Saturday, 24 February 2018

French Indian War Campaign Relay - Game 1 Setup

As this is the first tabletop game of the Montcalm and Wolfe campaign relay. This post is just about game setup and a battle report will follow in a day or two. This is because the setup has been really interesting for me as I take the first campaign orders with their battle description and order of battle (OB) from Jonathan's blog - Palouse Wargaming Journal. (This is where you can read about the campaign background and Jonathan's concept of a "campaign relay").

Oswego fort on the shores of Lake Ontario
Having read the battle situation and OB my initial questions were:

  1. How big to make the fort?
  2. Should artillery come with the fort?
  3. How best to reflect the commander quality from the campaign game on to the tabletop?
  4. Is open terrain all open?
  5. By what factor do I scale up units for an enjoyable game?
  6. How will I setup tabletop terrain?

The scaling up of units was quite simple to answer. By a factor of 3, I don't have enough units for a factor or 4. So here is the order of battle with the original campaign units in brackets:

  • British - 3(1) Caynga war bands and 6(2) regular infantry. These come with a commander and trusted officer. Army resolve = 9.
  • French - 3(1) regular infantry and 3(1) irregular infantry. These also came with a commander and trusted officer (which are part of my FIW house rules). Army resolve = 8.

Initial jottings for the game
The quality of commander had me scratching my head for a while. Actually, I did not come up with an approach until the following today having slept on it. The commanders come with attack rating and defence rating, which both can range from 0-4. I opted to use a commanders defence rating to add to the army resolve score so they are less likely to retire or surrender as they take unit losses.

The attack quality was the one which had me stumped. In the end it required a new rule mechanism to be added to my FIW house rules. For each attack quality a commander can make a regular unit make a sustained attack which doubles the hits. The unit must be within command range (in an adjacent square to a commanders unit) and this sustained attack action use is limited to the value of a commanders attack quality.

So in this game the British commander Shirley with A0D1 adds 1 to the army resolve and cannot perform and cannot make any sustained attacks during the game. While the French commander Contrecoeur with A2D2 adds 2 to army resolve and can make 2 sustained attacks during the game.

The game is being played on a 6x4 foot tabletop. The top foot is covered by Lake Ontario. So actual playing area is 4x5 foot played longways. I have put lichen and individual trees on the square corners to make the grid more visible.
Terrain needs were well described in the battle situation and I opted to add a couple of areas of difficult terrain which improve irregular infantry resolve and make regular unit's movement a tad more problematic.

Fort size and how many units may occupy it was another question. A quick search in google showed Fort Oswego to be quite substantial. This answered my questions and I opted for a large fort covering 4 tabletop squares and 1 artillery piece. This lined up nicely with the available French forces, allowing all 3 regular units to be placed within the fort and have irregular units outside the fort harassing the British.

The fort with gun.
With the question sorted out and tabletop setup this is looking like a nicely balanced game.



Friday, 23 February 2018

French Indian War campaign preparation - The rules being used

I now have information on the first battle from Jonathan's Palouse Wargaming Journal so I can start the campaign games. Before I post the setup for the game I thought it may be useful to post the rules. So here they are rather hastily written up.

And as I cannot put up a post without a photo - here is the game setup ready to be played over the weekend.

Fort Oswego

French Indian War Rules - OHW Variant

Introduction

These rules are a variant of One Hour Wargames Horse and Musket rules. There are a number of additional rules include:

  • The need to dice to move a unit
  • Cover increases a units resolve by allowing them to accrue more hits while in cover, rather than reducing the hits taken.
  • Army resolve used to determine when a commander decides to retire from a battle
The game is played using a 6 inch square grid to regulate movement and ranged shooting. The facing of a unit is free form and not dictated by the square. In the rules the term "bound" is used for movement and shooting where one bound is a square.

The game uses both D6 and D3 dice (where D3 is 1,1,2,2,3,3)

Units


The rules cater for the following units:

  • Regular/Line Infantry
  • Skirmisher/Irregulars/Light Infantry
  • Indians/Natives
  • Artillery
  • Grenadiers

Sequence of Play

The game is played in a series of turns. During a player’s turn they complete the following steps:

  • Movement
  • Combat
  • Unit Elimination
  • Check Army Resolve

Movement

For units to move they must first be activated. To activate a unit roll 1D6 on a score of 2+ a unit can move. Subtract from the score should the following conditions apply:

  • -1 Line Infantry or Grenadiers in woods or difficult terrain
  • -1 for every 3 hits a unit has accumulated

A unit that failed a move activation may still engage in combat.

All activated units may move one bound. Indian units may move two bounds until they accumulate a hit, after which they too only move 1 bound.

Artillery must cease movement after shooting. They are still allowed to turn their facing.

Unit may turn as part of their movement.

Turning a unit to change it's facing still counts as movement.

Units may not move or shoot.

Units may not pass through other units.

Design Notes - Terrain is quite unpredictable and introducing chance for movement helps reflect this and differentiate between units that deal well with difficult terrain and those that don't.

Terrain

Woods


  • Artillery may never enter woods. 
  • Infantry and grenadier units when rolling to activate for a move into woods -1 from their activation D6. 
  • Skirmishers can sustain 6 more hits when in woods. 
  • Infantry and Grenadiers -1 from their shooting score when occupying woods.

Towns


  • Artillery may never enter towns.
  • Units occupying a town has a 360 degree field of fire
  • All units can sustain 6 more hits when in a town.

Marshland and Lakes


  • No units may enter.

Rivers


  • These may only be crossed via bridges and fords.

Difficult Terrain/Streams

  • Artillery may never enter woods. 
  • Infantry and grenadier units when rolling to activate for a move into difficult terrain -1 from their activation D6. 
  • Skirmishers can sustain 6 more hits when in difficult terrain. 

Fortifications

  • All units can sustain 6 more hits when in a town.
  • Attacking units must be at short range to engage in combat.

Combat

Units may only shoot at units within 45 degrees of their frontal facing.

Units in towns and fortifications have a field of fire of 360 degrees.

Muskets have a range of two bounds (1 bound short range and 2 bounds long range).

Artillery have a range of 4 bounds (2 bounds short range and 4 bounds long range).

To determine casualties units roll a D3 and make the following adjustments:

  • Grenadiers roll D3+1 short range and D3 long range
  • Infantry roll D3 short range and D3-1 long range
  • Skirmishers/Indians roll D3-1 for both short and long range
  • Artillery roll D3-1 for both short and long range

There is no adjustment for cover. This is factored in by units being able to absorb more hits when in cover.

When attacking units in fortifications the attacking units may only engage at short range.

When infantry, grenadiers and Indians are attacking a unit in an adjacent square. If the unit is eliminated, then they automatically move and occupy the vacated square.

Design Note - Skirmishers hits do not degrade at long range as they are considered to be better shots. Regular infantry do better at close range when they can use the cold steel.

Unit Resolve and Elimination

Units are eliminated when they accumulated more hits than their resolve value.

All units have a base resolve value of 6 which can increase in the following circumstances:

  • Skirmishers (not Indians) in cover increase their resolve by +6 hits.
  • Infantry and Skirmishers in towns and fortifications increase their resolve by +6 hits.
  • Infantry when in the open terrain, towns or fortifications and within 1 bound of their commander increase their resolve by +6 hits.
  • Grenadiers and veteran units always have their resolve increased by 6 hits.
Design Notes - Increasing a units resolve in cover rather than reducing their hits does mean once a unit has exceeded 6 hits, they must remain in cover for should they leave it they are eliminated. Likewise regular infantry with 6+ hits may rout on mass (be eliminated) should the commander be removed. So have him in reserves rather than leading the charge!

Commanders

Each side fields one commander who is attached to a unit and remains with that unit throughout the game. If the unit is eliminated the commander is removed as well.

Commanders raise the resolve level of all line infantry units within one bound.

Commanders can re-roll any failed move activations for units within one bound.

Design Notes - the commanders ability to help infantry resolve and movement encourages infantry to operate closely and as a block of units and not go charging off all over the tabletop.

Trusted Officers

Each side can field one trusted officer. They are attached to a unit and must remain with the unit throughout the game. If the unit is eliminated the officer is removed as well.

Trusted officers can re-roll any failed move activations and re-roll any shooting dice, but must accept the second score rolled.

Design Notes - Trusted officers can be used to help increase the success of units undertaking critical orders often on the flanks or a forlorn hope. Typically, they can be attached to an elite unit such as a grenadier unit to take advantage of their attack value.

Army Resolve

At the beginning of the game determine an army's resolve which is equal to the number of units being fielded.

When a unit is eliminated the army resolve is reduced by the score of a D3 with the following additions:
  • +1 if the unit eliminated is a grenadier, veteran or artillery unit.
  • +2 if the commander is lost
Design Notes - If you want to introduce a commander quality into the game. Add the score of a D3 if commanded by an above average commander, or subtract the score of a D3 for a below average commander.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A different approach for a campaign

Last week I wrapped up my French Indian War campaign. The purpose of the campaign was two fold. Firstly to provide a background narrative and context to the games, and secondly to work through my house rule modifications which based upon One-Hour Wargames rules. Sorting out the rules was successful for the most part (more of that later). However, the background and historical context to the games was not as compelling as I had hoped.

Following my post on the campaign and reflections, in stepped Jonathan of Palouse Wargaming Journal with an idea described as a "solo campaign relay". What is that you ask? Rather than repeating the concept I now point you to Jonathan's post here which summarises the idea and how it works.

I think this will be a fascinating wargaming collaboration, presenting me with a variety of battles and a context to games I have no control over. While providing Jonathan with a board game style campaign where tabletop dispatches inform him of a battle's outcome.

A recent game with an attack on a blockhouse (somewhat successful judging by the smoke).
I am planning to post this weekend the rules developed during the last campaign, which I will be using for this campaign. They are presently hand written. The only area of the rules I am contemplating changing is to do with army resolve. I had been playing games where an armies resolve fails when more than half their units are eliminated. At that point they effectively retired from the field of battle.

This can make the end of games a tad predictable. You know, eliminate one more unit and you win. So the alternative I am looking at using is this...

An army has resolve points. These are calculated by multiplying their number of units by 2. So an army of 10 units will have a resolve of 20. During the game whenever a unit is lost a dice is rolled and its score reduces the resolve. When the resolve reaches zero the army retires from the field of battle.

To add a couple of twists to the resolve:

  • Whenever elite units (eg grenadiers) are eliminated two dice are rolled and their combined score reduces the resolve.
  • If the commander is rated above average, then before the game a dice is rolled and the score added to an army's resolve.
  • If the commander is rated below average, then before the game a dice is rolled and the score subtracted from an army's resolve.
I plan to test out this modification over the next few days.

Finally, a few more Sci-Fi skirmish figures are ready to leave the painting table.

Some wild life to introduce into games.






Saturday, 17 February 2018

A few more Sci-Fi skirmish additions

Over the week I was able to complete a few additions to add variety to my Necromunda style Sci-Fi skirmish games. Next items to work on are some wild life which will add some random dangers to my games.

Some heavies to help out the local Arbites
I am raiding my bits box to add bits of interest to my stands.

Wild life mounted on bases with corrugated plastic sheet and available bits to add interest.

Friday, 16 February 2018

French Indian War campaign end and game report

I have decided to bring my French Indian War to a close. I was going to set up another game, but looking at the campaign map after 7 games the attacking British forces were no closer to taking the French town. The games themselves were 4 French victories and 3 British victories. With winter coming the British decided to call it a day for this season and started to retire back to their bases.

While the campaign has provided a background narrative to the games. It just hasn't been one that has added that extra interest to the games for me. I was thinking about what I would do differently when setting up another campaign. Here are some initial thoughts:

  • I should have had a set number of turns by which time the fortified town needed to be taken.
  • The map had too many options and should have been kept simple with two linear paths, one north and one south of the river. The prize would still be the town, but taking the fort on the south bank would provide additional troops for the British. The choice would have been: taking extra turns to capture the south fort with the opportunity of adding troops, or focus on the taking the town.
  • Both sides would have to commit to dividing their forces north and south of the river at the start of the campaign.
  • Use random event cards to mix up the games. For example, addition Indian allies, units getting bogged down, etc.

Campaign map
Having decided to end the campaign and with the tabletop ready for a game. I though it would be interesting to replay scenario 20, a fighting retreat, from One-Hour Wargames (OHW). I had played out a really enjoyable game using Napoleonic armies a week ago.

I decided to play the game with 9 attacking units and 6 defending units. The attacking British lined up 4 columns of 3 units and rolled dice for the each one. The lowest scoring column was removed.

Dicing for the British force. One column would be removed.
Dicing for the French force. One column would be removed.
The defending French lined up 3 columns of 3 units and rolled dice for the each one. The lowest scoring column was removed.

6 defending French units
9 attacking British units
The game lasts 15 turns and the side in control of the hill on the northern baseline wins.

French units retire quickly across the river.
French units retiring on the eastern bridge are taking more time.
Disaster the French artillery get bogged and fail to make it across the bridge before British forces arrive.
The British made short work of the unsupported artillery.
Remaining British forces arrive
The first British units cross at the bridge, but were quickly dealt with. 
More British units push across the western bridge while their artillery began to find their targets. 
French units begin to retire out of artillery range.
British units are slow to follow up the retiring French
Casualties are starting to mount on both sides. The frontiersmen were putting up a very effective defence from the far woods. 
British units finally start to organise an assault on the French second line of defence.
More units join the attack. 
British light infantry move through woods to flank the French defensive line.
French defence finally ends on turn 11.
I should have retired the French earlier as soon as the British artillery fired. Artillery in the rules must remain in place once they shoot. The delay meant they took more punishment from some accurate artillery shooting than necessary.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Sci-Fi Skirmish Games

Now that all figures from the Necromunda starter set are painted. It was time for a couple of larger skirmish games with 10 figures each side. Rather than use the Necromunda rules, which come with the starter game and are just too complicated or detailed for my taste, I am using some house rules. I really prefer rules to be sufficiently simple to memorise, particularly for skirmish rules, which I believe are best played quickly with no pondering the next move or action to take. Having to look up rules or figure stats just slows the pace of a game for me.

Defending the supplies
Since last playing a game with my house rules with approximately 5 figures per side. Where each figure got an opportunity to perform their actions, I found with 10 figures I was losing track with which figures had taken their actions. My initial reaction to this was to add an activated counter, placed as each figure was activated and collected at the end of a turn. The unfortunate effect of this is to slow down the game turn, not by too much, but it sufficiently irked me to try out other activation approaches.
A gang on the prowl searching for the enemy
The activation approach I eventually settled on assumes there will never be more than 10 figures per side. This is meant to be a game of small scale skirmishes between gangs. At the beginning of each turn both players roll a D6 dice which indicates how many figures they may activate. Like Player Initiative Points (PIPs) from DBA. However, the player with the lower score activates all their figures first, followed by the player with the higher score. This helps to even out the effects of the higher score and introduces the uncertainty of activating first or second in a turn.

Some long range targets
To begin with I started having players re-roll the dice whenever there was a draw, but decided draws could be treated as a lull in the fighting and allow players to remove wounds from injured figures depending upon the scores of the drawn dice. So if two 3s were rolled, three figures per side could recover from wounds, and if two 4s then four figures could remove wounds, etc. This is a very gamey approach, but I liked the unpredictability it introduced, rather than have figures spending actions to remove wounds.

Close combat
Having had a couple of fast paced and enjoyable games using this activation approach. I am now in the process of writing up the rules to fit on to one page. 

As a painting project there are some additional figures I will be adding to provide more variety to my games. These include...
Local Adeptus Arbites to add interference to gang fights
A bit of muscle to support the local Arbites
Local wild life to randomly enter the games?

Friday, 9 February 2018

A few more Necromunda figures painted

A few more Necromunda figures have been painted. There are five more on the painting table, which once painted will be all 20 figures from the boxed set completed. After that I will add one or two extra figures from the bits box to add into the mix.

It as taken quite a bit of readjustment to get into the swing of painting these very detailed miniatures after many months of painting units of the simpler Spencer Smith miniatures.


This weekend I hope to get them all onto the tabletop.