Last winter, after much testing and experimenting, I decided that I did not want to limit myself to gridded games despite the many things in their favour. In an effort to keep some of those things I decided to retain as many mechanisms as possible. This now appears to be misguided as it seems to retain many of the artificaial restraints of the grid without the benefits associated with a tradional ungridded approach.The result was looking more and more like various more recent commercial system that I have tried and not liked enough to adopt. The alternative now beckons of making the games very different so as to have all the more reason to play both the Square Brigadier and Hearts of Tin.
After having wasted countless enjoyable hours poking at my tablet and arguing with auto correct functions (now shut off once again) I have decided that I'm wasting my time trying to produce a complete and consistent draft until the basic structure and mechanisms are set and properly tested (vs 2 units facing off in a corner).
|Ready to go.|
Here are some of the issues and the approach I have decided to test in a full if small game.
Command Control. Here is an issue that I thought was set until I looked at the scope of types of game that I might want to play. The Pip system that I have been using works well in the Square Brigadier world but when a game might range from a handful of units in a 40mm Atlantica skirmish with rebels to a corps sized 1/72nd ACW action, getting the proportion of Pips dice to commanders and to units is tricky and starts to feel very gamy if not tedious. Despite the difficulties, this will be my fallback position if this experiment doesn't satisfy.
However, I also don't want to go back to an activation mechanism, especially not one which only applies when a unit is beyond command radius since experience has shown that they are too easily forgotten since there is no player benefit, only a penalty, and they are not habitual. Neither do I want my old style where a unit might never get to move all game. If I ever go back to an activation roll it will be closer to the one in Fire & Fury where a fresh unit in good order and the attention of higher commanders can be guaranteed at least a 1/2 move.
The alternative I am going to try is to return to the mechanism that I used for years with older versions of these rules, variable length moves with generals having a limited ability to add dice to units. Without an activation roll there is no chance of no move but really a move of 2" is close enough to 0. The new wrinkle will be to insist in Black Powder fashion that the player announce what he is ordering the unit to do before he rolls. Failure to do so will allow the opponent to decide whether he must reroll the dice or not.
Play Sequence. The play sequence in SB is one that I like and works well in that context but has "feel" issues with a bigger, more traditional or OS look. I also miss the old inititative roll but Pips and initiative don't fit well for me since winning the initiative then rolling 1 PIP seems like a gotcha or double jeopardy sort of negation. It also causes difficulties for non simultaneous combat. Being able to bring it back is one plus for going back to variable moves but the feel and rules complications of multiple unanswered shots just gets worse as the game grows. Looking back to just before I switched my focus to gridded games, I was very pleased with a test game using a mechanism closer to Featherstone whose Battle with Model Soldiers is where I got the initiative idea from. So the game ahead is going to have an old fashioned sequence of initiative roll, A moves, B moves, both shoot, both melee. Trading volleys just feels right as does just shooting once a turn rather than both sides shooting in both halves of the turn.
Morale and Rallying. Still a bit of a bugbear here. I want better troops to be more resilient but I don't want units that never die, and I'm not keen on rosters and markers or morale tests. When I thought briefly that I could swing 6 stand units it was not an issue as each stand loss was not critical but I already know that some units will be 1 or 2 stands, especially in small games. So markers it is, just not sure yet how many. I'm leaning towards going back to tying the number of hits per stand to the morale grade but may instead just go with a rally roll after a melee defeat to encourage players to close and chase the enemy off. Quality based saving throws is another option that I have not ruled out.
So, hopefully, I will get the table set up tonight and start playing an hour or so a day (avoiding the hottest parts of the day).