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With It Or On It by Hollandspiele "With it or on it". This is what Spartan mothers would tell their...

With it Or On It by Hollandspiele With it Or On It by Hollandspiele

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


With It Or On It



"With it or on it". This is what Spartan mothers would tell their sons, meaning bring back your shield or die on the battlefield. This is an excellent name for a tactical battle game based in Ancient Greece. Quite a few games have tried to recreate hoplite warfare for the wargamer. Let us see what is in the box:

17" x 22" mapsheet
176 counters
8-page rulebook
16 page Battle Book
1 eight-sided die

 As usual, minimalism is the key word when describing a Hollandspiele game. This one seems to have more counters than their other games, but that is the only thing that differs. The counters are large at 5/8", and the artwork on them is workmanlike. They are done in a manner that makes it easy to distinguish the different types of units. Speaking of the units, there are only four different types. These are:

Heavy Infantry
Light Infantry
Light Horse

 You will notice the absence of archers, slingers, and javelin men. This is a design decision that we will get into shortly. The map is as plain as plain can be, and it is made up of squares, not hexes. There is also absolutely no terrain at all except clear hexes. The rulebook is only seven pages long with the CRT etc. on the back page. The Battle Book is larger, and is filled with the background history of the battles and the setups for each of the scenarios.  The historical write up about the background history and the battles is well done. These are the battles that are included:

Marathon 490 BC
Plataea 479 BC
Tanagra 457 BC
Olpae 426 BC
Delium 424 BC
Mantinea 418 BC

 You will notice that these battles are either from the Greco-Persian Wars or early in the Peloponnesian War. This game is designer Tom Russell's first game in the Swords and Shields II ancient series. Swords and Shields I was based on battles from the Middle Ages. 
This is the sequence of play:

1. Command Phase
2. Action Phase
  a. Skirmish Phase(s)
  b. Rally Phase
  c. Move Phase(s)
  d. Combat Phase
3. Victory Phase
4. Initiative Phase

 Now to the rules; these are exceedingly short and sweet, but a bit deceptive. The rulebook, although well written, has no examples of play. The game mechanics are so different from other ancient games that at least one or two would have been a good addition to the rulebook. Mr. Russell has done some very good videos about the game, and there will be links below. These were a godsend. Remember the lack of skirmishers? Well the design decision behind that is they are actually present on the battlefield, but not actually represented by cardboard units. All units have a skirmimish zone that extends three hexes in front of them. So when your troops enter the skirmish zone they must stop and take die rolls against their exhaustion (exhaustion is used instead of casualties in the game). Your command decisions, movement, rally, and combat are all given to your separate 'Wings'. These are units that are color coded the same. These are the commands that can be used for each wing:


 As you can see, you cannot move and initiate combat at the same time. The Strategos counter allows you to give one command for all of your wings. This however lowers your Rally Limit by one (each scenario has a Rally Limit listed for each side to begin with). The Bonus counter gives you a few different pluses, from combat to rally. Leaders are also handled quite differently from the norm. In each scenario, both sides are given a set amount of leaders for each wing. Thus, the player knows how many leaders he has in a wing. However, during setup the leader side of the counter is put face down, and the player sets up not knowing where they are. When a unit is picked by the player to suffer exhaustion due to the CRT, the counter is then flipped over to its obverse. At this time you might find that it just suffers losses, or routs (it was brittle to begin with), or find a leader underneath. I will quote from the rulebook on the rule for elimination and rout:

 "9.5 Elimination & Rout Units that are Eliminated are removed from play, scoring Victory Points (VP) for the opposing player; the opposing player should group these Units off to the side of the map in whatever way makes it convenient for them to keep count. If a Revealed Leader is Eliminated, its side's Rally Limit is reduced by one.
 Whenever a player's Unit or Leader is Eliminated as a result of Combat, it immediately triggers a simultaneous Rout Check for all Foot Units (not Horse) in all of that player's Wings. Units that fail the check are Eliminated; Units that pass the check are not.13 Units Eliminated via a Rout Check do not themselves trigger another Rout Check, but if multiple Units are Eliminated as a result of Combat, multiple Rout Checks will be triggered.

 To pass a Rout Check,  it must be adjacent to at least two friendly Units in the same Wing, or  it must be adjacent to at least one friendly Unit in the same Wing, that itself satisfies the first condition."

 So if you have a unit by itself that is eliminated (through exhaustion or poor play), it can take a whole slew of other units with it. This is a part of playing that seems very historically accurate, but is also extremely troubling for the player in question.

 I was fully prepared not to like the game, and in reading the rules I really didn't see how they could actually work. I was more than pleasantly surprised to see that they actually do work and the results seem to match history. I am not saying the battles all play out the same way, but the results seem to fit with the history we know about these battles, especially the fact that one minute you have a line of infantry and the next a routed wing. Thank you Hollandspiele for letting me review another great game. For those of you who may be put off by the lack of hexes, no terrain, and skirmishers please look at the rules and watch the videos. You might be as surprised as I was.

Here are the links to the games and videos:

With It Or On It:

Antony and Cleopatra by Hollandspiele    "Hail, Antony's Legions". Thus began a fif...

Antony and Cleopatra by Hollandspiele Antony and Cleopatra by Hollandspiele

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Antony and Cleopatra



 "Hail, Antony's Legions". Thus began a fifty plus year love of Ancient Rome, and then all of Ancient History. It also started a love of brunettes, but I digress. Was Antony so besotted with love that he lost all of his strategic and tactical sense? Was Actium inevitable or just a fluke? Hollandspiele has allowed us to kick Octavian's butt (we don't use that other name, he is always Octavian). Enough about the history and brunettes, how is this new game?

 This is what comes with the game:

  • (1) 22" x 34" map
  • (88) 5/8" counters
  • 12-page rulebook
  • 4-page Player Aid
  • 2 Player Display Sheets
  • 20 Province Cards
  • 1 six-sided die

 If you have been following the blog you will know that I love Hollandspiele's games, especially ones designed by John Theissen. His games have a small footprint as far as counters go. However, even with a small amount of counters he is still able to give the player a multitude of choices, both strategic and tactical. This game is no exception to the rule. 

 The map is not overly colorful, but I really like it. It has large hexes to help with the amount of counters which could be in one of them. The counters are your standard Hollandspiele's fare. Not the prettiest, but totally useful? The cards are very well done and the most artistic of the components. The rulebook is in black and white. It is set up very well and is easy to read and understand. Setup is easy.

 This is the sequence of play:

Each side adds up their respective Resource Points. The higher total is the first player.

Random Events Phase
 A. Storm Check
 B. Invasion Check
First Player Turn
Second Player Turn

This is a Player Turn:
A. Reinforcement Phase
B. Defection Phase
C. Movement Phase
D. Combat Phase
E. Attrition Phase

 The Western Player also has a Phase called 'Troubles Phase'

The Combat Phase has these Phases:
1. Attacker Declaration
2. Retreat Before Combat
3. Odds Calculation
4. Combat Results Table
5. Losses, Retreats, And Advances

 The only rule that I have a problem with is this one. Both Antony and Octavian give a favorable shift in Land Combat. For Antony it's totally understandable. Octavian couldn't tell one end of a pilum from the other. If anything, troops commanded by him should get a minus shift. Agrippa gives a favorable shift for Naval Combat for the Western Player.

The Western (Octavian) starts with eight 'Experienced' legions, with three more as first turn reinforcement. The Eastern (Antony), starts with six 'Experienced' legions, with one as a first turn reinforcement. However, the Eastern player also has four regular legions at the start. The Western Player can also reinforce his troops with eight experienced legions from the Off-Map Garrisons. If the amount of legions Off-Map goes below eight, the Western Player has a 'Troubles' Phase. This represents invasions or rebellions that occur Off-Map. If either of this happens the Western Player cannot take any more Off-Map reinforcements until the Off-Map number of 'Experienced' legions reaches eight again. The naval might of the Eastern player is pretty daunting for the Western player. These are the separate naval forces:

Western Player

Light Squadrons - six

Transports - one

Eastern Player

Heavy Squadrons - six

Light Squadrons - two

Transports - three

 So you can see that the Eastern Player can effectively strike where he wants to. It takes two turns to build Squadron reinforcements, all other units only take one turn.

 The game plays and feels very historical. You do not feel that you are moving troops and ships from a generic point in time. The game is won by Prestige Points. You gain or lose points by losing/winning battles or if your capital is captured. If you or the other player has five or more points than the other player, the higher player can try to cause the lower players troops or a province of his. This is something that happened frequently in all of the Roman Civil Wars.

 I am very impressed with the game. The player is given so many choices in the game. Offense, defense, what do you choose? If you do play badly or are getting bad rolls, it is hard and takes a good player to pull your irons out of the fire. Thank you, Hollandspiele for letting me review a great game on one of my favorite subjects. Now, get to work on the Civil War between Sulla and Marius. Of course, I will take Pompey Magnus versus Caesar (it is so hard to write that name).


Horse & Musket Volume III: Crucible of War by Hollandspiele  This is the third volume in the Horse & Mus...

Horse & Musket Volume III: Crucible of War by Hollandspiele Horse & Musket Volume III: Crucible of War by Hollandspiele

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



 This is the third volume in the Horse & Musket game series. The first, 'Dawn of an Era', is needed to play the series (the second volume is 'Sport of Kings'). As with every Hollandspiele game I have played, minimalism is the key word. Don't think that this means that game play is compromised; it's far from it. The minimalist approach means that instead of a fifty to sixty page rulebook, you get only the real meat in these wargames. 

 The game is a tactical one that gives the players various battles from the 'Age of Reason'. In this instance, the battles start in 1755 at Monongahela in North America , to 1762 at Freiburg in 1762. As you can guess the main subject is the Seven Years War. A few of the battles take place in North America, but most take place in central Europe. The exception would be Plassey on the sub-continent of India. The game comes with the following:

An updated set of Scenario Special Rule cards
A sheet of counters with new units and markers
Volume III specific Player Aid with charts

 The markers that are unique to Volume III include 'Woods markers', 'Fortified Town', and 'Square markers'. 

 The game components are just like every Hollandspiele game I have played. They are fully functional, but are not the fancy hand drawn maps etc. that sometimes come with games from the Age of Reason. The map is a blank slate that you add tiles of water, woods, and towns etc. to. The colors are muted, but still pleasing to the eye. The counters are a bit different. These have vibrant colors, and the portraits of the commanders are first rate.The counters themselves are very well made and seem thicker and sturdier.

 The new additions/revised rules for this volume take up just about a full page. These include:

Delayed Bayonet Charge
Movement Cadence marching
Artillery Fire Vs. Charges

 These are the Optional Rules that can be used with Volume III:

Nationality Rules (use these from Volume III, and not the ones that came with the earlier games)
Volley Fire

 This is the sequence of play:

1. Player A rolls and determines random action points available to the command action points and stored action points for his total.
2. Player A spends his action points one at a time and performs allowable actions in any order he wishes.
3. Check victory
4. Player B rolls and determines random action points available to the command action points and stored action points for his total.
5. Player B spends his action points one at a time and performs allowable actions in any order he wishes.
6. Check victory
7. End turn - move turn marker ahead one space on the turn record chart and go to Step 1.

 As you can see, the game play adds the fog of war to both sides with the random action point rolls. The player must also consider when and where to actually spend theses points. Do you wait and see how your defense is holding up on this turn, or do you start your counter-attack now? Like all great wargames the Horse & Musket series does a stellar job of putting the player in the shoes of the generals from this time period. The game also has enough chrome to make you believe you are fighting in the 18th century and not a stamped out WWII era game with different names for the units. 

The leaders Montcalm, Wolfe, Friedrich der Grosse, Daun, and the battles of Leuthen, Kolin, Minden are all here along with a great many more. To see what I mean about the minimal approach, let us look at the Battle of Leuthen. This battle was one of the larger ones from this time. The Prussians have only eight pieces on the board, not counting leaders. The Austrians have a total of thirteen counters that you to have to order around like a good cardboard general. So, just like all of Hollandspiele's games the player can concentrate on his strategy, and not his manual dexterity. The battles of the Prussians against the Russians are my favorites. 

  Hollandspiele is a relatively new company, but it already has a large catalog of games for many tastes, from straight wargames to political simulations. They have quickly become one of my favorite publishers and a big thanks to them for letting me review this volume of Horse & Musket.

 Here are the links to the other volumes:


Campaign of Nations by   Hollandspiele    It is the second half of the year 1813. Napoleon had won two battles ...

Campaign of Nations by Hollandspiele Campaign of Nations by Hollandspiele

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



  It is the second half of the year 1813. Napoleon had won two battles earlier in the year, Lutzen and Bautzen. Both were empty victories for the French, having almost no cavalry. What cavalry they did have was mounted on any nag the French could find. The Allied had a large amount cavalry and they were well trained and mounted. Napoleon had agreed to armistice after Bautzen was fought. During that time the Prussians and Russians, with English money, had brought Austria and Sweden into the war. The Allies had also come up with a new plan: to run away like Monty Python from a battle with Napoleon, but to always keep moving forward in other areas and attack his Marshals. That is enough of the history. What about the game?


Rule Book

  I must admit up front that I am a fanatic about the 1813 campaign. Napoleon in Italy or Austerlitz, ho hum, but give me Lutzen, Bautzen, or Dresden and I am in wargaming heaven. So this game had better be good.


 Hollandspiele as a company has a policy of minimalism with its games. Not for lack of resources, it just seems to be their modus operandi. Designer John Theissen fits right into this way of thinking. I have played and reviewed his 'More Aggressive Attitudes', and it is a study in minimalism. To be a good wargame, you do not need to have a monster map and a thousand counters. What you need is a good background in the history of the campaign/battle and a rule book that reads well and makes sense. 

Victory Point Cards

 The game comes with:

  • 22" x 17" map
  • 88 counters
  • 27 Event Cards
  • 8-page rulebook
  • 1 six-sided die

 This is the sequence of play is:

1. Movement
2. Combat
3. Disruption Recovery
4. VP Check
 The French player always goes first.

 The Combat Phases are these:

1. Retreat Before Combat
2. Concentrate Forces
3. Reveal Combat Units
4. Coordination Check
5. Combat Odds Ratio
6. Combat Results Table Die Roll
7. Casualty Table Die Roll
8. Defensive Works Table Die Roll
9. Apply Results


CRT Etc.

 The Event Cards add some great flavor and turning points in the game. These events include:

Safe March 
Turns of Rest
Austrian Reorganization

 The game is won by winning battles, and by taking victory cities/hexes.

 The minimalism of Hollandspiele is noticeable in the map also. It is highly functional and easy to read, but is simple. The counters follow in the same vein. They are easy to read with NATO symbols, so the player has no trouble distinguishing them from one another.

Main Part Of The Map

 If the game is missing anything, it would be the first part of the 1813 campaign. The slightly different rules from the earlier game are to simulate Napoleonic Warfare. I believe that they work very well.  Playing as the French, you have to try and catch one of the enemy armies and destroy it and then the others. Playing as the Allies, stick and move until you can bring the French bear to tree. I have reviewed several Hollandspiele games, and to be truthful it is hard for me to pick a favorite. Going only by the content I think it might be this game, although Horse and Musket also grabs me because of the content. Thank you Hollandspiele for the chance to review another great game.

 This is the link to the Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era review:

 This is a link to the 'More Aggressive Attitudes' review:

 These are both excellent games. More Aggressive Attitudes is about the campaign of Second Bull Run. Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era is a compilation of European battles from roughly 1690-1720. All of the favorites are here: Poltava (BOO), Narva (YAY), Malplaquet, Blenheim, and many others. Hollandspiele is a small company whose games are very good and they are also priced well. So, do yourself a favor and look them up. Their catalog is growing all the time.


Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era by Hollandspiele  I normally only have one game at a time set up, that is unti...

Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era by Hollandspiele Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era by Hollandspiele

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



 I normally only have one game at a time set up, that is until Horse and Musket showed up at my door. I had to figure out a way to set it up and play it. For those of us who are interested in the wars of Louis XIV, this is almost the Holy Grail. The campaigns and battles of Marlborough during the War of The Spanish Succession have had a lot of games designed about them (I should know I own almost all of them). Some games even allow you to fight battles from earlier in the Sun King's reign. This game allows you to fight battles from 1683 until 1720. So this includes the Nine Years' War or the War of The Grand Alliance. This war was fought from 1688-1997. What this means is that you can now refight the battles of French Marshals Catinat and Luxembourg. The game actually allows you to start your tour of the Horse and Musket era in 1683 and fight to save or keep besieging Vienna during the Ottoman's last gasp toward conquering Europe. This is a list of the battles included:

Vienna - September 12, 1683 – “We came, we saw, and God Conquered.”
Sedgemoor - July 6, 1685 – The Bloody Assizes
Killiecrankie - July 27, 1689 – Slaughter at Sundown
Fleurus - July 1, 1690 – The French Cannae
Aughrim - July 22, 1691 – Bloody Hollow
La Prairie - August 11, 1691 – Double Ambush
Neerwinden - July 29, 1693 – Le Tapissier de NĂ´tre Dame
Marsaglia - October 4, 1693 – The Massed Bayonet Charge is Born
Narva - November 30, 1700 – Charles XII Smashes the Russian Army
Chiari - September 1, 1701 – Catinat’s Last Battle
Klissow - July 19, 1702 – Charles XII Invades Poland
Blenheim - August 13, 1704 – “A Famous Victory”
Fraustadt - February 13, 1706 – The Swedish Cannae
Turin - September 7, 1706 – Eugene’s Greatest Victory
Almansa - April 25, 1707 – Battle of the Exiles
Poltava - July 8, 1709 – The Student Surpasses the Master
Malplaquet - September 11, 1709 – Mort et convoi de l'invincible Malbrough
Villaviciosa - December 10, 1710 – A Bourbon on the Spanish Throne
Sheriffmuir - November 13, 1715 – Confusion on the Moors
Glen Shiel - June 10, 1719 – Rob Roy’s Last Battle

 The map for the game is 16"x 32". It is a 'blank slate' type of map. To represent the different battles, there are geomorphic tiles to be used in the hexes. So this allows the player to be creative and make up his own scenarios once he has played through the ones that come with the game. To me, the geomorphic tiles have an old type style to them that sets the tone for the game. 

The game comes with a 15 page rule book. It also comes with a 27 page scenario booklet. At the end of the scenario booklet are 6 pages of historical notes on the battles and the era.
The core rules are only 10 pages long. To these are added another 38 optional rules. Some of these are listed 'highly recommended'. Then there are ones that are 'strongly recommended'. This is the funny yet entirely true warning before the optional rules:

 You've reached the end of the core rules. What follows are Optional Rules. For your first few games, please use the core rules only. I know almost every rulebook says this, and you ignore that and jump right in for the 'real stuff', but we really mean it this time. Once you've gotten a grip on the core rules, you can add one or more of the thirty-eight optional rules that follow."

This is a list of the units that you get to command:
Elite infantry
Line infantry
Light infantry
Highlander - these ones are not immortal

The game turn sequence is:

1. Player A rolls and determines random action points available and adds to the Command Action Points and stored Action Points for his total.
2. Player A spends Action Points one at a time and performs allowable actions in any order he wishes.
3. Check Victory
4. Player B rolls and determines random Action Points available and adds to the Command Action Points and stored Action Points for his total.
5. Player B spends Action Points one at a time and performs allowable actions in any order he wishes.
6. Check Victory
7. End turn - move turn marker ahead one space on CAP Track, and go back to step 1.

 So along with Marshal Luxembourg you get to try and do better than Charles XII, Marlborough, Villars, and Prince Eugene. If it was a movie what a cast you would have! 

  The game uses very few pieces to represent the forces in each battle. This might be a turn off to some gamers who love to see their army all lined up and taking up most of their side of the map. To me, the small number of counters mean that you will have to spend much less time to set up the game and start playing. I don't think that the low counter use detracts from the game play either. There are still a multitude of tactics and plans that you can come up with to win your battle. Once you are set with the rules and start using the optional ones is when the game really shines. It gives the player the feel of fighting battles in the 17th and 18th century. I would say that the game is easy to play and not simple. There is a really big difference between the two. I have played a few of Mr, Chick's games, and I am a real fan. It is not just because of the time period, but I am also a fan of the games' designs and mechanics.