"It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair"
Having dug out and patched up last year's subtly squared card table gaming board, I found time Friday night to try out the proposed new version of Square Brigadier. My first instinct was to pick an old chestnut of a scenario but decided to replay the Belmont scenario from Battlecry so that I could compare the 2 games.
Some of the new volunteers glued back on their balsa bases but with 6 figures each instead of only 4.
There are various ways to judge an historical wargame. The two main ones in this case were: was it a reasonably accurate simulation either from a high level of how the battle went, or at a low level of how units acted, or preferably, both, and was if it a good game, fun, exciting, challenging with a good pace and so on.
An overview of the game set up. The table has 12x10 squares versus 13x9 hexes so was a similar size but different shape to the Battlecry board. Some minor interpretation of terrain and troop placement was required when laying out the scenario.
It was a little hard to judge how well it worked as a simulation of the battle since the scenario is such an abstract representation to start with but the feel was so-so at best. It didn't feel much like a General planning a battle and issuing orders to control his forces in a battle. The Brigades didn't function as brigades and the combat was too dice dependent and choppy, sometimes it worked, sometimes the results seemed unlikely with only the dice knowing why this unit evaporated while that one seemed invulnerable. About 3 stars out of 5.
From a game POV, there were too many command points available too often to provide any tension and most turns consisted of a lot of standing, shooting which was not unrealistic but not exciting either. The combat was unpredictable turn by turn but since it was usually hard or impossible to destroy a unit in one turn it wasn't really exciting either. Again about 3 stars out of 5.
On about the 4th turn I decided the Federals, out numbered 2:1 in infantry and on the attack, couldn't win but by about 10 turns later they had won a decisive victory.
In short, it was trying to much to be a game to be satisfying as an historical event and trying to hard to be historical to make a fun game. In trying too hard to be both, it was satisfying as neither and "fell between two stools" as the expression goes. Probably one of the reasons I'm not a well known game designer :).
I think it would have worked better on both counts if the game had at least double if not treble or quadruple the number of units on a larger table. Since the goal is to play some games downstairs on the small table, its back to the drawing board to design a game purely for the small board for forces of this size. In the mean time I may try another straight up Battle Cry game.