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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Her Majestys Name Review, 4 Oct. 2013
This review is from: In Her Majesty's Name: Steampunk Skirmish Wargaming Rules (Osprey Wargames) (Paperback)
I guess I should first start by explaining exactly what this little gem by Osprey is all about. Written by Craig Cartmell and Charles Murton, In Her Majesty`s Name is a set of slightly unusual Steampunk Skirmish Wargame Rules for 28mm table top gaming.

I say unusual, and I mean it, because of several reasons. They have a slightly different slant on the whole Victorian skirmish theme... somehow they just feel right. I`ve now read over two dozen sets of rules for Steampunk and/or for Victorian & Colonial gaming (and I`ve written reviews for more than a few of them), and while I can find merit in many of the sets I`ve read over the past few years, I have never yet found the ideal. Maybe it is because I am English, and have a deep love of the period, and because I spent much of my life walking down Victorian cobbled streets, looked up and seen original Victorian houses; have visited Victorian museums (and also looked inside an old Victorian prison), and have been saturated with good Victorian literature and historical tomes all my life. Maybe my lack of faith in most of the Victorian rules I have looked at, also stems from the fact that they all mostly seem to be written in America, by writers who have probably never even been to England, walked down Whitechapel in London, or taken a tour through the old workhouses in the river dock areas of the East End.

I know Steampunk is meant to be fantasy.... a Victorian era that never was... but could have been; but to get the right feel for that premise, there has to be a basic groundwork of understanding of the Victorian period as a whole. Sadly, most the rules written for this genre have fallen very flat in that regard, and resemble little more than Dungeons and Dragons - with firearms and steam contrivances added in for good measure.

In Her Majesty`s Name not only captures the tone, the feel, and the romanticism of the Victorian times, but is also a dash darn good set of rules as well. They don`t take themselves too seriously, and yet they portray just the right mood, and without being cluttered with any unnecessary and redundant rules. In fact, I was very surprised to find that just one read through of the 64 pages manual, gave me pretty much a 95% grasp of how to play the game. The rules are thorough, yet not by any stretch of the imagination complicated. Players who like long and in depth rule mechanics on the calibre of and rate of fire of a Maxfield rifle, or who delight in detail that slows a game down to about a move every half an hour, may be disappointed with In Her Majesty`s Name; but those who like to `get on with` a good jolly decent game... plus old school style gamers like me (who prefer smooth playability over rules headaches) will find Craig and Charles work most enthusiastically entertaining... enthralling even.

Sure, there are a few first edition print errors (though no typos at all that I have found) but meh! I can still vividly remember the very first classic edition Dungeons and Dragons rules from 1973/74 and they were riddled with mistakes. Yet they have endured as the iconic ideal of that game in its most pure form state.

I believe In Her Majesty`s Name to be the most energetic and well written set of Steampunk rules I have ever seen to date; and you don't even have to use them to play Steampunk; they would function just as well if used to conduct a good old standard Victorian or Colonial romp. But taking the premise that they are indeed for playing Victorian Steampunk, then we have the best of both worlds... a great set of rules with perfect period flavour attached.

The rules are also supported by a nice range of miniatures specifically created for the game by North Star Military Figures; but nowhere do the authors try to force you to buy these: leaving it up to individuals to pursue their own tastes, or even to use card tokens facsimiles if on a tight budget (which is most refreshing to see in such a commercially modern world).

Another nicely unusual thing about the rules is the great rapport the authors have with their audience on their own web/blog site: [...] which means you can actually talk to the guys on line via the forums, and have things answered in person, maybe even contribute to the material in sequel books?

For me, the main attraction of In Her Majesty`s Name is that (a) the rules do not try to narrow you into a Victorian sand box world of their own devising. It becomes very obvious from the moment you start reading, that you can take this game in any direction you like. (b) there is a wealth of almost unrecognized potential to make this into a semi or full on role playing game, with very little extra work involved. The intense thematic approach throughout the entire rules makes this game highly usable for whatever you want it to be... even solitaire play, which is a deep personal love of mine.

I shall be showing the rules in action over on my new wargame website over the next month or so:

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