The reign in Spain…

On the table, (after Eylau) Talavera from the twinpack (Talavera and Albuera) of Spanish Eagles with the updated Eagles of the Empire series rules.

The series rules are a decent lot and the special stuff for Talavera is not too much to swallow. There’s still some annoying errata, but it’s at the ‘Who moved my cheese?’ end of the spectrum and hasn’t stopped me racing through the game.

I still hate the bucket of dice combat system. OK, ‘hate’ may be too strong, but I truly do not like it.

As for these battles, just like Eylau, I needed to do some reading up to fill in the background. I had some material lying around about Talavera from when I played the Gamers’ NBS game on the same battle and, amazingly, I hadn’t forgotten it all.  But Albuera was largely unknown to me beyond the briefing in the game.

The advantage of this level of game, is that the focus is high up the command chain and largely stays that way. You do not get ground down by low level combat and decision making. So, in general, the narrative flows quickly. However, the loss of detail is also a loss of color (or flavor or atmosphere) and that means the experience is awfully like playing a game that could be set anytime in the horse and musket era. Those parts that make it distinctive are not that distinctive.

On the plus side, the terrain analysis is impressive, and you do get the challenges of command without being burdened by a written orders system. It is frustrating – and realistic – to have your formations ignore your orders!

Glad this eventually got to the table, though.

Fiction – December 2019

Number 22 of the Spenser series, this was one of the better ones. Spenser is searching for a policeman’s missing wife. It quickly transpires that things (as usual) are not what they seem. The reader gets snappy dialog, a touch of sex and violence, and a story worth following. Recommended. But start at the beginning.

Fantasy romp that fell flat with me. Nothing was convincing: jerky dialog, uneven characterization, and unlikely motivations. The fantasy backdrop didn’t work. The story might have been worth telling, but not like this. Avoid.

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