By itself, the choice of what size of grid square or hex to use on a gridded wargame table shouldn't necessarily effect how the game is played. However, if the size of the table is fixed, then the size of the individual grid areas will obviously affect the number of grid areas which will fit on the board which may affect how a scenario plays out, or at least how it looks. Less obviously, for many of us, habit and the "look of the thing" can change our perception of what is actually happening on the table. For the rules tinkerers amongst us, this sort of thing can be 'dangerous'!
(Rule #1: Don't Panic.)
|This time the cards determined that most of the ambushers were hidden behind the hill near the bridge. The convoy was also better arranged with close escorts for both wagons.|
When I started playing the Blasthof Bridge scenario as the first game on the restored 6" squares, the units seemed to be moving across the table so fast that I stopped the game and started trying to "fix it". Naturally, part way through the game, I realized that the "fix", a reduction in movement rates, was causing new problems. The combination of the short moves, the density of troops, the unintended terrain chokepoints and the longstanding "if you move adjacent to an enemy you HAVE to not only stop but also resolve a melee" rule was making Red's job practically impossible and suggested that this might be a good time to revisit the altered rules again.
|The NorthWest Rifles were cut apart by some accurate shooting but the escorts had had the opportunity to deploy to threaten the flank of the ambushers.|
No need to bore everyone with all the false starts or the details of issues raised in two unreported test replays of the scenario, suffice it to say that some were too quick, others boring. others just 'wrong' but others helpful. It was beginning to look like a problem beyond my ingenuity but then I remembered that the Battle In A Box mat had 6 fewer grid squares than my current table and that that had felt like plenty of playing space. I had been focusing on the wrong bits and looking for the wrong sort of solutions.
|Eventually the rocky hill was taken and the convoy could move forward with the DG Bodyguard covering the right flank with the help of the infantry.|
In the end, I finally hit on some of the smallest but most radical (philosophically) changes to the rules since I started experimenting with gridded games about a decade ago, After much thinking, experimenting and play testing, I reduced the various numbers of combat dice per unit to just ONE per unit AND removed the compulsory mutual "melee" process for adjacent opposing units during each player turn. Instead, I made the declaration of a charge with mutual resolution a voluntary action while allowing short range shooting at that range as an option. This reflects eye witness battle reports much better and made the battlefield feel a little larger again without losing any of the tactical options.
To be honest, I was skeptical that it would work. I was always leery of rolling 1 die per unit since that meant a binary result, you hit or you didn't and was used to rules where you might do average damage when shooting or do worse or better. The game started off slow until I started to get used to the restored movement and increased endurance of the units given the lack of double hits that could remove a unit in as little as two turns.
Once again, the game came down to the last throw of the dice but this time, the game raged across the entire battlefield rather than being boxed into a narrow strip. The various troop types strength and weaknesses showed up well and the advantage swayed back and forth as more troops were committed to combat and the players (me & myself) had to constantly make command decisions rather than often just rolling the dice. This time, both sides had to to strain their brain a bit and consider the effect of their deployment and manoeuvres on the enemy and vice versa before deciding what to do each turn.
At last! This was the kind of game that I have been wanting!
I'm keen to try the rules with a different scenario, but its time to give the 54's a bit of R&R while dealing with the occasional broken sword or scratched paint, adding a figure here or there, not to mention hunting down a deserter from the Mounted Rifles. There are also other recruiting drives in progress so my painting desk needs to be readied, not to mention the matter of the last game in my medieval/fantasy mini-campaign needing to be played.