Sunday, November 27, 2016

Muskets & Tomahawks, Oh My!

This past weekend; I got to play a big multiplayer game of Muskets & Tomahawks, a set of rules that cover the North American portion of the Seven Years War (or the French and Indian War as we Yanks call it) by Studio Tomahawk - the first game by makers of the popular Dark Age game SAGA. Muskets & Tomahawks has become one of my favorite games in the last couple years and I try to play it any chance I get, which is kinda funny because I remember when my friends were talking me into playing it I wasn't super excited.

My two units of French Regulars and their Officer in the center
Three units of Huron Native American Allies and their war-chief
And finally, some Canadian fur trappers act as a militia to bolster my forces.

I grew up in the North Eastern United States. Places like Valley Forge, Jockey Hollow, and Bunker Hill were regular field trips as a child. "Last of the Mohicans" was practically required reading in my household. While I had a reasonable knowledge of the time period, I just didn't have much of an interest in wargaming it. I was more interested in later or earlier periods, usually taking place on the opposite side of the world. I guess my familiarity with the Colonial period of American history just bred some contempt for it. Thankfully, I bend pretty easily to peer-pressure when it comes to trying out skirmish level games (30 or so models a side) and I decided to give it a try.

My French column advances towards a small village in this game. It is also the first time I made a mat made from
teddy bear fur.
Muskets & Tomahawks uses a card-driven unit activation system which also creates the turn order of the game. Each player contributes a number of cards to a shared deck depending on the types of units they are bringing to the battle. During a turn, the deck is shuffled and then each card is turned over in order. Each card allows a certain number of actions to be taken by a specific type of unit per player. Once all cards have been run through, the turn is over and the deck reshuffled. The system provides a lot of command and control "friction", and players have to come up with general battle plans that they need to adjust as events unfold. The system also ties into army building, as taking a less diverse force means contributing less cards to the deck and this adds an interesting dimension to the game.

My buddy Ron has a fantastic array of scenery for the game.
The other place the game really shines is in its support of narrative-style play. Each side randomly determines its mission and the game ends when one side achieves its objective. Additionally, every player receives a side-plot which acts as a second objective in the game and achieving this can turn a loss into a tie or minor victory into a major one. There is enough variety in these missions and side-plots to really keep the game fresh. I can honestly say that I have yet to play two games of Muskets & Tomahawks that have felt the same.

British Rangers advance through a field to be a pain in the rear.
Like I said, its become one of my favorite games to play and it goes to show that you've got little to lose by trying out a set of rules that you may not be interested in on the surface.



  1. Really nice terrain, board, and units!

  2. Wow, those are amazing models with stellar paint jobs. I am just getting into M&T, which models did you use for the first three pics? Cheers mate!

  3. Thanks! The French are Perry figures from their Seven Years War Range, the Indians and trappers are from a company that I forget at the moment - I think they are out of business. :(