Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A different approach for a campaign

Last week I wrapped up my French Indian War campaign. The purpose of the campaign was two fold. Firstly to provide a background narrative and context to the games, and secondly to work through my house rule modifications which based upon One-Hour Wargames rules. Sorting out the rules was successful for the most part (more of that later). However, the background and historical context to the games was not as compelling as I had hoped.

Following my post on the campaign and reflections, in stepped Jonathan of Palouse Wargaming Journal with an idea described as a "solo campaign relay". What is that you ask? Rather than repeating the concept I now point you to Jonathan's post here which summarises the idea and how it works.

I think this will be a fascinating wargaming collaboration, presenting me with a variety of battles and a context to games I have no control over. While providing Jonathan with a board game style campaign where tabletop dispatches inform him of a battle's outcome.

A recent game with an attack on a blockhouse (somewhat successful judging by the smoke).
I am planning to post this weekend the rules developed during the last campaign, which I will be using for this campaign. They are presently hand written. The only area of the rules I am contemplating changing is to do with army resolve. I had been playing games where an armies resolve fails when more than half their units are eliminated. At that point they effectively retired from the field of battle.

This can make the end of games a tad predictable. You know, eliminate one more unit and you win. So the alternative I am looking at using is this...

An army has resolve points. These are calculated by multiplying their number of units by 2. So an army of 10 units will have a resolve of 20. During the game whenever a unit is lost a dice is rolled and its score reduces the resolve. When the resolve reaches zero the army retires from the field of battle.

To add a couple of twists to the resolve:

  • Whenever elite units (eg grenadiers) are eliminated two dice are rolled and their combined score reduces the resolve.
  • If the commander is rated above average, then before the game a dice is rolled and the score added to an army's resolve.
  • If the commander is rated below average, then before the game a dice is rolled and the score subtracted from an army's resolve.
I plan to test out this modification over the next few days.

Finally, a few more Sci-Fi skirmish figures are ready to leave the painting table.

Some wild life to introduce into games.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

A few more Sci-Fi skirmish additions

Over the week I was able to complete a few additions to add variety to my Necromunda style Sci-Fi skirmish games. Next items to work on are some wild life which will add some random dangers to my games.

Some heavies to help out the local Arbites
I am raiding my bits box to add bits of interest to my stands.

Wild life mounted on bases with corrugated plastic sheet and available bits to add interest.

Friday, 16 February 2018

French Indian War campaign end and game report

I have decided to bring my French Indian War to a close. I was going to set up another game, but looking at the campaign map after 7 games the attacking British forces were no closer to taking the French town. The games themselves were 4 French victories and 3 British victories. With winter coming the British decided to call it a day for this season and started to retire back to their bases.

While the campaign has provided a background narrative to the games. It just hasn't been one that has added that extra interest to the games for me. I was thinking about what I would do differently when setting up another campaign. Here are some initial thoughts:

  • I should have had a set number of turns by which time the fortified town needed to be taken.
  • The map had too many options and should have been kept simple with two linear paths, one north and one south of the river. The prize would still be the town, but taking the fort on the south bank would provide additional troops for the British. The choice would have been: taking extra turns to capture the south fort with the opportunity of adding troops, or focus on the taking the town.
  • Both sides would have to commit to dividing their forces north and south of the river at the start of the campaign.
  • Use random event cards to mix up the games. For example, addition Indian allies, units getting bogged down, etc.

Campaign map
Having decided to end the campaign and with the tabletop ready for a game. I though it would be interesting to replay scenario 20, a fighting retreat, from One-Hour Wargames (OHW). I had played out a really enjoyable game using Napoleonic armies a week ago.

I decided to play the game with 9 attacking units and 6 defending units. The attacking British lined up 4 columns of 3 units and rolled dice for the each one. The lowest scoring column was removed.

Dicing for the British force. One column would be removed.
Dicing for the French force. One column would be removed.
The defending French lined up 3 columns of 3 units and rolled dice for the each one. The lowest scoring column was removed.

6 defending French units
9 attacking British units
The game lasts 15 turns and the side in control of the hill on the northern baseline wins.

French units retire quickly across the river.
French units retiring on the eastern bridge are taking more time.
Disaster the French artillery get bogged and fail to make it across the bridge before British forces arrive.
The British made short work of the unsupported artillery.
Remaining British forces arrive
The first British units cross at the bridge, but were quickly dealt with. 
More British units push across the western bridge while their artillery began to find their targets. 
French units begin to retire out of artillery range.
British units are slow to follow up the retiring French
Casualties are starting to mount on both sides. The frontiersmen were putting up a very effective defence from the far woods. 
British units finally start to organise an assault on the French second line of defence.
More units join the attack. 
British light infantry move through woods to flank the French defensive line.
French defence finally ends on turn 11.
I should have retired the French earlier as soon as the British artillery fired. Artillery in the rules must remain in place once they shoot. The delay meant they took more punishment from some accurate artillery shooting than necessary.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Sci-Fi Skirmish Games

Now that all figures from the Necromunda starter set are painted. It was time for a couple of larger skirmish games with 10 figures each side. Rather than use the Necromunda rules, which come with the starter game and are just too complicated or detailed for my taste, I am using some house rules. I really prefer rules to be sufficiently simple to memorise, particularly for skirmish rules, which I believe are best played quickly with no pondering the next move or action to take. Having to look up rules or figure stats just slows the pace of a game for me.

Defending the supplies
Since last playing a game with my house rules with approximately 5 figures per side. Where each figure got an opportunity to perform their actions, I found with 10 figures I was losing track with which figures had taken their actions. My initial reaction to this was to add an activated counter, placed as each figure was activated and collected at the end of a turn. The unfortunate effect of this is to slow down the game turn, not by too much, but it sufficiently irked me to try out other activation approaches.
A gang on the prowl searching for the enemy
The activation approach I eventually settled on assumes there will never be more than 10 figures per side. This is meant to be a game of small scale skirmishes between gangs. At the beginning of each turn both players roll a D6 dice which indicates how many figures they may activate. Like Player Initiative Points (PIPs) from DBA. However, the player with the lower score activates all their figures first, followed by the player with the higher score. This helps to even out the effects of the higher score and introduces the uncertainty of activating first or second in a turn.

Some long range targets
To begin with I started having players re-roll the dice whenever there was a draw, but decided draws could be treated as a lull in the fighting and allow players to remove wounds from injured figures depending upon the scores of the drawn dice. So if two 3s were rolled, three figures per side could recover from wounds, and if two 4s then four figures could remove wounds, etc. This is a very gamey approach, but I liked the unpredictability it introduced, rather than have figures spending actions to remove wounds.

Close combat
Having had a couple of fast paced and enjoyable games using this activation approach. I am now in the process of writing up the rules to fit on to one page. 

As a painting project there are some additional figures I will be adding to provide more variety to my games. These include...
Local Adeptus Arbites to add interference to gang fights
A bit of muscle to support the local Arbites
Local wild life to randomly enter the games?

Friday, 9 February 2018

A few more Necromunda figures painted

A few more Necromunda figures have been painted. There are five more on the painting table, which once painted will be all 20 figures from the boxed set completed. After that I will add one or two extra figures from the bits box to add into the mix.

It as taken quite a bit of readjustment to get into the swing of painting these very detailed miniatures after many months of painting units of the simpler Spencer Smith miniatures.

This weekend I hope to get them all onto the tabletop.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Napoleonic game - A fighting retreat

For this Napoleonic game I decided to pick scenario 20, a fighting retreat, from One-Hour Wargames (OHW). The choice of game also allowed me to use my recently completed scratch built bridges.

The Austrian forces start south of the river and must retreat across to the north of the river by the end of turn 2, which is when French units start to arrive south of the river. To win a side must control the hill by turn 15.

For my rules I am using some house rules which are a variation of OHW napoleonic rules, but geared to D3 dice for assessing hits and have unit elimination when 7 hits are taken. To compensate for units being eliminated slightly quicker the number of units selected are doubled from 4 to 8 for defending Austrians and from 6 to 12 for French attackers.

Beginning of the game with Austrian units set up south of the river. 
Austrian units successfully retire across the river.
French forces arrive and battle begins
French units arrive at the west bridge.
French attacks were successful on the East bridge.
French forces desperately try to force a crossing of the West bridge.
French units finally move across the bridges.
Austrian units organise their lines of defence. Skirmishers are placed in the woods.
The Austrian second defence position between the marsh and woods holds up the congested French units as they try and advance across the river.
Austrian Forces consolidate their position on the hill to wait for the French assault.
Skirmishers remain in the woods to hamper any swift advance.
French units keep Austrian skirmishers at bay while forces are marshalled to assault the hill.
A final charge by Austrian cavalry in an attempt to delay the advance upon the hill.
French units bypass Austrian skirmish units located in the woods. 
Combined French forces successfully capture control of the hill on turn 14.

The French artillery proved the difference in allowing hill to be taken. The combination of cavalry, artillery and infantry proving very effective against the Austrian defenders who were hampered throughout the game by a lack of guns to soften up any attack.

This was the second game I have played using D3 dice and the rules seem to be providing enjoyable games. Time to write up the rules from all my notes.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Second hand book purchases

A couple of second hand books have arrived from "Practical Wargaming" by C.F.Wesencraft was a book I used to borrow on a regular basis from the local library. I remember copying out by hand the rules from the chapter "The army corps in action" into an old school exercise book. These rules had 3 based figures representing a battalion and allowed for larger battles to be played. Up until then my plastic Airfix napoleonic figures all represented the traditional 1:30 ratio of the time where one figure represented 20 actual men.

I bought the book for two reasons. First was for a bit of nostalgia, and second was the high praise the book gets in further reading appendixes of Neil Thomas's books. Having read a number of the chapters you can see some of the influences. Here are a couple if quotes about rules that stood out for me in the early part of the book:

 "Very few dice are required for the games described in this book. I have seen the day when I have fought battles in which I have had to throw thirty of forty dice in what were called saving throws, having already thrown seven or eight dice to see if any hits were scored. What a waste of time when the result probably boiled down to a mere handful of kills in the end. Obviously it was the rules that were at fault. Time is everything to a wargamer. Rule 1 of any game should be: if it wastes time, throw it out!"

"Often unnecessary details are added in the name of accuracy, resulting in time being spent on trivialities that only delay the eventual outcome of the battle."

"The effect of weather on a battle can be crucial and yet in the main is ignored by the average wargamer."

The second book "Napoleon's Campaigns in Miniature" by Bruce Quarrie was purchased to help me with settling up a napoleonic campaign. Having quickly flicked through the book, it is jammed packed with details on organisation, lines of communication, medical services and prisoner of war, attrition and desertion, etc... All looking very useful to shape some simple rules to govern a small campaign, and also to provide a background narrative to the campaign games.