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Friday, April 27, 2012

Last Argument of Kings (First Impressions)

With tax return money burring a hole in my pocket last night I picked up Black Powder's 18th century supplement The Last Argument of Kings.

So far I have only had a chance to read a little more than half the book and I have not read that 'half' in order.

Over all this book presents a good over view of warfare in the 18th Century with most of the Big players covered and a few of the smaller ones as well.

The best part of the book is the overview about armies and war in the 18th century which has several rule adjustments work into the narrative, it introduces you to the period and calibrates the main rules for you in one shot.

They also outline some of the more colorful and important leaders of the period and provide special rules for using each as an army commander.  The entries remind me in some ways of the Warrior entries in the Flames of War books.

They cover several Wars, that are important to the period and provide a battle for each.
  • The War of the Spanish Succession – the Battle of Blenheim (1704)
  • The Great Northern War – the Battle of Holowczyn (1708)
  • The Austro-Turkish Wars – the Battle of Petrovardin (1716)
  • The War of the Austrian Succession – the Battle of Fontenoy (1745)
  • The Wars of the English Succession – the 1745 Rebellion
  • The Seven Years’ War – the Battle of Hundorf (1762)
  • War in the Colonies – The French Indian War & The War in India
Over all I would say this is a good book for the period if you are new to the period.

Now I do have  some criticisms I need to make regarding this supplement.  While the lay out over all is good the lay out of army lists is not as good.  It would have been better to cover each war, then have a separate section with all the Amy information and lists.  As it is the British army is in the section on the War of The Spanish Succession (Page 24) but there most important foe the French army is not covered until the War of Austrian Succession (Page 57).  Not exactly convenient when one is trying to throw together a battle.

One list in particular bothered me as I read it and its the English list, the one list that I think an English company would have gotten right.  The English list has 8 options for British troops, nothing wrong with any of them but there are only two options, for allied forces. Most English armies in Europe we actually made of of Germans, (Hessian, Hanoverian, Prussians, Brunswick, and so forth) Dutch and even Danish troops.  To not provide the player new to this period with some guidance on the point is a lost opportunity to say the least. There ought to be options for Allied light infantry, Grenadiers, Heavy & Light Cavalry and Allied Artillery.

In addition a single list is provided for each army for a period covering about 75 years, lack of space may excuses this, still all of these armies developed over time and while there is some guidance provided a better road map for the beginner might have been worth the effort.

One major and several minor nations of the period are conspicuous by their absence. Spain is not covered at all and as it was a significant player in almost all the wars of the 18th century it should be covered, Saxony/Poland was similarly neglected (though with more excuse).  For Minor players the Dutch, Bavarians and Savoy-Piedmont  would have been excellent additions.  The Scots and Turks are covered which is a good thing.

Th Scots even get a mini Campaign (that I have not been able to read).

Over all I think this is an excellent purchase for anyone new to 18th century but it has a number of gaps and missed opportunities that if they have been filled could have made it an indispensable resource for war-gamers of this period.