Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Roads and Swords Pt 2.

The bulk of the Midlish pikes bypass the town  to seize the road ahead.
The short summary of the game is that it was OK but not great.

This was the 3rd test game with armour saves and my bottom line is that despite their Old School heritage,  I still don't like them. They do help the games last longer but not by adding more decision points or added reslism,  they do it by nearly doubling the number of die rolls and sometimes reversing decisions. They do appear to allow more granularity in troop types but it is often a false one. What data is there for rating a jack vs a mail shirt?  Are tassets worth a 50% increase in your save? What if a unit has a mix of armour values? In short it goes against the big picture approach that I like about Morschauser.

As the Northern swordsmen assault the village the heavily  armoured reserve cavalry crashes into the Centaurs, sending the handful of survivors fleeing towards safety despite Preisages  presence. 
The switch to a series of 1 on 1 melees helped a bit but it was still too easy to pick off a wounded unit or to gang up. I revisited Morschauser's roster and realized I missed s key aspect. When 2 units do not have the same strength, the strong one uses the same number of dice ad the weakness. His extra strength gives him staying power but does not allow him to give more than he risks thus allowing the weaker side a better chance to even the playing field, especially if they have a higher Melee Point. This is how the heavies can beat lights with less risk when fighting multiple rounds.

Casualties are mounting on both sides but the Northmen have been able to save most of their wounded units while their light troops have managed to destroy several Midlish units with missile fire or by outmanouvering isolated units. 

This morning, after much thought, I decided to take the rules, which are a little closer to the latest version of Rough Wooing, and test them on 16thC French vs English instead of fantasy troops. I ditched the armour save and gave most units 4 hits but 2 dice regardless of remaining strength. I also brought in a control check if being without a commander. The result was just what I was trying to achieve. 

The rules are updated and posted here as a blog page. A post on today's game to follow.

The Northmen combine numbers and good luck to wipe out the garrison  of the town bringing the Midlish army to its breakpoint while taking the objectives from them.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Crossing paths and crossing swords Pt1

On Sunday I was ready to go when Rob's call came in on Google Hangout. Alas, as so often in military matters, things beyond our control intervened. (That's why we use dice right?) For some reason the video kept dropping to a very low resolution or else pixelating. This made it virtually impossible for Rob to make out what was happening. We've had the occasional issues during past games but never this prolonged. After trying various things including changing equipment, I gave up and blamed our broadband service which has been giving us some issues. Rob and I had a good chat and then later, I played the game solo.

The armies advance and flank guards clash as the main bodies rush towards the objectives.
The scenario was the first one from Stuart Asquith's guide to solo wargaming. Two forces are converging on a town with orders to garrison it and then march off the far end. One army has a preponderance of fast moving light troops while the other has more slow but well armoured heavy troops.

The armoured Midlish swordsmen expected to sweep the enemy skirmishers aside but the dice didn't favour them and they soon found themselves flanked and struggling. Eventually the skirmishers fellback and their shooting backed by a unit of archers made the newly painted swordsmen the first unit destroyed.   The Crabhen and the new unit of archers were the 2nd & 3rd units destroyed. Figures.

Each army had 22 units and 3 characters.
Lists, comments and more pictures to follow in Pt 2.

From the other side. There is some fighting in the village while the Knights and Bantha eye each other. Later, analysts would call this moment a lost opportunity for the Midlish cavalry. A swift commitment of knights and reserve into an attack around the enemy right and into their rear might have been decisive. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Preparing for another Go

Tomorrow Rob is going to do the Wizardy sort of thing and appear magically at my wargames table while his body remains 100's of km away. In preparation I have not only been painting and basing troops and selecting a scenario but also reviewing the test games so far. By and large I am happy with the direction the rules are going but I want to add a bit more "flavour" and distinction to various troop types without getting more complicated, or much more. This means as much as possible playing with unit stats and capabilities rather than new general rules. There are also one or two disconcerting things about multi-unit combat that have had me pondering since May.

The issues are threefold but related. It seems to be too easy to gang up on 1 enemy unit, too easy to flank it and it is often too easy to ignore supporting troops thus robbing formations of some of their value. This latter point particularly bothers me trying to maintain battle lines seems to have been a major feature of ancient warfare. No doubt to avoid the easy flanking mentioned above. 

Since I want to stay as close to the original as I can while developing a game I like better, I went back for a look. The issues are dealt with in the original in 3 ways. First, for a flanking attack, every part of the attacker's base must be behind the enemy's front. Secondly a unit may not pass within 3" of 1 unit to attack a different unit and lastly melees are fought 1 unit vs 1 unit so if you gang up 2 on 1 the melees are fought sequentially not simultaneously. There is a fourth rule that sort of affects the sort of overwhelming attack I have had problems with, in the original the attacks are carried out 1 die at a time until 1 side is eliminated. So if a 1 SP unit is attacked by a 4SP unit, it doesn't roll 1 die vs 4 hoping to survive as the best possible outcome, instead it fights a series of 1 vs 1 fights and if tough, might win all of the fights and wipe out the enemy. A unit may also fight back as often as it is attacked and if an attacker wins it may initiate melee against anther unit which is in range It is a less deterministic, more heroic approach. 

It occurred to me today that the abbreviated QRS version of the Engagement zone is rather less explicit one than the unwritten full one from HofT that I have been applying direct from memory and that the squares make this sort of thing Soooooo much easier. But I'm not going there yet so I'll just flush it out a bit while referring back to Joe.

Beyond that, I am going to try 2 tweaks for melee. Instead of every one rolling at once I am going to try having 2 pairs of units resolve combat, if they survive the next attacking unit will get a go and the defender will get to fight back again. I thought about trying the pushback rule in melee again but I'll let it slide for now.

Now on to more differentiation between troop types and tactics. 

Skirmishers. I'm still not happy with the difference between massed archers and skirmishers and horse archers. In the last game Rob fielded some skirmish units on each side that only had 2SP each. That's close to what I had been thinking about the first time I limited shooting and movement but really just makes them a weaker archer unit since otherwise they are the same, What I am going to try is to put massed archers back to shoot OR move but with 4SP while skirmishers and horse archers may shoot AND move but with a shorter range and only 2SP per unit. To avoid having them too vulnerable I will compensate  by giving them an evade rule in melee.

Armour and Cover.  During the last game Rob reversed the armour saves so that low is good. I grumbled but went along and in truth it does not make any difference (unless you are using loaded dice!).  However it does make sense to save a benefit increases your saving throw number. More importantly, he gave troops in cover a saving throw bonus rather than a modifier on their "to hit" throw and in retrospect that is simpler and more consistent. I'll leave it to any bored statisticians to work out the difference in final probability.

Unit Type Tactics.  One of the things I have been most unhappy with is that in the original Morschauser rules all troops are essentially the same in melee apart from some being stronger or faster. I have started introducing some differentiation and I want to go farther. 

Cavalry. Even medieval knights, are known more for repeated charges than for prolonged rugby scrum type melees so I will add a charge bonus hopefully encouraging them to occasionally rally back. 

Massed Infantry. I have been struggling to come up with a way to represent the solidity of massed infantry. A line of units should help protect individuals from being flanked thus providing a purpose for a phalanx but what about a deep phalanx or a pike square?  If I had a retreat result for melee then a second rank could counter it, or the rear rank they could maybe add 1 die to the unit in front? or soak up hits?  I haven't stumbled on just the right rule yet. 

Rather than hide yet another quick reference sheet here, I have added a page containing the short version of the rules and will correct it and slowly bulk it up as I go from here, including tips for playing it on a grid.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shuffling and sorting

Reorganization and basing of opposing 40mm armies continues in anticipation of hosting a google hangout game with Rob ere long.

There are enough Elastolin and Merten figures with a handful of compatible odds and sods  to fill out the Midlish army and it is starting to take on its own character which is not quite the English Bills and Bows I planned. Instead, the rather larger Meisterzinn sized English will form the core of the Imperial army along with some colourful mercenary pike and shot.  I'll have a closer look at the knights, pikes and bows of the Midlish later.

Midlish City Militia Pikes, Elastolins with some minor conversions.

The opposition for the next game will be the mixed army of Vikings, Picts, and weird things which I was originally going to ally with the Huns to represent the Northern Confederation but had decided to switch to the West folk since that is where the bear was from. However, the deeper I get, the less they look like the West folk and the less Prince Michael and his Valdurians seem like barbarian Northerners. So I have reverted to the original plan and put the Valdurians back in the northwest whence they came 40 years ago.

Midlish swordsmen tackle Crabhen from the Northern mountains. Elastolin and a Perry Reiver vs some 28mm Footsore Miniatures Corvii.

More to come!

Crabhen scouts spy on a portion of the Midlish host as it gets its bases painted.