Land of the Free wars from 1754 until 1815 in North America, I have looked forward to Land of the Free since I got told about this rule set coming out a while ago. I have a soft spot for all things colonial. Back home I would love a decent set of ideas for the Eureka Stockade (1854). So the wars between France and England in North America leading into the War of 1812, even the war against Mexico hold a lot of interest for me, the Rule set of Land of the Free does cover the period from 1754 until 1815 in North America.
The book is again a fantastic production from Osprey, you can get it in hardback but also in e-format via Amazon for a Kindle, ePub, eBook and PDF versions. More games are coming like this and I welcome that as keeping an eformat version up to date is far easier and requires far less space on the old book shelf.
The feel of the rule set appealed to me as soon as I opened the book with a history of the era starting with the French Indian war, it straight away reminded me of why I like this time period. Like all Osprey Published titles the amount of amazing art work in the book is fantastic, not only the Osprey Publishing art, but also the photos of Miniatures for the game. It gives some really good ideas for painting of miniatures, themes for battles, and terrain.
The Index at the start is nice and straight forward the concepts of command and control are demonstrated well in the rules, with elements being able to do simple things while under the influence of a commander, the commanders can add to commands using a command point system rolled for at the start of the each turn or tell an element to hold that command for either a snapfire (overwatch) or counter charge.
The game play is not you go I go, it is by command group. All the elements in a single command group do their actions, then the commander moves. Once this has happened the other side get’s to do the same. It is a very nice concept. You do get to react quickly to what is happening and counter it.
The shooting mechanic is elegant in that you add or subtract dice for modifiers, needing 5-6’s to hit. If for some reason the shooting goes to negative dice you still roll one die, and you need a six. Combat is same. All elements start with 2D6 in the combat or shooting pool. Like a lot of historical rule sets there is no removal of models instead they elements have morale issues and if they drop in morale enough they break and retire from the game.
The next section of the book is all the extra rules that elements can have like what sort of troop type they are, these all change the base level cost of every element, so you can build what sort of force you are after. With every element starting the same, and being able to tailor the size/cost of each element, there is very good feel for balance. It also has all the advanced rules in it.
Where the book it’s self really stands out, there are a number of standard scenarios to use, the real highlight is the historical battles, these are a great addition to a rules set. It give a good idea on what the forces at the time looked like and how they operated. These historical battles have a complete set of forces and diagrams of how the table should look. Where each battle group was deployed.
Suffice to say that the rules look neat and compact. The rule set is top quality and it is a welcome big battle system, there are some rule set’s I have that do try to capture the feel of the North American colonial period, this does that very well. I was really pleased to see the list of acknowledgments for all the different miniature company’s that make figures, and accessories for the period and this game. Tokens are going to be in order for this game, far easier to remember everything with a token and not a set dice.
People that already have Tomahawks and Muskets figures and forces already have a start in this big battle game, I think they are complementary set’s of rules to have. I recommend this if you get a chance, what is there not to like about tricorne hats (cocked hats) anyway….