Monday, 24 February 2014

Donnybrook Diaries.....Part 3

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!

Donnybrook Diaries.....Part 2

Back again! With a plan for Donnybrook 1640s style, and two factions - a New Model Army force and a Scots Covenanter force.

The rules for the Basic game suggest that each force should be 4 points strong. Each point can be spent on either 9 mounted or 12 foot 'Recruits', 6 mounted or 8 foot 'Drilled' troops, or 3 mounted or 4 foot 'Elites'. As long as they are of the same 'quality' these troops can then be re-organised into different units eg. Two points worth of 6 mounted 'Drilled' troops for each point - 12 figures -  can be organised into two units of 6 troops, one of 3 and one of 9, three units of 4 troops etc. Alongside these 4 points, each faction gets a free Hero, representing you as a character on the table.
Above is the start of my New Model Army force - 4 pikemen and the faction leader, an officer 'Hero'.

My factions will be made up of the following units:
New Model Army:                                          Scots Covenanter Force:
Hero (free)                                                       Hero (free)
4 Elite Musketeers                                           8 Drilled Musketeers
4 Elite Musketeers                                           8 Drilled Musketeers
4 Elite Pikemen                                                8 Drilled Pikemen
3 Elite Cavalrymen                                          3 Elite Dragoons
Each force is worth 4 points, and should give me nice balanced factions to start my Donnybrook experience. At a later date, I'll add some characters - one allowed per point spent, so each force can have up to four characters. I might also expand the forces to six points, giving a 'standard' game.
So how's progress? Well on Saturday afternoon, I primed my first group of New Model Army pikemen
Saturday evening and Sunday evening saw the faces painted, and the start of the New Model Army famous 'redcoats', of the 1650s.
This week will see me cracking on with the rest of the pikemen......and other things Donnybrook related. See you soon!

Donnybrook Diaries......Part 1!

Hello again! Two months almost exactly to the day since the last entry in this blog..... and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Why the absence? Well, Pell Mell Towers has been on the move, and all my paints, figures, rules and everything hobby-related has been in storage. Now it's (mostly) unpacked, we're slowly getting settled in our new abode, and I'm ready to roll again!
Ready to roll indeed, with the release of a much-anticipated rule set, published by The League of Augsburg, and written by Clarence Harrison and Barry's time for 'DONNYBROOK'! My own League of Augsburg army plans have been put on hold for a short time, whilst I get to grips with the rules, and so far things seem very exciting.
There's been a lot of publicity in the wargames press over recent months about Donnybrook, and favourable reviews as well. When I heard about it a few months ago, I was intrigued. Barry had already hinted at the shape of things to come, when I joined the League of Augsburg 'Fighting Talk' Forum, by suggesting that maybe I'd like to build a skirmish force, rather than jumping in the deep end and collecting masses of figures for a period I was new to.  I'd already come across Clarence's work in the form of Quindia Sudios, and his excellent PDF rules for the English Civil War, 'Victory Without Quarter'. They have become my favourite rule set for the period, so I knew that anything written by Clarence and Barry would be good, and with Donnybrook, we'd be in for a bit of a fun ride.
So what's the plan? Donnybrook is a set of skirmish rules for the period 1660-1760, but Clarence had implied in various articles that the rules could be used for any period from High Mediaeval to the Crimean War! With my interest in the English Civil War, and the mix of weaponry being similar for the two periods - muskets, swords and pikes etc -  I guessed that the rules could be used for slightly earlier than suggested, pushing them back to the 1640s. I'm going to build up two forces for the rules, and chronicle my adventures! Welcome to the Donnybrook Diaries!