Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hold the line..

Putting you through now Sir!

One of my favourite diversionary tactics is to order something through the post and then spend a lot of time thinking about it when it arrives. This is entirely regardless of whether it actually relates to anything currently sitting on my desk. In this current example I now have a large box sitting where the Shermans ought to be with lots of very nice counters in it. To be fair, I've had this for a while but my recent postal arrival has caused me to rummage like a TB stricken badger and fill the study with STUFF!

The reason for this is the publication of Highland Charge by Worthington Games. This is a supplement to Frederick's War which has also been recently published. These games form part of an eclectic range of games known generically as Hold The Line, although each game has subtle differences. They usually have a 13 by 9 hex map and all have pretty much the same set of simple rules, reminiscent of Memoir 44/CnC but without the cards.

I have therefore rummaged out my Hold the Line game to allow me to play with Highland Charge.

It is probably worth starting at the beginning and seeing where this series of games came from. Initially, Worthington published Clash for a Continent about the American Revolutionary War (is this what we call it now?) and the French and Indian Wars. This was followed by a really interesting game on the War of 1812 called For Honor and Glory. not only did this cover the land battles but also the naval combats on the great Lakes and offshore (I mean at sea as usually naval combat is offshore).

Clash for a Continent

These two games came with thin wooden counters, a little like the CnC blocks from GMT. Both games seemed to take off with miniatures players, with many examples of the games being converted to large scale hex grids on material and played with toy soldiers. I suspect people were attracted by the simplicity of the games and the multiple scenarios. This next shot shows Lundy's Lane from For Honor and Glory which, I think, proves the point.

Lundy's Lane scenario

Both of these games were released in 2005 and are now out of print. I don't think they will ever be reprinted in their original format.

In 2008 Worthington published Hold the Line, a tidied up version of Clash for a Continent featuring completely new scenarios and some fantastic big counters made in Germany.

These counters are card but so thick they sound like plastic when you shuffle them together!

I understand that the earlier Clash for a Continent/For Honor and Glory scenarios can be played equally well with this set, unfortunately Worthington have not made a PDF of the earlier scenarios available. This is  great pity especially as people, like me, would be prepared to pay for them. You can, however, see the scenarios on the relevant Vassal module (of which I know nothing).

In 2010 Worthington took a slight diversion and released Napoleon's War: The 100 days. This looked at the four battles of the 1815 campaign in Belgium. These games used plastic troops rather than counters (like Memoir) and gave up the limited size map and terrain tiles for a series of bespoke printed maps. These looked really good....

Waterloo map with plastic figures

This was followed-up by release of two battle packs featuring new maps for four battles each (Alexandria, Jena, Auerstadt and Bussaco in Pack I with four battles from 1812 in Pack II). These used the plastic playing pieces from the 100 Days game. A second major release with plastic pieces was issued in 2011, Napoleon's War II: The Gates of Moscow covering Borodino, Aspern-Essling, Austerlitz and Marengo.

None of these games are badged as Hold the Line, but the basic rules and game play are very similar.

The latest releases are Frederick's War covering the Austrian Succession and the aforementioned Highland Charge. Frederick's War has some eight scenarios including the big ones such as Mollwitz and Kolin. This returns the series to the 13 by 9 map with terrain tiles and with counters. Smaller square counters this time, not half as nice as the earlier ones but still pretty good. This game features some rules changes to better fit with the larger scale of the battles.

Highland Charge is an expansion covering five scenarios from the '15, '19 and '45 uprisings (Sheriffmuir, Glen Shiel, Prestonpans, Falkirk and Culloden). Killikrankie is also available as a download from Worthington. Here is the counter artwork....

Nice. However, there are some issues with Highland Charge. Sean Chick, the designer, has flagged up some errata including missing counters (promised in the next expansion) and some rules clarifications. Although the rules are simple they are quite difficult to follow and I'm sure there must be a more simple way of expressing them

I don't have Frederick's War but I intend to play Highland Charge using my HTL map and tiles. The latest set of rules (Frederick's War) are required to play the game but these are available on Worthington's website.

If the above narrative is slightly confusing, here is a quick ludography (?) of the series.

  • 2005: Clash for a Continent (ARW/FIW)
  • 2005: For Honor and Glory (1812 land and naval)

  • 2008: Hold the Line (HTL)
  • 2008: French and Indian War expansion

  • 2010: Napoleon's War: The 100 Days
  • 2010: Napoleon's War: Battle Pack I
  • 2010: Napoleon's War: Battle Pack II
  • 2011: Napoleon's War: The Gates of Moscow

  • 2013: Frederick's War
  • 2013: Highland Charge expansion
Also, there are a couple of things not yet on the list:
  • Gettysburg 150: Due very soon, this covers the whole battle of Gettysburg;
  • The potential next release which will cover the Great Northern War and has just entered play testing.
If that's not enough, Sean Chick released a PDF (on BGG on the HTL page under the files section) covering 15 battles from the Austrian Succession including some of those in Frederick's War (in prototype form) and some, like Dettingen and Fontenoy, obviously not involving Frederick.

What I haven't covered here is the rules and that's what I'll go through next time and explain why this is causing me to rummage around in my drawers....

The pictures here were sourced from BGG and Worthington's website except for the obviously naff one taken on my phone.