Friday, 25 April 2014

Donnybrook!

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

24 comments:

  1. Thanks for a report! I think every game can be used for any other period, as basic mechanics can't be but general. This sounds like a good ruleset then, if it inspires you to go play in that period straight away. I was never fun of late middle ages and early new ages, though - but I am looking forward to see the pirates warband you certainly should make! :3

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    1. Yes I have seen many rulesets used for different periods than the one they were intended. As for Pirates, I just don't know it is an option but many other options out there that appeal to me more.
      Thank you Mathyoo.

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  2. Sounds good Clint. I agree with Mathyoo, if a game has sound mechanics for the size and period, the rest tends to fall into place pretty easily. Sounds like a solid starting point for the time-period

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    1. Yes I think the rules are good and the setting and factions. I am itching to get started now, once I figure out what I am doing with the settings and Factions.
      Thank you Ad

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  3. Thanks for the review Clint, I'll look forward to your opinion of these when you get to play a game. I do think they're very expensive though (£25+ ?) for a set of rules that "to fit on a single sheet of A4" as any gamer worth his salt would do his own research, but given the current climate of spoon-feeding gamers everything they want in a single package wrapped in a glossy package it's understandable.

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    1. Saw this and thought of your SCW game, may be inspirational :
      http://papermau.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/la-asuncion-spanish-church-paper-model.html

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    2. Thank you Jo. Yes the basic mechanics did originally fit on a sheet of A4. But there is a lot more to the game than just the mechanics. The settings may seem like fillers, but without them many players would get stuck and not know what they could do. So I think they are nessercary. For sure It could be cheaper but I actually think It's not too bad for the price.

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  4. When I first saw the cover of these rules, I immediately thought of "The Three Musketeers". However, a game based on the books would involve 10 figures or fewer on each side, whereas Donnybrook is designed for several times that number. A bit confusing, perhaps?

    I also had to look up "Donnybrook" and "Rapparee", as neither of these terms meant anything to me.

    These minor quibbles aside, I've now heard good things about these rules from several sources; it's always nice to see another positive review!

    I particularly like the wide variety of suggested settings; it's not just about the English-speaking world :-) . This'll be a set of rules to watch, I think.

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    1. If you did choose a 3 Musketeer setting you no doubt could, or an ECW/30 years war, no problem. But even with a 4 point force you would be looking at a minimum of 16 figures so if you wanted it true to the novels of Dumas these are not the set of rules for you.

      I also like the variety of settings, perhaps they could have included even more Maybe ones from eastern Europe. There is a guy on the Donnybrook Forum looking at Samurai for example. So you really are not limited to English speaking settings.

      Coming from the League of Ausberg and the pen of Barry Hilton. The Witch trials seem a little "Fantasy" as a setting, but why not.

      Thank you Hugh I also think these could be ones to watch.

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    2. That's not the case Clint and Colger6. This question was raised on the LoA forum a while ago. They're pretty fluid rules, all you'd do is have the Musketeers as Characters D10 or D12 and the Cardinal's Guard as per the rules.

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    3. Thank you for the insight Ray. There are plenty of 3 Musketeers rules out there though.

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  5. Using 15mm figures for the rules shouldn't be a problem - after all, look at the number of rulesets for 15mm SciFi skirmish games with individually based figures (and some people even using individually based 6mm figures for skirmish gaming)

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    1. Thank you Tamsin. You could get away with 15mm or 10mm or even 6mm but for a skirmish game I think Larger scales work well. If you want to change the rules to suit your existing figures go ahead.

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  6. Ray keeps going on about these rules too, all I have is I actually worked in Donnybrook and it wasn't that fair!

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    1. Yes I know Ray likes these rules. It was partly because of him that I got them. Don't Tell him that though! Until I read up on the Donnybrook Fair I had no idea why these rules were called as they are. Still seems a strange thing to call the rules..... Oh well. Yes I believe young Ray is looking at Tangiers as his setting. Kirkes Lambs and all that. Not sure what setting I will use yet. (Maybe one not covered in the book)

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  7. This has done very little to help me resist the purchase I have been contemplating!!! I have done very well this year and not bought into any more systems or games but I have a weakness for rulebooks !!

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    1. My advice is to hold on a while longer. Ray will start painting his figures soon and they might tip you one way or another. Or wait a couple more months till I get my act together and by then another rule book will come along and take your fancy! Thanks Loki

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  8. All the core rulebooks I see are priced the same as this and with the increasing cost of printing graphics and getting bindings done, I wouldn't expect prices to go down.

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    1. I fear you are right Anne, unless as a PDF. Several rulebooks I have bought in the past have not been worth the money. This one I think is different though. It really is a very good set of rules. (I think anyway)

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  9. I wonder if I've backed the wrong pony again? I may have to have a closer look at this Clint.

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    1. Backing the wrong Pony is what every wargamer does. I prefer Donnybrook to Witchfinder General. But it's all personal taste. Donny brook will allow you to do adventures in a witch hunter manner as It has Cultists as well as Witch hunters (special Character in the Civilian Mob) but try the rules you have first and see if you are happy with them.

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  10. Sounds like a fun idea for a ruleset. Very much sounds a bit like gangs of new york for some reason.

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    1. I am sure you could do Gangs of New York with these rules if you choose. I have several ideas but am desperately trying to curtail them. ! idea set earlier than the century suggested. ! in the Suggested time line. And 2 set after the time period. Thank you Simon.

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  11. Great writing - BTW , if others is requiring to merge two PDF files , my husband discovered a tool here www.AltoMerge.com also here http://www.pdffiller.com/.

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