Monday, August 10, 2009

Fast Action Rules for the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars and Warfare in Other Theatres Between 1790 and 1860 AD
By Trevor Halsall

Esprit de Corps is written by the same author who wrote the Newbury Fast Play rules for Napoleonic and Crimean Warfare. They are intended to be comprehensive rules for “fast moving table-top battles” to cover a wide range of eras from Napoleon, through the AWI, the Crimea and the Franco-Austrian Wars. 94 pages, additional rules, rules for alternate scales, army lists and an index/glossary.
I have to admit that I found 82 pages of rules for a set of “quick play” rules a bit long. Unfortunately, my review copy did not come with the quick play sheets described. however, each page has an extra column on its edge that has references to other specific chapters where important, supporting information can be found. This, along with the index at the back of the book, does help speed up searching for information. Troop types are classified by Morale (A-E), Training (veteran, experienced, raw), and Dressing Order (open, closed). Infantry can be line or light; cavalry can be light and heavy (the latter may be dragoons or cuirassiers). Basic troop points for each type, experience and morale as well as additional points for equipment are available to help design scenarios.
The game turn consists of Command and Control, movement, firing, determining the effects of fire, melee and miscellaneous activities (routs, pursuits, movement of fugitives, etc.) The first seven chapters of the rules (20 pages) explain concepts specific to the game. The section on command, key to how the game is organized and each turn played, covers a full 10 pages, however, I cannot understand how units are rallied – this is just not clear, despite searching every reference and searching the index. Each leader has Personal Command Points that allow him to move units each turn, depending on other circumstances (routed units, isolated units, etc.) and a die roll. The moving side then fires; defensive fire is allowed only when receiving a charge or supporting another unit that is the subject of a charge. Calculating fire combat is a little tricky but carefully reading the section helps. Unfortunately, there are no examples of play to help explain new concepts or the more complex aspects of the rules, a significant drawback, in my opinion. Unit losses are not represented by removing stands but by replacing them with stands that are specific “wounded” or “killed” figures on it – time to paint extra figures. Charges/countercharges and melee followed by the miscellaneous actions finishes one side’s phases; the other side now takes its phases in the turn.
The book is full of tables and modifiers, something that may have been much clearer on the quick reference charts. Seeing this game in play would be interesting and useful before deciding if these rules are the ones for you.
Price: appx. $17.95 (£12.50)


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