Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Taking a chance

Chance cards are as old as the first published rules of the modern era. Both Featherstone and Morschauser suggest their use as a way to spice up games. I have only rarely bothered to try and use them but while answering Prometheus's comment of the Non-Player Commander rules, it suddenly struck me as the best way to put the occasional spanner in the works.

Pas t experience tells me that I'll soon get tired of drawing No Effect cards so prefer a deck where every card means something but where they only happen  occasionally rather than a card being drawn every turn. Luckily that suits both activation methods. I have decided that a card will be drawn if there is a tied activation roll. If using card activation, it is merely a matter of slipping a Joker  or two into the deck.

To be honest, since I have NO intent of using the optional NPC disobeys order rules myself, I should probably pull the Order rules, leaving the characters in place and relegate command blunders to the cards, maybe adding some more specific ones. That is a system I probably will try out.

Now to make up a deck of cards or a look up table.

Here's what I've added to the optional rules:

1.      Chance Cards. This is an optional add on rule. Chance cards are an old way to introduce random or unusual events into a game.  I think it is a better way to handle disobedience or blunders by subordinates as well. Chance cards can be drawn up on a computer and printed on business cards, a look up table can be made, keyed to a deck of playing cards or dice rolled against it. I will suggest some possible cards but players should make up their own deck.
a.      If using the initiative system. Any time there is a tie when rolling initiative, the player who is moving next nominates the Brigade that he will activate then draws a Chance Card.
b.      If using card activation. Include one or more Jokers in the deck. When the Joker is drawn, draw another card, nominate which Brigade will be activated then draw a chance card. Reshuffle the deck before drawing again.
c.      Sample Chance Cards. These are only a few of the possibilities. The deck/table should be a mix of positive and negative events.  I would suggest a minimum of 12 cards, 20 or more would be better. Each card should be discarded once drawn but you may wish to include multiples of some events. Your imagination is the only limit to the number and nature of the events.
                                          i.     Blunder: The Brigade that has been activated blunders. If there is a GM, he decides what happens, if not allow the enemy player to issue it orders or use the Optional Non-player commander Initiative chart or any method you prefer to have that commander act not in accordance with the player’s wishes.
                                         ii.     Thunderstorm. A sudden, heavy storm stops the battle. The turn is over and any units that have not been activated lose the chance to be activated. In a turn limited game or if there are reinforcements, a turn is still used up. On the next turn, all combat is at a -1 die modifier and all movement is 1/2 speed. On the following turn, all returns to normal but a second thunderstorm will make the effects permanent. (or dust storm if in the desert, etc.)
                                       iii.     Ammo Shortage. The last unit to have fired has expended their ammo. Mark the unit as disordered. If they rally then they have been resupplied. If they become Broken, they have moved off table looking for resupply and count as lost.
                                       iv.     Huzzah! A wave of enthusiasm sweeps through the next brigade to be activated may add 1d6” to any move or add +1 to any Rally die or to each melee die if charging.
                                         v.     For Want of a Nail. A courier has been delayed. The Brigade that is being activated may not move but units may rally or shoot as normal and change facing or formation.
                                       vi.     We marched all night. An unexpected reinforcement arrives for the side that is activating a brigade. 1 independent unit of the player’s choice shows up at the player’s board edge where a road enters the table or at the next most suitable place if there is none.
                                      vii.     Raging Torrent. Heavy rainfall upstream has caused all rivers to rise and run fast. All fords are now dangerous and units crossing must roll for losses as per the terrain rules.
                                    viii.     They Couldn’t Hit an Elephant. The General of the side that is activating a Brigade has been targeted by a sniper or his command group has been hit by a stray shell or freindly fire. Roll 1 die. On a score of 1 the General, is wounded or dead and out of the game. His army will have to carry on without him.
                                       ix.     Rising to the Occasion. The active player may replace one lost Commander of any type. If none have been lost, he may add a Hero character to the unit of his choice.
                                         x.     Seizing the moment. The enemy suddenly grabs the initiative and may activate one of his brigades before the selected one is activated.
                                       xi.     Dysentery. One unit on the side that is active, chosen by the enemy, is struck by sickness. All shooting, melee and morale tests have an additional -1 modifier for the rest of the game.
                                      xii.     Never say die. The troops are inspired, stragglers and lightly wounded return to the ranks. The active player may remove a total of 1d6 hits from any combination of his units still on table.
                                    xiii.     I’ll try sir!  If any unit in the Brigade which has been activated charges this turn and draws the melee, they may immediately fight another round of melee instead of falling back.


  1. Now we are talking my language Ross. I like what you have posted and I usually do the same depending on a battle. I'll research a conflict and then figure out what was happening during the era and adjust my cards accordingly. For instance for Hill of Doves (not published yet) Godfrey Bailey has cards specific to the Boer War campaign. The Funny Little Wars event cards are specific to its rules etc. For air and sea battles I'll make up cards specific to a campaign, commanders, politico's, spys, supplies and parts, ammo, food, weather, fodder for horse etc. Bear in mind I solo so I can do what I want and nobody cares LOL ... Jeff

    1. Yes a very flexible idea for those prepared to do a little work.

  2. This all seems very plausible to me but, as with the preceding post, I'm glad that these bits are optional, so I can decline to use them without a niggling feeling that I'm somehow undermining the integrity of the rules by "not doing it properly" and that there might consequently be some unforeseen knock-on effect.

    By the same token, I wouldn't have any problem using these optional rules if an opponent felt strongly that they were essential.

    1. I got a start on an 1812 test game last night and it felt very odd to just move the units with nothing to stop them. Its been a long time! (other than when playing Charge!)

      As I suspected, the initiative flips combined with me tripping over my own feet have been sufficient friction so far. In theory the event cards are in play but none have been called into play yet.

  3. We used a similar idea for special cards in our Command & Colours games. In historical battles, each side had a "specials" deck with cards accounting for rare or freak occurences. There were a number of "Special" cards inserted in the stancard deck. When one of those was drawn it was immediately replaced with the next card from the appropriate specials deck.

    I recall being very glad of a "Well stuffed hat" card at Gettysburg, when it saved one of my generals from being shot in the head.