Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Redcoats & Tomahawks - Rules Review

Last week, I reviewed Muskets & Tomahawks II, the new edition of Studio Tomahawks black powder skirmish rules. 

This week, I'll provide an overview of the first of the supplemental booklets that focus on specific periods: Redcoats & Tomahawks. 

First, the physical aspects. R&T is a full-color, 43 page softcover booklet. While I understand that, at half the size, it wouldn't make sense to make this a hardcover product, I'm a little confused as to why the covers feel so much flimsier than their Saga counterparts, or even the first edition of M&T which was also softcover. I can see this booklet getting pretty beat up over time.

R&T starts with a small overview of what the supplement contains, and also provides a few extra rules or rules changes specific to the period, like boats and a random event table.

Next are three, two-page summaries of the conflicts the supplement covers: the French & Indian War, the American War of Independence, and the War of 1812, which is new (and also concurrent to the Napoleonic Wars, which is planned as the next supplement).

The majority of the supplement holds the forces of these three conflicts: the British, the French, the American, and the Indian tribes. New to the rules are icons that mark which units in a force are allowed in a particular conflict. For example, a British force can only field Provincial Cavalry or Germans during the American War of Independence. Territorial changes can also affect the makeup of a force; Canadians can be fielded with the French during the French & Indian War and the American War of Independence (which actually seems to be a printing error) but they move over to the British force during the War of 1812.

There is a major change to the way points values are calculated that I am not a fan of at all. A lot of upgrades have been moved from "x points per model" to "x points per unit." This change has made it so that these upgrades are best applied when units have been taken at their maximum size. For example, in the first version, a unit of French Line Infantry (8-12) models could take the Elite trait a 2 points per model. In the second version, a unit of French Line Infantry can only take the Elite trait during the AWI period, and it's 13 points for the whole unit. Some upgrades, like the "Valley Forge" upgrade, doubles the points cost of a unit of Continental Infantry, before purchasing any additional figures. I would have much preferred the original version of upgrades, and cannot see the advantage of adding a price per unit instead of price per figure.

The scenarios have also been changed from the original version. Instead of an each side having an objective randomly rolled depending on their force makeup (a force of mostly Regulars, for example, had different objectives than a force of Indians), players will need to determine if they're the attacker or defender in a scenario, and if they're playing in "Inhabited" or "Savage" territory (a rather questionable distinction, in my mind). The force makeup still affects what the objective of a scenario will be. I'm also a little iffy on this change, since it means that there's always one side on the defensive, while previously there was a chance that both sides might be attacking or defending.

The last section of the book is the random events table.

Overall, I'm a little on the fence about this supplement. It highlights the oddity of keeping the original title for the new rules, when "Muskets & Tomahawks" was meant to highlight the first editions focus on the French & Indian War. I think it may be a bit jarring to use that title to cover a massive range of conflicts over various continents and all the way up to the mid 19th century, or even beyond. I'm also not a fan of the changes to the way the forces work, or the way scenario objectives are determined.

However, I won't be able to give a concrete answer to how these changes affect the game until I've had a chance to play. Maybe it will all turn out for the better.

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