In the classic horse & musket era, it was sufficiently rare for a unit to be forced to retreat by long range or skirmisher fire that one can safely ignore the possibility in a simple game. The same is not true in the age of magazine rifles. Units advancing in the open were often forced to halt and take cover while even units in cover were sometimes forced to retreat to avoid being destroyed by heavy fire. Units sometimes withdrew under light or ineffective fire but normally only if scouting or delaying and there was no benefit to be gained by staying. These are retreats under orders rather than panicked routs. The trick in wargame terms is to determine who should be deciding if a unit retreats. Should it be the player, acting as unit commander as well as "army" commander? Or, should it be the game presenting the player with a fait accompli ordered by a subordinate?
Over the last few years, various versions of the Square Brigadier have vacillated between using the equivalent of a "flag" result from the Battlecry series of games (fait accompli) and allowing the player to reduces losses by retreating units (player decision). Both approaches are valid and as far as I can tell after trying both, they each have something in their favour in terms of game play. Its that dreaded thing, a matter of "paying your money and taking your choice". After a couple of months of player's choice, I am starting to lean back towards letting the dice decide, one more thing for the player to overcome, especially in a solo game.
Unfortunately the change has other ramifications for the way modifiers are handled so I'm going to have to revisit some of the old versions that worked. If they don't appeal I may look for a third solution such as a simple one of those dreaded "morale" or "reaction" tests. I'll then modify the draft to include both options and hopefully put a game on table come Friday as Red Army races Blue Army for control of a key river crossing.
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
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Who Ordered That?
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 and 3 cats. Prematurely retired and enjoying leisure to game, maintaining our 160 yr old farmhouse and just living.