Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Long Rifle, Review and Introduction: Two Hour Wargames' French Indian War Immersion Game

Long Rifle: Man to Man Skirmish on the American Frontier is a skirmish game from Two Hour Wargames set during the period of the French Indian War.

Long Rifle, written by Ed Teixeira, is a companion to Muskets and Mohawks and whilst the latter is a unit based game, Long Rifle is a scenario driven individual skirmish game focused on a small band of individual figures where players take on the role of an individual character and with a little bit of luck, strategy and sound think, lead their band to fame, glory and victory.

Ed pitches Long Rifle as an 'Immersion Game'. We've had some experience of Ed's immersion games, playing All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out, in which you lead a band of survivors through the varying stages of a Zombie Apocalypse.

Long Rifle uses the Chain Reaction system for its base. Instead of the traditional IGO UGO, in which each player takes a turn, individual characters take 'reaction tests' so that, just like in the real world, if a character takes fire, spots an enemy (the 'In Sight' test), sees a comrade fall, or a variety of other reasons, they may: duck back behind cover, flee the battlefield, drop prone or charge the enemy.

Whilst the base of the system is shared with all of the Two Hour Wargames games and probably shares more with THW's 5150 science fiction system that with any of the other games, enough has been changed to fit the style and of the genre. Like many other games of the black powder periods Long Rifle uses a re-load mechanic, with rifles taking a little longer to re-load. Where the style comes into it;s own are the scenarios, which, aside from then usual battle encounter (which are inlcuded) characters can find themselves, hunting wild game in the hopes of obtaining furs to trade, defending  a settlement form a war party, acting as a courier for the military of civilians or escorting either faction or settlers through the wilds.

As you begin your campaign you can choose to affiliate yourself with either the French or British or stay neutral, but as the scenarios progress, one way or another you may get drawn into the war, like it or not, as you could find yourself fighting for either side at any time, making mortal enemies along the way.

The game used traditional D6 and two key mechanics are worth re-iterating, simply because they are initially counter intuitive if your are used to game where rolling high is good.

The first is 'Passing Dice' in which a character rolls a number of D6 and any score that is equal to or lower (underlined as this can be counter intuitive) has been passed. Regardless of how many dice are rolled a character can pass, 2, 1 or 0D6.

The second is 'Successes' in which a rill or 1, 2 or 3 is success and a roll of a 4, 5 or 6 is a failure.

Other dice rolls, such as rolling to hit or to damage an opponent, higher is better.

To drive the narrative and add some interesting results, there are some reference tables involved. This may put some off when they first read the rules of play their first game, I was one of them, but after a couple of games I quickly realised that for the most part they are quick reference tables and they've been constructed to very thoughtfully and don't get in the way of the game.

All dice rolls can be modified by circumstance and the quality of the character making the check or taking a test.

The beauty of Ed's immersive games is, the game encompassed not only what happens on the battlefield, but what happens before and afterwards, and your success or failure in a variety of scenarios help drive a very strong narrative. Some of your band may loose confidence in you, and branch out on their own, or simply flee the battlefield, never to be seen again, if things get too tough.

Any scale of figure can be used and, one of the other great features is the generally low figure count. You generally only need a very small number of figures to play the game. Having enjoyed All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out so much, it was obvious to us that a narrative campaign that runs through the French Indian War would give us the perfect excuse to play some small scale skirmishes and follow a small group of character through the development of the war.

If you're interested, check out Long Rifle at the Two Hour Wargames store.

We're also going to run a series of posts introducing the basics of the rules so stay tuned.

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