Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Updated 18th Century/GNW/WSS

I’ve been designing improved, but still very low detail, 18th century models for 3D printing.  They are pictured below.  I’m planning on having the range approximate the first quarter of the 18th century.  This should allow me to play the Great Northern War and War of Spanish Succession, as well as having some fun with in Imagi-Nation I’ve been thinking about recently.  Computer renderings of the models are shown in color at the end of the post.  I’ve successfully printed these at 13mm to eye line or 15mm to the top of the head.  They came out as acceptable and passable from a distance, but I don’t know how well they’d paint up.  The cuffs and raised section of the tricorne trim disappeared in the printing process.  I also don’t know how I’d paint them.  I don’t think I have the brush skills or the desire to develop them.  I’d rather play games than paint.  I’m going to try printing them at 18mm (16mm eye line) or even 20mm to the top of the head (18mm eye line).  The models I use now are roughly 18mm to eye line, so I know I can paint at that scale.  I also need to make artillery figures and sabres for proper cavalry to wield. 
I’ve also cracked open my ruleset and am trying to incorporate some of my own criticism.  I want there to be some method to limit a general’s ability to execute their plan, but it needs to feel realistic.  My current activation system is a little clunky for two players not good for solo play.  Currently, both players roll 2D6 and modify for commander’s qualities.  The modified score is used to assign activation points.  Players then spend these action points to give commands to their unit.  Units close to the commander cost 1 activation point to activate while units beyond 3 tiles cost 2 points to activate. 
Although this process creates plenty of situations where a player cannot do all the things they wish to do, knowing just how many things a player can do feels too gamey to me and breaks the immersion.  The process also creates a situation where a regimental officer must wait for his commander’s order to fire on a target. For example, a player could very easily have his force arrayed in a perfect line with the commander protected, but not receive enough activation points for all troops to fire.
I’ve been tossing around an idea in my head that I might use for my next game.  Before attempting to activate a unit, players roll 2D6, if the value is greater than the commander’s control number, the unit activates as desired.  If the modified roll is not greater than the commander’s control number, that unit does not activate and the player’s turn is over.  Modifiers would be based on the army’s morale and the difficulty of the maneuver being asked of the unit.  Therefore, an elite unit ordered to fix bayonets and charge would suffer less modifiers than a unit of conscripts with the same order.  Positive modifiers would be given to troops ordered to fire volleys or move into areas outside of enemy range.  I think this methodology satisfies the criteria of limiting a player’s ability to execute a plan perfectly while providing a thematically plausible explanation.  I am worried that the new methodology will slow the game to an unfulfilling pace. 
Only a play-test will tell. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Jumping on the Bandwagon

It's been a while since I've posted on here, but I promise I have a decent reason.  My wife and I welcomed our first child, a daughter, on April 24th.  My employer offers a very generous 3 weeks of paternity leave, so I've been reading everyone's blogs and getting inspired to play a few games.  It seems that Simplicity in Hexes has been exploding in popularity the past few weeks due to a linked campaign crafted by "Old Trousers" of Numbers, Wargames and Arsing About.  Having a mostly painted generic 18th Century Army in red and blue and a hexed board of 8x9, I convinced my lovely wife to play the first game of the campaign.  Having read many blog posts, I decided to start under the assumption that units could be adjacent without charging per the recommendations of Kaptain Kobold.
She selected the blue army, leaving me with the red.  We both rolled up a force with 4 units of regular infantry and a field battery.  She fielded a dragoon regiment and I brought a regiment of horse.  She elected to designate one of the infantry regiments as elite and her dragoons were allowed to take the +1 charging national bonus.  I designated the cavalry regiment as elite and they also received the +1 when defending against cavalry national bonus. 
Unfortunately there are no pictures of the action, but I will do my best to give a brief recap and explain my thoughts of Simplicity in Hexes.  The game opened with two of my infantry regiments on the hill facing the full strength of my wife's forces.  She positioned her artillery in the middle of her infantry line with the dragoons on her left flank.  Luckily, she did not inflict any damage on the first turn, due to unfortunate dice rolling, and repositioning the right flank.  In error, the remainder of my forces joined the fray from the woods.  This allowed my heavy cavalry to fall on the flank regiment of her line causing two hits.  My infantry was not able to finish off her rightmost regiment due to the rule requiring units to fire at the closest unit.   
Over the next few turns I attempted to roll up her line with infantry units firing volleys and the guard cavalry crashing into the flanks.  A few bad rolls later and my elite heavy horse was down to 3 strength points, making their charges much less likely to cause significant damage.  While my strategy faltered, the blue army continued its frontal assault on the hill.
We did not count the hill as difficult terrain, certainly to my wife's (blue) advantage.  She was able to wear down my two hilltop regiments with repeated dragoon charges, volley fire from two regiments, and battery support.  She eventually captured the hill, moving the dragoons, battery, and a full strength regiment onto the objective. With 8 strength points remaining for each side and a baby waking up from a nap, the game was called as a victory for blue. 
Simplicity in Hexes is a great introductory game.  Being mostly a boardgamer, my wife despises rulesets peppered with "If x, then y, except for z" and dreaded modifiers, especially if math is involved.  We were able to finish the scenario in about an hour with minimal headache.  She even said that we might be able to play again in the future.  I thought the rules live up to their simplicity moniker well, possible too well.  I would like to see downhill melee given an advantage over an opponent attacking uphill, generals impacting ability/resolve, and ranged combat deteriorate as well as melee combat.  I also prefer systems where players roll more than one dice as it creates a somewhat normal distribution.  I did like that units cannot pivot on a dime in their cells, but I think adding a pivot before moving and another upon entering a cell would allow more maneuverability.  I also really liked the rule that requires units to fire at the closest enemy unit.  This rule feels very real, even though it reduces the number of decisions to be made.  I'll definitely be playing Simplicity in Hexes again.  I'm very grateful to the community for writing these simple storyline campaigns.  It's really interesting to see everyone's take on the same prompt.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Rules Updated

The link above will take you to the newest version of the rules.  If you decide to print them in booklet mode, please open the file in MS Word and delete page 9.  There is no content on it.  Printing it would cause disorder and waste in the printing process. 

There are no substantive changes to the rules.  Formatting has been improved to make looking up information in the charts much easier.  All charts are now on the back cover or the page before. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New Version of Rules Coming Soon!

Some errors in the rules have been fixed and the whole document has been reformatted them to put the most often referenced charts on the back cover.  I've been working on a different game and learned that table space matters.  I tried putting a QRS on the back page of those rules and it drastically reduced turn time spent flipping through the rules.  I really liked the idea so I'm trying it on these.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Interest in Updated Napoleonic Models?

With the release of Bob Cordery's new book, The Portable Napoleonic Wargame, I imagine there might be a surge in new Napoleonic players.  I have previously designed models for a Napoleonic project I had started, but never completed.  Renderings of them can be found in my blog post titled "Model Ranges".  If there is sufficient interest, I would rework them to at least the standard I am using for my 18th Century range.  This would involve designing some amount of period appropriate hair, cleaning up some of the headgear, and making everything modular so that people could design their own units and I would supply them with the printed models or the files to have them printed locally. 
I currently have models for Shako with and without Pom, a French style bearskin (needs work), a Landwehr cap, and a crested cavalry helmet (also useful for Austrian infantry).  Currently, all models are wearing coats with turnbacks, but I would consider designing a longer coat for the Landwehr and maybe even a great coat.  I'm open to designing more models critical to the period if you have any suggestions. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

What I Learned in Campaign 1

Things I learned in my first solo campaign:
- It's easier to make battle reports right after the battle.  The longer I wait, the less I remember about the details.  I keep some notes, but I don't keep enough.
- I don't know how long a game actually takes.  I played one of the games straight through in a morning, but I spent a considerable amount of time recording events.  I don't know how close I am to my goal of a run time of less than an hour.
- I need to make sure I end a turn before taking a break.  When writing the battle reports, I encountered several places where the pictures taken represent situations which should have been impossible to experience in the game.  Some of these incongruencies appear as units which made multiple moves in one turn and entire armies not making a move when they should have.  Hopefully, my opponent wouldn't let me make these types of mistakes, so I'm not too concerned.
- It's easy to not paint units.  I played the entire campaign with some units having primer gray uniforms, hair, faces, and tricornes.  It didn't impact me too much.  Painting is my least favorite part of the hobby.  I like the digital design, game design, and playing, but I don't like the stress and pressure of painting the details.

Battle at the Bend

This battle was fought the week before Christmas, but due to traveling and celebrating with family, the report is late.  Our story left off with the Red Army reeling after two close defeats at the hands of the Army of the Five Rivers.  The Red Army has retreated to the outskirts of the royal city and are making preparations for the inevitable invasion.
The Army of the Five Rivers' Light Column and an untested standard column would fight for the Rivermen.  One of the irregular units in the light column enters the battle weakened from previous actions.  Their general, having successfully masterminded two victories, has gained enough experience to shake his incompetencies in command.
The Kingdom of Five Rivers' Order of Battle
The Red Army was able to replenish all of their existing units with motivated patriots from the Royal City.  Their eliminated units were not able to be reinstated and the cavalry column would fight without one of its regular cavalry units.
The Red Kingdom's Order of Battle
The two forces met along a bend in the central river.  A significant hill and village fortified the inside of the bend, while a wealthy orchard stood out against the otherwise level field of the outside bend.
A field just outside the Red Kingdom's capital
The Red Army took up a position on the hill on the outside bend, while the Rivermen race to take cover in the orchard and use the river to anchor their flank.
Positions at the end of Turn 1
The Red Army took advantage of its superior mobility and attempted to encircle the Rivermen as they advance to take the orchard and the buildings.  The Red cavalry took fire from the irregulars in the orchard.
Positions at the end of Turn 2

Both sides bombard the other to no effect.  The Red Infantry was able to anchor its right flank on the bend in the river and exchanged volleys with the enemy infantry garrison in the farmhouse.  Both sustained significant damage, but the Rivermen Infantry's morale was bolstered by the sight of their general and they retained their composure.  The Highlander unit in the orchard continued to fire on the Red Cavalry, pushing them back.
Positions at the end of Turn 3
The Red Army's dragoons moved into the village inside the bend, leaving their horses to take up defensive positions in the buildings.  This put the dragoons in position to fire on the artillery across the river.  The regulars on the line of battle continued to exchange volleys.  The Red Army's regulars fled as their ranks splintered.  The militia next to the fleeing regulars panicked and lost their sense of order.  The Rivermen line suffered losses on their left flank as well.
Positions at the end of Turn 4
Seeing the Red dragoons in the village the Rivermen artillery unit redirected its fire and began bombarding the village, causing disorder in the ranks of the dragoons.  En masse, the Red Army panics.  Each of its units fail to inflict serious damage on the enemy.  The cavalry on the flank reposition themselves towards the hill as the Red General attempts to rebuild a line with the elevated artillery position in the center.  The artillery unit in the lowlands was forced to move away from fire and was forced into the ford.  They were able to limber their guns and bring them with them.
Positions at the end of Turn 5
The Red General became overwhelmed with his troops positions and hesitated.  Fortunately for him, the artillery colonel did not lose his nerve and was able to direct his battery to deliver a punishing blow to the main line of the Rivermen, causing the disordered regular unit to retreat.  The highlander unit in the orchard advance through the treeline to engage the Red army as it consolidated its position around the small hill.  The artillery unit forced into the ford was able to establish a hasty position, but the gunners were disordered.
Positions at the end of Turn 6
Their seemed to be a lull in the battle as only the artillery played a decisive role as the infantry on both sides rested.  The Riverman battery forced the dragoons in the village to retreat as their reinvigorated cavalry charged the highlander unit in the orchard, but were slowed by the dense plantings.  The highlander unit held the orchard with minimal losses.
Positions at the end of Turn 7
The otherwise uninvolved Noble Cavalry of the Rivers seeing that the battle may end without their involvement charged forward to engage the Red Cavalry, but they were forced back under targeted fire from the orchard.  The Red Army's general began attempting to rally his flagging troops instead of ordering further attacks.
Positions at the end of Turn 8
The General of the Five Rivers ordered his line infantry forward to attack the exposed Red Cavalry.  After the Noble Cavalry of the Five Rivers and the exhausted highlander unit in the orchard failed to route the Red Cavalry, the line infantry was ordered to turn to face the cavalry.  They delivered a fatal volley causing the Red Cavalry to flee the field.  The regulars of the Red Army fire and advance between the river and the hills.
Positions at the end of Turn 9
The Noble Cavalry and Rivermen Infantry continued their advance to assault the hill.  The Red Line pivoted to meet the threat. The artillery on the hill and the regulars missed their target.  The Rivermen pushed forward towards the hill, ready to end the battle with a decisive bayonet charge.
Positions during Turn 10
The Noble Cavalry in an act of self aggrandizement charged the militia band to the right of the hill, routing the untrained and terrified troops.  The regulars assaulted uphill towards the Red battery, forcing them to withdraw to the far side of the hill.  From their new position, they would have a good shot at any enemy that attempted to use the ford.  This position allowed the regulars and general to flee across the river under a hail of gunfire to mount a last stand inside the bend rallying the dragoons.
Positions at the end of Turn 10
The battle ended as the battery outside of the bend was overran.  The Red Army surrendered with all of its remaining units disordered.  In their last stand, they were able to cause disorder in one of the regular infantry units. 
Positions at the end of Turn 11
The Red King's army has been defeated in the field.  After the conclusion of the battle, negotiators met on the River King's palatial barge to work out a peace treaty.  The Red Kingdom will surrender its northern territorial holdings to the Kingdom of the Five Rivers.  Furthermore, the Red King was forced to admit to plotting the murder of the The King of the Five Rivers and creating the succession crisis that caused the war.