Thursday, 25 June 2015

A Playtesting Evening

Having finished the work I needed to do for one of my CoW games I was in need of a playtest. There were some tweaks to the rules required and I wasn’t completely happy with them, so I needed a willing opponent.

What with all the commuting and other stuff going on it has been difficult to squeeze a game in of an evening. Luckily as the project I’m on ramps up its numbers at the same time as the company is selling off real estate the requirement to work from home has become a necessity about one day a week. That means I can finish work later than normal and still get home an hour or so early, freeing up time for a game.

Phil agreed to come over and help out, although I had a suspicion that the “Rapid….”  ruleset does not hit his sweet spot for games.

The game is the Hydaspes refight I referred to in my last post. Phil took the Indians, and I got Alexander. My feelings were that Alex would be up against it to manufacture a win, as the central block of elephants is quite formidable.

As it turned out I wasn’t quite right. However, I think that was mainly down to me not explaining the rules fully, and then rolling out tactics that I knew would work.

I should also say that Phil hasn’t played the system that much (he thinks “at all”) and it is certainly a game where knowing the rules is key. The skill in the game is in managing your cards and deploying them at key points. There are very few places you can create an absolute advantage, and you have to throw everything in to them. There are also times when you have a complete lost cause, and trying to defend it is just a waste of resources. What this means is that if you know how it works you have a huge advantage that no amount of tactical skill will offset.

It’s a bit like playing Martin Wallace at one of his games for the first time. He has no qualms about kicking you around the park if he can.

 The game was a little formulaic. I went for a big right hook lead by Alexander, and mostly got away with it. I won two out of three combats, but that left Phil with a cavalry unit on the inner flank that would prove to be a nuisance.

Phil tried to free up his archers, whilst smashing off the right hand end of my phalanx. The archers aren’t that effective. Partly it is hard to use them as they are masked, which is historical. Also the rules for using them effectively are not completely intuitive. A single unit on its own isn’t that great, but you can make headway if you use them in groups, or if you combine them with a hand to hand attack. The bald mechanisms as written don’t make this completely clear. However, I will admit that I am a bit harsh in this area, and a re-write has been done. 

As Alex had won on my right flank I was able to turn on the line of archers and start to roll them up. You can see them causing havoc quite clearly.

Phil made decent inroads into my phalanx, but I was well ahead on damage done. I'd finally decided to push my left flank up, as Phil advanced his remaining elephants. We're getting into the final phases of the game here, and card management is becoming absolutely key.

This is where it ended. I've wiped out the infantry, and done in both flanks mostly. The game is over as we've both run out of cards. The dead piles give the victory to Alexander.

I got a few rule changes out of the game, but otherwise I'm good to go to CoW with it. I need to do a really good QRS and work on how I explain the game so that players are in with a chance of playing the game how I want it to be played.

I am toying with the idea of allowing the players one recycling of their deck so that they are able to get more units involved. In most games of the system so far half of the armies sit there as punching bags.

It certainly works well as a game, but I'm not so sure it is a great wargame. Maybe my WD friends will let me know if a few weeks time if they agree with me.


  1. It was instructive to get another go at this system - I liked the historical version of Northampton 1460 - but I do confess that the generic versions don't really make much sense to me (the complicated card game seems to get in the way of the relatively simple gridded battle game) ... but perhaps if you allow the whole army to close on one card (so as to bring about a general engagement) ...

    ... or make the cards played from the deck (so the player can prioritise but the outcomes are random) the game would better resemble the battle?

    It would also make playing the game less reliant on fine mastery of the mechanisms (which, given your planned audience of first timers, wouldn't be a bad thing)


    1. Interesting thoughts, as ever. That'll need some testing before I let it loose as an idea.

  2. Yuck. Compare the with and without cards photos. At times you need reminding that there's a wargame going on ! It seems such a waste to use well painted troops. Markers are fine if they are in keeping (as a common example look at those used in Fire & Fury) otherwise please avoid them.


    1. I understand your point of view, but it is difficult to have a card activated system without actually using the cards.

      Of course they aren't there all the time as you remark, but the game is more of a card game with figures than a figure game with cards.

      Any how, good to see you are still about. We were only wondering what had become of you and whether your shed was yet open only this morning!


  3. Hello,
    While at a conference with jet-lag, I played a game of Hurried Hydapses based on the rules published in Nugget. I do have a few questions, which I hope you can field. Here, I am quoting the rules from RR, since they are in your blog and easy to cut and paste into the email. Differences with HH should be applied where necessary.

    “Units move orthogonally.”

    1. Facing: I interpreted the orthogonal movement phrase to mean that troops move directly forward and/or pivot within their square. This means that, if I am facing forward, and I want to move to the square one ahead and to the left, I could (for example): change orientation to face left; move forward one; change orientation to face up; move forward one. Is this your intention, or is there a sequence that accomplishes this in less moves? Diagrammatically, it would be:

    OOO —> OOO —> OOO —> OOO —> ^OO
    ^ < < ^

    “Movement is compulsory if it is possible with the cards dealt, although if two cards are dealt only one has to be used for movement. When it is a player’s turn to move, cards to be used for movement are revealed. Cards not used for movement can be kept face down.”

    2. Cards: I totally missed the difference between cards for shooting, movement, and combat, if there is any. Is the idea that I first move forward until an enemy unit is in the square in front of me, and then I engage in combat? This is perhaps the main question, which leads to a number of subsidiary questions. This main question is driven by the rule:

    When a unit can advance into an opponent’s square combat takes place …”

    What does “can advance” mean? I have a card which would allow me to move forward, but I can’t because it is blocked by the enemy in front of me, so that card is applied to combat?

    2.1 If I use a card for movement, is it discarded immediately?
    I would think not, because of the HH rule that one card may be used to move 2 adjacent HI, but then the card is discarded — that makes it sound like an exception to discard a movement card. Also, the rule for commanders says:

    “Commanders: Can move up to 3 squares if given a card, or moves with unit he is attached to. NB General’s movement card is discarded after moving and is NOT used in combat.” So, it sounds like a card can be used for movement AND combat in the same turn.

    2.2 If I start a turn adjacent to an enemy unit, is a card used only for combat? In this case, movement would not be possible (unless you include a change of facing as a move).

    2.3 Does the option of dealing an extra card per unit (2 cards per unit) allow me to first move adjacent to an enemy and then engage it in combat in the same turn?

    3. “Light Infantry: May interpenetrate one rank of own side if have second card.”
    How is this done in practice? My LI is in front of a HI, and I want to take shelter behind the HI. LI can only move on square per turn. I assume I don’t need a card to change facing, but can just retire backwards. In this case, does the one square of movement allow me to actually move 2 squares and end up behind the HI, and still facing forward?


    1. Steve,

      (Sorry for the delay in replying - I've been on holiday)

      There are slight differences between RR & HH. HH is them ore up to date version. I need to revisit both to create the universal set.

      1) Movement. Yes. It is as describe, if the unit can do it. Turn-Move-Turn-Move. Note that some units have to turn instead of moving or require a red card to move and turn.

      2) Correct, - if the move would take you into an opposing unit's square, combat takes place.

      2.1) Yes. Cards are usually used for both movement and combat unless the rules specifically say the card is discarded.

      2.2) Think of it like this. When A unit is attacking it is fighting its way into its opponent's square. If a unit wins effectively its movement takes place after combat as part of the follow up.

      2.3) Yes!!! But remember both cards are played before anyone starts to move anything, so the target units might not be there.

      3) In an interpenetration you need two cards, one for the square you're interpenetrating through, and one for the square you end up in.

      Hope that is clear. If you have an email address you are comfortable to share I'll send you the pdf of the rules and the QRS.


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