Thursday, 17 May 2012

This was a Triumph....

... or rather "Triumph & Tragedy", on sale from Northstar Miniatures at the low, low price of £7.50 (RRP £12).  I'd heard some positive buzz about these rules, and seen the forum at the Lead Adventure Forums, so I thought this was a good opportunity to check them out.

It's a 40 page B&W staple bound booklet with middling-to-good production values. The introduction says that the focus of the rules is on the Inter-war period, but in truth they are so generic you could easily use them for gaming anything from late Victorian to WW2.  The scale of the game is about the same as GASLIGHT, Valor Steel and Flesh or Through the Mud and Blood.  Units of up to around ten figures and some individuals, with maybe 50-100 figures per side.  Some people call these "Skirmish" games, and while the scale of battle they're designed to fight would indeed be called skirmishes in real life, I prefer the term "Small unit"  games, as "Skirmish games" to me are those where the main unit of play is the individual soldier.

Troops are rated Raw/Trained/Veteran/Elite, each with a base score (which is the target on D10 to cause a casualty in firing or melee), a morale modifier and an initiative score.  There's nothing revolutionary about the rules, players of the other games I mentioned will be on familiar ground here.  The rules cover suppression, vehicles, artillery and even light aircraft, though the focus of the game is definitely on man-to-man combat.

One nice feature is the initiative system, which I think would make a nice alternative rule for GASLIGHT (see below).  Each unit or vehicle has an initiative card, but instead of shuffling them all together, each side keeps their own deck.  At the start of each turn, the players assemble their decks into the order in which they'd like to move their units.  The top card on each deck is turned over, and the units revealed take their actions in order of their initiative score (or if tied, simultaneously).  It's a nicely intermeshed initiative which avoids the risk of one side having a long spell of inactivity through a bad run of cards, as in each round of cards both sides will get to activate something.

The vehicle rules look serviceable if a little lightweight and definitely geared towards vehicles only playing a supporting roll to infantry and characters.  For example, any mounted weapon heavier than an LMG or HMG is simply classed as a "cannon".  That's fine in games where you want a 20-pdr on an improvised mount in a lorry's flatbed to be as significant a threat to enemy infantry as a proper tank, but no good if you want to field a selection of tanks and distinguish between their performances.

Overall it looks like a fairly straightforward and solid set of rules.  I'd definitely consider them a contender if I was playing VBCW or one of the other inter-war conflicts.  The vehicle rules would need a revamp to properly reflect the diversity of vehicles I like to field in my VSF games, but it would do fiine for games focussing more on infantry and characters.  Two thumbs up, and definitely worth checking out at the sale price from Northstar.

(Based on Triumph and Tragedy)

These rules are most suited to head-to-head games with only one or two players per side.  For larger, multiplayer games, the traditional GASLIGHT initiative is a better option.

Each side assembles an initiative deck, with one card for each vehicle, unit or unattached Main Character.  At the start of each turn, the players sort their initiative decks into the order they would like to activate their forces.  The sorted decks are placed face down with the first unit they wish to move at the top.
Play then proceeds in rounds, with each player turning over the top card of their initiative decks.  The units thus revealed may then take their action for the turn in the following order.
Unattached Main Characters (in rank order, so Heroes first, then Adventurers etc)
Vehicles and Conveyances (in order Speed, fastest first)
Cavalry (in order of Scuffle, highest first)
Infantry (in order of Scuffle, highest first)
Others (e.g. Artillery)

In cases where both units would act sumultaneously either act like Gentlemen, or roll dice to break the tie.
When one side has exhausted their initiative deck, their turn ends.  The other player(s) may complete activations for the rest of their units, but must continue to follow the order set in their initiative deck.  

Shuffle each side's initiative deck so that the card presented for each round is random.  Or do this for one side and manually sort the cards for the other.


  1. Thanks for the overview of the card system, I've actually been considering it for VBCW myself. Will have to pop over to the North Star site.

    Out of interest, can you remember where you got that cobblestone textured wallpaper that you showed a few posts back? I need to do some cobblestone streets on the cheap so it'd be a great help.


  2. I read further back and found the info - Homebase in Altricham. Cheers.


    1. Adam
      Actually the one I wound up using was from B&Q, spotted by chance a couple of weeks after I'd trekked to Homebase Altrincham. The Homebase one was actually a weave pattern, but if you used the reverse side it had an irregular pattern of tiny raised rectangles. The B&Q one is a pattern of tiny raised circles, but they don't seem to have it in stock very often. Neither is entirely perfect for cobblestones, but for me the circles work a little better.

  3. Thanks for putting me right. I'll try to pop into B&Q at the weekend. I'll probably have a nose at the homebase stuff, it may come in handy for something else (bricks, rough stone or something. Cheers.