Strength & Honour


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Review: Delivers the Big Battle Feel

August 10, 2022 by zoidpinhead Cult of Games Member

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Do you want to walk in the footsteps of Caesar or Boudica, Vercingetorix or Pompey Magnus?  If you want to experience the flow of battle from the commander's perspective whilst viewing the battlefield with an eagle's perspective then this is the game for you.  And they are big battles, each base of minatures can represent a whole legion of over 5,000 men.  You can command multiple legions or the massed hordes of Caledonians or invading Germans with tens of thousands on each side.

The basics of the game are pretty easy and dice are used for movement (a single D6 per unit) and combat (1D6 to 3D6) with simple tables to resolve actions. When we played the inital games things got easier although every time we played it was fun.  There is excellent support from the writer and publisher with very helpful playthrough videos on Lard TV and Mark is very present on the Lard forums and Strength and Honour facebook page. Some things take a bit of practice, we struggled to get on top of exactly what happens after combat and the finer detail of movements into and after combat but the videos helped.

There is a command board that can be printed out from the free files on the forum or FB page.   This provides a set of emergency actions to recover from poor dice rolling and offers commanders a bit of a helping hand that feels right in that it isn't too decisive but can make enough difference in the moment that you don't get too upset by a succession of bad rolls.

The writer is Mark Backhouse and the rules are published through Reisswitz Press, the independent publishing arm of Too Fat Lardies.  The book is soft cover A4 size and at 116 pages is very good value as it is full colour with good diagrams and scenario maps throughout and with layouts by Henry Hyde the pages are set out logically and space is well used.  The game requires cards which are printed on sheets at the back of the rules and can be downloaded to print at home.  The size chosen is an odd one, 57mm x 44mm and I had to cut down card sleeves to put them in as this is a non-standard size.  A double sided A4 reference sheet is also freely downloadable with all of the tables needed in play and it does have everything on that you need (unlike a few I've used).

The game is playable with miniatures of any size but is particularly targeted towards 10mm or less and most players are using the micro scales, particularly 2mm.  There are different options for those wanting to buy forces with MDF (Australia), Resin cast bases (Europe) and metal (UK) miniatures available.  I'll put in a word for Project Wargaming here who has made 3D printable files available to buy of 2mm ancient troop types and these will easily cover all the troops needed for these rules and indeed the whole of the ancient period, prices are very reasonable.  I'm a first time resin printer user and they printed very easily as you can see in my project. Good support is provided by Warbases in the UK with their Antonine miniatures range and also components for the game with the command boards printed onto thick card and other mdf components for the different forces (you may want markers to put onto the command board and to indicate units that are disrupted).  Terrain is easy to make and again Lard TV has clear instructional videos on YouTube, all you need is a pobbly bathmat.  The board uses a grid.  I was skeptical about this but actually it is very easy to use and really helps speed up game play.  I marked up a mat I had with a brown felt tip so no expensive solution was needed and the outcome is very unobtrusive.

There are good options for armies with lists covering the main Roman period from the Marian reforms to Septimius Severus.  20 lists are provided and no major force or war the Romans engaged in through this period is omitted.  The forces are quite different and the special rules used ensure commanding the Romans is a different gaming experience to the tribal forces, as it should be.  There are 10 scenarios in the book and Mark has published others in WSS magazine too.

Overall the game experience is excellent. You do feel like you are commanding a big army and the mechanics make most decisions important and the order you do things in can really affect the outcomes. Yes in our test games of the Watling Street scenario (Romans vs Britons) the Romans won both times but it was really close the second time and could very easily have been the other way round. This isn't the same as happens in many other ancients games where the writers are clearly massive romanofiles and the Romans are almost indestructible.  Here the rules feel balanced but the armies play in a nicely asymetric way with different problems to solve for the two commanders.  Although Mark admits that Watling Street is a very hard task for the Celts many other scenarios are very well balanced and all are well play tested and the Romans don't win every time (Vosges which is Romans versus Germans and came out at 50/50 in rules testing apparently).

Mark has mentioned that an expansion will be available in due time with the earlier period covering the rise of Rome, Alexander and the Diadochi, the Celtic Grande Expedition and the Punic Wars the likely focus areas.  This will be at least another 12 months though so plenty of time to get loads of games in with this set first.  Sales have been strong so it is probably Reisswitz will be interested in publishing this too.

Strength and Honour is as much fun as we've had gaming is quite some time.  Highly recommended.

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