March 20, 2023

King of Buccaneers

So this was an epic undertaking. When Barry first unveiled the 4Play scenario pack concept, he invited me to join in. While I had a pile of ideas, I quickly realized I didn't have the models to present them in the manner I wished. We were eyeball deep in Mad for the War at the time. As naval gaming had never been a passion of mine, I set out to read some books on the subject to see what all the fuss was about.

Being a proud gentleman of Virginia, I decided to focus on events on this side of the Pond. There were small actions all up and down the coast of colonies, but what drew more of my attention were exploits of the pirates, buccaneers, and privateers. Scattered all through the exploits of these sea dogs were small unit land actions that are perfect for Beneath the Lily Banners and Donnybrook! While they weren't painted, I had a pile of lead I'd amassed for pursuing our period into the Caribbean (after Barry's great game I'd attended in the Old Country).

The Battle of Panama featured an army of buccaneer infantry against a mixed force of Spanish uniformed troops, native auxiliaries, poor artillery (some sources say any guns were left to defend the city), two large units of cavalry (extremely rare in this theater), and herd of oxen! Any time I start a collection, I always look for these kinds of mixed forces so avoid the fatigue of painting six identical battalions. I felt like this would be an amazing looking force on the tabletop.

The King of Buccaneers 4Play PDF is 20 pages and includes two scenarios for Beneath the Lily Banners and one for Donnybrook.

The first game is a 4Play BLB assault on the breach of the San Lorenzo fort which guarded the mouth of the Chagres—the route Henry Morgan had chosen for his invasion of Panama. At the time, the fort was a crude affair of earthen walls between timber palisades. I didn't have anything like that in my collection either (sigh), so I set out to build  a custom 24x24 inch tile for the game.

The second game is a standard-sized Donnybrook game on a 48x48 inch table. The encounter is fictional ambush as only a token resistance was staged as the pirates hacked their way through the jungle. It represents the Spanish intent rather than actual defense. As with the previous game, I wanted an bit of terrain I didn't have and custom built the ruined chapel for the center of the table.

The final game is a 4Play X BLB battle, featuring eight units per side on a 48x48 inch table set to last eight turns. 

I had a blast playing all three of these games. I'm hoping to explore more scenarios for the Caribbean in the future, including adding more uniformed units (I cunningly chose to paint my Spanish militia in the uniform of the French de la Marine so with a flag swap I have the start of another army).

You can grab a copy of King of Buccaneers at the Warfare Miniature USA shop!

Hopefully I'll have some more scenarios to add the the collection this year.

January 8, 2023

Donnybrook Essentials

It's been ten years since Barry and I published Donnybrook, our skirmish rules for 1660-1760. The book has been sold out for a while. We intend to release a second edition with the detail and full color treatment for which we are known (no date... it's in the queue... lol), there's a project I've been wanting to do for a while.

My introduction to wargaming was with the black and white booklets, wrapped with cardstock covers and saddle stitched bindings of the 70s and 80s. I love the slick production and beautiful photographs found in modern publications, but I still drag out these old books from time to time—WRG's Wargames Rules 3000BC to 1485AD, De Bellis Antiquitatis, the original Dungeons & Dragons, and many offerings from Partizan Press (including David O'Brien's Skirmish Battles of the American War of Independence). 

The old school renaissance in gaming isn't new. There is something very charming about these old books and it's long been an ambition of mine to do something similar.

The day before Christmas, I sat down at my computer to try and get an idea of what an old school version of Donnybrook might look like. After laying out a few chapters, my OCD took over and I was hooked. Over the course of the next few weeks I spent many hours forcing the manuscript into the half-sized pages and madly scribbling new drawings (or reimagining old) with which to crown the tiny volume. Finally, I had a couple of copies produced by a local office supply store. 


I am extremely happy with the results. The book is 5.5"x11" and 36 pages, printed on 24lb matte paper (the shine in the photos above is just the desk lamps reflecting the ink) with a 110lb cardstock cover. It will include a full page, double-sided play sheet (folded neatly tucked inside). All of the rules needed for swashbuckling adventures can be found in Donnybrook Essentials.

So how is this different than Donnybrook?

First and foremost, there are rule updates—not a ton, but there are a few things over the years that haven't worked as intended or were just unclear. Troop ability types have been changed to match Beneath the Lily Banners, with Recruits becoming Raw and Elite, Veteran. If you already have a copy of Donnybrook, you don't NEED this book, but you may find it handier to use at the game table.

The largest change (and biggest omission) is the lack of faction lists. I've long intended to change how these were presented. They have always been meant as guidelines for new gamers, but were never meant to be set in stone. Barry and I break them on a regular basis to fit the stories we tell. Factions WILL return in the second edition, but didn't seem necessary for Donnybrook Essentials.

To ensure you still have plenty of variety when building your forces, Special Characters have been expanded. There are nine "generic" Characters you can choose to bolster your forces. While some of these Characters are more appropriate for certain armies, your narrative may justify their inclusion in your force. For example, the Master of Hounds may be a common component of a Highlander or Cultist force, but if your Army Captain's raison d'être is hunting, he may have a pack of wolfhounds in tow.

Donnybrook Essentials also features an Events section, optional rules, and a sample scenario (The Curious Case of Peter Pett, adapted from one of Barry's 4Play scenarios). It will still be a couple of weeks before this is available as we work through the logistics, but it will be offered in hard copy and PDF. If you buy the book, we will include the PDF free of charge.

Watch this space for where and when you can get your copy!