Off we go again! The thing that really grabbed me about Donnybrook, apart from the small forces needed and the fun 'feel' about it, was the idea that it was a card driven game. I've recently got hold of 'Muskets and Tomahawks', and 'The Rules with no name', both card driven, and having been a Igo - Ugo rules man for many a year, this seemed a refreshing change.
Although card driven games - where units on the table are activated by a corresponding unit card picked from a shuffled card deck - have been around for ages, it's seemingly only recently that they have come back into favour. Many people don't like them; a unit can hang around for ages on the table top, their card not picked, and thus units are left inactive. Sometimes players don't get a go for a while, if a consecutive run of the opposition side's card are picked, by chance, one after another.
However, I like this random element of not knowing if your side will be activated or not. This is much more realistic in smaller, skirmish-based games, where units and characters act in a haphazard, chaotic manner, and it's harder, more challenging and, arguably, greater fun(!) to play these style of rules. What these type of rules have, is a strong narrative feel about them - your musketeers can't fire? A sudden squall of rain has passed over the battlefield, and extinguished their match. (I know this is an absolute bummer, from bitter experience as a re-enactor, and entirely realistic!) Your pikemen lurch forward in an unwanted manner that will get them shot at straight away? They've been out of action for so long, and they are desperate to get into a scrap. A constant run of cards for one side? Then they are merely more on their game than the opposition that day! A real story-telling element to each wargame can come through.
Donnybrook works on a pack of cards - one card for each unit, and character/hero; and two other cards - the 'Reload' card which allows units to reload their firearms (they usually only fire once per move), and a 'Turn over' card, which allows those cards which have already been played to be collected back into the pack and re-shuffled. The next turn begins after this.
Arguably, it might be possible for a unit to fire after its card has been activated. Then it won't be able to fire again until the reload card comes up. Imagine a situation that sees other units activated, then the 'Turn over' card is activated before the 'Reload' card appears again, and the move begins again, with this unit still unloaded. Its unit card is turned over, and it still can't fire! People might not like this, but again to me, this acts as part of the story of the battle - the unit has run out of powder and is waiting for supplies, or it has an incompetent officer, who has momentarily forgotten to issue the order to ' cast about and reload your pieces!'.
With this in mind, I've created my own cards, each card showing the Unit, type of soldier, quality, and weaponry etc. There's also the 'Turn over' card, and 'Reload' card. I hope you like them! Next time, it'll be more painting, and some scenery!
What you've been waiting for - Ottomans!
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