“Warfare in the Age of Reason, 2nd Ed” not-quite-review

I’m working my way slowly through the rulebook Warfare in the Age of Reason (or AOR) for short.  When I began looking at rulesets to use for the Seven Years War, this one seemed the most ubiquitous, and I was able to pick up a copy cheap on eBay.

Of course, by this point, I have begun seeing lots of critical reviews of AOR by people favoring other rulesets, most often Koenig Krieg, or more frequently Batailles de l’Ancien Régime, which seems to be the favorite of many who have commented here.  The criticisms of AOR aren’t always clear, but it seems to follow the lines of issues with basing, typos in the rules, and failing to capture the true feel of what warfare in that era was like.

Having little idea what it is supposed to feel like, I can’t comment on the last issue.  Basing issues I can understand.  The rules call for three 25 to 28mm miniatures on a 1.5″ by 1″ base, which is only slightly larger than a single 25mm base for WHFB.  I notice that SYW historical minis lack the wide cast-on base that some other miniatures lines have, probably for this reason, but I worry about tipping a base over, especially a command one (as a side note, I’m considering upon what I would base miniatures, having concluded that taskboard may be too flimsy).

I haven’t found the typos yet, although I’m sure I can procure a list from the AOR Yahoo group.  I’m also not really sure how the game plays, although I’m vexed by the fact that unit ratings get used mathematically several different ways, including a target number to roll under and the number of dice rolled hoping to roll high.  That’s really no problem, though.

BAR appears to be more flexible, insisting not on miniatures basing but on movement trays.  It also favors larger numbers of miniatures to create the illusion of greater battles.  On the downside, BAR isn’t really available on the secondhand or PDF market, so it would be a $35 (plus postage) investment in a second rulebook.  I have this sneaky suspicion that I’ve picked up the most popular but not necessarily the best option.

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8 thoughts on ““Warfare in the Age of Reason, 2nd Ed” not-quite-review

  1. Again, let me urge you to try and find someone in your available travel area who plays . . . and use whatever rules they use.

    As I’ve stated before, I’m not a fan of AOR . . . but many people are. BAR is quite new (and I haven’t seen it yet), but has lots of good things being said about it.

    There are also several free online sets of rules. Take a look here (click on 18th Century):

    http://www.freewargamesrules.co.uk/

    — Jeff

  2. While it’s easy to criticize both AOR (unclear rules) and Koenig Krieg (lots of typos in the last edition, now out of print) they are really different kettle of fish. KK is designed for 15mm, and the basing system wouldn’t really work for 25mm – you either need a huge table or must use 3-figure battallions. AOR on the other hand is designed for 25mm, and the 15mm adaption is a bit of a hack; you must use a reduced scale ruler, the distances are not proportional to 25mm (90° turns are possible in only one of the scales) and the basing system is not compatible with other rules and prone to tipping over in slopes. My personal preference for AOR in 15mm would be to use two KK stands (0.75″x1″) as one AOR stand and use the 25mm scale.

    That said, both of the above have been around for a long time, and while that may account for their popularity there are several newer rule sets since then which may be better suited for newcomers. One is Sam A. Mustafa’s Might & Reason, which evades the basing issue by using two large-sized bases of 40-60cm width for a brigade. Production value is top notch, although I find the reduction of training, morale and size into a single “goodness” factor does make the units somewhat bland and generic.

    http://sammustafa.com/

    Another newcomer is Minden Rose which seems to be inspired of the “good old days” when gaming was meant for fun and not statistical analysis:

    http://www.emperorgames.co.uk/mindenintro.htm

    While primarily designed for Grand Alliance/Marlburian periods, Lace Wars seems interesting although I haven’t read them myself:

    http://www.caliverbooks.com/Partizan%20Press/partizan_lw_lw.shtml

    Lastly, there are a few rules “in progress” that could be worth checking out. First, Die Kriegskunst is a Seven Years War version of General de Brigade napoleonic tactical rules which should be published soon. For 15mm there is also the Age of Honor variant for Age of Eagles (itself based on the ACW rules Fire & Fury). Since the basing for both are compatible to KK and Napoleon’s Battles it can’t hurt to check them out. Lastly, some years ago Greg Savvinos developed a 7YW variant of the latter called Frederick’s Battles, which has been published by Gauntlet Press.

    http://www.edinburghwargames.com/SYW.htm
    http://ageofeagles.com/downloads.aspx
    http://www.gauntletinternational.com/RuPubsC.htm

  3. I have played AoR for around 17 years now after getting into my first game in 1991 at Historicon. Since then I have run AoR games at Historicon and Cold Wars plus some of the Canadian conventions.

    I found that AoR gave me a very good game and every game that I ran at the conventions had more players than places available.

    There are some quirks but most are easily worked out by either re-reading the rules, using common sense or asking on the Yahoo site. Most problems come from players that try to use Napoleonic tactics.

    One surprising piece of information – I ran a large AoR game at Historicon ’98 with 8 players a side and we got a complete decision in the game in 4 hours. The game was then re-run by another game master with completely different set of players but using Carnage & Glory computer based rules. Afetr 4 hours an almost identical result with similar casualty ratio.

    For me AoR are one of teh best ruleset around.

    Cheers,

    Graham Wilkinson

  4. I also like the Age of Reason rules. I have widened the bases to approximately 35mm, with a depth of about 3/4 inch to prevent tipping. It also is less cramped. It seems to work just fine.

  5. I enjoy Age of Reason as well.

    I also enjoy volley and Bayonet, which I have a couple after action reports for on my blog.

    I dont have any fro AOR yet, but its a pretty straight up game that is a fun game. Havent played KK or BAR yet.

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