As you may recall I bought the Donnybrook rules at Salute this year. And here are my initial thoughts prior top playing the game. My opinion may change after playing of course but I think it is equally important to detail my thoughts before a game takes place.
Firstly the Name to many including myself I thought the name a strange one. It is derived from a suburb of Dublin which holds a fair. This fair had a habit of getting out of hand and thus the word "Donnybrook" came to mean a brawl. Donnybrook as a set of rules covers the period 1660-1760 although it is possible to use them for earlier or later conflicts. Indeed the Donnybrook forum has people working on Medieval to much later periods. Which goes a long way to explain the versatility of the rules. It is quite possible to take the rules and the rule mechanics further than this selected century.
When we think of skirmish rules we really don't know if they are aimed at squad, platoon or even company levels. So lets be clear in these rules we are mostly looking at each player controlling 20-50 figures, or a platoon as it were. Like Saga or Muskets and tomahawks a single point would get a force a set number of figures 4 elites, 8 regular or 12 recruit quality troops (3, 6, or 9 if the troops are mounted). In addition to the rank and file troops there are also special characters which vary from Faction to faction. While the rules are written with 28mm figures in mind they could equally be used for smaller scales, although I would not recommend 10mm or smaller. And 15mm might be a push, just from a skirmish fiddly figure perspective and not because the rules could not manage it.
Normal games will be one faction against another. Choice of Factions are Army, Civilian Mod (including Rebels and Militia), Covenanters, Highlanders, Cultists, Outlaws (pirates, smugglers Highwaymen etc dependant on the setting) Rapparees and Tribal Factions. The Tribal Faction would of course change character Moors in North Africa, Woodland Indians in North America as examples if different locations are explored.
Given that the rule mechanics were originally devised to fit on a single sheet of A4 a lot of the book is given over to the possible settings for the game. About 1/4 of the book is given over to the settings and while most of us will stick to those we already have terrain for it is a pleasure to see other settings detailed. Starting with the English Possession of Tangiers, then the 2nd and 3rd Anglo Dutch wars a conflict fought in Europe and North America, Bacon's Rebellion in America, Covenanter Rebellion in Scotland, the persecution of Huguenots throughout France, Argyll Rebellion in Scotland, the Monmouth Rebellion, the Glorious Rebellion (also in England) War of the Grand Alliance (Europe), The Jacobitte Wars in Ireland and Scotland. King Williams War in Canada, The Darien Adventure (central America). The Witch Trials Europe and the new world and even the War od Spanish Succession are all mentioned as places suitable to play Donnybrook. Most of these settings I have only a cursory knowledge of but it is clear Barry Hilton knows much more. Needless to say not all factions are available in all settings. No Rapparees in Tangiers for example!
For me it is this background all of which is very real that adds so much flavour to the rules. Each of the settings I read and thought "Hmmmm That has possibilities!" Some settings I am more drawn towards than others, living less than a mile from the river Medway the Anglo Dutch wars might seem an obvious choice for me. But at present no firm decision has been made as to where I will set any games. SO no new Project alerts just yet, although you might expect one to rear it's head soon.
Overall I am very impressed with the rules, they are very simple and straightforward. There is a lot of background information and it is all very well presented. Overall I would have no reason not to recommend them and do look forward to playing them.
I hope you found this useful and I will hope to post again on Sunday. Until then take care and roll high on all the dice! Best wishes Clint