EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Just like the good old days

On Saturday I got to run one of the Scenarios that we are planning  to run at Huzzah with actual players. (Honestly, despite their not appearing in any of the pictures.)
Surprised! (But not very) The British allied Hussars scout ahead. 
The terrain was quickly improvised on Saturday morning using my old cloth and a few bits. I was planning to slide the hills under the cloth since they don't match but at the last minute remembered that single metal 40mm miniatures don't stand well on unsupported thin cloth slopes. I also only brought what I could carry up 3 flights of stairs in one trip.
Oh! Look what we found!
We had several players lined up but on the day only 2 were able to make it. Luckily 2 is enough!

Random selection gave Brent the French ambushers while Martin took charge of the British convoy.  Victory for the British meant getting both wagons through the pass and over the bridge. If the British got 1 over the bridge or withdrew both wagons safely then the game would be a draw.

The pictures give a general idea of how the game went. The French chose to focus on denying the British the passage they needed while hoping to grab at least 1 wagon when their army routed. The British pushed doggedly ahead into the meat grinder, replacing spent units as needed and making the most of their numerical superiority.
The British infantry pushed ahead into the pass, one unit at a time while the 28th made repeated attempts to  push the enemy light troops out of the broken ground, falling back to rally when needed.
  The game played like I remember MacDuff games from the 90's: fast, furious, hard to predict but also long and indecisive.

Sighhhhh. This is why I had dropped one of my favourite parts of the rules which is that shooting and combat weakens units by removing figures temporarily on the assumption that the player, as overall commander, does not yet know if they are permanent losses ie: killed, wounded or run away or only temporary losses due to fear, fatigue, temporary ammo shortages etc., etc.. I liked the theory but in practice it was a right pain in the arse.

I suspect one reason I clung to the system (apart from liking how it worked) is that I took so much flak for it in the 90's when gamers were used to all wargame "casualties" being dead or wounded and some didn't like having some "come back from the dead" as it were.

I haven't had that sort of complaint much since the Lardies came out with their Shock concept so I can probably pack in the ego side of the question and look at the functionality in multiplayer convention games with  lots of units and figures and limited time. In theory I still like the idea but even when players understand the rules and implications it has two serious drawbacks: the logistics of tracking temporary vs permanent casualties and the difficulty of knocking units out of the game if they are well handled means that a convention game will often run out of time before a decision is reached.
As light failed the fight still raged. The convoy was forced to fall back safety. Tomorrow would be time enough for another try.  
So I have decided to let the issue sleep and revert to the ancient custom of morale tests with casualties which can be removed or marked once with no need to differentiate between temporary and permanent hits. This worked well for the 2014/15 games and I a have no doubt that it will do so again.

The fact that this also makes it easy to play the game with fixed multi-figure bases is merely a happy coincidence.


8 comments:

  1. Which reminds me: I must revive my 'Olmutz Convoy' scenario again... Convoy scenarios can be a lot of fun with a very clear objective in view.

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  2. Good looking game. I think the step hills fit with the old school 40mm—and more functional, too. I like the rule of thumb for keeping the logistics of convention games manageable.

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  3. Interesting scenario but an even more interesting discussion of your rules! Your discussion of temporary casualties reminded me of some rules that Wally Simon developed maybe twenty years ago. When a figure became a casualty it was removed to a box off the battlefield. At the end of the turn the casualties were quickly diced for. While I don't remember the numbers exactly, he would designate some as permanent casualties - meaning dead and critically wounded - that would be permanently removed. Other figures could return to the battlefield as they were considered to be either temporarily out of action or had been removing wounded casualties to the surgeon. They could come back after an interval.

    In retrospect, I do see where in a medium to large game this might cause delay particularly when played with players who were unfamiliar with how the play went. I would imagine that played solo or with friends familiar to your rules it would go more smoothly.

    Generally I like the idea of keeping as many aspects of a convention simple as is possible from moving troops to rules mechanics.

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    1. Simple is good especially where the players probably won't know the rules.

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  4. I shall look forward to seeing it at Huzzah! Great photos--always enjoyed ambushed convoy scenarios. As for your rule dilemma, I know the feeling. However, it has also been my experience, that simple is usually better.

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    1. Always best if the players can concentrate on what to do rather then how to do it.

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