sabato 11 novembre 2017

Neil Thomas' Wargaming the Nineteenth Century review


I was looking for a ruleset to use my new Risorgimento figures and my attention was caught by "Wargaming the Nineteenth Century in Europe 1815-1878" by Neil Thomas.


I already heard of him as author of One Hour Wargaming and other works concerning our hobby, but I never dealt with his works.

Since I couldn't find much about the set on the net, I decided to purchase the kindle edition straightly from the publisher (Pen&Sword) at 4.99£. Great value for the money, but...there are no pictures only drawn maps. I know that in the printed edition (19.99£+ shipping) there are several pictures of gaming tables. Anyways, nothing essential. (EDIT: I found the pictures, they are at the very end of the book and not inside it)

The book gives a good historical and military introduction of the warfare in the period and then speculates on the best way to model a wargame to represent it. The process really reminds me Sabin's Lost Battles

The rules per se are just 8 pages (in the printed copy) and are very old style in layout, but the approach is interesting: simpler is better, and so we get a distillation of 19th century warfare. Those looking for detailed rules will be disappointed, but I love easy (yet period-specific) games. The rules are aimed at small battles involving around a brigade per side. They are very simple and should play in about 2 hours, involving about 10-15 units per side. Command and control is included just as optional rule, since "a player is able to act foolishly without external rules"

The rules are completed by 15 army lists, 5 generic scenarios (one mini-game) and 10 historical scenarios covering the main conflicts in Europe from the Carlist War to Franco Prussian War. There is no point system, but an interesting army generator which with a couple of dice rolls generates a casual army.

For the Italian Risorgimento there is only one scenario included (Montebello 1859), but are provided lists for generic revolutionary and monarchic army (1848), French, Italian, Austrian (1859 and 1866), Garibaldini and Bourbonic (1860). There is an error in the rating of Bourboinc troops, in my modest opinion, the author was too influenced by some sources he used. Anyway, this can be solved with some work. With some work a Papal State army can also be produced, and additional historical scenarios, too.

In conclusion: it's not the scale of battles I'm interested in, since I'm going to play the period with 28mm figures and I aim to play a large skirmish kind of game, as Lion Rampant or Sharpe Practice, but I'd steal some idea (best form of adulation, isn't it?) if I ever had to write my own rules.

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