As recently mentioned, I had no plans to purchase any new rules this year. Afterall it's not like I'm short of them. However one day after reading some reviews of 'Live Free or Die' by those Little Wars TV chaps on a few Blogs, I sought out a copy of the rules that inspired them, Loose Files & American Scramble, to see what all the fuss was about. I was immediately taken with the simplicity of the rules, but ones that had a lot of depth to them.
So off to a good start as it were. Then I watched the Youtube tutorial of how the game mechanics broadly work and was further impressed. The Little Wars TV chaps also have some supporting info on their website, including a sample scenario, which can be found here: Little Wars TV. Again all looked rather enticing.
The only fly in the ointment was that it was not stocked here in the UK and I'm not one for reading a pdf online, which was one option to buy it from across the pond. Then a week or so passed and then I saw that it was available from Caliver Books in the UK, but for just over £30 plus p&p. This seemed a tad on the high side for some rules, but then it was clarified by others that along with the rules you also get the scenario book too. It should be noted too that half the proceeds from the sale of the book goes towards supporting the American Battlefields Trust, which is great to see. Happy to support this trust and having liked what I had read so far, I dived in and bought the book.
So what do I think of the rules? Note that I've yet to play them, but with that in mind, read on:
- The book is spiral bound so lays nice and flat when on the table, which is always a good thing in my book.
- The rules really are only 4 pages long, but everything is pretty clear and is certainly more 'modern' in its thinking than the original 'Loose Files & American Scramble'. This is very clear when you watch the Youtube video play through.
- There is a page of designer notes, which I find very useful when reading rules as you get an idea of where the writer is coming from. Neil Thomas is very good at setting his stall out in this regard.
- There is a page of FAQs and some Examples, again all useful. As they say, they can't cover every conceivable situation in 4 pages of rules, so feel free to come up with house rules where required. It is only a game after all. There is also a link to their website where you can find a free pdf for some optional and advanced rules that didn't make the cut. Again all good to have.
- There are 3 sets of QRS sheets for some reason, which I think is simply down to them combining the rules and scenarios into one book.
- Then there are 13 very detailed scenarios of all the major actions of the American War of Independence. Whilst these naturally are designed for these rules, they could easily be tweaked for other rulesets should you so wish.
- The only down side with the rules is that you do need an awful lot of bases to play these scenarios. Monmouth for example requires the British to have 99 bases, the Americans 79. I for one certainly don't have anything approaching this, even with my mdf figures. So either some bathtubbing is required, or you play a portion of the scenario or simply use the rules for scenarios from the likes of Messrs Grant & Asquith.
- Aside from the AWI, I can see these rules working perfectly well from the French & Indian Wars through to the War of 1812. In fact the latest Miniature Wargaming magazine is doing something along these lines with the War of 1812.
So there we have it. In short I'm very happy with these rules and am glad I decided to buy them, plus in some small way I've helped towards preserving thos wonderful American battlefields that we've often 'fought over' on the games table. I'm looking forward to giving these a run out in due course, hopefully FtF in May, with a fair wind.
Until next time, stay safe and keep healthy.