I've spent the last couple of weeks on and off on the train putting together the first draft of rules for mid-19th century Chinese warfare. These rules are intended to cover mainly the Taiping Rebellion and the Second Opium War.
I had a solo playetest in the garage the weekend before last which indicated a few areas to be tightened up, so I felt I was ready to share where I'd got to with the Monday Night Group.
As I haven't bought any Chinese yet my Red coated Sudan British stood in for the "Barbarians" and the Ansar and Fuzzy-Wuzzies for the Manchus, Mongols and Chinese of the Imperial forces. Hence no pictures.
The core of the system is a use of the EDNA mechanism. Each unit has a discipline score which is whittled down by combat and also provides a measure of how able it is to perform any actions like charging home. For example a British line Regiment has a discipline of 11 on a d12, a Chinese foot "ying" has a discipline of 5 on a d6. Other units variously use a d8 or d10. When a unit is hit it rolls against its rating. If it rolls more than the number then it is reduced by the difference. When a unit's rating is reduced to 1 it has to retire, at 0 it routs.
The use of multi-sided dice isn't popular with all of my players. It was remarked to me that "wargamers don't like them". I'm not sure about this as you sure see a lot of them sold at shows. It might be that some types of wargamers, - those brought up in the purely historical tradition - don't like them. I prefer to use d6, but sometimes altering the number of sides on the dice is just convenient.
How did the play test go? In summary the British mostly roughed the Chinese up fairly efficiently, although they lost a cavalry regiment and one unit of foot in the process. I'm sure there'll be questions in the House about both of them.
The core mechanism works, although I need to stop it being so brutal at times. Hits are inflicted by rolling a d6 per base, doubled at close range for the Europeans. The number of hits is then the number of dice rolled for the EDNA test. I had a bit of a design issue with this in the solo test, - whether to roll all of the dice at once and rank them or roll them individually. I went for the former for this playtest. This means that a small number of hits can be catastrohic on a Chinese unit if there is only one 6 in the numbers rolled as that means that 5s have an effect that then means 4s have an effect and so on and the unit routs. I may go back to rolling one die at a time.
So I got the game I was expecting but it probably isn't much fun for the Chinese. I have the classic problem for Colonial games. If the British are well organised and lead (or just competently lead) they will prevail in a set piece battle. Even if they make a mistake (such as opening the square a Tamai) they'll probably recover the situation and give the locals a pasting. The challenge is then how do you make it an enjoyable game for the natives without distorting the history (SvP doesn't bother by having the natives run by the Umpire).
In some ways the European forces are a side show, as I want to be fighting Taiping v Imperialist or the EVA at the most. So perhaps a test with them next week. Or at least some fuzzies and Ansar who are a bit lost.