TITLE: The Final Argument of Kings: Miniature Rules for Land Battles 1734-63
AUTHOR: Dean West with John Hill and Jim Mitchell
PUBLISHER: Old Battlefields Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 1999
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): Unknown
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The Seven Years War
The Final Argument of Kings (FAK) is a comb bound book of 68 pages. The rules occupy a full 62 pages with two short appendices filling the remaining six. It includes a number of loose inserts, including a sequence of play reference, two player reference sheets, a page of order counters and a scenario for Chotusitz from the 1st Silesian War.
SCOPE: Final Argument of Kings is designed for recreating entire battles of the SYW on the tabletop.
ARMY SIZE: Given the figure ratio used in the rules, units will tend to be in the 12-20 figure range. Accordingly, armies will require at least around 200-300 figure per side.
- Units are individual battalions, cavalry regiments and artillery batteries. Infantry and cavalry units are always 4 bases.
- Ground Scale: 1”= 45-50 Yards
- Time scale 1 turn = 20 minutes
- Figure/Base Ratio 1 figure = 40 men
- Recommended Figure Size: 15mm.
- Table Size: Not stated. However, the included scenario calls for a 6x9 table.
- Game Length: Most games should be playable in one long evening
Infantry and cavalry basing varies depending on the number of figures on the base. Infantry bases are all 1” deep. For infantry, base width are:
- 2 Figures: 7/16”
- 3 Figures: 5/8”
- 4 Figures: 13/16”
- 5 Figures: 1 - 1/16”
- 6 Figures: 1 - 5/16”
Cavalry bases are all 1 - 3/8” deep. Base widths for cavalry are:
- 1 Figure: 7/16”
- 2 Figures: 7/8”
- 3 Figures: 1 - 1/4”
Artillery bases are 1 - 3/4” wide by 1 - 5/16” deep.
- Mark Orders: Both players simultaneously place an order counter next to each unrouted unit (face down).
- Move all routed units.
- Check morale of shaken and routed units.
- Reveal Orders: Players simultaneously reveal their order counters by flipping them face up.
- Check Command & Control
- Resolve First Fires
- Move Disengaging Units
- Resolve Charges to Melee
- Normal Movement: Both sides move simultaneously.
- Resolve Moving Fires
- Resolve Melees
- Resolve Officer Casualties
The Orders System:
FAK is an adaptation of the Johnny Reb rules set, and as such uses the same orders system. Each turn, each unit is marked with an order counter. The order given to a unit restricts the activities it may perform during the turn. Units may freely be issued any order during any turn. There is no need, as there is in some rule sets, to check to “change” orders. Generally you simply issue a new order counter.
Movement, as one might expect, is driven by troop quality and formation. Good infantry in line move 8” in open terrain, while poor infantry move only 4”. Special rules cover front-to-flank moves, disengaging (retrograde movement) and wheeling.
Terrain is simply classified as open, broken or rough with penalties applying for each terrain type. There is a summary of movement for each of the three grades of troops. Units may “quick march” for extra movement.
One result of movement is disorder. A number of situations automatically disorder the moving unit - for example, moving obliquely at an angle exceeding 45 degrees or inter-penetration.
FAK has a system for hidden movement using blinds. A marker is on the map and for each marker a diagram of how the troops it represents are deployed. When the marker is removed, the troops must be deplyed according to the appropriate diagram.
Morale is tested for a variety of reasons. The test is simple. Take your morale value (called a Basic Morale Point or BMP) and modify it to get an MMP (Modified Morale Point). Roll higher than your point on 2D6 to pass. Failure drops you one morale level from Good > Shaken > Routed. Roll box cars and improve one level, roll snake eyes and drop two!
The BMP is modifed for a variety of factors such as being supported (or not), no enemy in sight, in cover or works, etc. Casualties, being enfiladed, or charged in the rear are other examples.
In addition to testing for losses, units must test during a charge, if nearby friendly units rout, and when taking a first casualty.
Firing uses a Combat Results Table with a die roll cross referenced with the number of figures firing. The number of figures firing is modified - usually by doubling, halving or quartering - and 2D6 are rolled. The result is the number of figures in the target that are hit. Casualties are marked with a bit of pipe cleaner which doubles as the morale marker (green = good, yellow = shaken, red = routed). When all figures on a stand are hit, the stand is removed.
Figures are halved for moving, being shaken, area fire etc. They are also affected by weapon range. Figure counts are doubled at short range, halved at long.
The die roll is also subject to a substantial list of modifiers. These include Opening Volley, troop quality, target formation, cover, enfilade etc.
Artillery fire is resolved differently from small arms. Each gun section has a fire value based on gun weight and range. Determine the total fire value and then modify for area fire, having moved etc. Roll 2D6 and add the final modified fire value. Cross reference this number with the gun type on the Artillery Combat results Table to get the number of figures hit.
If you are familiar with Johnny Reb, on which FAK is based, then you already know that the charge into melee process is almost a whole turn unto itself.
Charging happens simultaneously, and if there are multiple charging units in close proximity, they must be moved in segments. As units make contact individual charges are then resolved. Cavalry units that charge get bonus movement as well. Once units come into range of the enemy the defender must take a morale check. Depending on the result they may nervously fire at long range, or they may hold and fire at close. Units that rout as a result of the morale check do not fire at all, naturally. Units on “Hold” orders may fire at charging units, even if they are not the target of the charge.
If in good morale and with the right orders, units may also choose to counter-charge. The charging unit may need to take a morale check as a result of the fire. If they pass the charge continues. If they fail, they halt where the fire was taken.
If the charge has gone home and the charging unit has contacted a defender, a “dice down” takes place to see if either unit flinches. 2D6 are rolled by each side and added to the respective units’ BMP. The lower total wins.
If the attacker loses, the unit will be forced back in disorder. If the defender loses it either routs (if already shaken) or falls back in disorder.
Attackers that win the dice down may continue the charge and achieve a breakthrough.
Only if the dice down is a tie, or the charging unit contacts a shaken enemy does a melee result. Melee is resolved much like small arms fire. Each involved figure is worth a number of points. Add up your points, modify as needed, then roll 2D6 and consult the Small Arms Combat Result Chart. Apply losses and take morale checks as required. Up to three rounds may be fought. If a unit routs during melee it is considered captured and removed from play. If the three rounds end with both sides still holding, both sides will make a small retreat.
The rule book includes one scenario - Chotusitz - as well as army lists for several major nations. There are no lists for Spain.
Overall the rules read very cleanly. They are presented in order of the turn sequence, and have sufficient examples. There are few diagrams and some additional examples of play would be very helpful. It is a rule set that requires close reading however, as there are lots of special exceptions, modifiers, and situations that must be kept in mind.