Well, Vive l'Empereur has come through and has posted a detailed, critical review of the Shako II rules from his experience/perspective. It is great to read his comments. I do have a few responses from my/our opinion and experiences, of course! I do not intend this to be any kind of "battle of the blogs" and had originally tried to publish my comments on Vive l'Empereur's blog. Unfortunately, it did not go as I have come up against the character limit!
Ouch! Comparing Shako with DBA. That’s a set that I like a lot being compared with a set at the other end of the spectrum IMHO. I think perhaps we are at a slight advantage as we came to Shako II after using Shako. Shako II added some good ideas and amendments, but also stuffed up in many areas and added a ‘fast play’ feel. We suspect that Arty Conliffe was little involved, but could be wrong. In Shako ANF have taken the approach of using Shako as the basis, adding ‘good bits’ from Shako II, plus our own gems(!!).
To me, Shako are like an “Empire-successor” set; one can see the influence of Empire in several aspects. Commencing a turn with artillery fire is one of these. This makes sense for bombardment. Of course, Shako includes all artillery fire here, but it still seems to work well. The defense of battery fire is covered in the mêlée factors; a stylised approach, but not one that has troubled us.
We have not had a problem with slow movement rate in our battles, some of which (e.g. Eylau and Fuentes de Oñoro) have involved significant movements of troops across the battlefield. The exception to this was when we realised in our Eylau game that l’Estocq would not be able to intervene as he had historically if we had him enter towards the north-east end of the table. Our solution was to have him come on more towards the south-east end. We have considered introducing a ‘march move’, but we reckon that is fraught with problems of troops suddenly ‘appearing’ at another part of the table, so we have dismissed the idea (at least for now).
Personally I like the restriction of infantry changes of face to wheeling. This restricts gamesmanship by wargamers. I have been in too many games, especially in the Empire days, where a unit did an echelon move, wheeled, moved by echelon again and then was on the flank of defenders that had sat and watched it all happen! Besides this, my reading of accounts of Napoleonic battles over 30 year suggests that they did attack more or less straight forward.
I really like the way skirmishers are handled in Shako. They allow for a few ‘pixie tricks’ without being too ridiculous. It is stylised, but less so than merely having a skirmish factor. Shako II reduced the no. of hits that a skirmish base could absorb to one (it was originally three), so that was a really good change!
|Fire zone from Shako. I had not really realised that we don't use this by the book!|
I reckon Shako handles towns and fortifications well. These are difficult nuts to crack, which is entirely appropriate--think Borodino, Albuera, Fuentes de Oñoro, Waterloo, Aspern-Essling to name a few.
I think that perhaps Vive l'Empereur may have mis-read a couple of aspects.
• Artillery bouncethrough is modified for reverse slope (-1). This is a significant modifier when the chance to hit is generally 1 in 6 (a ‘6’) or 2 in 6 (a ‘5’ or ‘6’).
• There are options to reduce or remove bouncethrough due to mud, rough terrain and woods that are provided under the terrain rules.
In the end rules are “horses for courses”, with the ‘courses’ being a combination of the scale of game (unit size, figure size, table size, size of game, duration of time to play) and personal preference for a style of rules. For our ‘course’ Shako (morphed into our Shako ANF) is the best we have found, by a long way.
I had thought that Grande Armée were too stylised for us, but I reckon we must give them a go, at least, based on Vive l'Empereur's comments to my original comment under his post on New Spanish Unit: Estremadura Regiment and his further comments in his review of Shako II.
So, Vive l'Empereur, thanks again for posting this review of Shako II.
How about others of you? What are your preferred rules for Napoleonics? What is it about a particular set of rules that makes them the 'horse' to suit your 'course'? I know that Lee is looking closely and seriously at the best set of rules and overall game system to use with his 6 mm figures. Grande Armée has been suggested to him too. What about others out there?