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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Wednesday 27 December 2023

Shot, Steel and Stone

 Henry Hyde has published his Shot, Steel and Stone rules as a stand-alone set, an outline was previously published in The Wargaming Compendium. You can download a summary, more than a QRS, and a play-through at his website. It's a reasonably short, almost old-school rules booklet that keeps the price down compared to modern sets.

The rules are designed for the Horse and Musket period, roughly 1685-1850. They are an interesting mix of old-school systems and more modern friction rules. Basing and scale are flexible, so there is no need for rebasing. Typically, a close-order base is six figures in two ranks, which is standard, and measurement is by base width. While you can play small battle games, as I did for the playtest, it is aimed at bigger games with larger units than you might typically see in modern rules. 

The introduction could do with a more precise explanation of the turn sequence. For example, it is unclear if both sides shoot each turn or just the side with the initiative. Movement depends on leadership with a Black Powder style leadership roll. However, the impact is softened by small failures that still allow for some movement. This is a definite improvement on the Black Powder approach, which can leave units stranded for several moves. The rules are old-school when it comes to modifiers, with more than you might see in other rules today. In part, this reflects the broad time period, but the length of some tables can result in players missing one or more factors, as we did!

Shooting and combat uses multiple dice to hit and saving throws. This is popular and works well, with a few good tweaks to the system. We didn't use artillery, but that is a little more complex and old-school than you might typically find today. In our playtest, the approach and outcomes were historical, which is always a good test of rules. Check the inevitable list of typos on the website before playing; we spent ages trying to work out the full impact of a retreat outcome because it got missed out.

The reaction test and modifiers are again a bit more complex that you might find today, although I liked the table format, which made it easier to follow. However, adding a relatively lengthy list of disruptions is unnecessary. 

A chapter on additional rules for colonial conflicts includes elephants and exotic add-ons like naphtha and flaming pigs. Plus, there are some special rules for native troops that look interesting.

Overall, there was a strong element of nostalgia for me playing these rules. My younger opponent found them hard work, but I enjoyed the old-school feel. I say feel because this isn't the Bruce Quarrie level of detail, and Henry has adopted several modern approaches to rule writing. I doubt these will replace my favoured rules for this period, but these will get dusted down when I get around to my planned imaginations campaign.  

Our playtest was a 1745 Jacobite rebellion game in 28mm. The Jacobites are landing supplies on my lovely new beach mat Xmas present. Two units of Highlanders and a cavalry unit cover the landing when three units of redcoat infantry make an unwelcome appearance.

The government troops advanced in line and started to volley fire. The Highlanders responded with the inevitable charge. They broke through in the centre but were beaten back on both flanks. Time to skip away and try to land somewhere else!


  1. Thank you for taking the time to do this very fair review, Dave, much appreciated and I’ll set about making the clarifications you mention!

    1. No problem Henry. I have sent you an email with the ones I remembered.

  2. I’m not sure it’s a set of rules I’ll ever get around to playing (so many games, so little time). The game /scenario looks remarkably similar to one you played last month and again shows how difficult it is to fight with your back to the sea.
    All the best for ‘24.

    1. I know the problem being a self-confessed butterfly! All the best to you and yours.