I have committed to running a game at CoW this year with the Pacific War figures. The working title is "It's getting a bit Chile", which sort of hints at the territorial expansion that came about because of the War and also how cold it gets up on the Altiplano.
So, having committed to the session I need to get some rules worked out. I have been thinking about this for a while, - there's been one semi-abortive adaptation of Neil Thomas' 19th Century rules transposed on to squares - but despite having a few ideas nothing has coalesced yet. With some rule sets I wake up in the morning with the system mostly worked out and it's just a case of writing it down. So far this has not happened for the 10 Cents War, so I'm going to have to do it the hard way.
This morning I went out to Shedquarters and started to put some bits and pieces out to see how it looked, and if the various ideas I had would mesh together.
First up squares v tape measures. I think I'm going squares, - it'll help with formations and keep the movement quick and easy. My light brown cloth has one side with 6" squares marked on it, so that'll do for starters. They're normal squares for the moment. I've pondered using offset squares, which give a hex-type effect without the ugliness of the actual hexes, but I'll need another cloth for that, so orthogonal squares it is for now.
Hills & mountains are important, so how do I get those on the squared board? Previously I've cut up lots of blocks of wood (see the Sumerian games) but I'm running out of cheap wood and it doesn't give the look I'm after. I'd really like to use my existing hills and I think I can through the use of sticky black dots to mark the corners of the squares the hills are obscuring, thus:
As long as no one moves the hills during the game, I think that works. The dots are easily peeled off afterwards and aren't expensive. I need to think about exactly how I position the hills so front and rear facing slopes are clear, as are crests and any plateau areas on the top. Who is up and who is down is important in the battles in this war.
Troops formations are the next items to consider. Both sides had learnt from the Franco-Prussian War (modelling their uniforms on the European styles) and adopted more lessons from there than the American Civil War. They also seem to be carrying a torch for the Napoleonic period too, which is tough when everyone is armed with modern breech loading rifles. Where this gets us, for infantry, is four or five basic formations. These are the march column, the firing line with one or two companies in skirmish order out front, the attack column with a screen of skirmishers, and what was known as the "guerilla inglesa", or all troops in open order, based on British Army regulations. Some troops also formed square. On the table these look like the following pictures. Note that using squares means that the layout is driven by aesthetics, and the exact position of the figures isn't crucial.
The armies were in a process of transition at this time, and there's a degree of change in what certain terms mean. In the standard Chilean approach before guerilla inglesa the gaps in the skirmish line were four paces. That's not a lot.
There's a really good article in this month's Nugget, No.286, by John Salt on the difference spacing makes to fire effectiveness. Perhaps I need two types of skirmish order.
Once I have formations worked out, I need to think about command and control. That segues neatly, as some commanders didn't like certain formations even though the troops could perform them. Thus only certain brigades might attack in open order, and even then this might be countermanded by the army commander.
With all these ideas in mind I put some toys out on the table.
I haven't given the same amount of thought to artillery and cavalry. It is less important with cavalry, I think, and I haven't decided what one gun represents yet. Probably a battery. I also have to think about stacking limits for squares too.
For example I think it is fairly obvious that Gatling Guns are deployed within an infantry square:
So, if a battery can be deployed in a square, what about more infantry? Or cavalry.
Hmm. Thoughts for another day. Or perhaps a long train journey to Manchester. Oh goody. Got one of those next week.