This review is a long time in coming but this game is one that is a long time in coming for me to go through and play all that it has to offer. Let me explain what I am trying to say. I pre-ordered this game with great anticipation, but after I had received that game I opened it up, punched out the counters, read through the rules, and really never got to the point where I sat down and played through the game.
In the last couple of weeks I was going through games that I have not played and pulled this gem out of the stack, and told myself that it is long past time to put this on the table and play.
Glad I did.
Wargames/historical simulations hold a peculiar place in my game collection as they are my favourite genre but the one that sees the least amount of playtime. Gaming is an educational experience for me and Flintlock: Black Powder, Cold Steel VOL. 1 provides a wonderful insight into four battles of the American Revolution.
My gaming experience in the genre of American Revolution is limited to one other series, and that is GMT's Battles of the American revolution. I will not be comparing the two hardly at all in this review, but I just wanted to mention for the sake of background what else I have played. Simply, both series are great, only one volume in Flintlock, with some differences in play.
Flintlock comes in a very quality box with Lock N' Load's joy of colour and art plastered all over it. I enjoy the way Lock N' Load designs their boxes as far as an initial perception is concerned.
Upon opening the box you will find two, sturdy, cardboard maps, two black six sided dice that are full size, player's aids printed on good card stock, and the rulebook printed on a glossy stock. Of course the counters are in the box as well, and they are printed on what I consider a medium quality card stock. What I mean by medium quality is not a bad thing, the card stock is not the real thick "Euro" kind.
Great components. Colourful. Quality.
A wargame is only as good as its components in the sense of the ease in which it conveys information. One of the great things about this game is the ease in which it conveys information with its good components. We will look at this more in the sections to follow.
RULEBOOK: LEARNING AND TEACHING THE GAME:
The rulebook is printed on a higher quality, gloss paper, that what is normally seen, at least for me.
The format of the rulebook is written in the format of what I call an encyclopaedia format. Each rule is presented in its own numbered section/subsection. The format is different than that of a lot of your Euro games. This format is very good for finding information that you need, but in communicating the information to learn the game and put all the pieces together for the first time it is a poorer format.
An illustration if you will. The rulebook is a lot like going to a lecture and having information pointed out to you in a very organized way. You do not always walk away understanding each facet of how the rules work but you will have a clear understanding of what the rules are.
For regular wargamers this is probably extremely trivial but for budding wargamers who are used to the euro style rule book this can be a bit of a transition. This is not meant to be a negative but just a thought. A newer player will not have great difficulties learning this game. The only thing the rules are short on are applications and examples. These can be figured out with patience.
Flintlock is not a complicated game by any stretch of the means. In fact the rule book does in some ways an injustice to the game by making the game seem more complicated than it really is. This is not to say that this is a horrible rule book. In fact it is one of the better ones that I have read by a long stretch. The confusion comes from the way the rule book is written. As you read through the book you will get a good grasp how the game works.
The rule book is very well laid out and the information that is contained within can be envisioned after a few casual glances.
The best way to learn this game is to read through the rule book once. This should not take more than 20 minutes, and then go ahead and walk through the first battle.
The game system does a great job of present most of the information that one needs to play the game on the map and the player aids. If while you are playing you have a question you can easily look up the points that need clarity.
The only problem I had with the rule book was some minor questions on game flow, and some units, but with a little patience these were cleared up. In Mark Walker's, the publisher, review of the game he mentioned the need for a flow chart that would have greatly helped the game, or something similar. I agree. The game flow is extremely simple to grab, can be hard to see just reading the rules, but putting the game on the table it comes alive to where in a couple of hours you will be rolling in great fun.
TEACHING THE GAME:
The game teaches real well. Just make sure that you have a good understanding of the game. If you are playing with someone newer to this genre of game help them understand the flow and player aids. Once you understand these mechanics each question can be figured out pretty easily.
The map(s) need a special recognition. I appreciate the fact that on these maps the terrain is simply marked per each hex. Some games terrain has a great overlap and its a wonder as to which terrain effects which hex. Simple, but it makes the game that much more accessible. Just great.
The other nice thing, this is just a note, that with series games once you have the rules down other games in the series are easy to pick up as well. I have not heard of another one in this series yet but I hope there will be.
An easy game to teach. Use the references and you will be well on your way.
There are four battles each with it's historical setup as well as optional rules. Berg did a wonderful job immersing the players in this game and doing it in such a way that is enjoyable.
After following the instructions on the setup players take turns having the initiative. One player starts and then has the opportunity to continue their (turn) initiative by rolling a dice and comparing it with their leaders initiative. There are not turns if you will but the game feels more like a battle because it keeps moving.
During a players initiative they can move, fire, pass, or shock attack. A unit can only move or fire. Never both. Some of the intricacies of the period, carbines and fire, have been simulated into the game so there are not a bunch of extra rules to remember. The game does it for you.
During each players turn the active player checks command, based on their over all leader and his subordinate leaders command range. The purpose of command is simply this, units in command get benefits while units not in command are penalized.
The other player during his opponents initiative has the opportunity to respond to being fired upon or units moving. He does not move himself.
After the active player completes his turn he can try to roll to continue his initiative or pass. The oppossing player has the option to steal the initiative as well.
I extremely like this aspect of the game. In fact I do not like playing games that do not have this anymore, and yes I do own Men of Iron and have pre ordered the sequel Mr. Berg. This aspect works so well because of the level of tension and realism that it creates. IN short the battle does not stop moving until one side wins.
Combat is easily handled depending on whether it is a fire attack or shock, hand to hand, combat. During a fire attack units roll dice adding any modifiers that are in effect based on terrain, smoke of previous fired guns, and etc. Simple. Fire attacks effect individual units while shock effects an entire sub. leader's command, all units under it. Shock attacks add the values of both sides, roll the dice, and look at the chart for the effect. Simple again but very real.
Victory is finally determined by one's side reaching their flight level. Like a break in moral if you will. Each unit killed or gun captured counts for a sides flight level. Once per initiative a player rolls the dice and adds it to his flight level. If it is exceeded the player leaves the field. To the victor the spoils.
SCENARIO EXTRA RULES:
Each scenario provides extra rules for tournament play and differing "what if" scenarios. Nice touch. Great variety.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS GAME?
I think there are a lot of folks that would really enjoy this game, especially if you are curious or interested in the genre. The game is not complicated to play at all. At first the rule book makes it look more complicated that it really is.
I would really like to see this game receive a bit more attention. I would like to see volume two come out.
Even if you are not a strong historical/wargamer you might just enjoy this game. A lot in this box.
Thank you Mr. Berg and the Mark Walker team. Great game.
If you have been looking for something different or a jump into wargaming Flintlock is a great place to start. Maybe you have been looking at something that will see more play/table time. Games here can easily be played in an evening, and probably more than one.
Just a good game.
SO what say you?
I am hoping for another Revolutionary War game in this series with some of the battles in the north, as well as for a Seven Years War in N. America game.
gregorio avelino morin blanco
Hontanares de eresma (Segovia)
Castilla y Leon
A good game
I am also looking forward to future games in this series especially the battles in the north early war. I like gaming in this era. I haven't fully grasped the rules yet but I know I'm going to love this game.
This is a very neat game -easy to play and great feel in linear combat. The initiative momentum system is similar to SPQR but simpler and so is the shock combat; the command and control is perfect as is too. And print quality is outstanding.
I hope more players give this game shot so that Mark and Richard will do volume.
In short, kudos to LnL and as always for Richard's design -he has the midus touch.