Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Blowing the Dust Off

Or, Huguenots, Catholics and Neil Thomas.

When Phil & I had our AMW bust up with Belisarius and Totila Phil brought with him Neil Thomas’ original book, - “Introduction to Wargaming” which has variants for a number of periods, including Pike & Shot.

In a lull I quickly copied out the rules and army lists I was interested in and set up a game for Monday.
One of the first really grown-up armies I put together was French Huguenot. I started it at University, together with a bloke called Chris Chick, who was going to do the Catholics. He never made any progress, whilst I got well stuck in. Over time I ended up assembling their opponents as well, but this army is a traditional 1980’s army. It’s in 25mm and it is made up of many manufacturers*. What’s more large proportions of the figures are all individual, with arm movements, head adjustments and general playing around. They don’t see much use these days, - like all armies of this type they’re large and bulky, and now, of course, they’re all 3mm too short.
Consequently it was a pleasure to blow the dust off the boxes on Sunday afternoon and set the figures out on the table. They have a satisfying clunk to them when you put them out, but they also remind me of the massive amount of time invested in painting the armies in the first place, and their sheer bulk. I love these armies a lot but I can’t see that I’d ever assemble them now if I didn’t have them already.
The Huguenots mustered a slightly brittle looking army:
1 x Millers
2 x Reiters
1 x Landsknects (mixed pike/shot)
3 x Huguenot foot (all shot)
1 x Cannon

The Catholics had all the shiny elements associated with their forces

1 x Gendarmes
1 x “Archers” (ie low quality Gendarmes)
1 x Reiters
2 x French foot (mixed pike/shot)
2 x Swiss foot (mixed pike/shot)
1 x Cannon

The special army rules for this period are restricted. As far as I can see the Swiss lose their “never fail morale checks” special power, which is a shame for them as it is an unwritten rule that all elite units requiring a anything but a 1 or 2 to pass a test will fail it, whilst any levy unit that must roll a six will duly do so.

My opponent claimed to know nothing of the period, although being aware of the ECW. He chose the Huguenots, and in order to help him out I deployed first.

One of the main differences between the two periods is that ECW armies deploy cavalry on the wings, and FWOR armies deploy cavalry in the middle.

Gendarmes and Lancers ready to go
I duly adopted this set up, with my cavalry on my right centre, and the Swiss on the left centre. One unit of French infantry I tucked into a wall enclosure, the other was hidden behind the Swiss.

Richard contemplates the rules, - not that
he needed them
Richard lined himself up with his cavalry split and the hill occupied by his pike-less foot, except for one unit which he hid in an enclosure.

Confident of his set up he then sat there and let me come at him.

Not wishing to sit around all evening I accepted the challenge and bravely marched across the table towards him, confident in the justice of our cause and also the fact we'd got Swiss and Gendarmes.

This may have been a mistake, as it meant I walked into artillery fire, whereas the Huguenots skulked safely out of range of my own guns.

Lumps started to fly off my advancing cavalry, but I refused to be daunted as I bore down upon his left wing, confident that I had achieved local cavalry superiority, and completely
unconcerned by the three casualty rings I was now carrying.

What could possibly go wrong?

After enduring a couple of pistol volleys and a couple of hard fought rounds where I had the tactical advantage the situation looked like this.

I had discovered by this point that the morale rules were not my friend.

Things would obviously go better on my left, as who could survive the might of the Swiss? (Plus on the right I had a spare unit of reiters who would be able to pile in and save the day, still enabling me to turn the flank.)

I was sufficiently bullish even to move up my otherwise poorly regarded French foot. My confidence was raised by the complete indecision showed by the opposing Huguenot reiters.

Alas on the right things did not go well. This is another unit of reiters being taken to pieces by their Huguenot equivalents, and my Gendarmes are completely failing to realise any advantage from the extra dice they roll and their heavier armour. (The base turned to its side means a morale roll is still to be taken. They failed that as well).

By this time my Swiss had discovered how powerful firearms are in this period, especially in the hands of my opponents. With no saving rolls and not being able to fire and move marching towards a unit consisting entirely of musketeers can be a bit fraught. It isn't helped when you get out-rolled in the melee. All my careful calculations as to how quickly I could break a unit before turning on their colleagues came to naught.

My only hope seemed to be the much maligned French foot, who marched into a hailstorm of musketry. They held their own in the melee and were starting to turn a profit on the engagement when the Swiss collapsed, enabling those reiters to come in on their flank.

Thus it was all over, and I lost 6-0.

Tactically I made a complete mess of the game, - massed musketry was much more effective than I expected. I was also out-rolled, especially in the cavalry melee. I lost two reiter units fighting an evenly matched opponent who came out of two heavy melees with barely a scratch on him.

My elite units (you know who you are, gentlemen of the Cantons) fulfilled their destiny and melted away in a series of dreadful morale rolls. The gendarmes hung in there, but were finally bested by by the Millers and Henri de Navarre.

Despite my thumping loss to a complete novice I enjoyed the game enormously. It was such fun to get out these old friends and command them in action (I've not used them much for years, and I've normally ended up umpiring with them)

Next week they'll be back, with some English and Spanish allies, I think.

* I think I have:
Ral Partha
Citadel Histotic
Plus at least two other manufacturers in the reiters I can't recall, and another one in the gendarmes I think.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Look what I found!

Everyone, pretty much, has a book that got them wargaming. This one is mine, more or less.

The reason it's more or less is that prior to finding this book I wargamed as my big brother told me to, - he wrote the rules, he devised the games and so on.

In my first year at senior school I found this book in the school library (along with "Charge!", - which had much less influence). This book, which I had out almost constantly, launched me & my friend Derek off on writing our own rules and devising our own games,

And I just found a copy for £3 in an Age Concern bookshop.

Alas it isn't the original edition. That one looked like this, which frankly I prefer. I don't know how much changed in the 14 years between the two editions, - DF updated the appendices of wargame equipment suppliers, for example, but the ACW battle around a single wall in the middle of the table is still there.

I'm looking forward to wallowing in nostalgia with this one.

I may even read it on the train. See if I care what the other commuters think.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Belisarius, Totila and Neil Thomas

I've written before about Neil Thomas' "Ancient and Medieval Wargaming" which I reckon to be a good, fun introduction to wargaming. The rules play quickly and have provided me with a lot of enjoyment.

The army lists in them are okay, although sometimes very generic and often slightly eccentric. The challenge of doing every army in 8 units also means compromises have to be made.

So, today I had to take a day off work to have some more lithotripsy. Luckily I had a morning appointment, so I felt that if I recovered quickly enough it'd be fun to have a game in the afternoon, and give my Belisarians another run out, this time using AMW. Phil was up for it, so we agreed that if I was sufficiently with it we'd have a go.

The lists for the two armies, Belisarius and Totila in Italy, are a bit difficult to derive from the lists as in the book, so I did a quick bit of work and adjusted the Armati lists we both usually use. This gives us army lists that look like this:


Number per army
Heavy cavalry (bow)
Heavy cavalry (bow)
Light cavalry (bow)
Limitanii Auxilia Palantina
Dark Age Infantry
Heavy Cavalry
Light infantry (bow)
Light infantry (javelin)

Number per army
Heavy Cavalry
Heavy Cavalry
Light Cavalry (javelin)
Dark Age Infantry
Roman Cavalry
Heavy cavalry (bow)
Light infantry (bow)
Light infantry (javelin)
Dark Age Infantry

 I allowed the "kataphracts can shoot and move" to all kats, hippo-toxotoi and Roman cavalry , but dispensed with the shield wall rule. We also playtested some of Phil's house rules on evading and double "block" units.

I took 1 x Kataphracts, 2 x Hippo Toxotoi, 1 x Barbarians, 2 x Limitani,  1 x Psiloi (bow) 1 x Psiloi (javelin)

Phil had 2 x Nobles, 2 x Roman cavalry, 1 x Moors, 1 x Warriors, 1 x Franks, 1 x Psiloi (javelin). Not quite the army list, but he was a guest.

This is how it looked:

The Byzantines, before the terrain got put out

Phil's Goths (of which I am envious)

Phil won the initiative roll and started towards me. He tried to draw me out wide and push through the middle with a block of mixed Roman and Gothic cavalry.

Phil's Roman & Gothic cavalry
Phil outnumbered me in heavy cavalry, so I had a problem. However as all units in AMW count equally towards victory, I avoided this thrust and pushed out after his light cavalry on my left flank with my Kataphractoi.

As you can see the Kataphractoi did some pretty good shooting, allowing me to use two of my new casualty markers on Phil's light cavalry. I was a bit worried at this point as all I had plugging the middle was my Huns, as you can see. I had to play cat and mouse with that big block of heavies, and Phil's javelins were poised to get in on the side of my Kats if they ever got to grip with the Light Horse.Phil's heavy cavalry did get a bit close, as you can see below.

However, my Huns managed to get away with it, whilst my heavies went off on a wild goose chase after that light cavalry, as you can see in the top left, below.

What I'm trying to do in the picture above is draw the cavalry further in and protect the Limitani's left flank with the javelins whilst I have it out with Phil's heavy infantry. In the end this worked out quite well, as Phil split the unit to pursue both the javelins and the Huns. Meanwhile on the right, this was happening:

Hippo-Toxotoi get stuck into another Roman/Goth unit
Fortunately for this combat I'd managed to stick a few arrows in the Gothic forces, which (together with demon dice rolling) would tip the action in my favour. This was part of a general engagement about to happen all along the line:

Phil uses one of my turning sticks

The combat on the right went bloody very quickly when I got my psiloi archers in on the flank of Phil's Goths. The bases are turned sideways to indicate a morale test is required.

After this point the action got a bit hectic and I forgot to take any pictures. After a few more moves it ended up looking like this:

What has happened is this:

1) Top left - My Kats have given up on the light cavalry and turned on Phil's psiloi
2) Centre left middle- Phil has just destroyed/routed the last of my Psiloi javelin men
3) Centre - the two infantry lines are hard at it. One of my Hippo-Toxotoi units from the right has broken through and caught Phil's Franks in the flank.
4) Bottom left/bottom centre - My Huns have evaded off picture leaving Phil's last Roman cavalry unit to face my other Hippo Toxoti who have about faced from destroying their Gothic opponents.

Phil has turned that middle cavalry unit in on the infantry melee in the middle, and I've turned round and moved across having broken his Frankish warband. Lots of bodies in this area of the table.

However, the game is decided on the left, where my Kats finally see off the light infantry, destroying Phil's sixth unit and giving me the game.

There they were, gone (the light infantry, that is)
So a clear victory to me and the first one for this army.

The army lists worked out okay, and the evade rules improved the game but still need some work.

Nice way to spend the afternoon.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Back to the garage

The second evening's play of the latest set of SCW rules took place on Monday evening. Compared to last week's game we'd had a few changes, - firstly I'd written some close assault rules and generally tidied up elsewhere. Secondly we had major changes to the cast list, with two players dropping out and a new one coming in.

The game picked back up with the Legion forcing their way into the olive grove on the republican left wing. The Nationalists shot them in with a devastating barrage from the massed divisional artillery, the effect compounded as the International Brigade on the receiving end was still moving into position and so was more exposed.

The first major use of the firing outcome rules saw the IB break and flee as the Legion pressed on with their bayonet charge. This was supported by an assault on the other IB unit by a combined Legion and Moroccan attack which threw their opponents back in disorder, stumbling towards the baseline but not broken.

On their other flank the Nationalists tried to develop the advance but one of their battalions was badly mauled by the republican infantry fire and dived into an olive grove to recover. The republican artillery was meanwhile concentrating on the on-rushing Panzers, but to limited effect. Abandoned by their infantry who were skulking in the olive groves they drove into the trenchline, machine gunning as they went.

Now the close assault rules weren't really written with such an event in mind, but applying them turned out to work quite well. The republican militia were broken and departed from the table, the tanks taking only limited damage. The republican artillery was proving to be singularly ineffective in the anti-tank roll, so the Asalto unit holding the village on the ridge line took matters into their own hands and counter-attacked with grenades, inflicting heavy damage on the tanks (which all looked very good, but the rules need some work here.)

Meanwhile it was all finally going off behind them, as the republic's armoured cars roared up to bolster the position, just as the nationalist infantry decided to put in an appearance.

Back in the olive grove on the other side the Legion were working their way forward only to run into some stiffer opposition in the shape of an IB battalion concealed in the village.

Nothing daunted in the middle, however, the remaining Panzers pushed on, overrunning the main artillery artillery position. If only they'd had some infantry to consolidate behind them. Notwithstanding that they had made the breakthrough and the republican line was in disarray.

At which point we called it a day, and closed the battle down.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Send Not To Know goes free

After promising a few months a go to make Send Not To Know publically available, I've finally got round to it.

The delay was down to me wanting to make a few changes and add some clarifications. The terror rules and some of the off table stuff aren't as good as they could be, but I know I'm not going to get round to sorting them out until the far end of the summer at the earliest, if then.

So, here they are, - up on the downloads section on the top right.

Any feedback is welcome, as ever, and I hope people find them fun to play, - the Monday Night Group has certainly got a lot out of them, and they have have some original elements, I think.

Download and enjoy.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Can you tell that it's finished yet?

I have finally finished the Belisarian Italian Army. Here's the proof:

It's resplendent in a box I nicked from work, rather than the standard Trebian storage system as I think it may be a bit big for that.

I first started talking about this army in September last year, so it has taken about 9 months to get it done, which isn't too bad, although it'd have been finished much earlier if I hadn't been made redundant. The projects I was going to do before the order arrived that I wrote about at the same time still haven't been completed, so they're back on the bench to be done.

I'm quite pleased with the look of it, but that's the last time for an army painted in this style. Takes too long and is too fiddly. On reflection it is also too large, - I'll never use all of those horse archers as far as I can see if I ever want to win a game.

Now, what's next?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Summer is here at last

Well, it must be summer, mustn't it? We're a third of the way into June and I've set up the table in the garage and we started a game last night.

Admittedly we only stuck it for 90 minutes before we retreated inside for a hot drink, but the summer's wargaming ice has been broken, even if we had to play in fleeces and jumpers.

The occasion was the first play test of the Divisional level+ Spanish Civil War game which now rejoices in the name of "No Man is a Peninsula". I suspect that may change.

The working skeleton for the game is "Red Army, White Guards", which you can download from the blog. Much of that system has gone, - apart from the figure and ground scale. The figure scale is four bases to a battalion, and a 6" square to 500 yards.

Again we're on the road to Madrid, but this time with a couple of brigades of Regular Army, a Tercio of Legion, some Falange and some Pz1s. The Republic was being defended by an International Brigade and a mixed brigade of Anarchists, Communists and regulars.

The Republican defensive line
The Republicans filed into their trenches and secured their flanks with the IBs and some Asaltos. The Nationalists put the SFL on their right and set up for a general push in the middle supported by tanks and artillery. The Falange were given the job of holding the left flank.

The game started slowly as the Nationalists got to grips with the activation sequence. It matters what order the units are moved in as some are better at following on form other units, rather than the other way round. No one likes taking orders after the Falange, for example.

The push developed well, with the howitzer batteries deploying behind a hill and the observer climbing the church tower for a better view. The tanks pushed steadily forwards in the middle, although the Republican 75's observed them from their dug in position and managed to knock one out. The tanks responded with a brave counter attack, driving within MG range and trying to shoot them up. Elsewhere the howitzers got the range of the trench line and started to plaster it, although to only limited effect.

On the right the Moroccans and the IBs were facing up to one another across the boundary of the olive grove when the second full turn finished and I decided to call it a night.

So far it is looking quite good. The activation sequence is going quite well and providing a few hiccoughs without completely derailing the game. The firing system is also shaping up well I think. Depending on range each weapon type inflicts a given number of hit points. These are marked with blast markers. When it is the unit's turn to activate you roll on an effects table based on number of hits and the active state/cover of the unit. This tells you whether it has lost any cohesion or taken any hits. Unlike RAWG therefore you only roll once to determine the outcome of firing.

The anti-armour rules are taken from SNTK and probably aren't really suitable, but they're doing a job for now. The close assault/overrun rules come from RAWG and weren't tested in the game. They may be re-written by next Monday.

So, a promising start to the game if not to the summer.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Free Rules

I've put a new box on the top right of the page. It's a "Downloads" box, with a link to some files I have saved to a shared drive..

I've put up two sets at first, - the ECW set "Victory Without Squares", and my square based Divisional Level Russian Civil War set "Red Army, White Guards".

It's my intention to  post up SNTK, & Return to the River Don and some others in due course, but they're being modified.

It would help if regular readers could tell me whether they can access the files and if the formats are usable.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Commanding Carrhae

Bank Holiday Monday saw another of my almost traditional wargaming days. The initial plan was to play a large scale SCW semi-operational game with mostly untested rules (who says I don't live life on the edge?) but then Tim Gow offered his take on H G Well's Little Wars in the back garden. This plan evaporated as the rain on Sunday fell and fell rendering the lawn, long, wet and uncuttable. However Tim saved us by offering to run Command & Colors Ancients as a figure game.

C&C has been round a few years and has a widespread and enthusiastic audience. It is a game the MNG has not engaged with yet (except for Phil who has played every set of Ancients rules ever written) so the offer went down well.

Tim does the game using Hexon with recycled 25mm figures from the 1970s, mostly. I think I have written elsewhere of my lack of love for hex-based figure games as aesthetically the hexes look artificial. I can take them in board games but in figure games where you are trying to make stuff look real to impose a shape that is unknown in nature (except for the Giant's Causeway) they jar.

Having said that Tim's stuff looked pretty good on the table and when Chris & Phil turned up we were ready to refight Carrhae.

Here's an opening picture of the game set up. The Romans, commanded by Phil & me are near the camera. The set up is given in the scenario booklet. The game's unique points are a card driven order system and some specially marked d 6's.

Here you can see the Parthian control rack with their cards neatly arrayed. In this scenario they get six and the Romans four. This gives the Parthians more options. This added to the fact they go first should give them an advantage.

The game started on the Roman right with some close action. The Parthian shooting was ineffective and the Romans closed the gap to engage in close combat. A couple of effectively placed hits forced some of the Parthians to retreat off the board, never to return.

We then developed our centre, pushing the Parthians back. Their initial mistake was revealed to be close to fatal. You have to get away from the table edge in order to avoid effectively being destroyed by retreat orders (which does seem a bit odd for Parthians in the desert).

A wider shot shows the Romans benefiting from aggressive handling of their forces, whilst the Parthians mill around in their effete, trouser wearing fashion.Defeat can only be a step away.

The game is clearly nearing its end as the Parthian graveyard increases in size. In order to win you have to kill 7 of your opponent's units (this may vary by scenario, - I don't know). We're clearly well on the way at this point.

At last we collect the seventh point (or banner) and the Parthians are done for and defeated. The Romans suffered a loss of a mere two units, and so go on to sack the Parthian Empire before heading home for a Triumph.

Following this we swapped round and played it again. This time the Parthians did better, only losing by 7-3. This was an inexplicable defeat as I was commanding the Parthians, and played a near perfect game (!) based on the cards we had. The dice let us down badly, plus in the first move we suffered massive casualties from a hail of Roman missiles.

So, two crushing Roman victories to go with the overwhelming Parthian victory when Tim ran it in Sheffield earlier in the week.

Well, it was a lot of fun. The mechanisms are are clever and simple and easy to follow. The game plays quickly with little if any problem. We were all grateful to Tim for bringing it along and I was up for trying other scenarios although Tim hadn't brought along the other booklets so that idea came to naught.

At which point I lit the barbecue and we retired to the garden where the summer had finally decided to turn up for a few hours.

So what do I think of C&C? I have little to add to what I said above. I'd happily play it again should the opportunity arise.We (that is the MNG members) discussed it briefly and agreed we'd all play it again, given the chance. However none of us was keen to dig our hands in our pockets for the £40+ needed for the basic set and the £25 for each expansion set. With only c10 scenarios in a box it's a bit steep (especially compared to Lost Battles) even more so when you want to play it with figures so won't use most of the box contents.

The comparison to LB is a good one, I think. LB is a good simulation that tells you a lot about the period. C&C is a good game that probably doesn't. C&C is also probably a lot more fun.

Now, I'd best go off and finish those SCW rules.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Musings on Mechanisms

At the start of any new project I often don’t have much idea of how I’m going to make the game work. I often have in mind the level of resolution, - divisional, brigade and so on – and strangely enough the size of units and the type of figures (if it is to be a figure game).

I then paint the figures alongside developing the game. This can mean that if my initial ideas prove to be wide of the mark then the game never gets developed as it won’t work. I have some alien figures for a game called District 9 & ¾ which I finished but never got the game running.

Of course deciding on the size of unit first isn’t that odd. One gaming friend went through a phase of having to design games that would fit on a 4’ x 3’ kitchen table. I sort of design winter and summer games. Winter games fit on a 6’ x 4’ so they can be played in the dining room, summer games are played on 12’ x 5’ table in my unheated garage.

Where I start these days is with command and control. Usually, - sometimes I have an idea for a combat or movement mechanism and build a system round that (for example the circular grid in "The Elephant in the Room"). But command and control is the normal starting point as a lot of my reading leads me to think that what makes armies and wars different is often the way the armies are controlled, - or at least how it looks from the outside. So in "Return to the River Don", an RCW set, there's a lot of emphasis on armies not behaving as they should with regular bouts of disobedience that can be overcome by a firm hand. In "Send Not To Know"  the aim is to make it possible but challenging to co-ordinate your army. Thus whilst both sets of rules cover a similar period in history and are for a similar level of resolution they have quite different ways of controlling the armies. That's what I mean when I've written previously about embedding period flavour in the game rather than just adding chrome. 

One of the things I'm keen to do in any rule set is to provide players with regular opportunities to make decisions, rather than just roll a die and see what happens. To that extent the opening moves of "Call it Qids" aren't perfect as there isn't a lot of choice, especially for the Egyptian ploayer. Fortunately the early turns are over pretty quickly and the armies can get on with hammering each other into oblivion. Thus in SNTK the players sort their cards into a sequence, rather than units being activated at random, and in RTTRD you have to decide the sequence you want units activated in up front then manage the consequences as they object to being given orders.

The funny thing is that although a lot of wargamers will tell you that C&C is crucial in games, all they really want to do is line stuff up and blaze away at each other, or charge headlong into their opponents, preferably from a flank (or in the case of the MNG we have a long tradition of charging into allies' flanks "by mistake").

My problem with combat mechanisms, - particularly firing - is getting it calibrated properly.  I can normally work out a way of doing it, but exactly how many dice are rolled and exactly what numbers are needed sometimes won't come out right. Tweaking a factor here or there seems to have a monstrous effect, and units either walk across open ground unharmed or get devastated by a single round of shooting whilst hiding in trenches. I thought for a while that playing cards were the answer, but these have met with a degree of player resistance, or at least a lack of acceptance, so I've put these away for now.

Historically I've never been a fan of saving rolls, but I accept that sometimes you need them to take into account everything you need to. They have the advantage of splitting the factors such that you only need to care about some of them once you've got a possible hit. They mean effectively you can split factors relating to the shooter and the target into two separate groups. It still slows the game down tho' so I'm trying to move away from them for now.

As for hand to hand, - that has likewise frustrated me for a long while, but I have to say that where I've got to with SNTK is pretty close to perfect for me. You always know what outcomes you want from melee (one or the other side breaks and runs or retreats) it is just getting to that bit that can take the time. You end up with compulsory break off rules after a set number of turns for example. Whilst I've done that it seems rather artificial. The SNTK melee table works back from the results such that each round has a clear result. Then it is just a matter of calibrating the factors and dice rolled correctly, and I think I have that right too. That means I can retro fit the system back into RTTRD. The other option in the more modern periods is to do away with hand to hand altogether and just have a combat system that varies with range, - which is what the original AK 47 Republic did.

Morale (or if you like, reaction) goes in and out of favour. There's an argument for saying that the outcomes of firing have a morale effect embedded as the figures removed represent not just bodies but those running away as well. The higher the level of resolution you choose the more plausible this becomes.There's no morale sequence in DBA, for example. Whilst rule sets often contain a check that says an army breaks when casualties reach a certain level some how this doesn't always convince me, - I'm particularly unconvinced by the divisional break test in Shako (although that doesn't stop me doing my best to have it take my opponent's army apart given the chance - I can be shallow at times). Strangely enough morale doesn't work when you go to the other extreme of skirmish wargaming as well as it could do. We have come a long way from the 50% break test to where we are now, via Phil Barker's WRG reaction tests, and I still can't work out what type of system I like best. Having said that the elegance of Neil Thomas' Ancient and Medieval Wargaming mechanism of rolling to remove another base when ever you lose one to combat has its attractions.

So that's where my musings have got me, - not so much a design philosophy as a group of preferences and frustrations. And now my train is heading towards the station so it is time to hang up and think about work.