Saturday, January 7, 2017

Review: American Civil Paw: The Battle of Teddysburg- Slave2Gaming

As you know, I play a lot of All Quiet on the Martian Front, and am relatively active in their online community.  Through this connection, I connected with Slave2Gaming.  They are an online miniature maker from Australia, who made a range of Dark World War 18mm figures that were useful during the gap between Alien Dungeon closing and Ironclad picking up the AQMF product line.  Their cavalry is very cool.  The models themselves are sculpted by Mike Broadbent and he is the primary sculptor for Slave2Gaming.  Drew from Slave2Gaming reached out and asked me to take a look at and review one of their upcoming releases and I agreed. 

The game is called: AmericanCivil Paw: The Battle of Teddysburg.  It is a set of American Civil War rules with a bit of a twist.  The combatants are all teddy bears re-enacting the “War between the States”.  Therefore, some of the conventions of that era are adhered to, but it is a bit more whimsical take on the subject.  The objectives were to create a relatively quick, streamlined set of rules less than 25 pages that would allow the Teddy’s to take to the table top.  The rules were intended to be a “Mass Battle” game using 18mm figures formed into multi-based regiments.  At the moment, the rules are in PDF download format only, with a more official book potentially being released with the range.

Before printing the booklet, the designer would like to get feedback and make changes.  Therefore, the PDF version of the rules is currently in BETA.  Hopefully, some of you with a lot of experience in ACW games will be able to give them some insight before they pay to print the book.  He is especially interested in adding more unique Fantasy traits to the game but still keep the ACW theme.    
Of course, besides the rules they are releasing an adorable range of miniatures that Mike sculpted.  They are up to his usually standards of high quality and they should be great for Horse and Musket players looking for something a bit different, gamers who play other generic fantasy settings such as Dragon Rampant or Kings of War, and also gamers introducing the concept of wargaming to the next generation.  The range by Mike will be a great bridge between fantasy and historical gamers and also act as a gateway for newer gamers.  Teddy Bears don’t need to worry about their uniforms as much as real ACW toy soldiers! 

Too cute!  They also have other hat variants.  Wargamers love fancy hats!.  

You can find the BETA rules here at the moment: American Civil Paw: The Battle of Teddysburg

Once more into the fluffy breach then?

Things I Liked
The game follows many standard staples of a Horse and Musket ruleset.  You have different formations such as line and column.  You have forward 180 degree fire arc.  You have movement based on a leader base.  You have firepower based on the number of bases that can shoot/combat.  So, if you have played Horse and Musket games many of the core mechanics are there for you.  It will be easy to pick-up and play. 

There is no casualty removal.  All bases are left on the table until the unit flees off the board or is completely wiped out.  That way, all those nice Teddy Bear figures you spent time painting will be in the thick of it for most of the battle.  No one likes to buy and paint troops to have them removed before they even do anything.  Instead, it uses a “hit Point” style system where each Base in the unit provides a “hit”.  Infantry units are a bit more resilient with 10, while cavalry has 8, and Artillery only 2.   

Units can always move and Shoot/charge without any test so your lads will always have something to do.  More complicated actions require command tests.  Units that have taken a certain level of injury MUST have commands to act.   

The system uses a Target Number system on a d10.  All units pretty much use the same target numbers, and there are very few modifiers.  This is good as it reduces the memorization needed to play.  Most modifiers are relatively intuitive for the period.  The game tends to avoid a lot of the “If This/Then That” type rules you can find in this periods games. 

The stick horses for cavalry.... too cute!
Things I Did Not Like
The game uses the Bolt Action Grab Bag approach to activation.  This is a solid and tried and true mechanic however I tend to prefer to play games with less passive activation systems.  When a unit has its chit pulled from the bag it is placed by the unit as a reminder that it has activated. 

Perhaps due to the streamlined nature of the rules, the game did not have any rules about flank attacks or enfilading fire.  I think such rules would help increase the desire to maneuver before engaging and add more tactical choices/depth to the game.  There are also no rules to cover if more than one unit engages another in combat/assault or the ability to support an assault.  Again, I feel these elements would help add to the tactical possibilities of the rules.       

The game is intended to be played on a standard wargames table that is trying to represent forests, creeks, small towns, etc.  I actually see this as a missed opportunity and a chance to differentiate the rules form standard Horse and Musket games.  Considering this is a game about Teddy Bear warfare, I feel it should use 1:1 scale terrain of household items so you could actually walk into any room and start a game on the floor with whatever is on it.  Carpets are your flat, open terrain with rugs acting as fields, and mismatched slippers as impassable terrain.  Now you have a unique and interesting gaming experience not found in most other wargames.  There are a lot of American Civil War games out there and I think this is the “gimmick” to help differentiate the game as opposed relying only on Mike Broadbent’s miniature line. 

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The game play is pretty straight forward and easy.

It would be kind of fun to add some variable leadership qualities to the rules as well.  The personalities of the American Civil War commanders played a large role in the outcomes on the battlefields.  This might expand the scope greater than what Slave2Gaming  were trying to achieve, but it would allow them to add more to the Teddy Bear theme and some silly puns.  Everyone loves silly puns…. well…. everyone who wants to play Teddy Bear ACW anyway.  Okay, maybe just me then….   

Rocking horses for officers.... too cute!

For morale, it is interesting that panicked units are very hard to use with a base Target Number of 9 to activate on an order.  Some of the modifiers would make it impossible to steady/rally them.  However I maybe misreading the rules on this segment, since being in Open Ground adds a +1 to the Target Number, making it a 10 required.  I am unsure how I feel about this as it makes sense in the context of the American Civil War game where units would sometimes just stop, but not completely break.  However, maybe it would just be easier to remove them?    

The rules have a few diagrams and illustrations to help demonstrate the rules.  This is a good thing.  I feel some examples of play would also help but the rules are clean and simple enough that it may not be needed.  Some fun pictures of Mike’s painted Teddy Bears in the field would be cool too.   

Army creation is straight forward and basic.  They have a couple of unique traits for each side, but I know they want to expand this part of the rules.   

Final Thoughts
The rules are a solid, simple way to get into the period and they are the right price at less than $5.  They will do the job of supporting the miniature range.  Plus, they will be a good base to build on for future additions to the game.       

The game itself has an interesting hook or gimmick; cute and cuddly Teddy Bears re-fighting the Civil War.  However, the rules themselves do not have that same hook or gimmick.  They are perfectly solid and serviceable set of rules that will allow you to play Teddy Bear Civil War battles but there just isn’t enough here to really differentiate them from a game like Blackpowder or Longstreet.  To me, there are a lot of ACW rulesets out there and it takes a little something special to make them stand-out rule wise.  I am not sure Slave2Gaming’s American Civil Paw: The Battle of Teddysburg currently has that something to stand out as a rules system.    

No comments:

Post a Comment