Another run through of the meeting engagement but with double the number of units.
I really didn't feel like working yesterday. The smart thing would have been to run another play test and that's what I meant to do. Instead I spent several hours updating the Square Brigadier, pruning fiddly rules that I would probably never use or which could be added for a specific game.
An example would be facing and the ability to change it, especially for poorly trained troops. Yes they did have a hard time maneuvering but was it that they couldn't maneuver at all or that they fell into disorder more easily while doing so and took longer? If the latter, a simple reduction in the number of hits they can take relative to better trained troops is not the same thing but just might be sufficient since the goals is to show that better trained troops are more likely to defeat poorly trained ones. If both sides are poorly trained, does it matter so much? It really means that each turn takes more time since I've never found any non-game examples of opposing units not being able to find some way to get to grips with each other.
Time and interaction is of course the essence, especially with alternate turns and a possible flip of initiative. The actions of the General come with significant delay between making a decision and executing it but the reactions of a unit commander to what is happening on the spot would tend to come much faster. One option is to have complex reaction rules which cross the rapidly changing situation with the training and experience of the troops and officers involved and their need to conform to orders. Another is to let the General decide on an overall plan and let the dice decide if his troops managed their part properly or not. There were lots of these clumsy attempts to include as many minor bits as possible and make players work for it but like weeds in a garden and old growth, they choke the good bits. Its a struggle to keep them in check but doing so puts the focus back on the contest between General's plans and wills and away from the details and processes and encourages a more exciting game.
Scale is another issue that I am struggling with when using a Grid. I do keep trying to remember that things are an abstraction but its way too easy to get hung up. Its easier as you go down levels. If each grid area was 50 yards, I could pretty much handle things though I would still need to be more clever at handling the nuances simply. The trick is that many units then would occupy 2 or 3 grid areas which is a no-no or have to be split into sub units with rules to allow them to act together and anyway, the resulting battlefield wouldn't be big enough theoretically for some of the battles I want to fight.
If I bump the grid up to 200 or so yards that works better but oh gosh, all musket fire is between adjacent areas! I did play with having attacking units cross the border between areas and move into contact. Works ok with some basing and large areas but not so well where a base pretty much fills a grid area. It also awakens another issue, We all know that rifled muskets had a longer effective range than smoothbore muskets but I'm having trouble finding an examples where troops with rifles stood and shot down musket armed troops without any return fire. The trick seems to be that rifles were rarely used at extreme ranges by massed troops and that muskets had a range much greater than their accuracy encouraged them to be used at so troops just blazed back anyway. In game terms, with one range band and a grid, it seems better to make the rifles more effective rather than longer ranged. It all levels out at decisive or melee ranges any way. Chassepots vs Needle Guns may be a different issue.
The original Morschauser Meets MacDuff did actually handle it this way and while I was looking for something more systematic, I think its probably the route to go so I've been looking back and grafting the older system back into the gridded game as well as the reduction of hits against cover such as used in last weeks simple game rather than the in the chance to hit.
A later shot, just before things got a little bit better and then very much worse for the Queen's troops.
The diagonals are still being a problem for me. I am seriously thinking about admitting defeat and following Bob Cordery's foot steps and rule that all measurement and movement be through the sides. It would also be easier if I dealt only with squares or only with hexes, especially when it comes to adjacent units and melee but I have both and want to use both so I will persevere. The resulting games won't be precisely the same but as long as they both work in their own way I'll be satisfied.
So, more juggling to merge old choices in new ways and then another test.
** Square Brigadier is now updated and is available at left. **
Apparently last night's game wasn't exciting enough to keep Spinner (Whippet) and Aunt Delilah (or Diedi for short, eldest and smallest of the Italian Greyhounds) awake. She's what they call "Blue" so you think she'd be cheering.