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historygamer30 Dec 2014 2:34 p.m. PST

Have been playing the BG rules for a while now – and very much enjoying them – I was curious as to what players of these rules thought.

Overall, I really like them. I love the use of DPs to keep casualties down, but still give the feel for 18th century battlefield challenges.

Not crazy about the rifle range or how they achieve "hits" with rolls of 6 only. The effective range of 7" compared to a musket with 6" doesn't seem to make sense. Same for the long range compared to muskets (only an inch or two more). I was wondering if others had thoughts on this? I've played several games where the rifles achieved few (if any) hits.

Other likes and dislikes, or even additions played with these rules?

Who asked this joker30 Dec 2014 2:37 p.m. PST

BG rules?

Moe Ronn Inactive Member30 Dec 2014 3:00 p.m. PST

British Grenadier, I believe.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2014 3:48 p.m. PST

Rifles were so rare in the AWI in "real life" that their ranges should not be an issue.

the only thing I dislike about the rules is the learning curve. I have been playing AWI for years, with multiple rules, in search of the "perfect rules". Which meant that you had to un-learn the last few games you played.
It finally dawned on me that rather than keep searching for perfection and getting it wrong, to stick with what you already know. The group has been playing Age of Reason for SYW for years, so why not just stick with it and add a few minor specific embellishments?
So, I am still not sure if I ever played BG "right" but what I did play I enjoyed.

Toronto48 Inactive Member30 Dec 2014 5:04 p.m. PST

Pretty sure they are talking about British Grenadier

historygamer30 Dec 2014 7:02 p.m. PST

Yes, British Grenadiers.

historygamer30 Dec 2014 7:35 p.m. PST

The rifles in question were for the Freeman Farm game – which was really their moment to shine. Unfortunately, the rifles in our game couldn't hit the side of a barn, and the range difference between muskets and rifles was so slight as to make it meaningless.

I agree about learning to play BG right. We learned from a group that wasn't playing the full rules. It was only when we started playing the full rules that it really came together for us.

Interested hearing from others that play BG.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2014 3:06 a.m. PST

Just to declare, I know the author of the rules and usually play against him 2 or 3 times a year. That said, the reason I use them is that, overall, they are the best "period flavour/historical(ish) outcome" AWI set I've played in 40 years of wargaming; that and the flexible figure:man ratio that allows you to fight different size actions.

The nature of BG is such that you can always include "local" rules, either for individual scenarios, or generally when you use them among your group. To get around the "hit on a 6 only" rule for Freeman's Farm, I would suggest treat 6s as automatic hits, and 5s as a 1/2 hit as per long range firing (ie re-roll and you hit on 4/5/6, but miss on 1/2/3); you can count "double 5" as either a guaranteed hit, or two re-rolls as you prefer.

To be fair, rifles were not the "battle winners" that older histories of the AWI like to portray them as Freeman's and Bemis Heights (and possibly Cowpens) are the only major actions where they made a big difference for the Continental forces. There are plenty of actions in the South where they were spectacular failures (Weitzel's Mills and Spencer's Ordinary are two examples), and others where the Crown FOrces' superior use/numbers turns the myth on its head.

Personally, I have suggested to the author that canister range should be longer than rifle range; he wasn't convinced, but I'll nag him again about it at some point!

Otherwise, my only gripe which is more to do with my luck with dice than the rules themselves is a total inability to get British Regulars to charge anyone in the 7 years I've been playing these rules (epic fails include all 11 of 11 charges in a Bunker Hill re-fight; elite Lights refusing to charge into the rear of militia on 3 DPs; and a flank attack by horse against Continentals on 2 DPs with a potential "domino" effect that could have taken out four other units that not only failed to go in, but led to a retreat that took the cavalry off the table by just 1/4"). Unfortunately, my luck with dice is such that passing three successive dice rolls (test to charge, sufficient movement, and test to charge home) in a row is pretty much beyond me in any circumstances. In all fairness, I have similar problems with (many, many) other rule sets.

Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2014 4:21 a.m. PST

I played them once and had a good time but not good enough to buy the rules.

historygamer31 Dec 2014 4:41 a.m. PST


Very good point about canister, which I think was used at 300 yards.

I generally agree about rifles, but given their performance during the Saratoga campaign, I don't think our players even scored a single hit. Had another recent game where they also failed to score a single hit (roll a six). I had been thinking of something along the lines you suggested and may try that.

Perhaps our players were using the same dice you were. :-)

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2014 7:36 a.m. PST

My dice are legendary, as TMP members "Fat Wally" "Vespasian" "Gilo UK" and "Eclaireur" can all confirm. FWIW, my "couldn't hit a barn door" record for skirmishers, occurred in a Germantown-related scenario called Vandering's Mills, which the designer and I had converted to BG.


Throwing two pairs of dice per turn for an 8-figure jaeger unit, I went 13 turns 52 dice without a 6.

[That said, on turn 14 I got three 6s with the next four dice. These three "kills" forced a cohesion test on a militia unit on 3 DPs, which failed it badly and broke, causing a brigade morale test which was also failed. The "double 6" also killed a general (the brigade CO) who was with a unit within 8" of the militia. Bizarrely, we replayed the scenario that same afternoon with the players swapping sides, and the "owner" of the dead general was killed in exactly the same way by American riflemen when accompanying a unit of Hessians within 8" of the target unit. Even more weirdly, on both occasions, his general figure was actually some way outside of rifle range when "shot".]

historygamer31 Dec 2014 8:42 a.m. PST

Well, you only have a 16.66% chance of rolling a 6, no matter how many dice you roll. Our group also plays Johnny Reb II, which relies more on the average of 2 D6, using the bell curve (7 being the most likely roll on 2 D6).

We really enjoy BG as it seems to have the right feel to it. I wonder how much it is played on this side of the pond? We'll likely be putting on two games at the next big convention here in March (Cold Wars). Not sure which scenarios yet, but I think we'll do a little more research on those as we found some that seem to be a bit off.

Finished the Harris book on Brandywine too. Really enjoyed it. I wish he had talked to some of "us" regarding his chapter on the British army (which had some really off stuff in it), but the rest of the book seemed well supported by first person accounts of different parts of the battle.

His chapter on Greene's stand late in the day would make for a good BG scenario. In fact, I did a rough version over the holidays with a friend – whose SM-like dice rolling for his rifles prompted this thread.

mbsparta Inactive Member31 Dec 2014 8:44 a.m. PST

The very best part of British Grenadier is the DP (disruption point) system … It takes the linear nature of 18th C. warfare and transposes it onto the North American battle field. The very worst part of British Grenadier is the DP system. It slows the game down considerably. You will need a good day of gaming to play through even a smaller scenario. And like Super … said … It is very very difficult to finish a charge, DPs limited your ability to do so. So I find BG to be a double edged sword … great period feel, maneuver is a challenge, as it should be … but the DP restriction rules make it difficult to have a fun "game" experience with regiments just stuck out in space with generals trying to rally off DPs … Sadly, if I am hosting a larger game I use Black Powder which flows better and reaches a conclusion in a normal gaming time frame. Having said all that the rule book is beautifully done and the scenario books are excellent. All a must have.

historygamer31 Dec 2014 9:09 a.m. PST

Funny, there was just another thread about BP where the guy was complaining about the scenario and rating of the British troops compared to the Americans. Haven't played BP, but some in our club have.

I agree about the DPs limiting you. It seems almost impossible not to be carrying at least one into a charge situation.

mbsparta Inactive Member31 Dec 2014 9:23 a.m. PST

I was referring to the British Grenadier rule book and scenario books. The Black Powder book is also very "pretty" and I like the "Rebellion" book … for the eye candy alone.

Dave Gamer31 Dec 2014 9:57 p.m. PST

About the DP's – couldn't you just play the old "Loose Files and American Scramble" that appeared back in 1987 (Volume 1 of Wargames Illustrated) link

Bill N01 Jan 2015 9:04 a.m. PST

Rifles had very real advantages in terms of accuracy and range during the AWI. These advantages though were quite often offset by other factors, including the way troops fought and the terrain, that minimized their true effectiveness. The question for rule writers then becomes whether you write rules that reflect how rifles might have performed under ideal circumstances, or whether you write rules to reflect what would have happened on a more typical battlefield.

My solution is that you do both, because you don't know what type of action the rules will be used for. If a player chooses to have a unit stand in an open field 150 yards from his opponent for an hour, he deserves to have the unit chewed up by riflemen. If a player chooses to have a rifle unit standing unsupported, he can't complain when the unit is overrun or breaks when his opponent closes. Then the old line that it is hard to hit what you cannot see applies to riflemen as much as to troops armed with muskets.

I haven't played British Grenadier, so cannot comment on their rules specifically. It does sound though like they did not have Kings Mountain in mind when designing their rules.

historygamer01 Jan 2015 9:57 a.m. PST

Happy New Year all.

Dave, I like the DPs. Not really unhappy with the rules. I was just asking what others who play them have experienced for likes and dislikes (nits). I would not hesitate recommending them to anyone. All rules have their quirks, and many groups have their home rules. Just asking about those as well.

historygamer01 Jan 2015 10:02 a.m. PST

"I haven't played British Grenadier, so cannot comment on their rules specifically. It does sound though like they did not have Kings Mountain in mind when designing their rules."

Kings mountain is a rather unusual battle in every sense – from the types of troops engaged on both sides (little better than militia/levies) to the terrain. I certainly would not want to write a set of rules trying to figure that battle out. I did play it once with another set of popular AWI rules and IIRC, it was virtually useless for me, as the Brit commander, to even shoot since it was impossible to hit anything. I had to close, but just like the real battle, the rebels would just melt away when charged. While perhaps historically correct, it was not a fun game to play – at least as the Brit.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2015 10:45 a.m. PST

KM is definitely one of those re-fights where "victory" is just about "doing better".

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2015 1:48 p.m. PST

King's Mountain is a battle best ignored of you want to cram it into a "generic" AWI rules set. Everything about it is WRONG!!!!! grin
By all means make up rules that apply only to this one battle.

janner Inactive Member02 Jan 2015 2:25 p.m. PST

I can't wait to have enough toys painted up for this to give BG a run out grin

Rawdon02 Jan 2015 5:37 p.m. PST

I tried the BG rules awhile ago. Positives: They are well thought-out and, while NO miniatures rules can cover every micro-situation (hey that's why I love miniatures as opposed to the years I spent playing board games), had obviously been play-tested.

Rejected them BECAUSE historically most charges went home, in BG they just seem not to.

My one cent, probably worth less.

Bill N02 Jan 2015 5:50 p.m. PST

Winston-Kings Mountain is an extreme example…which is why I chose it. However a truly generic set of rules should allow historic troop types, when properly employed, to produce typical results. This is true whether the troop type is a unit of predominantly rifle armed troops as it is of light cavalry, artillery, Indians and other troop types. If the British commander insists on following the same tactics as Ferguson did, a truly generic set of AWI rules should produce a similar result to what happened at Kings Mountain.

This is not to say there isn't a case to be made for a set of rules tailored towards specific types of battle. A set of rules designed for larger scale battles such as Brandywine and Monmouth could probably duplicate those actions better. However they might not work as well for smaller actions or actions where other troop types played a larger role.

historygamer02 Jan 2015 7:16 p.m. PST


So what rules do you play? I had three charges close home in our last game, routed a good part of the rebel line.

Okay, one other nit to pick with BG and other rules with variable scales – if you halve the ratio of men, say from 1:20 to 1:10, shouldn't the ranges of movement, firing, etc, double? Seems like they should to me since you are halving the ground scale (even though often not stated in rules, there is a ground scale).

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2015 4:27 a.m. PST

Rejected them BECAUSE historically most charges went home, in BG they just seem not to.

I'm not sure that's true – people tended not to write up their failures (and often it was difficult for the enemy to tell what just happened – or rather didn't), so I suspect it was more common than a simple reading of history books would tell us. As I have said above, I have a lot of trouble getting charges to go home for the British, but for some reason not for other nationalities – most likely it's just the rub of the dice for you just as it is for me (I've certainly never been lucky enough to play anyone as bad as us!).

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2015 1:41 p.m. PST

In Age of Reason, infantry charge declarations come at the beginning of the turn. Simple die roll based on morale class. If you fail, you just stand and shoot.
We read about units "charging" 20 times during a battle, but I tend to think of it as more like aggressive posturing followed by a fire fight.
AoR "simulates" that rather well. grin

So, SuperMax, maybe that's what your guys are doing too.

historygamer03 Jan 2015 9:42 p.m. PST

Just read David Bonk's new book on Rev War tactics and his account of Cowpens reads like a BG game, at least to me – except for the rifles.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2015 6:18 a.m. PST

So, SuperMax, maybe that's what your guys are doing too.

Maybe. But if it is, then they're sh_it at sh_ooting, too……

Vespasian2804 Jan 2015 3:21 p.m. PST

I preferred to stand and shoot with the British when they had the +1 for firing in BG but that was dropped in the revised editionto encourage more historical charges. So, now I have the same problem as SM just nowhere near as often.
Best example for me was Freemans Farm and getting a British unit onto the flank of Morgan then failing to charge home.
I've said this many times that the biggest problem with wargaming is that it involves rolling dice.

historygamer04 Jan 2015 6:37 p.m. PST

Curious observation about the old rules vs the new. Do you think the old rules were better?

I draw a parallel with the Johnny Reb Rules. II was better than I, and while parts of III were better than II, overall I preferred version II.

But back to BG – do players prefer I to II, or parts of one over the other?

Viper guy Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2015 8:01 p.m. PST

Please forgive my ignorance but when you refer to age of reason rules are you referring to warfare in the age of reason by emperor's press? Or are they a different set entirely? Thank you in advance.

On another note, what about muskets and tomahawks for kings mountain?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2015 8:53 p.m. PST

Yes, those are what I am referring to. I only brought them up to show how different rules handled that situation.

Eclaireur06 Jan 2015 12:44 a.m. PST

I've been lurking lurking here in the interest of learning more about the niggles people may have with my rules :-)
I've looked at the charge thing a few times. It's tricky, you want the Brits to be able to charge home, but at the same time you want it to be difficult.
Think about Bunker Hill: the LI faltered, then the Grenadiers, then the 5th failed to get into the breastwork, then the 47th got thrown back and so on. In game terms there's five or six failed charges there (including a couple of Retreat results on the chargers' morale test!) before they actually get one over the breastwork. Or think about Guilford Court House, where Guards Brigadier O'Hara noted that before carrying Greene's position, "every part of our army was beat repeatedly" – and in many cases he is talking about attempted British charges turning into retreats.

So I tried to reflect this reality. Success is meant to reward only the well planned assault. Stopping to shake off disorder, maybe giving a volley before going in, and using multiple unit charges to insure that one or more actually gets through. But I'm always open to suggestions…
I will look again at the canister/grape range thing.

Vespasian2807 Jan 2015 2:31 p.m. PST

On the whole I prefer the second edition of the rules which as they dispensed with the +1 for British firing says a lot.

The only niggles I have with charging are the automatic assumption that a unit failing to charge home with a bayonet charge is in bad shape and gets 3 DP immediately. I would prefer some kind of gradation here as per normal charges to allow for hesitation, an officer exhorting the troops to have another go rather than all or nothing.
Has anyone out there had the experience, a la GCH, of charging, retreating then coming back for more? I tend to find once you start retreating it is very difficult to get the lads back.

One final niggle is the "Poor" general not being able to order a bayonet charge. I fully understand that but that implies if you have a top notch regiment with the misfortune to have a poor general in charge of your brigade that trumps the (assumed) good leadership of said top notch regiment.

Queen Catherine Inactive Member07 Jan 2015 8:27 p.m. PST

Mindful that the author has chimed in…

A friend got them and was very keen to play them, so we did try them a few times. They are very detailed and have lots and lots of nuance and small modifiers. Clearly a lot of thought was put into them, and plenty of play time.

Overall, I felt that the game put me in the role of a rules-reader and that the mechanics of doing stuff was more my focus than my tactical decisions as a brigade commander [we had about 5 regiments a side]. So instead of spending time on tactical thought and decisions that represent what a Brigadier might do, like "I want the light infantry to clear the woods on the right. When they give the all clear I want the 33rd and the Grenadiers to advance along either side of the road while the 6pdr battery disperses the rebel line. If that fails I want them to give a few volleys and charge in as soon as the rebels look shaky. Then when they're on the run we'll have the 16th give them a good chase."

Instead it was a lot of DP management and running thru the numerous charts and such.

Generally speaking, I find myself gravitating away from the "realism is lots of modifiers and charts" way of thinking and into the "realism is making the decisions of the role the rules put the player in on the battlefield". So I've moved away from rules like BG and Forlorn Hope and Black Powder types of rules towards Neil Thomas and such.

historygamer08 Jan 2015 4:46 a.m. PST

I think like many rules, BG is first learned by experience players. If you have an experienced player running the game the first couple of times, I bet you would pick it up faster. That's probably true of most rule sets. We play Johnny Reb for ACW and they are a lot more complicated, but a very good set of rules.

EC – Any thoughts on the rifles? I find they often can't even score DP's, let alone kill figures.

Queen Catherine Inactive Member08 Jan 2015 7:47 a.m. PST

yes I agree – you need an experienced player to get you thru a game. And I second the poster who said that it takes hours to play a simple game.

Overall, it's one of those games that takes longer to fight on the table than the actual battle.

However, I urge anyone who wants to write a set of AWI rules to get a copy as the research and thinking is good.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2015 8:21 a.m. PST

@ Queen Catherine,

1) I think the problem you raise in your first post (ie "talking" your way through a series of movements) can only really be handled by computerised rules which take all of the "number crunching" out of the players' hands – either that, or very dedicated umpires!!!

2) Are you talking about GCH, or "battles in general" in your second post? I've play-tested the Bennington game due to appear in Scenario Book 4 twice, and both lasted around the same length as the real thing (including the Breymann attack/retreat). Each side had one win.

historygamer08 Jan 2015 12:31 p.m. PST

If you want shorter games (in any period or any rules) then set the figures up almost ready to fight. Wasting a lot of time marching from column to line accomplishes little in my experience, except to drag the game out and want to stop right when it gets interesting. Also, no one wants to play the supporting force that arrives on turn 7 or 9. Just my experience with most rules.

historygamer08 Jan 2015 12:48 p.m. PST

EC: I'd really like to hear yours (and others) experience with rilfes in BG as we can't seem to get a good day's work out of them. :-) Maybe we are doing something wrong?

historygamer08 Jan 2015 12:49 p.m. PST

"… BG is first learned by experience players…"

That should be best, not first… :-(

historygamer08 Jan 2015 12:49 p.m. PST

By the way, we'll be running two BG games at Cold Wars in March.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2015 11:21 p.m. PST

We rejected them because of the DPs. We maybe slow on the uptake but it was just too much trouble to track. The other reason is the rules are 69 pages long, not counting the scenarios. I am at the point in my gaming life that if you can't explain them in 12 pages, then I am not interested.

The last thing we wanted was a complicated set of AWI rules. We wanted to keep it simple and make it fun. So we found a free set of rules online. Asked the author if we can modify to our taste and share on our group site. So we have made them our own.

"Sons of Liberty" is twelve pages long and relies more on individual scenario rules to fill in the blanks. They are simple I go, you go rules. We are very happy with them.

Having said that, I make great use of the BG scenario books. Those are great. Paradoxically I sometimes find them lacking in detail and are sometimes inaccurate (Hubbardton: Save the Guns! comes to mind) but overall they are great.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2015 11:44 p.m. PST

Our scale is 1" = 40 yards. The maximum range for muskets is 12". Hard to hit at that range. Rifles max range is 24" and it takes one full turn to reload. That may not be correct, but it works for us.

Rifles get a +1. You have to make it worth while to have them. As mentioned before there should not be very many rifles. Also keep in mind that the British made good use of rifles on the very rare occasions they had them.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2015 11:46 p.m. PST

Does BG favor the British? Not wanting to cause an argument but a couple of our club members who have played the rules say they do. Any thoughts?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP09 Jan 2015 10:24 a.m. PST

Interesting you should ask that. SuperMax says he can't get the British to charge. .grin

Vespasian2809 Jan 2015 3:40 p.m. PST

I don't think BG favours the British but a lot of their troops are classed as Line and when up against 2nd Line Americans they have the edge especially in the bigger battles featuring Elite Grenadiers and Light Bobs.
As the war progresses and the Continentals get better(Line) that advantage gets whittled away. Pretty much as things went I would say; after all the Brits did win more battles than they lost but lost the war.

In my experience SM can't get anyone to charge but he did do very well with some Parliamentarians recently and they are by default British.

Eclaireur10 Jan 2015 11:42 a.m. PST

@Historygamer – cool that you're putting on two BG games at Cold Wars! I am comfortable with the rifle effectiveness because I don't think they were a decisive or wonder weapon. But I think you can always try some mods of the kind SM first suggested. Maybe allow Elite rifle armed troops to hit on 5 or 6. That might encompass Hessian jaegers or Morgan's riflemen. I don't think though that any old Jonathan in the militia with a rifle is going to have that kind of effect.

On canister/grape it isn't easy. Yes, it's true that the range currently is around the extreme rifle and musket range. But let's think of that long range musketry (6-12ins) as being between say 120 and 250 yards. It was possible for good shots to hit targets with muskets at those ranges – just rather unlikely. So in that 6-12ins band your musketry fires at half effect in order to simulate that. The 10 or 13in volley with grape however is at full effect, and a nice chunky modifier.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2015 3:57 a.m. PST

In my experience SM can't get anyone to charge but he did do very well with some Parliamentarians recently and they are by default British.

All the more frustrating for me being an ardent Royalist! (That said, you did remind me of a two-figure QR hussar unit that did a lot of damage in a Monmouth game you ran last year.)

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