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Author Topic: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet  (Read 8641 times)

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« on: November 30, 2021, 12:13:55 PM »
So it has taken longer than I expected but I have finally written my first impressions of The Silver Bayonet and the miniatures from the pre-order. Bear in mind this is from reading the book and watching folks play on YouTube rather than playing a game myself, so take what I say with a pinch of salt.

https://thegrumpygnome.home.blog/2021/11/30/the-silver-bayonet-first-impressions/

TLDR: The game needs more work, it feels unfinished at this point, but the miniatures are brilliant.
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Offline Chief Lackey Rich

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2021, 01:54:05 PM »
Some thoughts:

The shift to d10s and a pool for modifying them is probably the thing that interests me most about the game.  OTOH the weapon chart underutilizes the Skill die for damage, although I suppose more stuff might show up down the road - perhaps bows and daggers might use Skill and Skill-1 respectively, for ex.  Regardless, it's a nice change from the d20 system McCullough's used for so long and opens up some interesting design space.

I agree the stats and rate of fire on the blackpowder weapons seem badly off somehow, although the range issues you mentioned don't bother me much since I'm willing to assume there's considerable distortion of ground scale and the ranges (particularly on the pistol) are assigned largely on the basis of letting you get a shot off before being jumped in melee while also giving melee combatants some chance to reach opponents alive.  I suspect going to most guns needing two consecutive actions (including a move action) to reload and rifles needing three would produce a much better Napoleonic feel, although rifles would probably need +1 Shoot and maybe even +1 damage to compensate.   

Quote
And the blunderbuss does not have the same area affect I would expect. The accuracy seems off as well, although I accept the -1 to hit is not necessarily a specific penalty to actually hitting but also doing damage if it does hit.

Unless I've misunderstood the system, penalties to Shoot no longer reduce your damage the way earlier d20 games did.  Damage stems solely from (in this case) the Power die, so Shoot mods now adjust accuracy alone.  So yeah, the primitive shotgun is less accurate than most guns at all ranges which seems off, to put it mildly.  I'm not sold on it needing a template, but some differentiation between point blank and longer range seems like it should be there.  Maybe something like this to crudely reflect spread of shot:

Range 6" (short) 12" (long)
Damage Power Die +1 (short) Power Die -1 (long)
Shoot -1 (short) Shoot +1 (long)
2 potential targets at long range
Ignore Armor (1) Maybe this should be at short range only?
Shot Bag to reload, can be used as Improvised Weapon

If that works, doing something similar with volley gun would result in something like:

Range 12" (short) 24" (long)  Now it at least matches a musket, albeit with less long range accuracy
Damage Power Die +1 (either range)
Shoot -1 (long)
3 potential targets, Ignore Armor (1), Cartridge Box to reload, takes six actions (including move actions) to fully reload, can be fired after two actions with 1 potential target, every further two actions spent increases potential targets by 1 to a maximum of 3

That a bit closer to the ridiculous thing's real performance?

Pistols don't appear to require any extra gear to reload, which might explain the absurd cap of two per figure as some kind of game balance thing.  While paired pistols were pretty common, there are plenty of historical examples of madmen (frequently of the nautical variety) who'd haul around three, four, or a half-dozen.

Your air rifles (which are certainly no more an oddball than the volley gun, and might be assigned to monster-hunting special forces troops with suitable training) might look like this if going to two actions for most reloads:

Eq Slots 3
Range 24"
Damage Skill Die
Reloads with a single action (which can be a move action), if double ones are rolled for an attack the weapon cannot be fired until three consecutive actions are spent replacing the air reservoir with a spare (which are included in the Eq Slot requirement), can be used as an Improvised Weapon but if used as such the weapon cannot be fired again this game

So fast firing, a bit worse at piercing armor than black powder guns (partly to represent the gradual drop in hitting power as the air reservoir empties), and too fragile to be used in melee without damaging the mechanisms.  The Skill Die for damage reflects better training and the lack of smoke and report.

No constructive suggestions for the other issues you raised, but maybe the reload rate changes and weapon tweaks might make for a better experience for you?

Offline Patrice

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2021, 03:23:28 PM »
Interesting points.

I always avoid commenting rules (some people could think I'm biased) ;) I'll just react about two points you mention in your blog article (I've just discovered your blog BTW!)

- Firing range vs scale of figures: in many 28mm skirmish rules the shooting ranges are much shorter than actual scale (1/56). Although not accurate, it helps to give a feeling of reality and immersion IMHO. Gaming tables cannot be as large as the real (or unreal) world. An enemy at the other end of the gaming table is much more scary if still out of firing range and approaching menacingly, than already within range as soon as he/she enters table.

- Nock volley gun: if I'm not mistaken it has short barrels and fires rather small bullets, so its effective range is shorter than a musket.

Offline Cat

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2021, 04:03:58 PM »
I'm still waiting for the FLGS to get the rule book in stock...
 
On the ranges/loading issue, I am always fine with the gaming compromise that both are shortened and the game is played at very close quarters to speed game play and reduce playing space.  At full ranges, then we'ld be looking at 15–20mm figures and losing a lot of the figure creativity.   

Will have to ponder musket/rifle differences though.  For playing at the store, we'll very likely stay pretty close to RAW for ease of use with any number of players.

The absence of the Gothickiest monsters is indeed a puzzlement.  I have a pencil, but still tis a very strange omission.

I didn't want to get the official miniatures, largely because we'll likely be playing at the store and other players will certainly have those; and I really enjoy the hunt for crafting unique forces.  A lot of them do look very nice though! 

However, crosses do appear to be the new skulls.  But I won't be decorating my figures so heavily with them.
: 3
 
That hobgoblin figure was just pulled in to fill the role and does seem a bit miscast.  I have one special figure on the workbench now for the part — West Wind's King Rat.  I'm currently thinking gargoyle figures may work better if more than one is called for in a scenario (les gargouilles sont très gothiques, vous savez).
 
I've already been poking Wargames Atlantic about making good on that set of cantinieres!  With a variety of weapon options, one could build a whole French unit with them filling different roles.

Hmm, specific cultists would make for very good themes for mini-campaigns.  I've got West Wind's Egyptian cultists & diggers for one cult; and they of course will have plenty of tana leaves to bring in the mummies, or perhaps The Mummy for the final boss monster.  Evil nuns with polearms could have a variety of monsters involved, leading to the big demon showdown.

I suspect the game will have legs, and we're likely to see supplements coming.  The omens on Facebook are quite favourable.  The Players' group is quite lively and growing steadily, 1.6k members so far.  The game is certainly sparking a lot of creativity and interest.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/460868411872277
« Last Edit: November 30, 2021, 04:56:48 PM by Cat »

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2021, 04:53:18 PM »
- Nock volley gun: if I'm not mistaken it has short barrels and fires rather small bullets, so its effective range is shorter than a musket.

From what I know, there were actually several versions, including early models that rather pointlessly used rifled barrels rather than smoothbores - good luck aiming with the recoil of seven barrels going off at once.  Service models included both a longer barreled version (varying numbers on that depending on source, but likely between 30-36") and the better known short design (some of which may have been modified from the earlier model) with 20" barrels and more limited range.  They were .46 caliber consistently AFAIK.  A roughly average French musket had a 44" barrel and was .69 caliber, with the British Brown Bess being similar length but .75 caliber.

The short barrel version (which was the closest this thing got to being practical in reality) would make the 14" range listed okay for a single-bracket listing, but if you use the short/long split for blunderbusses and volley guns I'd got with 8"/16" for "shorty" Nocks (which realistically might be the only ones seeing action).  You could make an argument for increasing the Shoot penalty to reflect their notorious inaccuracy but I think the damage is okay as-is.  Smaller caliber, sure, but seven rounds in the air at once ought to make up for it well enough to merit a +1 net damage.

Quote
Where is Dracula? The Mummy? Frankenstein?

They aren't written yet.  Frankenstein's science project came along in 1818, the first real mummy novel was written in 1827 (and is set in 2126!) and the Count won't be along till 1897.  So one is still waiting for organ donors, one is a dehydrated corpse, and while Drac might be active he's got close to a century before developing an interest in London real estate.

Monsters from Gothic fiction in the Napoleonic Era tend to be madmen, ghosts and witches, not Universal Pictures/Hammer Horror franchises.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2021, 05:34:56 PM by Chief Lackey Rich »

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2021, 07:33:23 PM »
Excellent replies!

Very thoughtful observations, input and suggestions.

I know Sharp Practice is really designed for 15mm with its scale according to Rich (of Toofatlardies) but 15mm is just too small for my poor old eyes. I have no problem with firearms (and bows/crossbows/slings) being a threat anywhere on a 6x4 table.

As usual a like your game mechanic suggestions Rich (of the Chief Lackey variety).

Dracula and the Mummy exist in their lore before the authors put pen to paper. Fair point about Frankenstein though. That said, he will hardly be the first person to think to reanimate a corpse with electricity.

Every person who encourages Wargames Atlantic to make those female minis is appreciated!

I am a big fan of Joe and his games. I want him, Osprey and North Star to do well. I want to see the Silver Bayonet succeed. Hopefully folks will see that in what I have written.

Offline tikitang

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2021, 09:24:58 PM »
Maybe Joe will write an expansion covering Napoleon's campaign in Egypt. There would be a good opportunity to introduce mummies, as well as rules for Ottomans and Greeks!
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal."

- Jesus

Offline Sarmor

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2021, 09:44:22 PM »
Dracula and the Mummy exist in their lore before the authors put pen to paper. Fair point about Frankenstein though. That said, he will hardly be the first person to think to reanimate a corpse with electricity.
The way I see it, the choice of monsters depends on the approach to the Napoleonic setting: do you want Napoleonic troops to fight creatures that are considered classic horror/gothic monsters today, or ones known to Napoleonic era Europeans? I'm quite happy that Joe chose the latter approach (or maybe that's just my impression?) and used creatures like pixies, black dogs, changelings, etc. Though he did include the slightly anachronistic vampires, which had just started to appear in Western literature and would become more popular after the Napoleonic wars.
That said:
  • The game has vampires, so why Dracula specifically? Additionally, Scenario 10 seems to be inspired by Bram Stoker's novel.
  • While IMHO the mummy would feel out of place in the rulebook bestiary, it's a must have in an expansion about Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, which I'd love to see released.
  • Frankenstein's monster already appeared on the Silver Bayonet Facebook group: https://drive.google.com/file/d/17ChmMHlKMDCqbWWIXE3bmhUHufn8Tt-8/view?usp=sharing

Quote
The title “The Silver Bayonet”, and its lore, seems to be too British focused.
Coming from a non-English speaking country, I'd say at least 95% of wargames seem to be too British focused.  ;D

Offline Cat

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2021, 10:25:04 PM »
I will certainly argue that Frankenstein is in period.  While the novel was published in 1818, young Shelly visited the ruins of Schloss Frankenstein and Geneva in 1815, with galvanism and occultism both being hot topics of conversation on that trip.  In the novel, the letters are dated 17—, so the recorded events took place in the prior century.
 
While I quite look forward to a possible Egyptian campaign expansion, and yes that would be the place to roll out mummies, I'm bringing Egyptian cultists to Europe who have come in quest of stolen artifacts.  And so mummies may wander earlier than attested.
 
Being a New Englander, vampires are required, and Dracula among them if we're on his turf.  Starting in the late 1700s and running a good century, we had quite the vampire panic going on here!
 
The more I think about it, the more I'm sure that a certain clan of gargoyles would be mightily miffed at suddenly finding themselves perched atop a Temple of Reason, and unrest would be stirred.
: 3

Offline tikitang

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2021, 10:56:22 PM »
I have just realised there are rules for creating a Mummy, specifically, in the Creating Your Own Monsters chapter on page 214 of the rulebook.

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2021, 06:34:27 AM »
Great points Cat.

One of the things I found interesting when researching Gothic Horror for my Tarnished Splendour project was how the genre starts in the Napoleonic era rather than the Victorian era that I had thought. The same with a lot of steampunk genre technology.

I get that the book is something of a tool box but I was hoping for more of a framework to use the tool box to flesh out. A page of suggested setting locations. References to specific historic incidents that could have more meaning hidden from public view.

As to why Dracula specifically rather than just Vampires in general…. to offer a grounding, a baseline, connection to the genre. Vampires are multigenre. Dracula, whilst in a couple of genres is more specific. Same with The Mummy (although granted this may evoke Pulp more than Gothic Horror to some) than mummies in general.

Getting the balance just right for the most people when it comes to how much supernatural to add is tough. I get that. The 2d10s versus the d20 mechanic reduces the chaotic swinginess.Joe said he specifically wanted for the magically universe of Frostgrave. I get the idea of reducing the chaos of a more mundane Napoleonic Earth. I just think he dialed it down too far for my tastes. Your mileage may vary.

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2021, 07:38:41 AM »
Let me just add with some emphasis…

I am not on Facebook and loathe that things are published there without a mirror somewhere else.

I used to be a big fan of Facebook and encouraged others to use that platform but that was before I realized what it would become. It makes me quite frustrated to know that this isolates me from a lot of online content right now as forums and blogs struggle to continue.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2021, 07:40:51 AM by Grumpy Gnome »

Offline Spinal Tap

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2021, 08:37:28 AM »
Let me just add with some emphasis…

I am not on Facebook and loathe that things are published there without a mirror somewhere else.

I used to be a big fan of Facebook and encouraged others to use that platform but that was before I realized what it would become. It makes me quite frustrated to know that this isolates me from a lot of online content right now as forums and blogs struggle to continue.

I sympathise with these points but can understand why people do so.

Mobile phones rather than PC's/laptops are becoming more and more the norm for access to the internet  and Facebook makes it much easier to access and add content, especially pictures; this site (for example) is difficult in comparison and some are much worse.

The dreaded 'LIKE' button is also a game winner for many as you can see whether your work is seen in a favourable light or not. I know some people just hit 'LIKE' on everything but generally that doesn't happen on hobby pages.

In comparison it's not uncommon for items to be posted on here, get 300 plus views and there be not one comment; it may well be that everyone thought your work was brilliant but also they might look and think ' that's crap, not reading their posts again' -- you will never know.

I really think feedback is important and without it sites like this will eventually wither. I've been on forums for other hobbies that were really vibrant, but over time they have declined into obscurity and death with page after page of viewed but unanswered posts; eventually those posts dry up and the site vanishes.

It's why I try to make an effort to login and comment on the things I like even though it would be easier to view and not bother - at least that person then knows they're not posting in vain.

Just my pre-work ramblings, suppose I better get ready to see my first patient even though I'd rather be painting my new Wizard.

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2021, 01:28:28 PM »
One of the things I found interesting when researching Gothic Horror for my Tarnished Splendour project was how the genre starts in the Napoleonic era rather than the Victorian era that I had thought. The same with a lot of steampunk genre technology.

While Gothic Horror as a distinct(?) subgenre generally starts in the early 1800s, more general "Gothic fiction" dates back even further, generally beginning with Walpole's Castle of Otranto (which is a good read, heartily recommend it if you haven't had the pleasure) in 1764.  The Gothic genre grew out of the earlier Romantic fiction movement, which was very focused on (by modern standards) exaggerated emotions, mostly (surprise, surprise) romantic ones.  Walpole, Radcliffe, Reeve and company were some of the first to twig to the fact that fear is an emotion too, and that stories full of dread, menace, and outright horror would grab readers.  Earlier Gothic-but-not-horror fiction tends to be more creepy than frightening, and rarely features monsters as such aside form occasional ghosts.  Still some stuff worth reading, but the feel is quite different from (say) Frankenstein or Dracula.

That first mummy story I mentioned from 1827 is...well, the wiki's about right:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mummy!

Chock full of proper predictive scifi (dated, but predictive) and some steampunk elements, and really quite light on the supernatural elements.  Webb was quite a visionary, and while she was clearly inspired by Frankenstein her approach is very different.  If you can find a copy well worth a look, but I had to get it through the US library loan system and even then it was a struggle - although that was twenty+ years ago now.  Maybe it's up online somewhere.  Neat bit of obscure literary history, if nothing else.

Quote
I have just realised there are rules for creating a Mummy, specifically, in the Creating Your Own Monsters chapter on page 214 of the rulebook.

True, but what type of mummy are people going to build?  The shambling bandage-wrapped monstrosity is one approach, sure, but the perfectly normal looking (well, as normal as Karloff gets, anyway) Imhotep from the 1932 film is way more interesting to me, and easier to imagine fitting into a crew of monster hunters as an advisor, or as a sinister mastermind monster with minions and cultists working for him.

Could probably do something with other unaging-but-not-quite-unkillable types too.  We're early for Mister Gray to sit for his portrait, but surely he's not the first person to make a similar deal.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2021, 01:43:42 PM by Chief Lackey Rich »

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: My first impressions of The Silver Bayonet
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2021, 01:31:32 PM »
It is very interesting to read your considered and honest thoughts on the game, especially coming from someone (like me) who wants to like it. I have not got much to add as I have not played it yet, or watched a play through on YouTube, or even read the book fully (I have lent my copy to a friend in the hope of inspiring him to create a unit  >:D) - but reading Spinal Tap's comment made me want to contribute something to this thread!

The official figures look excellent, and I may buy some in the future, but like Cat I am currently enjoying creating my own unique unit.

 

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