Basically, if you felt that OHW was too simple, or that his I2W were too involved, then these might be for you.
They hone a simple, universal sequence of play that will be familiar to any Horse & Musket enthusiast: Move, Shoot, Melee.
Units shoot based strictly off their type. So "Close Order Infantry" have a "To Hit" value they must achieve, as does Light Infantry, Artillery, and various types of Cavalry get to shoot too (not effectively mind you, but it's still fun to shoot with your units).
Scoring hits on a unit triggers another roll for "demoralization" points. (score 3 hits on a unit, firer rolls 1D6 looking for a 3+ on a 1D6 to cause a single demoralization point. If you only scored 1 hit on a unit, you'd roll a 5+ on a 1D6 to cause a demoralization point.) Units are eliminated when they receive 4 DPs. It's a very nice system that would seem at home playing SYW, AWI, ACW, and Napoleonics.
I played the "Fighting Retreat from El Perez" Peninsula scenario in Black Powder last night before bed with my 10mm troops. Like many of Neil's rules, these seem to favor the defender, but in retrospect, I probably didn't make some good choices, either.
|French Brigades massing for the assault through El Perez to get to the British covering force. note the Cavalry Brigade in the lower right of the picture
|Long British columns completing their passage of lines
|French at the Petitos Garrison, Blocking the British/Portuguese force
|French Battalions move out
|Portuguese leading the way on the retreat back to Torres Vedras
|Rifles forward deployed
|KGL Cavalry in the lower-center swing into action to assist on the right flank. The Thin Red Line awaits the French onslaught
|The French Cavalry attack and harry the British unceasingly.
|British Dragoons are defeated and evaporate
|Meanwhile the KGL Cavalry rides to the rescue in their inaugural game!
|Pour it into em lads! The Rifles earn their pay
|The stalwart defenders of the Petitos Garrison. Even now as I write this, they have not yet been dislodged.
|Portuguese massing for an attack on Petitos!
So some of the things I like about this game? Well, it meets my Top 3 for sure. Uncomplicated, Basing Agnostic, and it plays with a few or alot of units. there are tons of units on the table right now. So many so that I could technically have other folks play as well.
It plays fast! No kidding. You have a solid decision in your games and there isn't much ambiguity (except those things which Mr Thomas left out - like what is the "To Hit" score for Melees? Which I just assumed were the same as the "To Hit" roll for shooting).
I like the fact that this game would be comfortable in virtually any era, and you could add the requisite period modifications to make it feel right. These rules have just the right amount of detail, texture, D6 dice rolling, and fire and maneuver to make this middle aged grognard feel at home.
The cons? Well they definitely seem to favor the defender that much is evident to me. Most (all) of my Neil Thomas games where the French attack the British end with the French leaving the field, which may be correct in most aspects of Peninsular Warfare, but since there are absolutely no special rules or shooting advantages given to the Brits in these rules, I have to think that any defender would be at an advantage, especially in terrain. (case in point look at the Petitos Garrison - the Portuguese have not been able to dislodge the French yet).
Okay I'm off to play a few turns tonight. More to follow. Check out the "AMW Group" on Yahoogroups for a fan-produced set of Simplicity in Practice variants, and buy the Wargames Vault supplement. In the preceding issue, Neil Thomas writes about the virtues of simplicity in wargames design.
I still like Black Powder best as the most sensible compromise with what I'm looking for in a Horse, Musket, Rifle, and Sabre game, but I do like the possibilities these rules open up for some truly big battles!