HORSE & MUSKET PART 3 (by Sean Chick)

Mary Russell


I wish to conclude this by discussing the long path taken to creating Horse & Musket. The origins of the game stem from my love for linear musket combat and my work on Hold the Line: Frederick’s War. That game came out from some simple fan made scenarios I crafted for Hold the Line based on the War of the Austrian Succession. The scenarios were popular enough to gain the attention of Worthington, who after much deliberation, decided to create both Frederick’s War and its expansion, Highland Charge. For a time Worthington was interested in creating a game based on the Great Northern War, and I started that design in 2013. It was cancelled, but I gradually decided to create my own system, using the bare bones of Hold the Line but adding so much more.

2014 saw only minor moves made to complete the game, as I was working a lot, had to deal with the death of my mother, and felt more invested in some historical research pursuits and works of fiction. The online playtest group I assembled likely gave up on the series and I heard less from them. I can’t blame them, but in recognition of their efforts, I included them here. Encouraging words and aid from fellow designers also warranted inclusion in the credits.

2015 saw things move more quickly. The rules were edited by numerous hands and I decided to have playtest components made by my friends Caleb Lunt and Lauren Stahler. Judd Vance then came in to create the VASSAL module. Through the module play testers gave it another go and I could more easily work out rules for the game. Without Caleb, Lauren, and Judd, there would be no game. Judd in particular has been with this design for a long time and to him belongs the glory of a dedication and a free copy.

In 2016, I started work on a Waterloo version of the game for an interested publisher. It was delayed as worked stacked up elsewhere, including finishing up Nine Years, Cruel Morning, and doing other work for Compass, Worthington, and Camelot. Around this time I mentioned Horse & Musket to Tom & Mary Russell at Hollandspiele. Instead of asking for an era that was more popular, they decided to go full steam ahead with the base design as I had conceived it. This was a sudden and unexpected turn. I had all but given up, deciding that I had to either Kickstart it or hope the Napoleon title was popular enough to allow for Dawn of an Era. Since then, working with Tom and Mary has been a fast and smooth process.

The special thanks section included fellow gamers and game designers who gave me direct advice on design and/or history. It also includes designers whose work directly affected Horse & Musket, but to whom I have never spoken. The large list of consulted historians is a bit of brag, to show that in crafting this game I have done years of research. All of that said, the works of Jeremy Black, David Chandler, Paddy Griffith, John A. Lynn, and most of all Brent Nosworthy were the most useful.

The future of the series, at least as I am hoping, is a new volume each year, but the next volumes being more like expansions that use the base units of the first one. Next up would be Sport of Kings, covering 1721-1748. This era saw linear combat become more formalized. The volume would include battles from the War of the Polish Succession, Turkish Wars, War of Jenkins’ Ear, and one of my favorites the War of the Austrian Succession. I am also considering adding some battles from the life of Nader Shah, one of the era’s greatest commanders. He used a hybrid army of middle eastern horsemen and infantry trained in volley fire to carve out a large empire. Sport of Kings would be followed by Crucible of Empire, which features the great sprawling conflict known as the Seven Years’ War. This is when linear musket combat reached its classical age, its apogee. Tides of Revolution would come next, featuring the Corsican Uprising, American Revolution, French Revolution, Polish Partition, and Northwest Indian War. These conflicts saw new tactics arising, in particular the use of column formations, bayonet charges, and light infantry tactics. Age of Napoleon will cover the late stages of the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, and War of 1812. Linear musket combat in this age became massive, bloody, and decisive. In some ways the final entry may be the most fascinating.

Sunset of an Era can draw from a variety of under gamed topics: The Indian Wars, Wars of Italian Independence, Mexican-American War, Crimean War, Algerian Wars, Paraguayan War, Schleswig Wars, Austro-Prussian War, and Sikh War. Only the American Civil War has had its due in gaming. I admit if it gets that far, expect a lot of scenarios from the American Civil War. It is my specialty. Yet, rest assured I will always try to bring gamers obscure but fascinating battles. Right next to the usual run of Blenheim, Culloden, Leuthen, Saratoga, Austerlitz, and Shiloh you can expect Aughrim, Ackia, Gross-Jägersdorf, Hubbardton, Hohenlinden, and Prairie Grove.

My final hope is that enough fans come around to create their own scenarios, which can be collected in a yearly scenario book for everyone to enjoy. Hold the Line: Frederick’s War has already benefitted from the work of Paul Mach and Juan Palacios. To have a community of people with a similar passion, creating scenarios and expanding the game beyond it current crop of scenarios, is my ultimate desire.

AFTER BLENHEIM by Robert Southy
It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun,
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found;
He came to ask what he had found,
That was so large, and smooth, and round.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And, with a natural sigh —
“‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.
“I find them in the garden,
For there’s many here about;
And often when I go to plough,
The ploughshare turns them out.
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.”
“Now tell us what ’twas all about,”
Young Peterkin, he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
“Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for.”
“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for,
I could not well make out;
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That ’twas a famous victory.
“My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby died;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.
“They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.
“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene.”
“Why, ’twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Wilhelmine.
“Nay… nay… my little girl,” quoth he,
“It was a famous victory.
“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.”
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”


  • Sean,
    This series looks fanyastic from what I have read and any system with Killiekrankie in it gets my attention! As a young boy scout I spent several annual summer camps near to the battlefield and hiking passed the soldiers leap, it has always stuck in my memory. Looks like I’ll be buying into this series asap funds allowing for postage import tax etc! But hey I can always sell C&C Napoleonics to fund it as this looks like it will supercede it in my book.
    Keep up the good work you Jacobean scoundrel you


    Mark Taylor

  • Looking forward the next expansions !
    A fine game.

    As a History student , I must say that this game seems extraordinary! I just received the game yesterday.

    Julian Nouche-Laurin

  • Thank you for this labor of love. I am looking forward to playing the game when it arrives and for the future of the game. This is a very exciting series.

    Anthony Selvaggio

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