accompanied by a map. The scenarios include some for each game scale, the major engagements at the Plains of Abraham and a siege of Quebec mini-campaign.
Wolfe and Montcalm Campaign Game
This is a board game with the game map included in the centre pages of the booklet (though some photocopying is required as the unit counters appear on the reverse of the map) and all are in black and white. Details are provided to use the boardgame as the basis for generating games for the miniatures rules. I haven't played the boardgame itself so I'll leave that for a separate review.
As a whole the booklet is an excellent introduction into the period, it contains everying needed (other than the dice, figures etc.) for someone to get into the French & Indian War. The miniature rules provide are very easy to pick up and provide a quick fun game.
Unfortunately as with a number of the other CWG products the proof reading was poor. There are a number of errors in the text and inconsistencies in the rules and quick reference sheet, for example leaders being categorised as excellent/good/average/poor in the rules text but as brilliant/efficient/plodding/buffoon in a later table and in the scenarios. This is unnecessarily irritating; however, does not spoil the excellent overall package.