EXERT 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

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pleasant Valley Postcript

So that was Plunder and Pillage Part 1.

What about Part 2? Well, sorry folks. This is odd for me to say but I was so pleased with how the scenario went, that I have no desire to reset and play it again. No desire to cloud the rules issue coupled with a strong desire to NOT tamper with the story line and its effect on the unfolding of the history of Atlantica. What unusual feelings!

After 4 years of turmoil and indecision, things seem to be sorting themselves out and I see 3 main, different gaming streams for the next while plus at least twice that many ongoing sideshows.  I even see a way forward through some of my issues with the fictional setting. More on all that later, first, back to the game.

I had some interesting decisions to make when translating this Teaser on to the table. After some hesitation I decided to use Grant's timing rules for activation and reinforcements straight up. To my surprise, they worked. It seems that my rules have been bent and shaped sufficiently to fit in the right number of turns for a Teaser as envisaged. This wasn't the result of focused tampering but its not entirely co-incidental either. On the other hand, while I could easily have used his rules for plundering and burning, I have a system built into the rules for that sort of thing and saw no reason not to use them. It was just a matter of determining how many points of work were required (12 was my  decision for plundering and 6 for burning)  and that worked well. Using my system allowed the Blue forces to partially loot one house rather than being faced with all or nothing and overall the time required was about the same so that worked for me.

The rules continue to provide the sort of feel I was looking for. In particular the orders check produced the occasional wrinkle with the Light Horse stalling as they arrived at the far house. I put it down to the bitter tongue on that PA Viking woman.  Having the steam tractor bog down on the hill needing work to get it going again, provided a nice moment of drama as the Fencibles closed in. In no case  did the control checks prove so intrusive as to take the feel of control away however and in 2 critical cases, generals were able to intervene personally to get units moving. Combined with the fixed length moves and the card draw formation activation, there was just the right amount of uncertainty and friction.

Combat was typically bloody and decisive, more so than in the past but making them more decisive was the point of tweaking them! None of the results seemed unreasonable to me and the rules made it clearly dangerous to be a small detachment or an unsupported unit, as intended.

I did find a couple of modifiers missing from the Melee rules, (like cover) actually the whole of the Melee chart itself was missing! That has been fixed and tinkered with. I also ran up against an issue that had escaped notice. Since each roll of the dice is assumed to represents a number of volleys, I had declared that they would always be simultaneous. During the game it struck me that the defender had no advantage at all over an attacker. My first reaction was to consider a -1 penalty for firing and moving or to go back to having all fire take place before moving but I wanted units to be able to engage as soon as they were in range. Eventually it occurred to me to over rule the simultaneous idea.  Now when exchanging fire, a stationary unit will get to fire first against a moving unit, in other cases, the active unit will fire first. This had the side effect of making it impossible for opposing units to simultaneously break each other with fire. For some reason, I had not considered the possibility of two units exchanging fire and then both running away. OK maybe for comic opera militia but not steady troops. 

The post game changes to MacDuff have been uploaded. I think a selection of examples of play will be the next step.

Unit size issues also cropped up. I had fielded 8 man units all around as intended with 2 such being fielded for each infantry per scenario unit. This was OK where troops were properly formed up into 16 man or larger formations, but in a small skirmish like this, "companies" were often on their own and I had several small 1/2 unit detachments of 3 or 4 men. Any hit was enough to break these (unless elite) and 2 hits would destroy them.  The small units also didn't quite cut it visually as "regiments" either and I was starting to wonder think of a regiment as being 2 scenario units which was going to cut down on the names and uniforms available to me. Today I set some troops out to see if slightly larger units would work better.12 and 24 seemed the next logical step but after some shuffling, I decided that the 10 & 20 man units that 3/4 of my toy soldiers are already organized into will work just fine after all and are just sufficiently large for me to accept them as 1 regiment per scenario unit which will be better for narrative and campaign purposes.

Last of all, this game gave me another chance to contrast my old ceramic buildings with the smaller ones. Alas, the game confirmed my earlier findings and after laying out the table with the bulkier ceramics, I cleared them off and used  as many of the smaller ones as I had. There are a few of the ceramic buildings that are small and can be kept, and some like the Toy Shoppe that I'll keep regardless but I'm afraid most will have to go.   I hate to tip them into the garbage so I'll see if I can touch them up and go from there. A building spree of small, occupy-able buildings is now a high priority.

Well, that's it. I'm now looking to select another teaser so I can reset the table and play again. 



  



2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update. Just one query after a quick read - are the shooting die modifiers cumulative, e.g. would inferior troops firing at long range be -2 or, similarly, would it be -2 firing at skirmishers in cover?

    I find I'm comfortable with 10 & 20 man units (probably a legacy of Charge!), smaller than 10 doesn't quite feel right.

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  2. Steve, yes, after much waffling, the modifiers are cumulative (except for the one that says -1 for cover or -2 for fortifications).

    I confess that I still like the idea of 4x8 man companies making a regiment which normally moves and fights together unless a detachment is needed but I don't have room for 8x32 man 40mm regiments (2x8 for cavalry). 4x6=24 would have worked but since a number of my units were organized as Charge! companies plus a flag, it seemed as good as any. In my mind I am seeing 5x4 man companies. Anyway the rules are nor prescriptive or dependent of unit size so if I change my mind it won't affect the rules.

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