Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Got my Studio Tomahawk on!

Last week at my FLGS I picked up some new rulebooks. Saga has been all the rage lately and since I love me some Dark Ages, particularly the Norman Conquest kind, I decided to give it a closer look. Since we know the French and Indian War has some appeal for me, Muskets & Tomahawks, from Studio Tomahawk, the creators of Saga, seemed a natural pick-up, too. And since I like my current French and Indian War rules of choice so much, This Very Ground by Iron Ivan Games, I bought their World War Two skirmish set, Disposable Heroes & Coffin for Seven Brothers.

So if I like This Very Ground (TVG) so much, why bother with Muskets & Tomahawks (M&T)? Shiny object - I couldn't resist. And I have an ultimate plan. . .
A campaign, of course. I want to use GMT's boardgame, Wilderness War, as the basis of the campaign. 

I have been building my 10-man units with the John Jenkins miniatures to each represent 1 Strength Point from the boardgame. TVG perfectly handles the army level battles generated by the boardgame, but there's a "frontier ravaging" sub-game that is happening simultaneously with the army level that feels like it needs a more intimate scale than the army level. Hence I keep looking at rules. . .

After reading through M&T, I think it could easily fit the bill. In fact, it reads (disclaimer: I haven't played, yet) a lot like TVG. Both games are unit-based; each unit comprised of 4 to 12 soldiers in M&T, 5 to 20 in TVG. Both games activate a unit at a time, and alternate activations. TVG has a more interesting activation system, based on Initiative and player choice; M&T is card-driven, with an option to build hands instead of relying on the draw (I like the option). Again, in both games, each unit moves, shoots and fights before another unit activates. In TVG the soldiers are required to be in a formation and all take the same action. In M&T the soldiers can do different actions, which means that some can fire while others reload, and individual figures have to be marked for reloading. TVG uses a "Volume of Fire" mechanism that allows a single marker to be used for a unit, which I like.

In both games, each combatant has 3 defining characteristics. TVG bases these characteristics on a D10, M&T on a D6. This permits TVG to differentiate unit quality with numbers to a greater extent, M&T relies a bit more on "traits."

Shooting is handled the same in both games; each figure gets a die, rolling to hit and then rolling each hit to wound. Morale tests are taken by unit each time casualties are incurred. Both games handle morale degradation with 3 levels of decreasing effectiveness.

Officers are treated as individual units in both games; unit leaders are handled differently. In M&T, each unit has a leader who by virtue of being a leader is the last casualty in the unit. In TVG, each unit has one or more leaders (non-coms) that can become casualties as part of normal combat, and their loss can have a detrimental effect on unit performance. As officer mortality was quite high in the French and Indian War, I think TVG gets this right.

TVG provides some sample scenarios that can be strung together to form a mini-campaign and encourages the reader to devise their own scenarios, while M&T provides a neat scenario-generation system. M&T also has a system for random events and for "Side Plots" that add some fun and fanciful elements into the canned scenarios.

I like M&T enough to play a few games to get the feel of it, but I am not convinced I will switch from TVG. I may just be able to switch to smaller 5-man units to get the more intimate feel I want for the "frontier war". 

I'll get to Saga and Disposable Heroes later.

See ya. 


  1. Great to read about your thoughts, sounds promising.

  2. 'Bout time. SAGA's the best. I've been looking at M&T. DH is okay, but the vehicles suck. Roll to acquire, roll to hit, roll to penetrate. Victory Decision is much better.

  3. As you know, I'm not usually first into something new, Herr Baron . . . Here's one more thought about M&T vs. TVG. In M&T, you can get into Melee just by moving into contact, and then hand-to-hand is roll to hit and roll to save. Melee is simultaneous so everybody fights. The loser (most casualties in one round)takes a morale test and probably retreats. In TVG you have to take a morale test (Courage!) before charging, the recipient unit takes a test to stand the charge, and then the melee is a fight to the death (roll to hit and then roll to kill) in one turn, an Aggression test deciding who fights first as combat is NOT simultaneous. Winner can choose to take the ground of the loser. TVG feels right. If you've got Officers or non-coms available to test against their Courage rating AND you outnumber the enemy, your unit is way more likely to charge. It's an extra step or two before the combat but it feels right. The streamlined Melee rules in the TVG addendum work great at the "army" level. . . one could use the original, more "individual" melee rules for the "frontier" scale, if one wanted. . . Thanks for stopping by, guys.