Anyway, we met up last night to hand so I could hand them over and also to try out a game of Irregular Wars. For people not familiar with the rules, the author has his own blog here.
It's basically a set of rules for gaming small scale actions on the fringes of Europe and the various European empires of the age. With my primary interest in the renaissance being the Tudor armies and the various campaigns they took part in this would seem to be a perfect set of rules. I've tried to game the war in Ireland in the past using Maximilian and it just didn't seem to capture the essence of it for me. Maximilian seems much more set-up for gaming the big set piece battles of the era to me, the likes of Kinsale or the Dunes, rather than the hit and run ambushes in Ireland. There's some really cool stuff in there that has really captured my imagination. For example, the force generation is random and based around a dice roll which I was initially a bit reticent about (I had visions of generating loads of units I didn't have figures for) but it all works really nicely. All of the action takes place on a 24" square board if you're using 15mm figures and, because of that, is eminently portable. The figures themselves are divided into Companies which are the basic unit of the game and a company is a 3cm square base with a variable number of figures on it depending on what it's depicting, for example a pike base has six figures on it and a base of Demi Lancers will have just two figures on it. The two armies I had painted figures for were the Royal English and Mere Irish, a classic match up for the period if ever there was one!
I'd read through the rules a few times before we played but that's never a substitute for playing them and I always get the jitters when I'm leading a game because Dan always does it so flawlessly. I needn't have worried because the basics were picked up within a couple of turns and after that we coped with minimal referring to the print-out. The mechanisms work in a very similar way to DBA in that there's a single dice roll plus modifiers for combat. Another neat little mechanism is that units out of command range will make random moves, as Dan discovered when a company of Kern drifted over the extreme edge of the board, sat there doing a great deal of nothing and then only moved once the vast majority of the action was over!
To cut a long story short, my English got beaten by Dan's wily Irish. My battle broke when a javelin hurled by a Kern found it's mark and took out my lord and caused a wave of panic throughout my remaining companies and they folded like a house of cards.
The game itself was immense fun and we didn't include ambushes or hidden units which would provide ever more flavour I reckon. If you're even remotely interested in the period then six quid's a veritable bargain from Vexillia. I'm rubbish at writing reviews and I think the author's blog gives a much better insight into how the game plays so I'd definitely recommend a visit if you want to know a bit more. However, if you want a measure of how much I enjoyed it then I spent a good chunk of today working out how to represent various units when I should've been working.
I think there'll probably be a few more posts about Irregular Wars in the future...