Yesterday Mark and I were able to get together for another game. We usually don’t play in December due to the holiday break and my having to grade piles of university final exams. We also missed this January as my wife was in Spain and Morocco and I was stuck home with my children. Because of our long break, Mark and I were very ready for a game.
We both wanted to try out Two Hour Wargame’s new set of rules, Long Rifle. Long Rifle is a man to man skirmish game primarily set in the French and Indian War, but could be used for other horse and musket periods. It is based on THW’s Chain Reaction system. We have played a number of THW’s Nuts! games, and have really enjoyed the second edition. Long Rifle is an updated version of THW’s Black Powder rules, which we tried a few times in the past, but found that they just didn’t work due to the “duck back” system that Chain Reaction and Nuts! uses. We really enjoy playing Nuts! and Chain Reaction (now out is a Final Edition of those rules), so we thought we’d try out the Long Rifle rules as Mark has a couple hundred 25mm figures for the French and Indian War.
We played a very basic learning scenario with the British having four regular British soldiers and two Native-American allies and the French having four irregular Canadians and two Native-Americans. The scenario was a simply advance to contact game with both sides trying to drive the enemy from the field, but if a side lost over half of its men they could not win (draw at best for them). I threw this in so we did not end up playing one of those fight to the death scenarios that haunts many skirmish games. The terrain was wooded with a cabin and a ruined cabin roughly in the middle of the table.
In less than four hours of actual playing time, we finished two games. We spent a lot of time reading the rules to make sure we had caught all the changes in Long Rifle from Black Powder. Both times my British were able to drive to inflict significant casualties on the French and thus win the game. Both games had lots of drama and we never had a dull moment, even when we tied our initiative rolls for six or more times more than once!
We found that the Long Rifle rules were a major improvement over THW’s old Black Powder rules. The new In-sight rules were a significant improvement. Instead of the moving player simply moving out and seeing if he got shot up by the stationary player, both sides now roll in-sight checks which sets up an order of who gets to act. Also figures must pass a REP roll to act, which reduced the every figure fights like Sergeant Rock syndrome. Some figures might see the enemy but if they fail their insight check (a 33% for regular soldiers), they duck back instead of firing. This made the game much more realistic. Also there is no requirement for fire to continue until one side is ducked back or eliminated in a firefight. That really fixed the problem of how to deal with slow loading weapons, and made melee combats much more common (they were basically non-existent in our Black Powder games). The new charge check (basically a morale check for both sides involved in hand to hand combat) and the new melee system also worked very well. We had a few things to learn and clarify, but overall Long Rifle is an excellent set of rules for any Western (Europe and North America) era horse and musket skirmish games. Like the second edition of Nuts!, I can highly recommend Long Rifle as a set of skirmish rules. There are a few good things from Long Rifle (like the in-sight and charge checks) that I will graft onto Nuts!.
And here are some pictures of our games (figures, table, lunch, and photos provided by Mark – I just drove 45 miles through the rain and light snow to get to the game):
Game 1 saw the French fail a few initiative rolls (oh how those 6s suck for initiative) and therefore they were slow to advance.
By the time the French emerged from the woods, the British were already deployed in the buildings:
The French in-sight checks produced a lot of 1s for them, giving the awating British a lot of first shots:
The withering fire from the British ended the French attempt to drive the British from the field and we ended the game.
We reset the game and tried another go with the same forces, terrain, and objectives (plus a better knowledge of the rules).
In game 2, the French got to the ruins first, and the British had to figure out how to avoid advance across the open field.
The French had deployed into 2 forces. The left wing got shot up quickly by the Native-Americans with the British. That meant that the battle shifted to a struggle for the ruined building, which the French right wing held.
With a number of the French “ducked back” the British advanced:
Then a sharp struggle developed for the ruins:
The final result was a lot of dead Frenchmen:
Especially in our second game, we had many melees and the game really seemed like a horse and musket skirmish game. The Long Rifle rules have transformed the Chain Reaction system from a modern skirmish system to one that works very well with horse and musket era forces. We both enjoyed the games and plan to play Long Rifle again in the future. I plan on eventually getting some 25mm figures for either The Seven Years’ War or American Revolution to use with Long Rifle. We also found that we could use more figures. I think that in our next game we could double the numberof figures and easily finish the game in two hours (ala Two Hour Wargames).