Wednesday, 31 August 2016

ACW One Hour Wargaming

Seeing I had unpacked my American Civil War miniatures, it seemed like a good idea to play a few more grid-based games before packing them away. As I have a few commander figures I thought I would introduce them into the game and tried the ACW rule additions proposed on the  Commander - compact wargames site click here.

Early stages of a grid-based game
In addition to adding to the One-Hour Wargames rule I also thought some adjustments to activation and combat would be fun. Here are the gist of the rules which I will be writing up after a few more games are played.

I don't enjoy tracking 15 hits on units either on paper or with dice behind the unit. I invariably forget to move the dice with the unit or knock them to a different number. I prefer for each unit to have 6 hits before they are eliminated. With the current basing of my ACW figures I can accommodate 6 hits by removing figures and no dice to track hits. Hurray!
An infantry unit no losses
An infantry unit with 1 hit sustained. All hits represented on the back row.
A zouaves infantry unit represented by three rows.
So when shooting - roll 2D6 for the OHW D6 results, 1D6 for OHW D6-2 and 3D6 for OHW D6+1. A really nice approach found on The Stronghold Rebuilt click here.

All units hit on a 4+ roll. When shooting at units in cover, then the shooting range is halved. This forces the attacking unit to close with defenders in cover taking more hits in the process.

The game was played in a series of turns with control passed between players as they roll for the initiative and the player with the highest gets to activate a unit. Until all units have had an opportunity to attempt an action.

My next book to read is "Rally Once Again" by Paddy Griffith.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Computer Assisted One Hour Wargaming

I am slowly painting my Hundred Years War 25mm Minifies, it is taking longer than I thought. I am approximately 20% of they way through. I was hoping to complete 2 units per week, but it's looking more like 3 units per 2 weeks.

7 HYW units painted to date - slow and steady
I may well pause the progress to rebase my old American Civil War 15mm Minifigs which I dragged out of their boxes for a quick One Hour Wargame (OHW). This is their first game in a long, long while, having been in their boxes for some 26 years.

What prompted their unpacking after all these years? It was a desire to tryout the OHW ACW rules using a spreadsheet to calculate hits and track a units status, without showing me the status other than when they had to retire. As a solo player not knowing a units status, other than it has been engaged in combat for a certain number of time, helps create a level of suspense with not knowing whether the next combat will cause it to retire. I should point out here units don't get eliminated when their 15 points are lost (why becomes clear later on).

So to the spreadsheet and the computer assisted bit of this post. I use Apple Numbers but this can also be done with Microsoft's Excel. Each unit is recorded on 4 columns over 10 rows (see picture below).

Spreadsheet showing all cells

So taking Red Unit 1:

  • Column  B rows 1-9 have the formula RANDBETWEEN(1,6) where a random number between 1 and 6 is generated each time the spreadsheet is updated.
  • Column C rows 1-9 is entered for each attack. For a D6 attack 1 is entered, 1.3 for a D6+2 attack and 0.7 for a D6-2 attack. Not totally precise but good enough for my game.
  • Column D rows 1-9 is normally set to 1 for each attack and changed to 0.5 if the unit is in cover.
  • Column E rows 1-9 is calculated by multiplying the column values in the row, BxCxD to get the total hit for an attack. Rows 1-9 are totalled using the SUM formula in row 10.
  • Column C row 10 uses the formula IF(E10>15,"Rout",).

The above spreadsheet cells are then repeated for each unit involved in the game and columns containing random numbers and hits are hidden and cannot be seen (see below).

A view at the end of the game
To test the spreadsheet I selected the scenario "pitched battle 2" from One Hour Wargames. The game was played on a 3 by 3 foot surface with 6 inch grid.  This allows most of the movement rules to be applied except for Zouave units which move as normal infantry.

The other rule difference was units were not eliminated, but instead are forced to retire on their movement phase if the spreadsheet showed them as routed. Because of the way random numbers are regenerated each time a new attack is entered into the spreadsheet, means that some units which were previously routed could revert back to normal as a lower set of random numbers have been generated. I treated these units as regrouping and able to move or shoot until routed again.

Union army composition:
  • 4 x Infantry
  • 1 x Artillery
  • 1 x Cavalry
Confederate army composition:
  • 2 x Cavalry
  • 1 x Zouave
  • 3 x Infantry
First moves - the dice behind each unit is for identification
Mid game
Game end - a draw
I am in two minds about using a computer with my wargaming. I found a lack of interaction with the game odd as there was no rolling of dice. Obviously something I enjoy. This could be me just getting used to gaming with a computer to assist. Overall game was no slower than normal and I was still moving the models. The uncertainty of not knowing the number of hits did add to the game's enjoyment. There is a question in my mind as to whether it would work as well for a game with more than 6 units per side. It could get a bit cumbersome.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Three games in three days

Over the last three evenings I have been able to play a WW2 campaign game. Most games take 15 minutes to set up and about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. I play my games briskly. Quickly completing the movement of units and speedily rolling combat dice. This does mean sometime s orders do get through to a unit - when in my haste I overlook a moving them. I generally don't forget to engage units in combat.

All three battles were limited attacks, two of them were tied with equal terrain objective points at the end of the day (game end). Going to the "golden point" rule where the forces carry on using the night fight rule until one side at the end of a turn has captured more terrain objective points.

Game 1 - Commonwealth forces launched a limited Attack to push back recent German gains.

End of game 1 as Commonwealth forces take the woods and achieve victory with the "golden point" rule.
Game 2 - German forces counterattack.

Game 2 had a second close finish and the "golden point" rule applied again with victory going to the attacking German forces.
Game 3 - Commonwealth launches another attack

Mid game 3 as Commonwealth forces attempt to break through German defences and secure the buildings. The were to run out of time.
After these games the campaign is poised for a close finish.  Commonwealth forces occupy 10 of the 25 campaign zones and German forces are grimly handing on to the remaining 15 zones after a series of successful counter attacks.

The telling point is the remaining supplies. Commonwealth forces have sufficient supplies to under take 6 more limited attacks or 3 full scale attacks, while German supplies restrict them to 2 more counterattacks.

Limited attacks achieve a win on 2 out of ever 3 occasions, while full scale attacks have always been successful. Doing the maths suggests using limited attacks Commonwealth can count on adding 4 zones to achieve the 14 zones. 13 zones are required to win the game. However, with two counterattacks the Germans could hold out, but would most likely have to win both limited attack games to achieve a campaign win.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A Sea Change

For a bit of a change this weekend I thought a quick 1930-1940 era sea battle might be fun. I had happened across my scratch build fleets while search for something else and it seemed like a good excuse. The ships are all made from balsa wood and nails and have been unused for a few years.

Scratch build fleet of no particular nation

I used some straight forward (and free) WW2 naval rules from Panzer8. The rules are a little bit abstract and have ships moving between range bands, so space is not an issue. The pictures are of a game on a 6x4 foot table. They are a set of rules which lend themselves to a series of campaign games. Not that I am planning a sea campaign (yet).

The range bands are marked with string in this game. I will dye the string blue for future use.
The lead ship is taking a couple of turret and one hull hit 
On the subject of campaigns, I am getting back to my WW2 campaign game this coming week. My last post mentioned about a very one sided affair, and that the WW2 campaign rules do not cater well for this situation as the winner is decided by objectives only and not other factors (e.g. time). In a sense that there is little for the defenders to aim for tactically other than putting up a good fight. On the post I had some comments with really interesting suggestions on how to tackle this situation. I will most likely employ these ideas on the fly should the same situation occur, and add them to future campaign rules. Thank you to those contributors - much appreciated!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A one sided WW2 campaign game

Today I played out a very one-sided campaign game. The Commonwealth forces had just secured a victory in their last limited attack in the campaign were on the verge of surrounding a German occupied zone. The Germans now quickly put in a limited attack to counter any encirclement.

The game being played is the counterattack on advancing Commonwealth forces (red arrow)
The dice generated terrain was going to be somewhat problematic for the defending Commonwealth forces with terrain points even split 10 points on either half of the table. The defending forces selected the table edge with terrain features essentially split on either flank, but close to their base edge for re-enforcements. A couple of units were pushed up close to the fields in the centre and were to fallback to the woods after attempting to delay the advancing German forces.

Game set up
The make up on the each force had not been kind to the Commonwealth. They rolled a 2 and 3 with two average dice added this total to the standard 6 units the defender gets. The German roll was 3 and 4 added to 12 for limited attacking forces. So I had a game of 19 attacking units starting their attack at 10am against 11 defending.

It was going to be one of those campaign games where the game result was going to be a forgone conclusion. The only highlight for the defenders was the attack was starting late in the day and a delay in re-enforcements for the attacker could mean some of their forces would not participate in the game other than to secure terrain close to their base edge.

Attacking motorised and mechanised German forces push through the centre splitting the defending force.
The initial deployment for the Germans had all there motorised infantry, armoured infantry and tank units starting on the table. These units quickly swept away defending Commonwealth units in the table centre. Sending them in a hurried retreat to the woods. The few defenders were desperate for re-enforcements, which were delayed in arriving and allowed the attacking forces to concentrate their attacks eliminating a unit almost every turn.
Game end an easy win to the attackers
While re-enforcements were delayed for both sides, the delay impacted the defenders most, and by 5pm the Germans had won convincingly.

After this game I am having some thoughts for future campaign rule adjustments. Particularly for a game like this where Commonwealth forces had very little hope of a victory against the attacking Germans. At the moment games are decided by points for terrain occupied or controlled. It's a simple win or lose outcome.

I am now considering having a win and outright win. An outright win would be where one side has double the terrain points of the other. In this event the loser would lose campaign supply points. So had that rule been in place for this game, the Commonwealth forces would have been be prepared to sacrifice some terrain in an attempt to hand on to key terrain to avoid an outright loss. Hopefully making for a game which both sides had something they could get out of the game.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

WW2 Campaign

Yesterday I played through another WW2 campaign game with Commonwealth forces making a limited attack on German positions. The arrival rate of reserves was problematic for both sides making for a tense game.

Opening moves of the game (the only picture I took)
It looked like the game was going with the Commonwealth forces until in the last few turns German reserves arrived to hold their advance. At game's end and after terrain points were counted, I found the points were equal. A draw! This presented a problem for my campaign as the zone could not be occupied by the winner. My choices (well the one's I thought of at the time) were:

1) A draw goes to the defender.
2) Overtime - carry on playing for a set number of turns then see if the points are still drawn.
3) Golden point - keep playing unit one side gains the next terrain feature (points).

I thought option 1 to be unsatisfactory. So the question was option 2 or 3? I went with option 3 (golden point) with the game being played using dusk and night rules.

With the new campaign rule, the game went for another three turns until Commonwealth infantry reserves finally moved up and were able to occupy the buildings. These buildings had been contested for most of the game.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

WW2 Campaign Game

The last campaign action a week ago had German forces successfully seeing off a limited attack from Commonwealth forces. They now followed up with their own limited attack on Colombo-Sur Thaon.

Current campaign progress 
The Commonwealth forces choice of table edge which was a pretty simple decision given the generated terrain layout (see below). The winning side is decided by occupying or controlling terrain features which depending on the terrain type vary in points. To control a terrain feature requires a unit to be adjacent to the feature with no other enemy units being adjacent to contest the feature. Points for features are:
  • Buildings 4 points
  • Forest 2 points
  • Fields 1 point
  • Bridges are 6 points when used.

Dice generated terrain

The German plan was quite simple, launch a full out attack on the buildings and hope the reserves arrive reasonably frequently to maintain the attack momentum. Both sides have half their forces in reserve.

Forces are played out at the start of the game
German forces made successful progress taking builds, but not without loses, which were quickly replaced with a steady stream of resources. The changes to artillery and mortar barrage rules were being applied in this game. They now allow barrages from multiple guns and mortars to target one square, but they can only cause one disruption regardless of the number of hits. It's a way to improving the likelihood a barrage's success. (Previously, only one square could be attacked with a barrage.)

The game at the mid point
By the end of the game the remaining German forces had successfully occupied all building features. A lack of Commonwealth anti-tank guns limited the effectiveness of the defenders faced with combined infantry and tank attacks.

At game end the remaining builds fall to German forces
The layout of the terrain seemingly suited to the defenders at the beginning of the game. However, there was a problem for defenders, all building features were clustered together. This meant attacking force could focus all its attacks on one area and not worry about capturing other areas of the table to gain terrain points to win the game.

On to the next game...

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Messing around with activation rules

Having set up the table to play a couple of Sci-Fi games using a variation of the Swatters ruleset. I decided to keep the table set up and trial some different activation approaches after reading a couple of recent posts on the Blog DeltaVector. Previous Sci-Fi rules I have drafted have gone with dicing for activation and side with the highest score gets to activate a unit. As a solo player I find I like this approach as the next planned move is uncertain. The one area I find problematic however is that larger forces have the advantage over smaller forces by often having the last few activations.

So where did I end up with my trials? Well, I kept the rolling of dice for activation with a couple of twists and splitting activations into two phases: 1) movement and 2) combat made up on shooting and assaults. Units can participate in both phases as they are allowed to move and shoot/assault.

Movement Phase

During the movement phase both players roll dice and the highest gets to move. In the event of a tie, the player who was last in control remains in control.

When rolling for activation, a player that wins by double or more (e.g. a 2 vs. 4 roll) gets to either: move 2 of their units or moves 1 unit with a double move (always in a straight line and no turns).

If a player wins an activation dice roll by triple of more (e.g. a 1 vs 3 roll) they can end the movement phase and go onto the combat phase. This helps address the situation I mentioned earlier, where the larger force often get that last couple of activations. For a defending side they can limit movement and get on with the shooting.

Combat Phase

The combat phase, which includes shooting and assault charges, operates in a similar fashion as movement. Both players roll dice and the highest gets to shoot or charge 6 inches into an assault. In the event of a tie, the player who was last in control remains in control.

With the activation dice roll, if a player wins by double or more (e.g. a 3 vs. 6 roll) they get to either: perform intensive shooting which comes with a bonus or charge 12 inches into assault. (Assault combat is carried out upon contact with the enemy unit.)

If a player wins an activation dice roll by triple of more (e.g. a 2 vs 6 roll) they can end the combat phase and go onto the movement phase. Advancing forces will always want to shut down the combat phase quickly as they move their forces up.

I plan to write these rules up in a one page format over the next week or two.

Other Stuff

My first Hundred Years War unit is painted and 25 more units to go. I am expecting to complete 2 units per week, so this will be a 3 to 4 month project. All the models are from Miniature Figure and purchased 30 odd years ago, and I am really enjoying painting these (again).
I now leave space on the base to place casualty dice so they move with the unit.
The WW2 campaign was paused while I painted up a Jagdpanther. I'd picked up this model while browsing a model shop a couple of week's back. Based on campaign supplies I would hazard a guess there are 9 to 12 games still to be battled out before it comes to a conclusion.
An ArmourFast Jagdpanther