EXCERPT 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, July 22, 2015

Repetative Strain Issues

Its been about a year now since I embarked on the Great War in 40mm. One of my early concerns was the issue of representing stalled attacks. This was an issue from the 1870's on. An attacking unit comes under fire, lays down and for several hours both sides trade fire with minimum casualties for hours until a new force intervenes or one side pulls back, with or without orders or occasionally some small party finds a way to creep forward under some minor terrain feature, a stream bed or gully perhaps and get close enough to charge.

One of the most common ways of dealing with this in wargames, at least since the 1970's  is a system where a combat  result or morale check gives a pin or no move result, which can be removed and reapplied and removed..... realistic? Possibly. Tedious? Often. I said I didn't want to do that but there I am at the moment.

The end of Sunday's game including the field hospital I forgot to use. In the background the pennons of the lancers can be seen as they ride over the Oberhilse artillery and machineguns from behind the flank.

Another option which I wanted to avoid was the one where rifle fire is allowed to destroy units to easily so the attacker might even be able to shoot the defender out of his trenches or a defended town. I can find no evidence supporting this approach but have accidentally come perilously close to this a couple of times.

There is another option which I don't recall seeing used although Memoir might be considered as sort of doing it without saying so when it has units on both sides within range and not moving or shooting turn after turn. This is to just assume that opposing units are shooting at each other with little result without showing it on the table. This could feel odd but in theory it could work if there was an option to fire with deadly effect on the unit in the open if it rose to attack. (You could also have an option to fire on retreating units but usually the battle was over at that point anyway.) I've considered it a couple of times but just haven't figured out just the right wording and rules to make it easy and clear. It would be something about ""Units in a beaten zone..." or at least how one balances ranges, dice and movement rates. However, using the orders dice option and requiring an order to be used to shoot along with a small chance of a hit might be enough to do it. Most combat then would be artillery preparation and assaults with the odds favouring the defender if the assault is frontal rather than flanking, unless the arty has done its job better than usually managed.

More planning and manouver leading to critical moments,  less endless die rolling with little to show for it.



  1. Funnily enough I was thinking about this earlier today and how CC The Great War handles it.

    Infantry shoot 3--2-1-1.
    The battle die shows Skull-Infantry-Infantry-Blast-Flag-Star.
    Skull/Blast/Infantry are a hit in close assault.
    Blast/Infantry are a hit in ranged combat.
    Flag is a retreat.
    Star is a miss, but generates a HQ point.

    So far, so similar to Memoir. However, the way terrains effects the combat dice is different. Rather than reduce the number of battle dice, most terrain allows troops to ignore one or more soldier symbols. A trench for example, allows infantry to ignore two soldier and two flag symbols, which mean that it is very hard to shoot them out of that cover, but they are effectively pinned (i.e. pinned in the mind of the player, rather than mechanically), because to leave the trench without proper support leaves them very vulnerable.

    Hope this is of some use.

    1. Well interesting anyway. I'm not really worried about the guys in cover, its the ones that lay out under fire on the veld for hours, or even on the fields of France in August/Sept '14. (and I'm trying to avoid copying Mr B's ideas too blatantly!) But certainly interesting, thanks!

  2. Why not allow units to voluntarily go to ground? They may not move, but they ignore infantry hits. This would mean that being pinned is a choice.