Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rules for Montrose

With my figures progressing, albeit slowly, I now need to decide which set of rules I'm going to use for my Montrose project.  At the moment I have three candidates, two of which I have played:

The first is For God, King and Country by Bruce McFarlane published by the Canadian Wargamers Group.

As with the other CWG books, this is a guide to the period with a set of rules and scenarios.  The mechanisms seem to be a mash up of the melee rules from Flower of Chivalry (their medieval rules) and the musketry from Habitants & Highlanders (their French Indian rules) with a few specific rules added.

Of course it, like their other rules, does suffer from some rather poor proofreading (as you can see from the cover!)  But as the book contains scenarios for Montrose (Tippermuir and Aberdeen) it's a pretty good place to start as it requires the least work anyway.

Next up is Pike & Shotte by Steve Morgan published by Warlord Games.  I've played these once before - using my Tudor Ireland figures - and quite enjoyed them.  Obviously they're a derivation of Black Powder but with enough changes to make them period specific (or annoying if you're too familiar with BP I suspect).

Unfortunately Pike & Shotte doesn't have any pre-prepared scenarios like For God, King & Country but it does have army lists for Montrose and the Covenanters which is a good start.

The third alternative I have is Bloody Kingdom by Stephen Danes published by AB One Games.  I believe this uses some of the same mecahnisms as his Thirty Years War rules Father Tilly but with some specific Civil War elements added.  Since I haven't yet played either set I can't yet voice an opinion but they look interesting based on a quick read through.

As with Pike & Shotte, Bloody Kingdom doesn't have any pre made scenarios for Montrose; however, it does have sample army lists for Scots Royalists and Covenanters.

I'll be trying each of these out in turn once I have enough figures based and will then report back.  But in the meantime if you've played any of them I'd be interested in your opinion!

For God, King and Country is available from Caliver Books for £17.50 in softback or from Sabers Edge as a PDF for US$9.00.  Pike & Shotte can be sourced from Warlord Games for £30 or you can save yourself some money (as I did) and get it from Amazon for only £19.20.  Bloody Kingdom is available as a PDF from Sabers Edge and Wargame Vault for US$16.00.


  1. I can't talk for the other two rule-sets as my experience of these has only been Pike and Shotte. I have played about 6 battles with them now, and this has been sufficient for me to realise that these are the rules I intend to stick with. I spent a year re-basing and re-vamping tired units to bring them up to standard, as I just wanted to bring on more units to play. After 20 odd years of using Forlorn Hope, 1644 and Warhammer ECW unsatisfactorily, these were the 'eureka' moment for ECW rules for me.

    Pike and Shotte have several strengths which make them a winner for me. I really like the command and control aspect. It's simple, fun and makes you want to keep brigades together in a 'realistic' fashion. There are also enough custom elements to tweak to give units certain attributes depending on unit, commander or just based on how they performed on the day in real life. The game combines a really good feel with that most important I'm sure you will have discovered all of the above already. I really can't compare with the other rulesets but i'm sure you will enjoy playing them all to find out which works best for you. Best wishes.

    1. Thanks for the input Jason. I did enjoy the game of Pike & Shotte we played a little while ago and, like Black Powder I love the way the rules are presented and so want them to work! But I'm still not entirely sold on the Warmaster activation mechanism; however, I did like some of the rest of the concepts and a single game is far too little to form a proper view of any rule set.

  2. Hi Al,

    I've not played these three rule sets, but I have played Stephen Danes' Marlburian/ 1690s rules and I liked those. We spent a lot of time in the 1990s and early 2000s playing "1644" and WECW, but to be fair neither of those really brought out the very distinctive style of warfare in Civil Wars Scotland.

    IIRC Neil Danskin did a specialised set of rules for Montrose/ Covenantor warfare in the 1990s which as available through the Piek and Shot Society called "Place my Parboiled Head on a Spike", which I remember reading and liked a lot. I haven't got a copy but they were worth tracking down as they were very flavourful. I'm sure someone, somewhere has a copy knocking around - they're definitely worth a read through

    I'm guessing you've already discovered the excellent Stuart Reid material for 1640s Scotland, right, published by Caliver Books?

    1. Would the Marlburian/1690's rules be Lace Wars by any chance? I have a copy and they're on my list to try for my WSS project (after Ga Pa and Captain General anyway). I know what you mean about 1644 and WECW. I hadn't come across those Pike & Shot Society rules and would like a look if they're period specific but they don't seem to retail them now - so a little bit of detective work required there.

      I have quite a bit of material for the period including some of Stuart Reid's stuff but I am trying to pace myself to keep the interest in the project up long enough to actually get it finished (rather than moving on to the next shiny thing that hoves into view!)

    2. Yes, those are the ones, Al. The scenario books very very useful (whatever rules you played) as Stephen put a lot of variety into them. We tried "Captain General" but it wasn't quite the right scale for company and battalion level actions. I thought there was a lot of learning in the rules, but they were just to large a scale for what we wanted. I have "Ga Pa" but we've not tried those. The Neil Danskin rules had a limited print run. He super-helpful Neil Rennoldsen at the Pike and Shot Society might be able to help out with finding a set, though. Or maybe Dave at Caliver Books?

      I know exactly how you feel about pacing a project! It is a great project though. There's a lot going on in Scotland in the 1640s - 1670s period, and most of it the perfect scale for gaming! Very best of luck, mate!

    3. Thanks Sidney. I have a couple of the Lace Wars scenario books for exactly that reason.