Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wargame Wednesdays - Hold the Line

So, I have been wanting to start writing some reviews of games from Virginia wargaming companies for the past few weeks, and I finally got started on the first - a title from Worthington Games named Hold the Line.

HtL is a lightweight wargame that recreates situations from the American Revolutionary War, in the struggle between the Continentals and the British Regulars. It has rules for leaders, different troop types, movement, combat, terrain effects, and a very nice selection of troops.

On first glance, a lot of gamers draw comparisons between HtL and Richerd Borg's Command and Colors series - and there are some similarities.  Both are played on a similarly sized (in number of hexes) generic board, using tiles for terrain.  Both involve abstracted troop body markers, that have a capability to move, fight, and shoot.  Both have a basic shoot ability that degrades over range (although in two different ways, depending on the C&C title).  And both are scenario driven.  But there are some differences.

First, C&C uses cards to drive the action - you have a hand of cards and select one to do your turn.  In HtL it works differently.  Each side in a scenario has a basic rating (2,3,4, etc) that equates into a number of actions per turn.  To that, a D3 is rolled and added, and the total is the number of actions you can perform on your side in a turn.  An action is move, or shoot.  A unit may do either, but not both.  Since you have a bunch of units on your side, as in C&C, you are only dealing with a fraction of your forces on any one turn.

Second, there is the question of combat and the effects of range on shooting.  In C&C, the systems all use special dice, with symbols representing the different sorts of effects that can occur.  In HtL, simple D6 are used, and each unit gets a certain number of dice to roll.  There is a target number to make on the dice to cause a hit, and that target number gets reduced with range.  In the C&C games, many units receive few dice at range, although given the symbol based dice, the possibilities of a hit per die are the same.

Third, the C&C games all use nice physical representations of the units - either plastic soldiers or attractively stickered blocks.  HtL uses very attractive, heavy duty, counters that are easy to read, easy to handle, and have nice identifiable art.  It makes setup very fast.  Although I must admit - I am a sucker for plastic army men, and block based games...

In all, I think it is a very nice game, quick to set up, and fun.  The tactical challenges of the scenarios are really enjoyable, and the overall tempo of the game (where, since you are moving only a few units per turn, and you need to really set up a battle line for success, as is appropriate for 18th century warfare, it can take a few turns to adequately prepare and execute an attack) are refreshing.

A good friend of mine, Charles Cabell, has a very nice video review of the game, here...

Overall Hold the Line gets Two Thumbs Up from Gaming with Chuck.  Good job from Worthington Games.

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