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Monday, May 2, 2016

Honors of War First impressions

I picked up Honors of War in December and was immediately impressed by the rule set.  Osprey always does a fine job with presentation and this book is no exception.  I've found the Osprey rules to be a mixed bag.  Frostgrave and Dragon Rampant are excellent,  Fighting Sail is playable but ships seem far to fragile... Gods and Mortals was a complete miss for me at least.
Readers of this blog will know that the 18th Century is my favorite historical period, though lately I have not played often because either I or my potential opponents didn't like the rules available to us.   From my first reading I was pretty sure I had a winner here and now that I have played it I think I have a winner.
The Most popular system in this neck of the woods is Black Powder a game I've never particularly liked.   That system is easy to grasp but the command systems and disorder effect from firing can lead to players standing around with nothing to do if they are unlucky.  While I agree you need to simulate the friction of war I don't feel its right to remove all of a players options because of a bad roll.  Honours of War has a dice roll command system but with the worst roll you can still change formation, retreat, move laterally and perform most action other than moving toward the enemy.  This seems the perfect balance for to me.  Yes your men may not do what you want but you can still get a hurt unit out of the line of fire if its in trouble. There is no disorder of the sort you see in BP instead a hard it unit will fall back, that can cause trouble of its own but its not as frustrating as being locked in place like you are in BP if your opponent is throwing lots of '6's 
The system also has a sensible combat system firing is quite attentional wearing units down over time but units can also recover fairly easily if they get away.  Hand to Hand combat is also simply and if you have a tie, there is another round until one side breaks (Multi-Turn combats is one of my pet peeves).  Both combat systems use an "average" die (2,3,3,4,4,5) this takes a little getting used to but it works well especially for musket firing by eliminating the extreme results. 
Troops have three ratings inferior, standard, and superior.  When you combine these with the National characteristics (for the historical armies provided or what ever combinations you pick for you Imagi-nation) give you a great way to develop an army with character.  You don't have quite as much variation as is available in Black Powder with all their traits but I always found those too hard to keep track of to be useful.  

The best thing about these rules is they work easily with multiple players and are easy enough to understand so you can use it as convention or club game.  They also have enough depth and detail to satisfy a historically minded player.