Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Rules queries - Ur & Chile

I'm back off holiday - a couple of weeks in India, thank you for asking, no new projects out of it - so I'm able to have a look at some questions that have been asked about the two sets of rules I've published:

To Ur is Human

Question about deployment- page 8. You state that only light troops or battle carts can be in the first row. Does that mean the no files would have heavy troops or massed bowmen in the front rank?

The light infantry/cart rule is more of a guideline, but generally no heavy troops should be placed in the front line alongside light infantry and carts. You can obviously leave gaps in your frontage for massed archers to shoot through, and you can interpenetrate from turn one. One of the few things we know about Sumerian tactics is that light infantry were placed in front as a screen, so it seemed sensible to have such a rule for deployment. However, you've paid for the rules and your are playing in the privacy of your own home, so do want you want.

I’m not sure about not allowing heavy foot to charge battle chariots, as a battle cart unit 40 points could pin a heavy infantry unit with supports.

I think by this you mean that it is possible for 25 points of carts to pin 40 points of Elite Heavy Infantry. Yes, that is the case and it isn't an accident or oversight. But then it also means that the carts, the most mobile units on the table, are stuck stationary and vulnerable to missiles. However, I refer you to the last sentence of my answer above.

Also, reading the voluntary withdrawal of single stand battle carts. There seems to be no benefit or penalty to do this.

The benefit is that you get them off the table so they can't be destroyed and lose the points for them.  Otherwise a single base can end up just limping around the table, trying to keep out of trouble.

Will it matter if I put units of 4 bases on one base, e.g. 80 x 30 (or 80 x 40) ?  I know that base removal affects die used in shooting and H2H but I would use markers for that.  I have not seen how it could make any difference but wanted to check?

It won't matter, as long as you keep track of how many "bases" out of the original 4 or 2 you still have left (I've done something similar elsewhere by using black curtain rings for permanent damage and white for normal hits. The beauty of the squares is that Frontage and Depth of units is unimportant.

It's Getting A Bit Chile

Could I make bases 40mm instead of 30mm and increase grid squares to 4 inch from 3 inch?  I know it is scale related but I was trying to find a way to use the same gridded cloth for both rule sets and the 40mm would be to compensate for the larger grid square.  Having seen the formations permitted I believe maximum frontage would be 80mm which would remain within the squares.

You can make the bases any size you want as long as they fit in the square size you have chosen. I harbour a dream that some one will do this with 28mm figures and 32 man regiments of 8 men per base on 12" squares and take an enormous terrain board to a show.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Going Dotty in the Pacific

As promised last week we had a return to the Pacific War Naval Campaign. The late 19th century one, not the 20th century one with the aircraft carriers. Thought I'd better make that clear from the start.

Because I'm me there was very little chance that the rules as published would make it unscathed into a second week.

For this game I made some changes to the movement system, by introducing squares. Movement is now based on the number of Knots a vessel is moving, and it takes 2 Knots to cross a square orthogonally, or 3 diagonally. I also introduced a random reloading mechanism and tweaked the factors for gunnery. The latter presages a major re-write to the combat system, most likely.

This one was also a scenario based game. The Chileans have heard that the Peruvians have put together a sizeable troop carrying fleet in the harbour, and also that one of the Peruvian ironclads is in for a refit. They therefore plan to launch spar torpedo boats into the harbour to sink as many as possible.

This gave me a chance to deploy the Peruvian monitors which usually stay in the box. Coincidentally with the attack the Huascar and the Union were returning to their home port.

The port was improvised from bits of my 6mm Vauban fortress to make harbour walls and docking facilities.

As the Chileans arrive the torpedo boats are being transported by two steam sloops to save their engines and stop them being swamped in deep waters.

I was expecting 3 players, and Patrick, Richard and Steve were soon on site and listening intently to the briefing. Patrick turned up because Chris A has been nagging him about playing an Ironclad game

They were shortly followed by Phil & Chris A, so we had a pretty full house. Patrick was prepared to be fully involved having committed to an Ironclad game, and was aggressively advancing his flotilla which protected the Port side of the Chilean fleet.

Steve opened fire with both of the monitors, which were anchored as port guards.

The ships start to close in on one another. The blue chips mark unspent "Knots". You can carry 2 points forward if you can't spend them, otherwise diagonal movement becomes much slower. I was worried it would make the play a bit "jerky"but in the end it worked fine.

The Blanco Encalada and the Huascar picked up from last week. I have to say that the shooting in this game was even worse than before. There was some shockingly poor dice rolling by both sides.

I'd put an incentive in the rules for the ships to hold fire and close the range, and the players duly obliged. The red chip indicates that the Huascar has been shot up by Gatling Guns. This needs looking at, as her gun crew are in an enclosed turret, so unlikely to be bothered by machine gun fire.

The Blanco Encalada sails past the Huascar, whilst a smaller Chilean ship (the Pilcomayo, I think) closes in to take advantage of the slow loading speed of the Huascar. Each ship has a loading value for its guns. You roll a d6 each phase and when you exceed the loading total you can fire again.

Richard finally unleashes the first wave of torpedo boats, who speed fearlessly into the harbour.

They are swiftly followed by the second wave of boats.

Gatling gun fire from the Huascar, bottom right, forces one of the boats off track, and she heads towards the Manco Capac monitor.

Followed by the Covadonga (why, Richard? why?) two boats pick out targets, with mixed success.

The boat attacking the Independencia survives raking Gatling Gun fire, but loses the torpedo spar in the attack. The other boat collides and detonates the torpedo on a medium sized transport. It starts to take on water (green markers).

The Huascar follows into the harbour to try and drive off the attackers. The torpedo boats rapidly try to reload.

Outside the Almirante Cochrane narrowly avoids sailing into the harbour wall. The other vessels whirl around each other firing as soon as they can. At the top of the picture the torpedo attack on the Manco Capac has detonated, and caused flooding. Somewhere around here, as well, Phil tried to ram an opponent then board her. It all went wrong.

The Huascar succeeds in machine gunning one of the torpedo boats which has just hit another transport. The Gatling Guns rip the little boat to shreds and she goes to the bottom. The Chileans have done quite a bit of damage with the little boats, which is more than can be said for the firing with the big guns. We never got anything more than a Light Damage hit from them all evening.

We had to call it a day then, as time was getting on. Looks like a Chilean victory, but I fear that the boats that have gone into the harbour will be hunted down by the Huascar and destroyed. The Independencia has survived unscathed.

It all provided entertainment for an evening for the 6 of us. The modifications worked well, and I will stick with them (need more dots on the cloth, however), and I will look further at the firing rules and how the critical hits work. It would be true to say that this isn't everyone's warm beverage of choice. I would happily play them some more, especially after I've done more work on them as there are things in them that I would not do from a design point of view. That doesn't mean they're bad rules,  - it's just that there are things I would not do in a set of rules. An example of this from another set is that I would never use PIPs. Doesn't mean they're a bad idea, it's just I wouldn't use them.

Any how, I think they may go away for a few weeks. My next development project is calling. I must start to sort out "Taiping Era" for publication, and I need to do something with the game system for my 6mm Edgcote prior to Joy of Six. It's all go, isn't it?

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

A Game of "It's Getting a Bit Chile"

I was lucky to have a visit today from Tim Gow of "Megablitz and More". He was mostly passing through but was able to spend a couple of hours in Shedquarters and roll a few dice. What more excuse did I need to roll out a quick bit of South American action, and introduce him to "It's Getting a Bit Chile"?

Tim was more than happy to pose with a copy of the aforesaid rules. He was given command of a strong force of Chileans and I took some Peruvians defending some ramshackle buildings and some improvised defences.

Tim pressed forwards all along the line, and started to deploy into a firing line as my hilltop artillery opened up.

Tim sent his cavalry out wide to his right, transferring it from the central army reserve. Nearer the camera Tim was forced into open order by more accurate shelling from my Krupps, giving up formation and movement to avoid taking Disorder.

Fearing that my left would be turned I moved my (weak) cavalry reserve out wide, but unfortunately took heavy fire. I also bolstered that wing by bringing across one of my reserve infantry formations.

My guns were doing a good job of holding off Tim's left wing Division, but his massed rifle fire started to cause disruption in the buildings. I was already regretting reducing the defensive value of the buildings in the interests of speeding the game along.

Having taken a lot of rifle fire (and some from a Gatling Gun) I compounded the problem by failing all my rally rolls.

Tim was turning out to be a bit of a dead-eye. His firing forced my men on the right to fall back out of the buildings. On the left I had to withdrawn my cavalry to safety, but the men in the trenches were suffering, especially as Tim had been able to deploy his reserve artillery and open fire.

A more effective round of rallying off Disorder on my left made things look a bit better.

Alas Tim then opened up with everything and I was again driven out of the emplacements. It was all looking a bit dodgy. On my right Tim's troops in Open Order rushed the now unoccupied area of the built up area and claimed it for Greater Chile.

Then the Cazadores del Misti pulled it out of the bag on my left. Looking for multiples of 12 to get a hit they came up trumps with 3 x 8 on the d8s, giving me that magic 24 and two hits.

I had shored up the centre by bringing up the reserves and deploying into Firing Lines. This was effective enough as far as it went, but my other troops had been shot out of the buildings too.

Tim had to head off at this point after nearly 2 hours play, just as it was getting interesting. I was badly let down by the failure of my Commanders to deal with the accumulating Disorder. I set the game up to precipitate some quick action without too many distractions as it was the aim to see how quickly a complete novice would come to terms with the rules, which contain quite a few new concepts.

Tim is an experienced wargamer and acclimatised quite quickly. He soon grasped the different ideas in the game, especially those around support stands and Disorder and identified the importance of getting your Commanders in the right places and making use of the flexibility afforded players through the various formations. My main disappointment was that we never got to any hand to hand combat. However, Tim still had a number of nice things to say about the rules and the game and the readability of the rule book.

A pleasant way to pass a lunchtime.

(NB The rules are available from Amazon for £14.99 or equivalent in your region, or you can buy a pdf from Wargame Vault.)