For our first trial game, Steve and I tried a clash of two European forces: British and French. We went with the basic "Pitched Battle" scenario to be fought over a jungle outpost. The scenario description says that bases can be placed anywhere up to 6" of the opposing table edge, so we both decided to deploy around the middle of the table.
Steve won the dice role for initiative, and placed his French in the village while I did my best to surround them.
Meanwhile, the British soldiers moved in on the left to threaten the French baggage, while Sikhs moved in on the right behind the outpost.
The askari and Sikhs opened fire on the tirailleurs and failed to eliminate any bases, but managed to cause some disorder. The 1st legionnaire squad began firing at the Sikhs, while the 2nd legionnaire squad moved to protect their baggage from the advancing British.
The askari and tirailleurs continued their exchange of gunfire at the trading outpost, with neither side managing to dislodge one another. Meanwhile, the Sikhs changed targets and charged the 1st squad of legionnaires. Their action was unsuccessful and they were forced to retreat.
On the other side of the village, the 2nd legionnaire squad and the British unleashed a hail of bullets at each other.
Shooting continued for another round and though no bases were lost, the disorder markers continued to pile up.
The 2nd legionnaire squad and the British exchanged another round of fire, with the British eventually deciding to take cover behind the huts and move into position to support the asakri advance towards the tirailleurs.
At this stage we decided to call it a British victory and end the game.
So our thoughts on the rules:
- The production value is top notch, with beautiful pics, extensive army lists, and a lot of historical reference. And it's well indexed with quick reference sheets to boot!
- It generally plays similarly to his previous rules, with the major difference being the use of multi-figure bases instead of individual figures. We didn't want to rebase out figures, so used 2x1 movement trays from Warbases. The larger bases did cause us some confusion in determining how to draw line of sight for shooting, but we later got some clarity from the Facebook group (2 corners of a base need to be visible to the attacking unit).
- Our impression is that morale breaks are what is going to win or lose combats much more so that base loss. In our game, only 2 bases were lost to critical hits.
- There are a lot of dice modifiers for the shooting and melee (16 each, both additive and subtractive!) that really slowed the attacks as we tried to work out the math. I think this is the weakest part of the new rules and it would have been better if they had fewer modifiers and and had stuck with either additive or subtractive instead of mixing in both. Or perhaps they could better organize them to help with improving the processing speed.
- For close combat, the unit sizes don't actually play a role in any of the above modifiers, which we found rather odd. It will be interesting to play again with natives to see if this confers any advantages to to either side.
Final verdict: While solid, we weren't really sold that the rules are a significant improvement over Chris Peers' other rule sets. It seemed more like a variation on a theme, with some things working better and some less so. If you've already invested in the other rules and army books, I'm not sure this would be worth picking up. However, if you're just starting out in African gaming, this would be a good purchase, as the rules include all the army lists and histories, plus a bonus big game hunting set of rules.