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

Monday, June 18, 2012

So far away they looked tiny

Actually, they were tiny as well as far away. Sunday night I plunked my butt  in a  comfy chair in my Games Room and let my mind and spirit travel the ether(net) to Lentulus's Games Room. The scenario was Wagon Train from Scenarios for Wargames, the figures were Pendraken 10mm 's, the rules were the current Hearts of Tin.   I commanded the wily Bravance ambushers or those that elected to show up, while Lentulus commanded the Drakenburg convoy. The lovely fortress in the back was built from stout cardboard about 20 years ago by David Wilson.

The view from my laptop. From 90 km away, those 10mm sure look small!

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to keep track of the action even with 10mm troops. Left to my own devices, I could not have distinguished the Mont Royal Regiment from the Longueil Regiment but I could tell the difference between horse and foot and once identified, I had no trouble tracking the movements of various units and was starting to get good at estimating distances.

As usual with this scenario, there were lots of ups and downs as units appeared at places inconvenient for one player or the other. Eventually though, my boys waltzed off for a good feast while the garrison went on 1/2 rations. Hopefully there will eventually be real pictures on one of Lentulus' blogs.

The evening did see all three grades of cavalry  getting a chance to do their thing. When my Cuirassiers crashed into the enemy Hussars and threw  9 dice looking for 3 or better, I had brief qualms about the cavalry changes but it all worked as advertised. Much the same applied when my Dragoons thundered down on a poor battalion  which had been caught by my infantry in march column and was trying to rally in what they thought was a peaceful little valley. Five ones on 9 dice can really take the sting out of a cavalry charge!  Still we pursued them and hacked some more before the hard core colour guard finally held my horsemen to a draw in one round. That's them by the tape measure, perched on the table edge, working on a big stack of disorder chits. That's my Dragoons in the lighter green space about to ride out of rifle shot of the enemy Jaegers just emerging from the wood.

Things learned:
Cavalry charges can be heart stopping things, capable of blowing the enemy away or whiffing and often the cavalry ends up  effectively blown either way. This is what I was trying for so, so far so good.

Counting noses to figure out how many dice to roll is a nuisance with even 20mm troops and is no easier with 10mm ones. The alternative would be to go back to everyone in the front 2 ranks but only 1/2 if caught in flank or rear but its a minor thing that would end up much the same, maybe 1 die more or less and I'm going to hold off till the 5 test games are complete.

Despite many proof readings, there are still errors. Somehow I accidentally deleted Irregular Cavalry from the list of -1 melee modifiers and was in a quandary as to whether "play the game as it lies" applied or "play them as intended". I opted for the latter otherwise Irregular cavalry would not only be super mobile but as good as any dragoons in combat and the deletion was not intended

The rules could stand even more duplication of rules in different places. At one point I was trying to only ever write something once but I've slowly started repeating things which apply to more than 1 section. For example, during set up it explains that march columns have no front, only flanks. In the melee rules it says
units hit in flank are disordered. Therefore march columns are disordered automatically if they are charged and don't manage to react. It would be easier if I just wrote that, rather than expecting in W*G fashion that people would make the connection between the 2. Lots of those sorts of things tucked away here and there.  I don't mind doing the work to clarify them, but not until I'm sure that they won't be changing weekly or even monthy.

OK, Its probably best for a short break from HofT so I can have a fresh mind for the next test game. I see Sassinid Persian and Greco-Bactrian troops forming on the table edges, I guess its time for some Gathering of Hosts.

6 comments:

  1. Was this game run via Skype or a different programme?

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    1. This was skype again. Les bought a USB camera and signed up just to play.

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  2. Reads like it was a good game . . . of course The Wagon Train scenario is always fun.

    Yes, I do think that some "rule duplication" is advisable.

    I really hate those rule sets where I know that there is a rule about something but it is in an odd place that I can never find during a game.

    Also I like the sound of the cavalry conclusions that you've stated . . . chancy thing, eh? Well good.


    -- Jeff

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  3. Thanks Jeff. I agree about hating searching through.

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  4. Rather a tantalising look at the action, there! Incidentally I once worked out an alternative wagon train scenario I called The Olmutz Convoy that I wrote up in the long since defunct Southern Sortie club mag about 20 years ago. Considering the train escort slightly outnumbered the attackers, they found the huge numbers of wagons and carts very hard to defend effectively. In the end, by taking some hard decisions, a few wagons abandoned the trip for a less dangerous occasion, a few more, heavily guarded, made it through, but at least half the wagons were captured. The historical action from which it was taken went even better for the attacking Austrians, who in effect forced Frederick the Great to abandon his siege of the town.

    For rule writing, I think it is worth while not only explaining the rules reasonably fully, but repeating (reminding, really) where rules elsewhere impact upon what you are talking about now saves the reader/player time. In my view, this is probably better than crossreferencing by page number, though that too has its points. So rule stating, say, that a unit may fire if it has moved half its allowance for the bound could be stated in the rules on movement and in the rules on shooting. Within reason, it sounds like a good idea to me!
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  5. Ion I agree. I got away from repeating and cross-referencing during a time when the the rules were fluctuating wildly with changes not only frequent but sometimes drastic. Trying to make sure all references were up to date was a night mare! So if explanations, cross references and repetitions start re-appearing, it'll be a forecast of a quiet spell ahead!

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