Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

Hammer of the Scots» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A wargamer review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Paulo Inacio
Portugal
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I know that this has already lots of reviews, but since i received it this Xmas and played it the last few days i had to review it. I'll start by saying that i like heavy hex&counters wargames. But i decided to try this light block wargame because i was interested in the theme (if you've seen Braveheart you know the theme).

The contents:
The box is strange, never seen one like this. The game map is made of card and it doesn't stay plane unless you leave it resting for a couple of days or you put a plexyglass board over it. But one can say it's nice; it shows Scotland divided in several regions with the nobles homes showing the respective heraldry; in the south there's also the England region; the regions are divided by black borders (indicating plane terrain) and/or red borders (indicating movement through mountais). The wooden blocks are ok but be carefull with the labels that you have to stick on the blocks, they can be damaged very easily. Yet, i must ask if they could find an uglier label for Wallace. These blocks represent the 14 scotish nobles, scotish regular forces (infantry, cavalry and archers) and english regular forces (infantry, archers, knights and hobelar); there's also blocks for a norse unit (a scot unit), a french cavalry (a scot unit that comes into play if some conditions apply), Edward I and a scotish king (that comes into play if some conditions apply). Sice the nobles can defect to either side each side has it's own noble blocks, except for Moray that never defects to the english side. The cards, well nothing special; there are 20 with numbers 1, 2 or 3 (more on that ahead) and 5 with events.

Victory.
Victory is related with controling the greater number of nobles, but there are other victory conditions like killing Edward II (Edward I is replaced by Edward II if Edward I dies or in the beginning of year 1307), killing the scotish king or controling the 14 nobles (for the scot) and 13 nobles for the english (in this case Moray has to be dead, since he never switches to the englis side).

Set up:
Easy. The english starts with 11 nobles, 2 english infantry and 4 more units that are randomly drawn from the english draw pool. The scot starts with the nobles Bruce, Galloway and Moray (who never defect to the english side), Wallace and 4 infantry units. Each palyer is dealt an hand of five cards.

Fog of War:
When playing each player sits on opposite sides so you can only see the labels on your own units. But during the game you'll know more or less acurately where everyone is.

The game:
Each round represents 1 year and within each year there are 5 turns(corresponding to the 5 cards that one receives). In the beginning of each turn each player selects a card and they reveal it simultaneously. If both played a number card the one that played the highest moves first this turn, in case of ties english goes first; if one of the players played an event card the event is resolved first (and this player wont be able to move any units, except for the event in itself); if both players played an event card the events are resolved (english first) and then the year ends abruptly (no more card play till next year). The number in the card represents the number of block groups that you can move, the same is to say from how many regions you can move. When you move you have to obey some rules. Some units have a move of 2 and others 3. when you cross a red border or enter a region with enemy units you must stop. Also you must obey border limits, this means that in all your movements you can cross black borders with a maximum of 6 blocks and red borders with a maximum of 2 blocks. Who understands this rule? Does this mean that hey! this 2 units have crossed the mountains and the rest of the troops feels tired by that?! Do they have to pay for taxis and they can only afford for 8 guys??!. Well, when the first player ends his movements the other player executes his movements (if he played a numbered card). In doing so he can reinforce regions where his enemy moved to, leave regions that the enemy entered but he has to leave the same number of blocks as the enemy has there, and so on. If a region contains opposing blocks a battle ensues.

Battle:
At start each block has a strength of 4 or 3 (this is the number of d6 you roll in combat), has they suffer casualties the blocks are rotated to indicate it's new strength. When you suffer the last hit the block goes back to the draw pool except for some blocks (like Wallace) that are removed from play. Each block has also a move factor (2 or 3) and a combat factor, for example A3, B4, B2, C2, C3, etc. This means that in battle defending A's roll first, then attacking A's roll, the defending B's roll and so on. The number after the letter means that you have to score equal or less to score a hit. Remember the strngth of the unit tells the number of dice to roll, so a strength 4 unit with combat factor A3 would roll 4d6 and score a hit for each 1, 2 or 3 rolled. Combat is not simultaneous, so after each roll the opponent suffers the corresponding hits starting by it's stronger unit. Each battle has 3 rounds (a round ends after all units have rolled its dice). If the attacker after the 3rd round did not elliminate the enemy hi has to retreat. It is possible that when an unit has it's turn to roll it may instead retreat (eiter attacker or defender can do it). There's also rules for reserves. For example, player 1 attacks a region containing player 2 units with block groups coming from 2 different regions, then player 2 reinforces that same region with block coming from another region. In this case the attacker must choose one of its 2 groups as the main attacker being the other group the reserves; the reinforcing group of the defender is also a reserve. Reserves only enter combat in the 2nd combat round.

Then after playing the 5th card the year ends (or if both players play an event card) a wintering turn happens. Here is when you receive reinforcents. Some of the regions show castles with a number (1, 2 or 3) and some also show a cathedral. The number in the castles indicates the number of blocks you can have in a region in this phase, if you have more you have to disband them to the draw pile or remove from play if it's a special block (like Wallace); nobles (except for Moray can never be disbanded). The number in the castles indicates the number of strength steps that you can recover for your units (the cathedral acts as 1 extra point only for the scotish), and this works for all scotish units and english nobles and infantry units. Also, for the scotish, if he has his blocks at full strength he can draw blocks from the draw pool, but allways respecting the maximum numbers of blocks that can be in a region according to the castle number. This drawn blocks come at srength 1 but they can get more steps if you still have remaining castle points. Also, in this phase all nobles (starting with the english) go back to their home region, which means that if the region is enemy occupied the noble will defect to that side, and may cause dibanding of blocks if castle limits are not respected. All non infantry english blocks go back to the draw pool but see next), and infantry that remains must obey castle limits. If Edward I is in Scotland then any number of any english block may remain in scotland if in same region as Edward I. If Edward I is in Sotland the english won't receive reinforcements for the next year. If Edward I doesn't remain in Scotland (you can voluntarly disband it to the draw pool) then the english receives reinforcement blocks in England up to half the units in his draw pool.

Well, i guess this is more or less what the game is about.

Now, do i like it? If i ignore that the rules are full of contardictions and badly explained, if i ignore that the rules book has 8 pages and that the FAQ (almost impossible to find; i only found it at www.grognard.com) his bigger than the actual rules book and if i ignore that the FAQ conradicts the rules book and itself i'll say yes i like it, i'll give it a 7. But if i consider that as a World in Flames player which has more than 60 dense pages rule book and i've never found a bug in the rules, then i'll say i hate it, i'll give it a 4.

Let me show just a couple of condratictions (amongst lots of them):

When i was playing i assumed that after playing a card it would be then discarded (but nothing is said about discarding or not in the rules), but check the FAQ:

"Q. Are the two cards used to determine play order available again to play in each movement phase?

A. Yes. Once a movement card is played, it governs (1) who goes first in that particular round, and then (2) how many group moves you have when your turn comes around. Once movement is over, players decide which card they’d like to play next and those two cards, once revealed, will govern the next round."

Another one in the FAQ:
"Q. The rules state that the main attacker is designated as all blocks entering through a particular border. Does this mean that with 2 movement points, if I move 2 groups through the same (obeying border limits) border, would BOTH moving groups be considered one attack?

A. Yes. "

Yeah ok!! But the rules book says "Main Attack block must start the turn in the same area and cross the same border into battle. All other blocks are in reserve."

Also in the FAQ:
"Q. Can reserves retreat before they commit to battle?

A. Reserves are forced to retreat if all other blocks have been eliminated in the first battle round. Or they can choose to retreat at the beginning of the second battle round."

But the rules says, and they say it's important: "IMPORTANT: Battlefield Control changes if the Attacker wins in Round 1 before Defending reserves arrive. The Attacker is now the Defender for further combat"

But according to the FAQ if the defender lost all his blocks (not the reserves) the his reserves must retreat, so when does this IMPORTANT rule apply.

There are more like these.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carter Maxwell
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Kontor that Counting Office!
badge
Kontor that Counting Office!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What version of the rules are you using? The most recent version I've seen is 2.3. I'm not confident that the FAQ you read is current (it notes changes from version 1.0 to 1.2, and is no longer linked on the Columbia HotS page even though they are the host site of the FAQ), so the two are likely incompatible.

If you already have version 2.3 of the rules, try reviewing the HotS Summary based on Rules 2.3 in the Files section of this site. It may help clear up any questions you have.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Niko Ruf
Germany
Schönaich
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The FAQ for HotS is outdated. It refers to the first edition of the rules and contradicts the current rules in several places. Use the living rules from the publisher's page instead:

http://www.columbiagames.com/cgi-bin/query/cfg/zoom.cfg?prod...

If there are still some problems, your best chance is to ask here.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Niko Ruf
Germany
Schönaich
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
haroldun wrote:
when you cross a red border or enter a region with enemy units you must stop. Also you must obey border limits, this means that in all your movements you can cross black borders with a maximum of 6 blocks and red borders with a maximum of 2 blocks. Who understands this rule? Does this mean that hey! this 2 units have crossed the mountains and the rest of the troops feels tired by that?! Do they have to pay for taxis and they can only afford for 8 guys??!.


About border limits: I always assumed that they represent both road limits (or the lack of roads) and forage limits. The Scottish Highlands have some pretty rough terrain, and a medieval army living off the land as it marches is limited in size. Now you could argue that road limits should only affect moving to attack, or that forage limits should be represented as a stacking limit. But the rules are certainly not senseless.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Johnson
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
haroldun wrote:
when you cross a red border or enter a region with enemy units you must stop. Also you must obey border limits, this means that in all your movements you can cross black borders with a maximum of 6 blocks and red borders with a maximum of 2 blocks. Who understands this rule? Does this mean that hey! this 2 units have crossed the mountains and the rest of the troops feels tired by that?! Do they have to pay for taxis and they can only afford for 8 guys??!.


I'm not sure that you meant it this way, but it reads to me like you might have...

The border limits apply per border, not for the whole map.

A border separates two regions. When a region is adjacent to multiple regions, each segment of the border is separate. They're like faces of a polygon. For instance, the Mentieth-Fife, Mentieth-Atholl, Mentieth-Lennox, Mentieth-Lanark, and Mentieth-Lothian 'borders' are all separate borders, and the border limit applies to each individually. So 6 units could attack Mentieth from Fife, 6 from Lennox, 6 from Lanark, 6 from Lothian, and another 2 from Atholl.

However, the border limit applies for the whole turn. If you had 6 units in Fife and another 6 in Angus, they couldn't all move into Mentieth across the Fife-Mentieth border.

In practice, because the unit density in the game is low, border limits usually only matter for the red borders.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Johnson
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll just chime in to agree with the others that the FAQ you were referencing is for an older version of the rules. There is no FAQ for the current (2.3) rules; supposedly, it clarifies all previous questions.

One of the big changes from version 1 to version 2 is that version 2 changed how battle reserves work and added the 'change of battlefield control' rule. In version 1, if all your troops were killed in the first round, you lost the battle and any reserves you may have had had to retreat. In version 2, reserves always arrive even if the main battle is wiped out (but battlefield control may switch before they get there).

They also clarified that the main battle was composed of blocks that started together and crossed the same border.

The card thing doesn't seem like a contradiction to me - you play five cards (unless the year ends early). Each card gets played only once (you can't play the same card multiple times). When played, the number is used to determine both order of play and number of group moves allowed.

One of the things that should be added to a 2.3 FAQ, when and if, is that the schiltron rule is optional. The latest version of the rules made this unclear. Because it comes up so often, they should also probably add something about areas with no castle number - England included. Any blocks in these areas during the winter are disbanded.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Marshall
United Kingdom
York
North Yorkshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Firstly, let me qualify my comments by recognising that this is a favourite game of mine...

It may just be me, but your review reads more like a review of an older edition of the rules/FAQ than a review of the game itself (recognising of course that you reviewed what came out of the box).

I'd be interested in hearing what you think of the game after having played it a few times it with the current rules.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Niko Ruf
Germany
Schönaich
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Oakfed wrote:
I'm not sure that you meant it this way, but it reads to me like you might have...

The border limits apply per border, not for the whole map.


Good catch. That would certainly make the limit appear senseless.

Quote:
In practice, because the unit density in the game is low, border limits usually only matter for the red borders.


IME, the black border limits only come into play if you move a large army along the east coast or attack across the Mentieth-Fife border.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paulo Inacio
Portugal
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thankyou guys for clarifying me about the rules versions. It makes a lot more sense to me now.

About the border limits Jeff, i'm still not sure. The rules says that "Once a border maximum is met, it is closed to movement by THAT player this game turn". And here i'm not sure if they refer to a particular border or all the borders as a whole. But i guess you're right. I'd be glad to be clarified about this one.

But even so yeasterday i played it again using the rules with my best common sense and i enjoyed it a lot. There are lots of though decisions to make and yet the gameplay is simple and fast. I used to think that the scots had really bad chances to win, but in this last game the english were banished from the map.

So Jim, now i say that it really is a good game, i'll give it a plain 8,5.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Marshall
United Kingdom
York
North Yorkshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
haroldun wrote:
So Jim, now i say that it really is a good game, i'll give it a plain 8,5.


Good man!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Johnson
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
haroldun wrote:
About the border limits Jeff, i'm still not sure. The rules says that "Once a border maximum is met, it is closed to movement by THAT player this game turn". And here i'm not sure if they refer to a particular border or all the borders as a whole. But i guess you're right. I'd be glad to be clarified about this one.


Re-reading the rules, I can see how this isn't absolutely clear. It just never occurred to me that it might be read that way before - I think I'm going mainly from experience with similar games (the Columbia games with hexes have 'engagement limits' that apply per hexside, for example). Circumstantial evidence is that the F2Fgaming implementation works per border (not on the map as a whole). Strictly in the rules, though, there's no confirmation - I suspect the Columbia guys were just assuming people would know what they meant, or had a blind spot.

I rechecked all the examples, but they don't help. Closest thing I could come to in the rules was the final bit of 4.3 - "Border limits are applied to each player – hence, both players can move two blocks across the same red border." That sort of implies that each border segment is separate - otherwise, they'd say 'across a red border', not 'across the same red border'. Not exactly conclusive, though.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.