Johan Brattstrom
Sweden
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Ok here is my review of Horse and musket: Dawn of an era vol.1. first a bit about me. I am a gamer that mostly play wargames and miniatures games (not strictly true I play a lot of other genres too). Wargame is really where I started and where I am most likly to end up. My favorite wargames spans over diffrent complexity and different styles. Some of my favorites are Commands & Colors ancients, Great battles of History, 40k and Impetus.

I have 70+ games of Horse and musket: Dawn of an era under my belt.

I am not a good reviewer. I only review games that I really like (Too lazy to write about games that dissapoint). Most of my reviews end up being a quite large portion of fanboyism and asslicking so be warned. I am not at all structured in my reviews, No attention to what the game is (I leave that to others who has written before me) and as you can see horrible spelling in english. I do have a critique section at the end of the review. Most of them are minor but there is one that I think needs adressing and that I have written about earlier at the rules section of the forum. This will not be a structured review it will more be what I like about the game and what I do not like in comparisson to other games at some points. Here we go.

The positive:

1)The era which this game portrays is awesome. Being from Sweden and reading a lot about the northern war makes this era very intresting to me and hopefully to others.

2)This game saved me from C&C Napoleonics. As I heard from Sean this system will handle Napoleonics in the futre which is great because you can already see that this system is so much superior to C&C Napoleonics and I will explain why. Commands & colors Ancients is my favorite game of all time and a game I will play as long as I live. The reason why is that it is simple yet potrays very well what we know being key factors in ancient battles. We know very little but we do know the trouble commanders had coordinating their troops, we do know the weaknesses of flanks and we know a bit how the different units functioned. That is all that is needed to be portayed in a game about anicent warfare and Commands & colors ancients does this beutiflly. When it comes to the Napoleonics version of the system it falls flat to me. The reason is that we do know ha lot more about this much more recent period and putting the C&C engine into it leaves a lot of key aspects out of the game. Thats why I have tried so many times to like it but never did.

What Hores & Musket does how ever is keeping the simplicity of 9x13 hex wargames and adding a lot of the key aspects of the horse & musket era in a very simple manner. This makes the game similar to what I feel about Commands & colors ancients a war game that is NOT a simulation (I like those as well but for different reasons) but a GAME that captures all the key aspects of the era in a fun and easy way. This to me is a stroke of briliance since it is a lot harder to be able to pull that of with this era, which we know much more about than with the ancient era. This is for me as well as C&C Ancients a lifestyle game that I will keep playing for all the years to come.

3) Optional rules: Many have complained that they are too many and that there is too many modifiers. I for one love this it makes the game very flexible and yes you can end up wit ha lot of + and - but being a miniatures gamer it takes 5 minutes to make an excell file with a combat chart. After 2 plays you pretty much remember them all and you can really see how clever they are in potraying the era.

4) Scenarios: This game have 20 scenarios which is a heck of a lot for a "Vol.1" But that is not the only thing, this game makes it so easy to create your own scenarios. Not that many unit types, modular terrain and a grand/small battle chart makes it very easy to make up fictional scenarios or historical once. I am soon finished with making Scenarios for a lot of the Scanian war battles with this system and having playtested them a lot you see why and how easy it is to make them work.

5) Fun: This game is really fun. It is really a lot of tenstion especially when you use Range 1 optional rules. There is a lot of stratgey and tactics in the game and even more if you use facing and flanking optional rules. There is a history lesson built in as well and you really enjoying your self as you start to see the problems that these gereals faced.

The negatives:

1) Formations: They are fantastic but the facing of units to show the formation really throws movement and combat out the window for realism and logic(You can read more about this in my post on the rules forum). Easy to house rule but I never like to house rule since you might end up breaking the game and the design intentions not discovering until 100 + plays.

2) Rule book: It is an easy game and the rules are very well presented but there are some errors and som contradictions to what the auther clarifies in this forum and what is stated in the rule book.

3) Costs: I cannot afford this game. It cost me 200US dollars to get to Sweden (85 dollars for the game and 125 dollars for shipping and toll fees). The publisher have a PnP version which I bought and use. I also am a miniatures gamer so I will play this like I play C&C, home made board and minatures as well. But for others this is a shame. The artwork aint that great and what I can tell the game seems too expensive even for US buyers. However this is a game that is so freakin good in my opinion so I urge every US buyer to buy the printed version and the rest to go for the PnP version. This games In my opinion deserves a lot more attention and a cheeper distrubution. If this would have come in the same price range as C&C and with the same quality components it would have been a huge succsess from the start, I am sure of it. This is not a complaint on the publisher which I already disscussed this with. I am glad that they took it on, I am glad that they produced the game without modyfing it and that they are commited to the series no matter how it sales. I am also galad that you can but i PnP version and I do understand smaller companies printing costs.

Anyway. This review ended up like my other reviews. No rules explenation, and no game mechanics explenation. Just messy confusing entusiasm over a game that for me is a 9. It will be a 10 if the formation rules change a little. All in all If you are intrested in this period, like C&C (Even the napoleonic one;)) you must have this game. It is really taking the 9x13 hex model to a new intresting level.
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Steve Carey
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That's a good point about the history lessons in the box, that really struck me for such an approachable system.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Johan - and beware of those (W)hores & Muskets!
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