Habitants & Highlanders

Designed by Bruce McFarlane
Published 1992 by The Canadian Wargamers Group
This review copyright 1992, 1997 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated November 2, 1997

Habitants & Highlanders (H&H) is an entertaining collection of history, tactical and skirmish miniatures rules, scenarios and even a boardgame. The rules are aimed at 15-mm figures, but easily adaptable to 25-mm scale. The setting is 1754-63: The Seven Years War in North America (often called The French and Indian Wars in the United States, probably because 1763 minus 1754 does not equal 7 ...).

H&H is a 72-page 8.5" by 11" book that contains everything written you need to play the Seven Years War in North America. Of course, you'll also need the miniatures, some ten-sided dice, a 4' x 6' playing surface, and some way to distinguish woods from open terrain, roads, streams, forts, etc. A chapter is included on uniform and flag colors for painting the miniatures.

The history, geography and tactical discussion are well done: condensed enough to be read in an evening, but thorough enough that the players know what they're fighting for, and the value of each troop type. Morale is given for each troop type dependent on terrain: Indians and Rangers have high morale in the woods, for example, but low morale in the open. European regular troops are the opposite.

Two sets of miniatures rules are included, as well as recommendations of many other rules available for those who like more detail. The first set of rules are tactical in scale (each figure represents 50 men), and are an acceptable low-complexity set of miniatures rules for this time period and setting. The basic sequence is: check Command Control, Move/Fire/Change Facing, Melee, Exploitation Movement. Morale checks are made at appropriate times throughout the turn. The tactical rules are only five pages long, but are detailed enough to run any battle.

There is an interesting use of cards in the game - each leader is rated as either Buffoon, Plodding, Efficient or Brilliant. Each rating has a number of cards associated with it - for example, a Buffoon has 1 Three, 4 Twos, 4 Aces and 1 Joker, while a Brilliant General has 4 Threes, 4 Twos, 1 Ace and 1 Joker. Each player has his own deck. A player draws a card each turn, and the number of spots showing is the number of actions the general may command that turn. A joker means he commands two actions, and his deck is reshuffled. This system creates the uncertainty of command control that is the essence of warfare at this time.

The skirmish rules are very similar, with each figure representing one to five men. They are covered in one page, just detailing changes to the tactical rules.

Eleven scenarios are provided, each with its own map, briefing for each side, list of forces, quality of leader, victory conditions and special rules. One of the scenarios includes keyed squares to play the game solo. The scenarios range from large engagements such as Wolfe vs. Montcalm at Quebec and Braddock's defeat near Fort Duquesne, to skirmishes involving Roger's Rangers in Vermont and capturing French ships at the Louisburg fortress in what is now Nova Scotia.

In addition there is a strategic board game included, with centerfold map and pieces to photocopy onto stiff colored paper. The strategic game is primarily intended to generate tactical battles that can be resolved with miniatures, but is not a bad little game on its own.

Although the organization is a bit scattered, this is a well-done gaming product worth the money for any miniature enthusiast.

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