The tricky thing about Morale is that it isn't. Its like the wind, you can feel its presence and see its effect, even measure its effect but you can't touch it or see it or capture it and put it away to study it later.
One of the things that hits and stand removal in Hearts of Tin (like figure removal in MacDuff) represents is the slowly degrading cohesion of a unit in combat. Troops get tired, they get scared, nco's and officers get hit, discipline and courage start to falter. One traditional way of handling this has been to have a separate chart to roll on to see if units run. Another way is to just remove units in combat and who cares how many were shot and how many ran away? (apart from in a campaign but there are ways around that).
In the morale test world, the one I grew up in, there were often intermediate steps between AOK and Run Away!, and these usually had combat and morale penalties. In the removal world, generally you are there or not and the penalty is at a higher level, that is, as stands are lost, holes open up in your line.
In the middle of trying to finish off the game last night using HofT instead of MacDuff, (often tricky changing rules 1/2 way through) I found myself pondering the inequity of rules where having an even or odd number of stands makes a difference to how well your unit fights and wondering about solutions. I also pondered for the nth time whether to accumulate hits (quicker casualties, premature holes in the line, no reduction in fighting power for the stands that are left meaning 2 battered units are as good as 1 whole one and no sudden collapse) or spread them out (more markers, a chance to rally, sudden collapse built in, weakened units still hold a big chunk of the line making it bad if they go and you haven't prepared for it). Spreading them out was how I originally did it but it was the piles of bingo markers that got to me. To compensate for faster removal, I had to pay more attention to defining and penalizing a unit that should be near collapse etc. It occurred to me part way through now that I have a choice of funny hats for hits or little green dice, it was easier to use my preferred method then I didn't need a 2nd system, the rallying works etc.
It can be annoying how often removing a rule helps.
Also found that the smoothbore double shot cannister modifier was missing and decided that 1 form of modifiers was better than 2 so adjust that as well. Pre -test draft loaded at left.
All of a sudden I realized I din;t have to mark which stands are carrying hits, I just establish the saturation or break point for a unit and track that. Once hit, every subsequent hit removes a stand. I can translate the shaken morale in melee rules into the same terms and suddenly have a single cohesive, integral but implicit morale system. OK update draft and again, then clear table.
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
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Shaken and Stirred. Abstract Morale (updated)
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, 4 cats and a bird. Prematurely retired and looking forward to leisure to game, garden and sculpt in our 150 yr old farmhouse.