Michigan Toy Soldier. Although clearly showing its bloodline this is a very different game from Pikeman's Lament or The Men Who Would Be Kings. The rules purport to cover the era from colonization through the ACW. To my mind that may be asking a bit from a simple set of rules, but further testing will have to be done before I make up my mind.
As a first play-test I dusted off a collection of 15mm Texas Revolution/ Mexican-American War that I had picked up at a convention years ago and had not been used for lack of rules. We ran a game from each period using the army lists provided in the rules and Scenario #1 from the rule book, this requires two scouting forces meeting and trying to hold onto a specific terrain point.
I had reservations about this as soon as I saw the troops on the table. Eighteen skirmishers (however well-motivated and effective) and a light cannon against four times as many any foot (plus a cavalry unit). Things were in no way helped by my inability to pass an Orders test that left the redoubtable Mr. Crockett (and his troops) rooted to the ground like a tree throughout the game. After three turns there was little left in doubt and we decided to re-set the game for the later period. Several points were noted; this set follows the TMWWBK model of not ending your turn with a failed Orders test, second it allows units suffering from "Disorder" to continue to try to function (albeit at a very much reduced level of efficiency) this allows them to retire to safety to restore order, third that it is a foolish thing to try to press an attack while carrying disorder markers (they count against you during a morale check). Armed with these thoughts we drew up our order of battle for the 1846 conflict.
the Texas Revolutionaries are at the bottom of the photo,
Davey Crockett and the cannon guard the center as the other units skirmish forward
1846 found us with much better balanced armies. We decided to fight the same scenario as we were pressed for time and this would clearly be a different sort of fight. The US force was much better balanced this time; a gun, a unit of cavalry and some foot garnished with one unit of skirmishers and a unit of Veterans. The Mexican force now had a unit of skirmishers, of Veteran Shock foot and a unit of Heavy (Shock) cavalry. I had such high hopes.
the initial deployment, the Americans moved onto the battlefield first while the Mexican army countered by moving in a compact mass (Joe understands that having the general's unit nearby is useful in passing Orders test)
the Americans surge forward but leave a unit behind in the rush (failed Orders tests), on the other side of the field the Mexicans move forward in a solid mass.
charges and concentrated fire from the American skirmishers and cavalry drive off the Mexican light troops but leave the Yankee troops vulnerable to enemy fire
a series of volleys by the Mexican foot sends the American foot reeling, killing the general,
while a charge by the Mexican Heavy Cavalry scatters the American Dragoons
the Morale Test caused by the death of the CO caused the gunners to retire as well as the otherwise uninjured Regulars, the American army was suddenly quite small
amusingly in the next American turn I rolled double sixes when activating my foot followed by another six and thus received an additional foot unit, the Action had been a volley fire which shattered the Mexican heavy cavalry and sent them from the field, the Dragoons had rallied and now held the center flanked be a disordered (due to half-strength) skirmisher unit.
the Mexicans fired at the only American unit that they could see; causing casualties and sending it retiring to the rear, they then advanced one of their foot units to the base of the hill, another outburst of failed Orders and Rally tests on my part quickly turned the initiative back over to Joe
he pushed his troops forward and and opened skirmish fire against my dragoons who promptly fled, this led to another chorus of morale checks and saw the American Army melt away
the view from the approaching re-reinforcements point
"so, we're to cover the retreat?"
a comprehensive view of the American situation
my sort of die-rolling all day long
clearly unable to gain the objective, and surrounded by routing friends, the freshly arrived troops give a volley of fire to support the tiny (but otherwise unperturbed) skirmisher unit some support
and actually score a hit!
This is an interesting set of rules, it plays VERY differently than Pikeman's Lament or TMWWBK. Managing your Command radius and Disorder is a crucially important function of your Officer. I will have to play this several more times before I can say how I feel it does its job overall. I do like that there are different lists for the individual years of the American Civil War which reflect the rapidly changing nature of the armies and equipment. Given that the price tag is a third to a quarter of other rules sets covering the era I was happy to buy it just to give it a test. To say the least I'm intrigued and we will be playing this rules-set some more.