Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A cat in the elm? Arf Arf Arf eh? This is a willow?

Yes, I have been barking up a wrong tree again!

The original MacDuff showed it Charge! roots primarily in its organization and in the way it treated morale. Units had to retreat at 1/2 strength and musket fire during charges helped determine who won rather than  resulting morale stopping the enemy short due to morale checks. I was always happy with that.

At least I was until a friend argued that it should be possible to stop a charge by fire alone, especially if using breachloaders on spear armed tribesmen. I argued that melee wasn't really hand to hand combat and figures that were removed didn't directly represent dead and wounded and that the over all effect was right. Eventually, he won me around and for the last 5 years, I've been trying to integrate a morale system that would provide an intermediate reaction, including the ability to repulse a charge by fire alone.

During the last game I noticed that once again, the latest version favoured certain unit sizes over others. Later while working on the reaction system which is meant to help compensate for the lack of simultaneous movement and firing, I noticed that I had gotten to the place where opposing units could each force the other to run screaming in the opposite direction. After some more thought and poking and reading, I have once again removed the morale rules apart from a penalty for being below strength.

That of course required redoing the melee and reaction sections as well. The results have been uploaded but not tested.

    40mm? Really?
The Hussar is a Minifig 30mm figure. The Scruby in the middle is about 1/2 way in between.
Maybe I should be calling my armies 36mm?


  1. Hi Ross,
    I have never commented here before. I must say I enjoy your blog very much. Somewhere, a while back we exchanged comments regarding the possibility of you incorporating some of my 40mm volunteers into your forces. They are ready. If you are still interested, I'll need an address. They would be in coatees with shakos and trousers. (also unpainted except for one example I did for fun.)
    The stop a charge with fire is an issue I have been working on as well.


    1. OoooooH! Thanks John. Let me know if you want some money for postage.

      Ross Macfarlane
      643 Belmont Rd
      RR2 Newport NS B0N 2A0

  2. Ross

    I have to say that I really like the old school feel of the old MacDuff.


  3. Ross,
    I don't know if this is somewhat helpful. When designing and playing Drums of War Along The Mohawk we always had very few units on the table. As a result I ran away from morale rules making units brittle. What I mean is, I wanted units to hang around longer on the tabletop to make a better game for players.

    I kept the same concept for batailles de l'Ancien Régime (BAR) for similar reasons though we typically have a lot more units on the table. Brig. Young had it right - the 50% rule - for me anyhow.

    I always worry about players having enough to do. A player with 1-2 units suddenly losing them is not quite a nightmare for me but tis not far off as a game host. I too went for Brig. Young's 50% morale rule with the sole exception that units falling under 50% throw for morale. At 50% they are still barely okay.

    There are two rules dynamics at the top of my list to be careful about. Morale is one as just discussed. Add to this the concept that if a unit routs, it could affect adjacent units and brigades. I shudder at that.

    The other is too much artillery is a big negative stifling play and participant morale.

    Important for me to state I'm talking a game not a simulation. Actually I want something in between.

    Good luck Ross,

  4. Ross,

    I think that Bill's comments are worthwhile . . . I know that with my Tricorne Wars rules that I had it so that there were a number of levels of degrading morale before a unit routed.

    Now I probably (er, almost certainly) overdid it; but the thought was that units would withdraw from action more often than simply routing away.

    Also I'm guessing that the first comment was from John Bertolini (whose figures I have suggested to you a few times).

    -- Jeff

  5. Ooh, rare sighting of a Minifigs 30mm, very nice.

    I like the trend in the new draft; morale tests are so often riddled with double jeopardy. A couple of things showing on the nitpicometer:

    A unit which has retreated after losing a melee is not shaken as such. If it charged before or while reordering itself it can't react (similiar to shaken) but looks like it can melee without penalty? It could have its backs to the chargers?

    The Rally Men! rule - could get a bit hairy? If a commander moves to 9 men surviving out of 20 and successfully restores 2 men that seems plausible, but if he goes to 4 men surviving out of 20 and restores 7 could that look not so much like rallying as resurrection? :-)

    1. Yes, if I had only known, a collection of gloss coated Minifig & Scruby 30mm Napoleonics could probably have kept me happy for decades. (But I'm not going there now)

      The penalties for the rallying loser are somewhat hidden and should probably be reinforced in plain English. First they will have their backs to the enemy, though if the penalties are clear that wouldn't be necessary. I was toying with various names for the state they are in to make it easier to summarize.

      1. infantry cannot fire which robs them of a major defence (the same of course applying to the winner if he is counter attacked before the end of the turn but for the loser it extends into the next period). Using the shaken penalty might be more intuitive.

      2. cavalry (or infantry for that matter) can't counter charge and therefore suffer a significant penalty if charged themselves.

      I had the same thoughts on the revised Rally Men! rule. The alternative was to leave it as it was which was that either 0, 1 or 2 figures could be recovered meaning that only a unit on the brink could be rallied. I also toyed with no more than 1 attempt per unit.

      I hadn't actually thought about a unit being as badly hit as you suggest but still being rally-able but it did occur to me after going to bed that there is no absolute bottom line anymore. I try to keep in mind that the casualties represent cohesion more than casualties but I also prefer to have things not look too odd. Having a huge variance in possible unit sizes doesn't help. Definitely needs more thought and some pushing of figures around.

  6. Ross, Gallia

    50% morale rule is nice and simple - pleasing - but I never liked the unrealistic tendency for artillery to be concentrated on units which were getting close to that threshhold! I've frequently seen the 50% rule with the variant that elites get to fight down to 25% (or something), but to me that just results in small, ineffective stumps of units hanging around. My current theory on this (and I confess I haven't tested it, so as you would notice) is that elites should be harder to "kill", the reasoning being that, since the kills are not actual casualties - just a reduction in effectiveness - the elites could sustain firepower etc better after losses. That way the 50%/25% rule becomes 50% for everyone, but elites (better troops) are harder to kill, or get a different saving throw or something. The spirit of 50% is correct, but the reality always seems a bit lumpy - reaching 50% is a very rigid, very discontinuous event.


    1. Tony, You make sense ("Tu as raison" seems to sum it up better somehow)

      Oddly enough, originally it was 50% for every one but it was easier for Elites to rally back casualties giving them staying power. When I tried dropping that completely I tried saving throws and then tried a minus and plus for target quality but that was so counter-intuitive (even though technically right) that it didn't catch on. Sadly, the original method worked the best if it were for the logistical and visual issues that came with it.

      Good food for thought.

  7. Ross: as you are discussing MacDuff reaction/penalties rules of I will thank if you could explain me this paragraph (it is from 2 Feb 2012 version) because I can not understand it:

    4.3.3.A formation may move and then shoot but may not shoot and then move but 6” is deducted from their movement allowance.

    I also want to take the opportunity to congratulate John Bertolini for his marvelous figures. I have seen some photographs of them in Tim's Miniatures blog and I think they are really exelent. Nice figures full of character.
    It would be great to create your own Blog or at least a web album to show us all your proyects John!

  8. Cesar, I have dropped the movement penalty for shooting, only to speed the game, not to improve the simulation. For the rest, a unit may shoot and then move when activated, or it may move and then shoot. It may not move partway, shoot and then finish its move.

    Now that I write this, I'm not sure why not.

    I support your call for easier access to more pictures of John's soldiers.

  9. Thank you very much for your answer Ross, but I am still confused (I am sure it is because of my poor english). According to the 4.3.3.rule:
    A formation may move and then shoot.
    A formation may not shoot and then move.
    So in wich case the 6" penaltie apply?
    I saw you have change this rule in 7 Feb. Version, but I would like to understand anyway.
    I hope this don´t bother you.
    Kind regards,

    1. Ahh, That is not your command of English Cesar, that is poor proofreading on my part.

      I was experimenting with 2 different things about shooting and moving and have changed my mind several times (both recently and in the past).

      May a unit shoot and move in the same turn, if so:

      a) is there a penalty to the distance the unit may move if it shoots
      b) may it shoot before moving, after moving, or both.

      Each time I change my mind, I insert a change to the rule. Sometimes I am too hasty and forget to add or erase a word or a phrase (especially the word "not".

      If this is what I intended then it should have read "a formation may move and then shoot if it pays a 6" movement penalty. A formation may not shoot and then move."

      The introduction of a reaction to shooting has changed the usefulness of limiting when the fire takes place. The penalty to movement is logical in theory but in practice it slows the game, often affects player's decisions in the wrong way and does not help the game flow.

      and no,I don;t mind. In fact, it is a pleasure to answer questions and is often useful. What is not clear to you as a reader is often not really clear to me as a writer but I don't always recognize that until some one asks a question.


  10. Hi Ross, I've introduced a morale test at 50% losses incorporating any losses over 50% into the calculation but with no further removal of figures.

    I also pinched an idea of yours that any unit taking 25% casualties "in one go" become disordered but then preventing disordered units from charging home. A bit crude but quick and simple and prevents the unit being charged from being disordered (after a melee) when they would have stopped chargers with fire power.

    Keep the ideas coming.

    Thanks for the great blog


  11. Thanks Martin.

    I found that the 25% worked well with decent sized units but not so well with the small ones I sometimes end up with in skirmishes. Having thought more on this, I've decided to keep the 25% for charges only, essentially stopping the charge short.

    I've started nosing about to get a feel for how often horse and musket units broke and ran off the field, especially without the whole army retreating. So far it doesn't seem very common but its early days yet. It may be that the Charge rule where they fall back then hang around indefinitely is more historical than I once thought.

  12. Thank you very much for your answer Ross. Now all clear for me.