Still, I think I have re-identified the key underlying factors in the handful of issues that have been causing me grief with the Square/Tin Brigadier for early 20th C rules.
|A column of Faraway troops approaches a pass held by an Oberhilse force of unknown strength, cleverly hiding underneath face dpwn playing cards.|
The problem that set me off in August was how to handle infantry in extended order using fire and movement from cover to cover to attack the enemy. There are, very broadly, two main ways to approach this, one is to try to show explicitly they are less vulnerable to fire than denser masses but more likely to stall under fire and less able to apply concentrated force, the other is to say that this is below the radar for the General/player and is assumed to be happening and not worry about it as long as the over all result feels right. That second approach is consistent with the general philosophy behind the Square Brigadier, the first isn't really but I have been trying to square the two. All the other issues stem from this decision as the Square Brigadier was doing a satisfactory job when I started.
Of course while searching for a solution I went down enough roads to lose the sense of what was important and got sidelined by other aspects. The version that I am about to test is not precisely the same as the August version but its philosophy is very close and it is just an improved version, hopefully.
One option I played with this weekend was to revert to something very close to the combat aspects of Richard Borg's Memoir, complete with "flags" (ie retreats based on a specific number showing on a die) but the more I thought about all that is good with that system, the more I thought about a couple of little things that I'm not so happy with and more importantly, the more it seemed like copyright infringement. Since there were other options I decided not to go back down that path.
One issue that has been giving me issues is that in order to make the 1/2 casualty thing work, I needed units to roll at least 2 dice or to be able to concentrate fire and it limited the number and type of modifiers while leaving too high a risk of excessive casualties in ordinary situations or else too few leading to a game that dragged. Looking back I remembered that I have several times fallen back on fewer dice but modifying the score to hit. This approach means sometimes cover doesn't help at all but because even a single die can have an effect, the over all number of possible hits can be contained. In fact is was what I had resorted to for the Square Brigadier and it had been satisfactory with the element of risk just big enough to never let a player relax just because he thinks he has a good position.
One of the other main things that I have tinkered with over the last 6 months is the approach to Command Control varying between an activation system or an initiative roll and command radius. Again, they each have something in their favour but it occurred to me that if it were a bit harder to control extended infantry units, the result would not be that different from getting pinned and rallying, over and over again, especially if I reintroduced the "move OR shoot" rule. By shrinking the command radius of subordinates back down to "adjacent" and reverting to a single die, knowing that will almost never be enough to move everyone, I am back to where I was in August and happy, If I get too many troops on the table, I'll re-introduce another layer of command.
So its all looking good and Faraway is set to attack a pass defended by Oberhilse. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Wednesday but its coming!