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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mock Up Game 1 - A BB Portable Wargame

I decided to kick off the tests of my card table set up with the latest version of Bob Cordery's Big Board Portable Wargame.  The scenario involves a rearguard holding a defile against a larger enemy force that is in pursuit and arriving in a some what disorderly manner.

The defenders were my White Russians with an HQ, 5 infantry, 1 MG, 1 Cavalry and 1 field gun unit. The attackers were the Reds with an HQ, 7 infantry, 1 MG, 4 cavalry and 1 field gun. 

 Turn 3 as the Reds straggle on. 
My mom's card table is older than me but still does what it has always done.
The Reds sent their cavalry to silence the White artillery. It took two tries but eventually worked at the cost of 2 cavalry units destroyed and 2 severely damaged, largely due to the supporting infantry and MG. An infantry attack on the left hand hill pushed back the defenders and took out the mg but again at   a high cost. A counter attack by White cavalry took out a Red infantry unit and the Reds hit their exhaustion point which prevented them from achieving their mission of exiting the table.

The end of the game. Red's attack has stalled.


Over all the mock up playing 'board' worked well although I missed a few of the squares when I was demarcating which made for a small amount of confusion once or twice. It will definitely work to entertain me and get some extra games in over the winter.

The Portable Wargame rules also worked OK. There were a few areas where I was unclear but I decided to follow the letter of the rules unless something felt wrong. Some of the questions & comments (for Bob but also for the interest of other readers), were:

a) can a unit which is adjacent to an enemy shoot and be shot at if there is a clear LOS. I decided that since it was not mentioned that they could. This meant that Red infantry supported an attack on the artillery by shooting at the gun crew and that the gun ignored the attack on its flank and kept firing during the artillery phase.  This had the unfortunate result of the artillery suffering a hit which allowed them to retreat except that artillery which fired can't move  so it had to be taken as a loss.

b) If a unit moves adjacent to 2 enemy units, 1 facing, 1 not, can it ignore the facing one and make the flank attack? I decided that it had to deal with the facing unit first although the rules seem to leave it up to the attacking player. (It would have left their own flank vulnerable if the close combat stalled.)

c) Do units that begin in contact have to fight in close combat if they don't retreat? As far as I could see, if a unit is not activated it does not have to fight.

d) Is the Initiative roll once per game or once per turn. I tend to regard the activation roll as equivalent since a side that rolls low in effect misses a turn with some units.

e) This one is just an observation, there was only 1 turn where the Red's weren't able to activate all of their units with points to spare. Lucky rolling perhaps but it made the roll feel a bit redundant. I think next time I might round down instead of up with a minimum of 1 die, just to increase tension.

f) Woods. I couldn't find a movement penalty for woods. I have trouble seeing horse artillery galloping through woods at full speed. This particular scenario specified that the wooded hill was impassible  to all but light infantry so I decided that the scenario trumped rules.

g) Another comment. I kept forgetting to add the stationary shooting bonus but kept trying to apply a move and shoot penalty.  Habit!  It works well and I almost had it down by the end.

h) I was glad to see that attacking units are more vulnerable when attacking uphill. I would tend to apply the same to units attacking over an obstacle, such as an abatis or  wire (assuming the enemy has put them selves adjacent  to the wire rather than being one square back).

i) I couldn't find a definition of retreat so allowed a move to any adjacent square that is not occupied by a unit of either side or adjacent to an enemy unit. (all orthogonal of course)

j) I still don't like the roll to avoid being hit in close combat mechanism but when combined with the roster it worked ok.

All in all an enjoyable little game with what felt like a reasonable result.

Now I'm pondering what to try tomorrow. My intention had been to try the gridded game that I was working on but I'm thinking that I should either make as many mechanics as possible similar to Hearts of Tin or since I've been enjoying Battle Cry based Colonial games with Ron, make them as close to that as I can without cards, special dice and hexes. Something to think about while stacking wood tomorrow.
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Oops! Definitely need that 3 sided backboard, Lila just ran off with a stand of Cossacks. Not to worry her brother Simon intercepted her and they have been rescued unharmed.


9 comments:

  1. Been following a number of these posts and the game concept looks interesting - nice one

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  2. Ross Mac,

    I have just read your blog entry and will reply to your questions later today.

    All the best,

    Bob

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Bob. btw I noticed that, due to its width, the masking tape road tended to clip the corner of a square rather than being strictly on the diagonal so I was able to stay strictly orthogonal.

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  3. Ross Mac,

    Thank you for your observations and comments, and I hope that the following clarifies the rules somewhat.
    Part 1
    a) Can a unit which is adjacent to an enemy shoot and be shot at if there is a clear LOS? I decided that since it was not mentioned that they could. This meant that Red infantry supported an attack on the artillery by shooting at the gun crew and that the gun ignored the attack on its flank and kept firing during the artillery phase. This had the unfortunate result of the artillery suffering a hit which allowed them to retreat except that artillery which fired can't move so it had to be taken as a loss.

    Answer: This is how I envisaged the rules working, although I might have allowed the artillery to retreat on a 50/50 chance (Let the dice decide!).

    b) If a unit moves adjacent to 2 enemy units, 1 facing, 1 not, can it ignore the facing one and make the flank attack? I decided that it had to deal with the facing unit first although the rules seem to leave it up to the attacking player. (It would have left their own flank vulnerable if the close combat stalled.)

    Answer: I would have done what you did. It was my intention that the attacking player should attack the Unit facing them as a priority as it would otherwise leave their own flanks exposed.

    c) Do units that begin in contact have to fight in close combat if they don't retreat? As far as I could see, if a unit is not activated it does not have to fight.

    Answer: Correct. It does not have to fight if it is not activated.

    d) Is the Initiative roll once per game or once per turn. I tend to regard the activation roll as equivalent since a side that rolls low in effect misses a turn with some units.

    Answer: The Initiative roll should take place at the beginning of each turn. The Activation roll is there to limit each side’s commander to a certain extent.

    e) This one is just an observation; there was only 1 turn where the Red's weren't able to activate all of their units with points to spare. Lucky rolling perhaps but it made the roll feel a bit redundant. I think next time I might round down instead of up with a minimum of 1 die, just to increase tension.

    Reply: There is no reason why you cannot do without the Activation roll if you want to. In the simple version of the rules there is no Activation roll, and it was only introduced in the BBPW rules because some players like to have some restriction on how many Units they can activate each turn.

    Part 2 to follow shortly

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    Replies
    1. Bob, I like the Activation rolls, I just felt I had too many dice and thus too little chance of not moving everyone. A delicate balance.

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  4. Part 2

    f) Woods. I couldn't find a movement penalty for woods. I have trouble seeing horse artillery galloping through woods at full speed. This particular scenario specified that the wooded hill was impassable to all but light infantry so I decided that the scenario trumped rules.

    Answer: There are no penalties for woods as such, but I am thinking about introducing a rule by which Units entering woods and built-up areas must stop when they enter the new terrain. In other words the change of terrain would work somewhat akin to the way it does in MEMOIR ’44.

    g) Another comment. I kept forgetting to add the stationary shooting bonus but kept trying to apply a move and shoot penalty. Habit! It works well and I almost had it down by the end.

    Reply: Keeping working on it! It does make sense … and it does work.

    h) I was glad to see that attacking units are more vulnerable when attacking uphill. I would tend to apply the same to units attacking over an obstacle, such as an abatis or wire (assuming the enemy has put themselves adjacent to the wire rather than being one square back).

    Answer: This is certainly a ‘house rule’ that would work, although the rules already penalise those Units that have to stop as soon as they encounter barbed wire.

    i) I couldn't find a definition of retreat so allowed a move to any adjacent square that is not occupied by a unit of either side or adjacent to an enemy unit. (all orthogonal of course)

    Answer: I will try to remember to add a definition when I next redraft the rules. In the meantime you are using the retreat rule in the way I intended them to be used.

    j) I still don't like the roll to avoid being hit in close combat mechanism but when combined with the roster it worked ok.

    Answer: I know that the mechanism seems to be counter-intuitive … but it does work and it makes the player think first about what has happened to their Unit rather than what impact they have had on the enemy.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Bob, f) That is a valid option but it still doesn't differentiate between infantry which can move through most woods fairly easily and some others that can not. You sure couldn't drive a truck, wagon or artillery limber through the woods around here. One might assume that there are unmarked paths and tracks through the wooded areas though.

    g. Its just a matter of which is the default, I have always played with rules that assume that fire is stationary and penalize troops that move. You assume that the firer is moving and reward stationary ones. Its the same thing just backwards from what I've been used to for 40 years. :)

    i. I agree that wire is an obstacle but if the enemy is adjacent to it, it wouldn't slow an attacker at all or protect the defender at all from a close combat attack. The answer of course is to always deploy the wire far enough away.

    j. Its not a question of being counter-intuitive its the way that it ignores that some situations/enemy are more dangerous than others.
    As you say, overall it works.

    Thanks for the prompt answers and an enjoyable game.

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    Replies
    1. Ross Mac,

      You comment about woods has given me pause for thought and the latest draft will have a special rule for woods.
      1. A Unit must stop as soon as it enters a wood.
      2. A Unit moving through a wood has a maximum movement rate of 1 square per turn.
      3. The range of all weapons fired within a wood is reduced to 1 square.
      4. In Close Combat a Unit that is in a wood increases the D6 die score they throw by 1.

      This might not be what you envisaged, but it seems to fit in with the rest of the rules as they currently stand.

      I suppose that I always assume that Units will fire when they move. This is probably a result of having 'No fire without movement; No movement without fire' being dunned into me for years ... and knowing that troops who remain stationary tend to fire with a degree more accuracy that those who are running about.

      All the best,

      Bob

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