Twilight of Divine Right

Next set of rules to come under the KeepYourPowderDry microscope are Twilight of Divine Right: From Defenestration to Restoration. They already have bonus points for shoehorning the much under used* word 'defenestration' into the subtitle.

Published by the Pike and Shot Society you'd hope that they have a degree of authority and historical accuracy. Originally written as a set of rules covering the the Marlburian Period, Twilight of the Sun King was rewritten, then tweaked to give Twilight of Divine Right covering the 30YW and ECW.  Grandly self proclaimed as 'radical' the rules focus on morale rather than casualties as the key to deciding battles: do your men stand and fight, or do they flee?

There are two main phases to play each turn. The first phase is movement, which involves all standard manoeuvre as well as charges into combat. Certain aspects of movement require an action test, a simple d6 roll; more complicated movement can require multiple tests. Movement is based upon 'base width units'.

Some of the morale modifiers - they do like an acronym

The other phase is morale. All combat is subsumed into the morale system. After the active side has made all its movements, the passive side must then take morale tests for any unit that is under threat. Depending how the morale test resolves, different outcomes will be applied: units can only suffer a limited number of morale test failures before they rout (this is dependant upon what sort of unit they are and ranges from 2 to 5 failures).

Certainly an interesting set of rules, particularly the notion that combat = morale. 

Part of the 'build your own army' tables

The book is A4 sized, full cover card covers. Running to 36 pages, there are limited illustrations and mechanism diagram. Two introductory scenarios are provided (Fleurus and Cheriton). No army lists are provided, instead there are tables to help you 'build your own army'. Two separate quick reference sheets are provided.

There are a number of scenario booklets available: the ECW booklet 'By The Sword Divided' covers Edgehill, Lansdown,1st Newbury, Cropredy Bridge, Marston Moor, 2nd Newbury, Knocknanoss, Winwick Pass and Dunbar.  The other books covering matters on the continent, the latest rules supplement and scenario books covering Eastern European wars.

Scenario overview for Marston Moor

Part of an order of battle army list (not Marston Moor in case you are wondering)

The scenarios are very minimalist (I'm much more used to the Forlorn Hope and Partizan scenario booklets) primarily being army lists with a very over simplified map.

One of the few mechanism diagrams - the rules aren't that cleverly written that they don't need diagrams, there just aren't many diagrams included
These rules do suffer a bit from needing prior knowledge to pick them up from scratch: I found I had to resort to Google to clarify some of the rules mechanisms. I got there in the end, but I shouldn't really need to do that. A set of rules should be self explanatory - I shouldn't need to have to ask a friend of a friend of one of the writers how to do something. Having said that I did like the notion that combat = morale. But I don't think it is as quite as simple as that. 

The rules are relatively cheap (if you are UK based) and are available direct from the Pike and Shot Society.

Equipment needed:

  • tape measure/measuring sticks
  • 2 D6
  • 2 average D6 (numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5)
  • morale markers
  • bombardment markers (the rule book suggests cotton wool)

* no doubt its underuse is because there are laws, and social conventions, prohibiting throwing people out of windows

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  1. I have been really curious about these rules since I found out about combat and morale being rolled into one process; I quite like the concept. Interesting that you mention the rules "needing prior knowledge" as I have another set of ECW rules from Dorrell which felt like I had missed part of the conversation when trying to use them.

  2. One of the key mechanics that has kept me engaged with the old Will Mcnally AWI/SYW rules (for over 30 years now!) is the combined morale/combat mechanism.. it can be very effective... look forward to your first play test of these ones..

  3. Use these rules for all my big battle ECW gaming now (mostly solo). I love them!! However, agree that they would benefit from editing to remove some ambiguities.


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