THE LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS
Fighting Black Powder Battles in the 18th century.
By Pete Brown
LAOK is the first official supplement to Black Powder to appear. It does not quite live up to it’s subtitle as it only covers conflicts from The War of the Spanish Succession to The Seven Years War. So it omits all the wars after 1763 including the American War of Independence in which I am particularly interested but I assume that will be the subject of a separate supplement. A better subtitle might have Warfare in the Age of Reason.
The basics LAOK is a 112 page A4 sized softback full colour book with many colour photographs plus numerous tables and maps. It comprise a general introduction describing Warfare in the Age of Reason, a short section on uniforms in the period and suggested Special Rules for the 18th Century.
Having worked on modifying the rules I found this section interesting. Pete Brown has set out suggested rule modifications and special rules to apply for the 18th century. These cover Formations, Interpenetration, Moving and firing, Platoon firing, Grenades, Pikes etc, Capturing Colours, Dragoons, Cavalry Charging Infantry, Elephants, and Gun Batteries and Battalion Guns.
As an example In Moving and Firing his modification is to not to allow units to fire if they have moved more than once. This overcomes the problem of units making 3 moves closing on the enemy and firing at close range without suffering any opposition fire. A simple idea but I don’t think it has as much effect as the revised turn sequence suggested in the & Blenheim WSS modifications. In Cavalry Charging Infantry his modification is that cavalry charging infantry who are disordered by closing fire fail to charge and rally back disordered the remainder of their move. Artillery in this period was less mobile than in the Napoleonic era and his modification here is that foot field artillery once deployed cannot then move. However light battalion guns can deploy and move.
The bulk of the book is split into sections covering 8 campaigns or wars. Each of these sections is basically in the same format- a general introduction to the war in question - army lists and troop types for the armies included in that section (giving their ratings and special rules that they might have) - special rules for the key commanders in the war e.g. Marlborough, Frederick the Great - and a scenario description with orders of battle and map for an appropriate action from the period. The army lists cover the armies throughout this period not simply in the war in which they appear. So the Russian list which appears in the GNW section covers the Russian army up to the Seven Years War. The 8 campaigns covered are listed below with the army lists included.
The War of the Spanish Succession
Army lists and troop types for the British Army
Scenario the Battle of Blenheim 1704
The Great Northern War
Army lists and troop types for the Swedish and Russian Armies
Scenario the Battle of Holowczyn 1708
Army lists and troop types for the Ottoman and Austrian Armies
Scenario the Battle of Petrovardin 1716
The War of the Austrian Succession
Army lists and troop types for the French Army
Scenario the Battle of Fontenoy 1745
The Wars of the English Succession
Army lists and troop types for the Jacobite and Hanoverian (British) Armies
Mini Campaign scenario The 1745 rebellion
The Seven Year’s War
Army lists and troop types for the Prussian Army
Scenario the Battle of Hundorf 1762
War in the Colonies- The French & Indian Wars and The War in India
Army lists and troop types for Native American, Indian and Colonial Armies in America and India
Scenario the Battle of Ackia 1736
Raids and Invasions - Amphibious Warfare in the 18th century
Scenario Expedition to Cherbourg 1758
The section on the Wars of the English Succession - why that name as most of the actions take place in Scotland or Ireland? - includes a mini campaign for the 1745 rebellion. I found this section on the 45 interesting given the details of the research on the methods and weaponry of the Jacobite army - not just a mad charge by highlanders with sword and targe. There are also ideas from the mini campaign which could easily be adapted for other campaigns.
The scenario included in the War in the Colonies - the Battle of Ackia - is different as it is a French vs. Native American battle. As well as the Special rules given in that specific section there are further special rules included in some of the campaign sections e.g. restricting Ottoman command ability and allowing Native Americans a new troop type of warband which can move easily through difficult terrain like skirmishers.
There are a couple of errors in the production. The obvious one is that the scenario for the Expedition to Cherbourg 1758 is lacking its order of battle. In addition Native American war chiefs have a reduced command radius of 6" but both types of Native American units are always Marauders so they have an unlimited command radius. This needs to be clarified to say they are Marauders when commanded by a colonial commander. See official correction below.
I found LAOK an interesting read covering a wide period with enough ideas and scenarios that will keep me going for sometime. LOAK will not satisfy those who want detailed OBs for individual actions - you could easily produce individual books for the WSS and SYW. The lists are quite flexible and I suspect that players may be tempted to adopt too many of the extra abilities that troops can be allocated.
LAOK official corrections - included in 2nd edition reprint
Platoon Firing should only be available to STEADY infantry (not shaken or disordered).
In the Native American army list that appeared in the original print run we restricted the leaders to a 6″ command radius but then made all warbands Marauders which defeats the object. As a result the Marauders special rule has been removed for warbands.