Saturday, November 17, 2012

Do Over

So far the weekend hasn't gone as planned. I twisted my ankle badly Friday afternoon and couldn't walk on it by evening. It was quite a bit better this morning but I felt lousy all over. This meant that I didn't get much work done but as the day improved in did some paint onto some 40mm Pandours and I did a lot of thinking.

Luckily I have learned not to take drastic action based on thinking when I'm tired, down or both so I haven't torn down my wargames table but I did break out the 3" grid again having realized that while I am quite taken with the idea of a game that fits the old card table and have proved to myself that it can work, I'm not wedded to it. The 2" grid won't work for me for anything larger than 1/72nd and even then 10mm would be better. I can fit 4x40mm figures in a 2" square but I just can't compress the terrain to fit in an acceptable fashion. Stylized terrain can fit on a 3" grid however along with 6 figure units of 40mm troops or 12 man 1/72nd units. The card table will only hold a 10x10 3" grid leaving no border but I would prefer at least a  12 x 8 grid for laying out teasers. Luckily I can rearrange things downstairs to fit a a 36" x 24" or 36"x30"  gaming table.
Lila getting a rules clarification about whether or not chewing "Dad's" figures is allowed.
 After getting a definite "Red Card Infraction"  she lost interest, however, I did not go for tea until the game was over and the table cleared.

Since everything was close to hand I decided to improvise Sawmill Village again using the old cloth with a 3" grid and try it with 2 stand units and tweaked rules. Four things got tweaked, order dice, diagonals, the shooting hit score and the melee rule.

For order (aka activity) dice I went back to a concept I have used off and on for a while. 1 dice per Division General or equivalent with Pips being used to move a unit, a battle line of units including Brigadier or a march column including Brigadier. Like in DBA, the more organized the division is, the easier it is to control leading to attacks breaking down into firefights which don't need orders.

With the diagonal, once I started playing with units allowed to face it, I had found 2 situations, the one where a unit faced the diagonal and the move was straight ahead and the situation where a unit faced a side but moved on the diagonal, essentially doing an echelon or incline. Melees were also awkward. I could foresee more and more rules being added to deal with things and decided that it just wasn't worth it. So I am essentially back to Bob's Portable Wargame movement and measuring rules. One difference is that I don't like having an enemy move through a defender's fire zone into a flanking position. Rather than getting fancy I will specify that if the defender can shoot at the attacker before he moves, the attack must go in on the front if possible.

The shooting tweak was just that with only 2 dice, shooting was ineffective when only hitting on a 5,6 so I upped it to 4,5,6. This meant that melee was essentially the same but with an extra die and slightly different modifiers. I always found it odd in Battle cry that units couldn't automatically fire back even at 1 hex range but the more I looked at something similar the more it seemed to fit in here since the other side will automatically be able to shoot back. The current sequence means that the defender always shoots first then the attacker gets 2 rolls, one in his turn and then defensive fire in the other player's turn which hasn't sat well but the solutions I could think of called fro tracking which melees started this trun vs being carried over which I didn't feel like tracking if I could avoid it. With units attacking through a town, it was fuzzy as to whether or not they could claim cover in the 2nd round. Suddenly it seemed easier to just give a fire bonus for adjacent units. So, if an infantry unit has to move 2 squares to get adjacent then the defender will get first shot on his turn but if they only move 1 square (meaning they were already in range) then they get to shoot first with 2 dice before being hit next turn with 3 dice of fire. Cavalry will be allowed to charge 3 squares and fight. Here we will see a difference between muskets whose range is shorter than a cavalry move and rifles which equal to it. Cavalry will not be able to attack rifles without risking a round of fire during the previous turn. In practice the lack of melee rules seemed to work better than I had expected.

More on the game tomorrow as well as the amended rules.


  1. Hope you continue to feel better Ross.

  2. Ross Mac,

    Sorry to read about your accident. It makes my cold seem like a minor inconvenience.

    It is surprising how much time I have also spent thinking about the size of the grid I want to use, in my case for my Portable Wargames. Ideally I would like to use a grid of 4-inch/10cm squares, but even for an 8 x 8 grid that would be too large to fit easily onto a coffee or card table. By going down to a 3-inch/75mm square the same coffee/card table can hold a 10 x 10 grid, and a 2-inch/50mm square creats space for a 16 x 16 grid. The latter should meet almost anyone's needs, but it does restrict the size of figure and/or figure base you can fit into a grid square. I have yet to make my final decision as to the size of grid square I want to settle on ... but I hope to make it sooner rather than later.

    Your point about allowing an enemy Unit to move through a defender's fire zone into a flanking position is well made, although I don't recall it happening in any of my play-tests. I would hesitate to 'add' a rule that forbids this ... but I have a couple of ideas that I will think about.

    Idea 1: Requiring the defending Unit to make a simple 50/50 dice throw as to whether or not they would be able to fire at the advancing enemy Unit out of turn.

    Idea 2: Requiring the attacking Unit to make a simple 50/50 dice throw as to whether or not they would be able to advance through an opponent's fire zone without having to stop.

    I personally favour the latter as it would be a simple addition to the 'Special Rules' section of the PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

    I hope you feel better soon.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks Bob it sounds more dramatic than it was though I did wonder when I went to bed on Friday. Sure makes you think about the guys hit in battle who carry on.

      I have found the 10x10 grid to be acceptable but I would really like to have 12x10 as that would mirror my table upstairs but at 1/2 the size allowing me to translate scenarios seamlessly. The 3" grid is almost acceptable but since many of my troops are on 40mm wide bases I think I'll see if I can't expand the grid to 8cm. If not I may rebase to 1.5"!

      The concern about enemy moving past is of course an putcome of the no diagonal facing rule. A unit can shoot at a unit on the diagonal but can't face it. I hadn't though of the options your suggest but had considered two other options"

      Option 3: Allow the defending unit to turn and face the attacker.
      Option 4: Ignore it encouraging/forcing the player to try to maintain his battle line in order to protect his flanks and making a hole in the line dangerous. After much thought about how the game went last night using this option (because I hadn't thought about it before) I am leaning towards leaving it that way.


  3. Ross,
    After Lila received her red card, did you explain the whole concept of the "sin bin?" After all, maybe you could do assign a yellow card and time out in the sin bin for minor infractions like licking or crunching the bases. A red card could be given for crunching miniatures. As a lifetime pet owner I have dealt with such issues like when my dog licked up half of the Romanian Army from my Drang Nach Osten map. Or when the cat chewed all of my paint brush bristles while knocking soldiers off the table for the dog to eat. (Second dog....)
    Anyway, Lila seems like a very nice dog who will benefit from a good "rules briefing."

    1. Jerry, Lila might be able to keep that straight but these days I need to keep it simple!

      She's 8th generation of our breeding and there's usually a hound or 2 curled up nearby when I'm painting or playing so its probably surprising that little incidents have been so rare.

  4. Sorry to hear you 'did yourself a mischief' as my daughter would put it. An excuse to stat by the table with the feet up while calling for regular sustenance?

    1. Thanks. I prefer silence, I if suggest tea odds are I'll have to get my wife a cup before hobbling back to my desk. ;)

  5. Hi Ross,

    First up - I hope the the rest has helped your ankle some! As a slave to a long term 25 year old ankle injury you have my sympathy. Keeping it elevated to ease any swelling is always a good move.

    Some interesting points re grids and sizes. For myself I am sticking with hexagons and plan to use a 13 x 9 grid with the Hexon tiles for 'full size' games and the smaller Heroscape tiles(with hexes slightly under 2" across the flats)for more 'Portable' games.

    Of course that is the plan today....;-)

    All the best,