I suspect that one of the reasons that I've been so interested in exploring gridded miniature games is because they force me to shake off decades of convention and look at things a little differently. Helps keep the little grey cells active.
This explanation could run on for pages but I'll spare everyone.......for now. Suffice it to say that the vagueness of grid areas vs the precise location of units pretty much forces one to drop the illusion of a scale model of processes and instead focus on intentions and outcomes. So less thinking about x paces per minute and precise ranges and more thinking about A moving up to launch a decisive attack on B or just moving up to engage and threaten them. I had been trying to do that already thanks to Joe Morschauser's influence but the grid seems to make it easier.
One of the other issues that I have written about, is coming to terms with the game aspect of wargames, especially solo games. The rule approach that makes the most accurate simulation is not always the one that provides the most engaging and exciting game, especially when playing solo. Its a delicate balance though or the whole thing becomes a parlour game rather than a wargame.
OK on to the rules. I have been dithering over command control and turn systems, trying to balance player decision making, uncertainty and some reflection of how things operate. I like the old written orders and simultaneous moves but it really doesn't work for me when playing solo so the 2 main approaches have been rolling each turn for "initiative" to see who goes first and fixed turns with a die roll to determine how many "orders" may be issued (ie a variation on the DBA pips). In both cases I have tried to include a role for subordinate commanders and tried to make it easier to control a concentrated force.
I rather like the initiative system but in a solo game, the choice is less appealing to me since I am both sides at once and its not always clear what is best. It also poses some issues about one side getting to shoot twice without reply and so on unless reaction rules are introduced. I also like the PIPS system but there needs to be balance between the maximum/minimum number of orders and the number of units. Too many and its too easy, too few and its too frustrating. I think I have that fixed now so PIPS or Order dice are back in.
Each side will get 1 die for the commander in chief giving him between 1 and 6 orders to be issued to any units. Each subordinate commander gets 1 order to be used only on his own troops. An order is required to move or rally but not to shoot or fight in melee. A group of properly aligned units can all be given the same order using only 1 Pip instead of 1 per unit, like a group move in DBA. Units which are detached will roll to see if they receive and act on their order, or not.
The result of all this is that an army that is properly formed with an appropriate command structure should be able to function fairly reliably but once it starts to engage in combat and loses order, it will be harder and harder to get units to move forward or redeploy in reaction to enemy movements although they will cheerfully stand and blaze away at whatever is in range. Once an army takes heavy losses it can pull units back and recover to some extent but it won't be able to keep attacking at the same time. This is the effect I've been striving for for ages and I think the current version gets it right.
Next post movement, missile fire, melee and morale.
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
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Behind the Brigadier Pt 1 - Grids, Games and Generals.
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.