Monday 17 February 2014

Honours Of War

Now it can be revealed. 2014 will be an interesting year for me wargaming-wise, as I have been commissioned by Osprey Publishing to write a set of wargaming rules for the Seven Years War.

The working title is Honours of War, a phrase I found in Donald Featherstone's book on this period, Wargames Through the Ages 1420-1783,

'On the wargame table each commander will endeavour to manoeuvre the enemy
 into untenable positions so that they must accept the Honours of War...'

The definition of the phrase in the Collins dictionary is,

'The honours granted by the victorious to the defeated, 
esp. as of marching out with all arms and flags flying.'

So the phrase seemed to say something about 18th century warfare, as well as the spirit in which miniature wargames themselves should be played.

Most of you will be familiar with the range of Osprey rules published so far. Last year, some adverts for the range carried the invitation to send in proposals for further titles. This offer was backed up by an interview in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy (no.68) with Phil Smith, who is head of the Osprey Wargames project. He confirmed the offer and the sort of thing Osprey were looking for.

I have enjoyed a few games of Dux Bellorum, courtesy of my old muckers Steve and Craig

Those familiar with this blog will know I have been playing games with my own set of rules for the SYW. So in the spirit of 'what the hell', and not expecting to get anywhere, I sent off the current version to Phil. 

His reply was a surprise. He wasn't completely sold, but he gave me room to get back to him and indicate how I thought his doubts could be resolved. These were mostly around making the rules inviting to those who might be new to the period, providing them with the possibility of modestly sized starter games and a points system to help them build their armies. I was able to confirm that these concerns could be fixed, along with making the rules playable with smaller figures than the 30mm ones I used.

And then there were 2 more surprises in store for me. Phil wrote back saying he felt I had addressed his concerns and was prepared to take my proposal to a publishing meeting and pitch it to those involved. Crikey. Then, not long after, he emailed me to say 'we have a wargame'. In other words, my proposal was accepted, and I had around a year to get the rules re-written, play tested, and ready for publication with associated diagrams and illustrations. I was gobsmacked. What an opportunity!

This was at the end of September last year. Since then I have been working the rules up towards a publishable standard. This has involved widening them to include all the nations involved in the SYW in Europe (rather than just Prussia and Austria), developing a points system, showing how the rules would work for 15mm, 10mm and 6mm models, and writing all the introductions, explanations and explanatory diagrams needed to make everything understandable to someone completely new to the rules.

The work so far has been great - my knowledge of the period is now much improved, and the intellectual exercise of getting everything together has been very rewarding. Phil at Osprey has been helpful and supportive - having the backing of a decent-sized publisher will make this project so much more enjoyable. Assuming all goes well, it will be great to get my work out there and see what people think about it. And then there will be the buzz of going to wargames shows or visiting blogs and seeing people enjoying playing games with my rules. Plus I might even make a few quid to spend on more toys!

But before all that comes the playtesting. This is where you can get involved. I have to submit my final manuscript around this time next year, so until then I want to invite gamers who don't know either me or the rules to take a look at Honours of War, play them if possible, and get back to me with feedback. You might only be able to give the rules a quick read through and let me know what you think, or you might have armies for the period already and be prepared to try a few games to really test how the rules play. All genuine contributions will be gratefully received. Apart from the chance to be on the ground floor of a new set of wargames rules, I can't offer much in return, except the possibility of a name check in the rules and maybe a free copy when they get published (no promises I'm afraid).

If you're interested, you can contact me at:

Or, visit the Yahoo Group at this address and apply to join. A brief explanation of your interest would be appreciated:

All you need to explore the rules is available for download once you've joined the group.

Publication date is planned for November 2015, so there's plenty of time. Hope you can get involved.


David Larkins said...

Wow, congrats! Email sent. :)

Steve J. said...

Great that this has gone public Keith and best of luck with it.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Email sent. May you have good fortune with this project, sir.

-- Jeff

Keith Flint said...

Just a note to thank all the responders so far. I am most grateful.

Please allow a day or two for my return email to arrive - work and family are making their demands!

Jur said...

Congrats, Keith! Colour me interested!

Mark Dudley said...

I have thrown my Tricorn in the ring. Email sent

Nik Harwood said...

Nicely done, Keith - looking forward to seeing these come to fruition!

Keith Flint said...

I have received 23 emails so far. I am most grateful for the generous response.

I have been away for the last 2 days, but return emails are being sent out tonight and tomorrow.

I am requesting that any specific queries be sent to the email address, otherwise this blog post might get a little clogged up. However, any general comments are of course still welcome on this list.

Thanks again to all volunteers,


Keith Flint said...

A couple of points have come up already.

1. The rules use average dice for combat. This is because only 1 die is thrown per unit (as part of my keep it simple campaign), and so an average die is a good way to keep results from being too random. Does the availability of average die outside the UK seema problem to anyone?

2. Basing. The rules do stipulate a specific basing type, but for the purposes of playtesting it will be Ok simply to have the frontage of units fit in roughly with those given in the rules. I'm sure experienced gamers will have little problem sorting something out which works temporarily.

Good luck guys!

Keith Flint said...

Sorry, to clarify point 2, I mean unit frontage in line formation.

snowcat said...

Email sent! Congratulations Keith! :)

Stuart said...

I moved to the US from Britain 12 years ago and was amazed to find nobody had even heard of average dice here! However, blank dice are readily available so there should not be a problem.

I have not seen the rules yet, but can tell you the prospect of having to rebase several hundred figures is not appealing - but I am sure there is a work around for that :) BTW I am using the 1/72nd scale figures from Revell and Hat miniatures!

irishhighlander said...

I look forward to buying this book as I really enjoy this period. Please feel free to visit my blog.

Capt Bill said...

The Reich Duke Of Beerstein is always interested in new styles of warfare. His General Staff will be carefully studying this doctrine. Well done, sir!...Bill

Eric said...

This is on my to buy list!