Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For Honor and Glory -- a review

For Honor and Glory is the War of 1812 edition of Worthington Games' Wars for America series.

These games have more than a passing resemblance to Borg';s Commands & Colors system.

Some of the differences are really just in style. For example, In FHAG firing units roll the same number of dice no matter what the range is, but with a reduced chance of hitting per die, in C&C the chance of hitting remains the same, but longer range fire uses fewer dice. The end results are similar.

Other differences are more substantive. While both game systems limit the number of units a player can order. C&C does it using cards that are usually keyed to a portion of the battlefield, while FHAG uses a die roll that determines how many "Action Points" the player has to activate units, but those action points can be spent anywhere on the map.

In both games the physical presentation of the units serves to disguise their real nature, which is as entities which firing and move characteristics varying by type and possessing the ability to take 1-4 hits.

The game is fairly straightforward and of low complexity. During his turn a player uses action points to activate units to perform movement and combat activities. Most activities cost one AP, although there are a few special actions such as close combat that cost 2 AP. All combat is handled the same way. The attacking unit rolls dice (generally three) with hits occurring depending on the range and the type of firing unit. For example, an artillery unit firing at an adjacent unit hits on a 4,5 or 6. An infantry unit firing at a range of 2 hexes hits only on a 6. Terrain effects can reduce the hit numbers and some have movement effects.

Like the C&C games, FHAG is a scenario based system with battlefields constructed using terrain tiles added to the plain map. Victory is usually measured in VPs, with one VP earned per eliminated unit (similar to the "flags" of C&C-series games) or for holding terrain (also similar to many C&C games)

Physically the game is roughly similar in presentation to the Columbia Games standard, which is usually considered pretty good by wargame standards, although it's worth noting that Worthington Games has raised the bar significantly with its latest War of America series game (Hold the Line) which is made in Germany to euro standards.

For Honor and Glory includes four card-stock maps (two land and two ocean) that create a 9 by 13 (land) or 11 by 13 (sea) playing surface, although some battles modify this further. Terrain tiles are a thin card stock.

The rules and scenarios are contained in three booklets, all printed in two colors.

The playing pieces are wooden block with stickers affixed. Unlike Columbia-style block games, the wooden blocks are not used to create any fog-of-war, instead they basically create thick, sturdy counters. Pieces are used laying flat on the map and are turned around and/or flipped to represent step losses.

Units are mostly regular and elite infantry, with militia, light infantry, marines, Indian warbands, artillery and dragoons making an appearance.

There are 10 well-chosen scenarios depicting most of the war's major battles and providing a good mix of different game experiences.

The game also includes a naval system and 11 scenarios for that, but this portion of the system is definitely very simplistic. Ships are rated for firepower and ability to take hits. Boarding actions are fought between marine contingents, also with a hit-based combat system. Movement is ordered using order markers (specially marked regular infantry units doing double-duty) with wind direction having a minor effect. The naval scenarios comprise a mix of single-ship duels, some 2- and 3-1 gang ups and two squadron actions based on two of the big Lake battles (Erie and Champlain).

Overall I rate For Honor and Glory as a success as land warfare game, prov ding an entertaining game while being reasonably historically accurate . The naval game is too simplistic, however.

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