Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Might And Reason

A slight digression here, as I've been asked now and again in comments about the rules I've been using - Might & Reason. I held off for my first try, but now with a second battle completed, I think I can at least list my thoughts about the rules' good and bad points. Here then, in no particular order, are the things that instantly occur:

M&R Positive Things
  • Command inertia - the rules are good (especially if you have recurring characters) for modelling individual commanders and their foibles. They also reflect that an army like the Austrians is slow to move and react, while the Prussians are fast and mobile. Each really does have to be handled differently, to avoid disaster.
  • The rules thenselves are extremely slick and professional, full of nice touches such as army lists, campaign rules, pictures, and even little quotes to improve the period flavour. I know this is down to personal taste, but I like the fact that the rules are clearly being backed by somebody who actively enjoys the hobby. And of course, thanks to the internet, this means that you'll have a supporting website with updates, scenarios, etc.
    Slick – campaign, lists, etc.
  • The rules are, at their heart, simple and straightforward. Distances are in basewidths, combat only requires a few dice rolls without consulting tables for results, and (in perhaps the ultimate test,) somebody like me who has been playing DBA games for ages didn't find it a struggle to suddenly handle extra complexity.
  • It fundamentally 'works' in terms of playing out realistically. Infantry lines grind against each other, combats ebb and flow, and cavalry battles see-saw backwards and forwards.

M&R Negative Things

  • Lots of dice seem to be needed, mostly D6 but also including a D4. I've built up quite a collection over time, but newcomers may find themselves running low.
  • Command checks are constantly retaken to see if units become inactive, but rolling 2D6 for each command, each turn, could quickly become wearing in a large battle. The system gets good results, but other games model command breakdowns much more smoothly and with less fuss.
  • The flow of play feels strange (perhaps through unfamiliarity at this stage). The usual rhythm of move-fire-combat, move-fire-combat doesn't happen, and is instead fire-move-combat-move-combat, fire move combat, move combat. Firing seems to happen less than combat, which can be frustrating to a 'shooty' army like the Prussians or British. The game uses a variable turn length (which is nice), but is also structured to have pulses within turns, and phases within pulses (or possibly the other way around). I have to use a flow-chart with a marker, just to keep track of who's move it is, and I don't think this'll change with familiarity.
  • Organising is required. It's not like DBA, where you think "I'll have a quick battle". You need to roll for sub-commanders, organise commands, and generally put in some time with a bit of paper and a pencil before any clash. Less of an issue once you're set up for a campaign, though.
  • Information - units work by strength points, so end up with labels for things like name, unit type, strength points, and possibly also their command in a big game. This means you'd better not want your tabletop covered in miniatures and nothing else - labels, markers, dice-stacks, - they're all appearing.

That's my initial off-the-top-of-the-head thoughts. I'd be interested to hear if anybody else out there has a set of M&R (or some other rules set) they've any thoughts about.




Bluebear Jeff said...

First, I have not seen a copy of M&R. I did not buy one because the online blurbs described it as Brigade-based.

Now there is nothing wrong with this at all . . . it was just not the level that I wanted, so I passed on getting them.

I am therefor quite interested in your comments . . . and for me, the "labels" thing is a killer. I want my games to look like a diorama.

So I'm grateful for your comments. M&R is not the rule set for me . . . but that doesn't make it bad. The keys (for me at least) are "is it fun?" and "does it seem historically plausible?"

As for other rules, I recall enjoying "Koenig Krieg" (which supposedly will be republished soon).

I never really cared for "Warfare in the Age of Reason" but it is probably the most generally played SYW game.

There are lots of other 18th century rule sets that I've not played . . . but many are said to be good. I know that some of Wes Rogers' rules have some strong advocates:

As for me, I've written my own ("Tricorne Wars"), which are not necessarily any better than anyone else's, but which suit my own feelings about the period.

The bottom line is that as long as you are happy with the rules you are using, fine.

If not, there are lots of others around . . . some of them (like Wes' "Weight of Fire") are even free online.

-- Jeff

Capt Bill said...

I think you captured the essence of of rules very well. For a more diorama look the name identifications can be placed on the back of the stand. I think this can be seen in some of the pictures on my site. Also a unit could easily represent a battalion or regiment instead of a brigade. Again, thanks for your insights...Bill

Fitz-Badger said...

Thanks for the mini-review of the good and bad points of the rules!
I haven't played any games in this era with any rules yet, nor have I looked at many rulesets so I don't have any favorite set yet. But it's good to read these kinds of comments. Useful to see a ruleset may have things that are or are not on your "shopping list" for rules.

DestoFante said...

Thanks for the review! I do not own M&R (yet), but I would be interested in exploring it, so all you had to say really helps.
I took the opportunity to introduce your blog on mine - I think your post will be of interest for my friends as well!

CWT said...

Thanks for the comments everybody - I've thought of another positive thing to mention - the rules do give all kinds of campaign and battle set-up advantages to the side with the most light cavalry, which means the hussars etc. are no longer the "poor man's cuirassiers". There's a definite advantage and role for them all on their own.

Incidentally, I've also been quite a big fan of DBA rules in the past, and shall probabaly be using them for my next campaign season.