Sunday, 10 April 2016

1815 Campaign, the Battle of Quatre Bras

Our club is currently mid way through an 1815 Campaign and the first major battle happened at Quatre Bras when the Prussian I & II Corps fought the leading French Corps of the right wing.

The first half of Prussian I Corps deploys to attack.

French Left flank.

I Corps

French forces, soon to be reinforced.

French push their right flank forward....

...and their left!

Remainder of Prussian I and part of II Corps arrive.

As do more French.

Lots more.

Under pressure the French left retreats towards the centre.

Leaving behind a garrison to delay the Allied troops.

Wellington arrives but with no cavalry progress is slow.

Many more troops arrived throughout the day and the tables are set for an even bigger engagement next day.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Balance of Power Marlburian at Alumwell

One of my favourite shows, this year the club put on a 28mm Marlburian game using a modified version of Balance of Power

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Friday, 25 January 2013

Hex Game Mechanics

You can see a copy of the Quick Reference Sheet in the previous post.  The basic rules are quite simple but I have made sure that there is enough scope for detailed vehicle stats as well as command and troop quality to play an important part as I don't have any real interest in designing a Memoir '44/Tide of Iron type game.

Vehicles and guns need to be facing a hex side at all times.

The turn order is an IGO-UGO system which seems to get a raw deal as far as I'm concerned.  While the current trend seems to be pull a chit, pick a counter, choose a dice or draw a card for activation I've already mentioned that I don't like the system as it tends to leave all bar one or two of the players doing nothing.  In an evening game of 5-6 players where there is limited time I like to see everyone doing something.  IGO-UGO at least has the advantage of all players on one side acting at the same time and when you introduce opportunity fire for the inactive side you tend to get everyone involved.  For me that's more than a good enough reason to stick with the system.

Tank and infantry support.

Each battlegroup on the active side rolls 3D6 to see how many command points (CP) they will have this turn.  1-3 gives 1 CP, 4-5 gives 2 CP and a 6 will give 3CP.  The maximum is 9, the minimum 3 with an average of 5 points per turn and these CP can be modified by the troop quality of the battlegroup.  I think troop quality should play an important role in any wargame, time and again throughout any period you read of poor troops being completely outclassed by veterans and if the rules don't have something in there that reflects this I think its missing a great deal.  Anyway, its enough to say that Elite troops gain extra command points while green troops lose them.

As enemy stands are activated to move the opponent can interrupt that movement with opportunity fire from their own stands that have not yet acted.  Opportunity fire always seemed like a 'must' to me in WWII games and I have made it so that if you op fire you use up your next activation rather than having to do nothing in your previous turn in the hope that someone gives you the chance to shoot.  Activating supporting stands to fire on objectives to suppress defenders before sending your assault troops charging over open ground becomes a very good idea!

Zvezda T34's and Forged in Battle Russian infantry.

Firing is conducted by individual stands at specific vehicles or at target hexes depending on the type of fire. Stands can conduct direct anti-personnel fire (AP), anti-tank fire (AT) or indirect (IN) fire though not all types of stands will have all types of fire available to them.  Obviously a mortar stand is going to have different stats to a 75mm AT gun stand even though they all tend to use pretty much the same fire table.  This table shows the final modifiers to the fire using such things as cover, attack value less defence value and so on - the usual - and then the results of a 2D6 roll to see the effect of that fire on targets.

Stands can be suppressed, reduced ('flipped' in boardgame terms) or eliminated entirely.  Suppressed troops can only fire at adjacent hexes and may not advance towards any visible enemy stands.  This is why its important to suppress attackers to break up their attacks and also defenders so that they cannot conduct opportunity fire.  Troops get a chance to rally from being suppressed but if they are reduced they cannot recover that damage.

The scale of the game is one stand being a platoon of 30+ men and a vehicle being 4-6 such vehicles, ground scale is approx 10 hexes to a mile but that's not fixed yet.   I'm more interested in large scale games and with the limited numbers of hexes on a board (approx 18 by 14 on a 6 foot by 4 foot mat) if I had a 'Squad Leader' scale of 40 metres to a hex practically every weapon would be able to fire the entire length and width of the table.

I seemed to have waffled on, I'll get some stat sheets and organisation tables posted up next time.

Recon a/c from Battlefront - a huge range and great for filling in the bits that Zezda or PSC don't do yet. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

WWII Hex rules design

Continuing the 'designers notes' for the WWII hex rules I thought I'd add some more detail here, if for no other reason than 'thinking aloud' helps to get the rules straight in my own mind!

The WWII rules started life as a bog standard set of miniatures rules and so a lot of the work has already been completed.  The firing, close combat, morale and movement systems just needed to be converted to hexes and half the job was done.  Adding stacking limits, facings, zones of control and so on has taken a bit more time but the first fast play sheet is now ready.

23rd January fast play sheet.
I've tried to make the rules as user friendly as possible.  I'm a big fan of 'What You See Is What You Get' and don't really want to have to think back to previous turns or phases to remember if a unit moved and needs to modify its firing, if it failed a morale test previous turn it gets bonuses this turn and so on.  I like to be able to look at the battlefield and the situation that is in front of me is used to work out the effects of the action I'm taking, not what it was 3 phases ago.

Turn order is designed so that all players can be doing something at the same time, each player can control one or more battlegroups which are generally based around historical battalion sized formations.

Russian infantry regiment (less regimental support) deployed for attack.

Each battlegroup rolls for command points at the start of the turn and these points are then used to activate troops.  A point can either activate the stands in a hex or, if a command stand is activated, their hex and all of those adjacent.  In this way the rules allow for the more experienced troops to have more command points (or at least the chance of more - dice permitting) and also those organisations that have more command stands will have far more flexibility than those with fewer.

Hex stacking limit. 2 points for full and 1 point for half stands - 5 points in all.
There are four orders that can be issued with a command point, move, fire, call fire and close assault and the titles are pretty self explanatory as to what each order can do.  With limited numbers of orders and command stands players can generally control most of their forces while things are going well but as soon as stands start to get suppressed by enemy action the command system breaks down.

A large part of the tactical aspect of the game is about where and when to allocate limited command assets, choosing realistic objectives and planning.  Simply forming up and charging all along the front line or 'you attack that half, I'll attack this half'  is almost certain to leave your battle groups floundering with too few command points to effectively contest any one objective.

The command stand in the centre of this image could activate his hex and all 6 adjacent.
Next post will go through the fast play sheet and briefly explain what each section does and then I'll hopefully have a proper battle report to post along with some sample stat sheets and tables of organisation.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

WWII Hex rules playtest

I've always been a fan of board wargames and have spent a lot of time pondering the benefits of a hex or grid system combined with miniature wargaming.  Both types of game have a lot to offer but for me the simplicity and accuracy of using a hex grid to regulate game play outweighs the down side - which is a table full of hexes!  After all I've seen plenty of poorly laid out 'traditional' games and while the hexes obviously do make an impact on the look of the game I dont think its any worse than many others. 

1941 Eastern front playtest

It takes some effort to create the hex terrain, the mat itself is simply made with a hex template that I printed out and drew around with a felt tipped pen, an 8 foot by 6 foot mat took about 3 hours in all.  Making the hills from foam tiles took some time but no more than I spent making 'normal' hills and the other scenery, roads, buildings and trees, are just the standard terrain bits that I had anyway.  The thing I didnt get time to make was the entrenchments so some nasty looking cardboard had to do for this game.

Hex detail, stacking limits & facings.
One of the things that I dislike about miniature gaming is the 'fiddly' movement and facing situations that, no matter how hard you try, always crop up in games.  Is a unit in range or fire arc? can you fit troops into that terrain feature? is that stand visible in that wood or too deep inside?  With a bunch of friends these are easy to decide (mostly!) but I'd rather just not have those situations crop up.

One problem with simply taking board game rules and using figures with them is that many board games are designed for just 2 players with alternate activations whereas I really enjoy large multi player games.  I'm not a fan of having one player do stuff while 5 others stand about and watch - designing two player board games like that is fine but for wargames I find those type of game mechanics lazy.

Stacking within hexes and the physical limitations of figures and space is another hurdle when it comes to converting rules, a boardgame may allow you to stack 3 or more counters in a hex but if you can't physically fit three infantry stands in that hex it won't work.

Having said that the rules I've been working on started life as a 'traditional' set of WWII rules and it was only half way through the design process that I decided I didnt care what anyone else wanted - I was going to do it as a hex set!

So, can you create a game that uses hexes but still has the look and feel of a miniatures game?  I certainly hope so and I'll let you know how it goes.

As an update - I've uploaded a template that can be used to create a 4" hex sheet. I simply print a few of these out, stick together and punch holes in the hex 'corners' and use that as a guide to draw a dot on whatever I want to hex up. I used this on the hills and they took far less time than when I drew around a 4" hex template for the main sheet.
With the downloads at the bottom of the page if its any use to anyone.