I pre-ordered the 'Pike and Shotte' Rules from Warlord and I was pleasantly surprised when they appeared pretty speedily last friday, pleasantly surprised in that I thought they'd appear after Salute but no, so good point already.
Since I saw that Warlord were going to do the Pike and Shot period ruleset I was immediately interested. I was quite impressed with the Hail Ceaser rules I picked up recently and you could see the obvious pedigree of the rules and who had created them. Pike and Shotte follows this trend.
With the production values and easy going 'fluff' style of writing that the Warhammer Historical team had set up and with Warlord having the now well known 'ex's' it is no surprise that this style continues, one which I quite like.
The trend for hard cover rules, coming from the RPG genre, makes this rule set almost a coffee table book for wargamers. This would also appear to be a trend in the hobby with high production values being high on the list of priorities, coupled with lots of nice pictures and set ups, scenario's and ideas, the rules set out to be a hobby book rather than just a rule set in the old sense. Again this coming very much from the background of WAB, Warhammer et al. This is something I have no problem with as it's the whole hobby I'm interested in and I don't think there's many out there that don't like another source of ideas for there chosen period of wargaming.
The rules follow the now pretty much standard format of; this is what you need to have a wargame (pretty much un-required for just about every reader, but I still read through this sectionh in every rule set I buy), basic terms described and troop types and classifications, a fairly brief resume of formations, the basics of game rules, commands and how these are used (an idea Ilike with a fairly old skool ruleset building block put in pretty up to date terms), terrain, and then onto the particulars on shooting, hand to hand combat and then morale and victory and defeat.
The 'rules' take up about half the book, the second half is made up of five period specific scenario cum army list sections where they apply the rules to particular events, primarily for 'and this is how it works' purposes, these being Italian Wars, Anglo-Irish Wars, Thirty Year War, English Civil Wars (really two scenarios) and Lace Wars. Then a final Quick Reference. My one gripe is...why is there no bloody index. Rules never have an index, why not?
All in all following an pretty much standard format, but nicely done with a few typing errors which don't really bother me. And as standard too now I got the ubiquitous figure on the cover figure, which is a very nice 17th century ensign, which I know will come in useful.
The rules follow the style of Black Powder, and are really BP with some tweeks. If you have bought BP you might feel a bit peeved as the differences (Mainly in flavour and formations) insufficient to warrant a new rule set but as I haven't then this isn't a problem.
The whole, including the terminology used throughout is most definitely early to mid 17th century, with the majority of the first half of the rules eye candy being from this period, possibly because Warlord Games do a PIke and Shotte range, but as the figures are drawn from a variety of the wargaming worlds great and worthy, a variety of manufacturers and once into the period half of the book that obviously changes. One thing I did notice was the surprisingly high proportion of Scottish troops on show in the eye candy department, a pleasant surprise though, and indeed I also noticed that the Warlord Highlanders painted up to illustrate the 'Warband' unit type was the Stewart of Appin regiment, whose clan I am a family member...so that was nice. (Though I did think they all looked a bit too well dressed to represent my ancestors ;-) )
All in all I liked the book and look forward to try out the rules in anger sometime soon to see how they 'feel' as I'm sure the rule mechanics will hang together as a rule set. My one fear is that they will not demonstrated 16th century conflict quite as well as they may do 17th but we'll see.