Monday 27 November 2023

Minifig Medieval Mayhem

This weekend I decided it was time to have a medieval wargame with my old collection of MiniFigs. It seems like it has been a while since these miniatures have graced the tabletop.


A flank attack scenario from One-Hours Wargames is set up.

Minifig cavalry on the charge pay no heed to their hypothetical colour schemes.

Over the past year or so, I've tried various activation systems with my medieval games, where units roll dice to determine if they can activate. The required score varied depending on the number of hits they have taken. This system has worked well using a variation of One-Hour Wargames rules where the games have 6 to 8 units per side. However, this weekend, I wanted to organise the armies into 3-4 commanded groups or "battles” made up of different troop types, which would require a different activation approach.


My usual army organisation based on troop types with each unit consisting or two bases.

The army organised into “battles” with mixed infantry types. Each base is a separate unit.

In recent remote games with Jon of Palouse Wargaming Journal, he uses rules that will often use a dice pull activation system. Where each commander and their associated units are activated when their army's coloured die is drawn from a bag. The turn ends when all dice are drawn. At the start of each turn, the number of colored dice placed in the bag corresponds to the number of commanders in an army. The number of dice used are reduced as commanded groups are eliminated during the game. I enjoyed this activation approach because it creates a level of suspense and encourages decision-making as players try to determine which units to activate first to gain an advantage or hopefully momentum if they successfully drawn twice.


A dice bag was found.

When applying the dice draw activation method in my medieval game, for example, an English army consisting of three "battles" and a commanded group of bowmen would have four red dice placed in the dice bag. While a French army with three "battles" only would only have three white dice placed in the dice bag.

Over the weekend, I tested this activation method in one game and for the following game introduced a variation by incorporating a single green die. When drawn, this green die immediately concluded the game turn. To accommodate the possibility of an early turn end, I modified the combat rules from one-sided melees to simultaneous melees, otherwise some units in melee would not have to opportunity to fight back.


A second game is set up.

Out of the two activation methods, I am favouring the approach that allows all units to activate. One reason for my preference is the scenario where a group of knights initiate a charge towards the enemy army but are forced to abruptly halt due to the green die being drawn in the next turn, leaving them paused mid-charge. I find there are enough challenges with the dice draw allowing the opposing army to a cause interruptions to the best laid plans.


Another close up of a the 1970’s painting style - one figure seems to be wearing a kaftan!


Over this week I will be hopefully playing a few more test games in the evenings before updating my home brew rules with my scribbled notes.

21 comments:

  1. Loads of lovely Minifigs! Great to see these figures and I like the heraldry and colour schemes very much.

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    1. The heraldry and colours are deliberately vague so units can be used by either army.

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  2. All good. In the rules Sword & Spear, each side puts a number of dice into the draw bag that equals the number of units they have. Say white dice for Yorkist and Red for Lancaster.

    7 dice are then drawn, 7 is an odd number, so one side MUST always get more dice than the other and this gives them the initiative for that round. The dice are allocated to units, so as units act, you have a record of who has activated, Once done, another 7 dice …. Or whatever remains in the bag are drawn.

    For your size game, drawing 5 dice would work just as well and over the full turn initiative would likely pass back and forth.

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    1. A useful twist to the drawing of dice. I shall have to give it a try. Thanks.

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  3. Great looking game and the dice bag draw system always seems to work well. Cards can do a similar thing too of course.

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    1. Funny you should mention cards as that was my first thought too. I found with dice though they can be placed by the unit to show they have activated and are less obvious than cards.

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    1. Thank you. It is always enjoyable playing around with different rule mechanisms. All being well the rules will land somewhere that I can use Battles of different sizes and with troop mix.

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  5. Always enjoy following along on your rules development adventures.

    If you want the possibility of a turn ending early but in a more predictable fashion, put two of your "Turn End" green dice into the bag. When the first green die is drawn from the bag, this offers an "Early Warning" that the turn may end. Then, when the second green die is drawn, the turn ends. What this does is force a player to REALLY focus on prioritizing activations once the first green die is pulled from the bag. No longer can he risk holding off a formation to get the last activation.

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    1. A nice idea. It reminds me of last orders in a pub.

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    2. I used the method Jonathan mentioned to spice up Bolt Action. Worked really well in instilling tension and unpredictability.

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    3. Another interesting twist to the mechanic to try.

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  6. Interesting activation Peter and great looking figures. My Minifig Romans are painted in Hollywood style. ­čśü
    If you want to use playing cards for this you can buy 1:12th scale cards from ebay .
    Just search "mini playing cards dolls house" cost less than A$10 for 2 decks. I use these and they are much less obtrusive on the battlefield and just pull them out of a small cup that I shake to "shuffle" them.

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    1. Hi Ben, thanks for tip on mini cards. They will always be useful, if not for this game, then for others.

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  7. Great old school armies and interesting game.
    Alan Tradgardland

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    1. Thank you. It is always enjoyable getting these armies out for a game.

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  8. I'm a sucker for nostalgic figures - unless the horses are poor, I do like my horses to look like horses rather than dogs. Your old MiniFigs certainly pass the horse test.
    Intrigued by your samurai rules/games I've got myself into a samurai game lined up for tonight at the club (home-grown rules). The various terms on the advance QRS had me searching the net to understand them and I came across this article - you may have already seen it but I thought it was rather good.
    https://www.japanesewiki.com/history/Sonae.html

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    1. Thanks for the link, I don’t remember coming across this before. Minifig horses are well proportioned, but in rather static positions.

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    2. I used to be negative about MiniFigs sedentary horses - I used to think it was the main flaw with their 15mm Napoleonic range. But then they brought out their new horses with tails up in the air and I like them even less and now look on the older style with a new-found fondness.

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  9. An interesting variation on how to activate and create some unpredictability and friction in your games Peter. The "two green dice" idea is common on a lot of the TFL sets - Sharpe Practice, for example.

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    1. There are lots of inventive twists to the draw activation approach.

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