1. Terrain. Part of me would like to build some flocked or painted geo-morphic terrain boards with sculpted on hills and streams, or possibly flat reversible ones with painted on streams and roads and separate hills, capable of being stacked and carried in a box with troops and trees. But, have I ever mentioned how lazy I am?
Plan B was to cut down my Hotz map to just the right size and use the cut off bits to make hex shaped hills with matching grid and colours so that they appear the same as the flat ground but with discernible contour lines. Sounds like a lot of work aimed at a more rigid and less realistic looking final product. Did I mention that I'm lazy?
Plan C is to just find some grass green cloth, mottle it, draw on hexes and carry on with the rolling look.One can always use a bit of flock to indicate which hexes are slopes where it isn't clear. I did consider finding some lighter green spray paint to update the mat I have been using but sure as shooting I'd find myself in the desert somewhere looking for a game and nothing but a green mat to hand.
2. Hexes vs Squares & Melee. Before I do a cloth, I thought maybe I should try the squares again since they seem some how more "in period". However, since I will be playing on hexes at Ron's, I decided it would be best to stay with hexes. However that got me thinking about the differences apart from the question of diagonal moves. The big revelation was looking at the melee rules.
Because units were never adjacent on the diagonal when using squares, you could never have more than 1 enemy adjacent to your front. Additional units, by definition, would be adjacent to your flank or rear, If there was a friendly unit diagonally to your side/rear, facing forward, an enemy moving adjacent to your flank would have to face him, thus it would protect your flank. Even if isolated, it would take an additional turn for attacking infantry to move adjacent to your flank so there was time to react.
With hexes it is possible to have more than one enemy adjacent to your front, thus a line of 3 units can advance adjacent to 3 enemy units and then all 3 can attack the central one ignoring the other two units. This just seems wrong but I have been at a loss how to propose a simple rule to prevent it, one that would cover all the odd and complicated cases that could arise, without encouraging manipulation. There are two different approaches that both appeal to me.
The simplest would be to say something along the lines that in cases where more than 1 attacker is adjacent to more than 1 defender, then all defending units which are adjacent to a unit on the active side must be attacked before any attackers double up on a defending unit.
The other and possibly better route would be to define attacking, defending and supporting units. The attacker and defender would be the selected units which use their combat power and suffer any bad results. The supporting units are those which inflict a -1 to the enemy's combat power. Now allow the defender to use any defending units that are adjacent to an attacking unit but not them selves attacked, to support the defender. Now when those 3 attackers advance and attack the center of the enemy line inflicting -2 for being attacked by 3 units, the defenders could throw in the support of the 2 units adjacent to but not attacked by the enemy inflicting a similar -2 on the attacking unit. Thus the attacker has a choice of concentrating on 1 unit, limiting his losses and having less chance of a mutual destruction and more chance of a no -result/repulse, or going 1:1 along the line with a good chance of all 6 units being destroyed. (opening a hole for his second line presumably).
Just some casual thoughts so far, I haven't looked deeply at the impact let alone tried them.
3. What is a destroyed unit? This isn't a rules question but for me its a key question for scenario design and especially for victory conditions and campaigns. To my mind, a unit destroyed at long range by a 5 or 6 on the enemy's first shot, probably suffered a sudden panic upon suffering casualties and broke to the rear. In a few hours time they could probably be mustered with 75% or more of their original strength. I briefly thought about moving destroyed units to the table edge and allowing a chance to rally them but decided its best done after the game. It does bring up the question of different troop qualities but that's another question.
Units destroyed in close combat probably suffered heavier casualties including prisoners. Perhaps 50% or higher?
Am I going to track how many hits a unit took and how? No, just pondering.
If I make an assumption that on average, including units lost and those only engaged, pinned etc, between casualties, stragglers, and prisoners, each unit removed represents a temporary loss of 50% of its strength and make another very arbitrary assumption that a small force might be able to keep fighting until temporary losses reach 25 to 50% of its total then a 12 unit army could sustain between 6 and 12 units lost (representing the equivalent 3 to 6 units in terms of casualties) before being forced to retreat. In a 2 player campaign game, the decision would be up to the player, in a solo or non-campaign game, a die could perhaps be thrown once an army was reduced to 6 or fewer units with a score equal to or exceeding the number of units forcing retreat. Modifiers could be applied to reflect the holding of an important objective or various campaign concerns. For campaigns, the lost units could be diced for after the game. 5,6 restoring a unit for the loser, 4,5,6 in case of draw or 3,4,5,6 for the attacker.
Again not rules for the game itself but for a scenario or campaign.
Troop Quality. Not all units were created equal. So how do we represent that easily? My early attempts were to modify close combat values. That worked ok for 18thC games but is less relevant for 19thC ones, even the ACW. It seems to me that the biggest difference would be that elite troops might stick it out longer while poorly trained or demoralized troops would crumble more easily. The difference then would be not a modification of their ability to inflict damage but a modification of their ability to withstand combat. Without resorting to some form of roster or saving throws or having separate firing charts, the easiest thing might be to add +1 when shooting at Militia/Poor troops and to -1 if shooting at Elite troops. Now this rather unfairly means that poor troops in the open would be automatically pinned if the enemy had no minus but then they do seem to have been best placed in cover. Elites on the other hand could not be destroyed by fire once placed in cover, but they could be forced out into the open by multiple pins or destroyed by an assault.
Again just some thoughts, that I haven't looked closely at let alone tried.
The weather forecast had been for rain and cooler temperatures perfect for inside gaming but alas it appears to be a near perfect summer's day (?!). Sunny and hot but not too hot or muggy so it looks like I need to get some work done. Then maybe a little terrain work and some flags.
EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)
"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."
-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013
Sunday, July 24, 2011
More random thoughts about the Practical Wargame and me.
Posted by Ross Mac firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: portable game
Born and raised in the suburbs of Montreal, 5 years in the Black Watch of Canada Cadets, 5 years at the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean followed by 4 in the navy. 25 years with CPC in IT simultaneous with 23 years running a boarding kennel. Inherited my love of toy soldiers from my mother's father. Married with a Whippet, 10 Italian Greyhounds and 3 cats. Prematurely retired and enjoying leisure to game, maintaining our 160 yr old farmhouse and just living.