Tuesday, 30 June 2009

When Empires Clash! – Play-test 1

This solo play-test was devised to test some of the ideas that have been included in the most recent draft of these rules including:

  • The use of 2D6s for European troops and D12 for Native troops to simulate the asymmetry between the rigid and predictable European style of warfare and the more fluid and unpredictable Native style of warfare
  • Making the number of stands a Commander can activate each turn depend upon their ability as well a their dice score
  • Changes to the Combat system, particularly the difference between Fire and Close Combat, the effect of firing into the rear or flank of an enemy stand, and what happens when a stand recoils as a result of Combat
Setup

A fairly open battlefield was set up, with the Mahdist baseline being a line of rocky hills separated by two narrow gorges through which the Mahdists would deploy.

The battlefield.
The British and the Mahdists each threw 8D6s to determine the size of the force they would command, and both threw a total of 32.

The British Commander selected six stands of British Regular Infantry, a British Rifled Field Artillery stand, a British Machine Gun stand, and a Pack Transport stand. The Commander then threw a D6 to determine his ability. The score was 5, and his ability was rated as being ‘Average’.

The British force. The Infantry stands are drawn from English and Scottish Line Regiments, as is the Machine Gun stand. The Royal Artillery are represented by a stand of Rifled Field Artillery.
The Mahdist Commander selected four stands of Jihadia Infantry, eight stands of Mahdist Spearmen, three stands of Mahdist Cavalry, and a Mahdist Smoothbore Field Artillery stand. The Mahdist Commander then threw a D6 to determine his ability. The score was 1, and his ability was rated as being ‘Poor’.

The Mahdist force consisted mainly of Mahdist Spearmen, with some Jihadia Infantry, Mahdist Cavalry, and Smoothbore Field Artillery.
Both sides then threw a D6 to determine how many squares in from their baseline they could deploy. The British threw 5 and the Mahdists threw 4.

Turn 1

Both sides threw for initiative; the British scored 7 with their 2D6 and the Mahdists scored 1 with their D12.

The British threw 2D6 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 11, to which was added 2 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 13, which allowed the British to activate all their stands.

The British Rifled Field Artillery stand moved forward two squares and opened fire on the Mahdist Smoothbore Field Artillery stand. The British Rifled Field Artillery threw 2D6 and scored 5; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 8 (5+3). The Mahdist Smoothbore Field Artillery threw a D12 and scored 4; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 7 (4+2+1). The Mahdist Smoothbore Field Artillery stand was forced to recoil up to two squares, which it did.

The rest of the British force advanced two squares forwards and deployed into Square. Because they were out of range they did not engage the enemy.

The British Square with the Machine Gun stand and Rifled Field Artillery stand forming the two foremost corners.
The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 7, to which was added 1 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 8.

The Mahdist Commander decided that the best course of action was to engage the British as soon as possible. As a result he moved his three Mahdist Cavalry stands forward and deployed them into a line facing the right-hand corner of the British Square. He also moved five stands of Mahdist Spearmen forward to threaten the left-hand corner of the British Square.

The Mahdists advance.
Turn 2

Both sides threw for initiative; the British scored 8 with their 2D6 and the Mahdists scored 2 with their D12.

The British threw 2D6 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 8, to which was added 2 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 10, which allowed the British to activate all their stands.

The British Rifled Field Artillery stand opened fire on the central Mahdist Cavalry stand. The British Rifled Field Artillery threw 2D6 and scored 9; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 14 (9+3+2). The Mahdist Cavalry threw a D12 and scored 3; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 5 (3+2). The Mahdist Cavalry stand was destroyed. British Rifled Field Artillery did not move after it had fired.

The British Commander decided not to activate any more of his stands, and the British force remained in Square and awaited the forthcoming Mahdist attack.

The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 6, to which was added 1 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 7.

The Mahdist Commander decided to continue the advance on the British Square. He first moved the remaining two Mahdist Cavalry stands forward so that they could engage the right-hand corner of the British Square in close combat.

The first Mahdist Cavalry stand was able to attack the British Rifled Field Artillery stand in the flank. The Mahdist Cavalry threw D12 and scored 10; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 14 (10+2+2). The British Rifled Field Artillery threw 2D6 and scored 4; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 7 (4+3). The British Rifled Field Artillery stand was destroyed.

Note: As presently written the fact that the British Rifled Field Artillery stand formed the corner of the British Square did not protect it from being flanked. This has made me realise that I need to include a rule that ensures that stands that form part of an unbroken Square cannot be flanked.

The second Mahdist Cavalry stand was able to attack the leading right-hand British Regular Infantry stand. The Mahdist Cavalry threw D12 and scored 3; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 5 (3+2). The British Regular Infantry threw 2D6and scored 6; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 13 (6+3+2+2). The Close Combat had proved to be indecisive, although both sides remained in contact.

Note: The result of this Close Combat has made me realise that a stand can initiate a Close Combat, lose it, and suffer little or no consequence as a result. I will therefore have to amend the Close Combat results to ensure that this does not happen in future battles.

The Mahdist Commander then moved forward, accompanied by the Mahdist Smoothbore Field Artillery stand and the three remaining stands of Mahdist Spearmen.

The initial Mahdist attack destroyed the British Rifled Field Artillery stand.
Turn Three

Both sides threw for initiative; the British scored 3 with their 2D6 and the Mahdists scored 1 with their D12.

The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 8, to which was added 1 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 9.

The Mahdist Commander moved the Mahdist Cavalry stand that had destroyed the British Rifled Field Artillery stand during the last move forward into the flank of the right-hand British Regular Infantry stand. The Mahdist Cavalry threw D12 and scored 9; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 13 (9+2+2). The British Regular Infantry threw 2D6 and scored 12; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 20 (12+3+3+2). The Close Combat had proved to be indecisive, although both sides remained in contact.

The Mahdist Commander then used the remaining Mahdist Cavalry stand to attack the right-hand British Regular Infantry stand. The Mahdist Cavalry threw D12 and scored 9; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 11 (9+2). The British Infantry threw 2D6 and scored 7; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 14 (7+3+2+2). The Close Combat had proved to be indecisive, although both sides remained in contact.

Note: Yet again the stands that lost the Close Combats suffered no ill effect and confirmed my decision to address this situation in the next draft of the rules.

The Mahdist Commander then moved the Mahdist Smoothbore Field Artillery stand forward, along with Command stand and five stands of Mahdist Spearmen.

The Mahdist Spearmen threatened the British square.
The British threw 2D6 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 5, to which was added 2 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 7.

The British Commander swung the British Regular Infantry stand that formed the right-hand side of the Square through 90° so that they could fire into the flank of the Mahdist Cavalry stand that was next to them. The British Regular Infantry threw 2D6 and scored 12; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 17 (12+3+2). The Mahdist Cavalry threw a D12 and scored 5; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 7 (5+2). The Mahdist Cavalry stand was destroyed.

The right-hand British Regular Infantry stand then engaged the remaining Mahdist Cavalry stand. The British Regular Infantry threw 2D6 and scored 8; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 11 (8+3). The Mahdist Cavalry threw a D12 and scored 2; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 4 (2+2). The final Mahdist Cavalry stand was destroyed.

The left-hand British Regular Infantry stand then engaged the stand of Mahdist Spearmen directly to their front. The British Regular Infantry threw 2D6 and scored 8; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 11 (8+3). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 3; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 5 (3+2). The leading stand of Mahdist Spearmen was destroyed.

The British Machine Gun stand then engaged the stand of Mahdist Spearmen directly to their front. The British Machine Gun threw 2D6 and scored 7; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 9 (7+2). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 3; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 5 (3+2). The leading stand of Mahdist Spearmen should have recoiled into the square behind but because they were sharing a square with another stand of Mahdist Spearmen, they were destroyed.

The British Commander chose not to activate any more of his units.

The Empire strikes back! British firepower began to have a major impact on the course of the battle.
Turn 4

Both sides threw for initiative; the British scored 8 with their 2D6 and the Mahdists scored 10 with their D12.

The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 9, to which was added 1 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 10.

The Mahdist Commander moved the stand of Mahdist Spearmen opposite the British Machine Gun stand into contact with British Machine Gun stand and engaged it in Close Combat. The Mahdist Spearmen threw D12 and scored 7; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 10 (7+2+1). The British Machine Gun threw 2D6 and scored 7; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 11 (7+2+2). The Close Combat had proved to be indecisive, although both sides remained in contact.

The Mahdist Commander then moved the stand of Mahdist Spearmen in the square behind the Mahdist Spearmen opposite the left-hand British Regular Infantry stand through the leading stand of Mahdist Spearmen so that they could engage the British Regular Infantry stand. The Mahdist Spearmen threw D12 and scored 4; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 8 (4+2+2). The British Infantry threw 2D6 and scored 7; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 14 (7+3+2+2). The Close Combat had proved to be indecisive, although both sides remained in contact.

The stand of Mahdist Spearmen that had been passed through then moved forward to engage the right-hand British Regular Infantry stand. The Mahdist Spearmen threw D12 and scored 9; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 12 (9+2+1). The British Infantry threw 2D6 and scored 8; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 15 (8+3+2+2). The Close Combat had proved to be indecisive, although both sides remained in contact.

The Mahdist Commander then activated and moved forward his Command stand, the Mahdist Smoothbore Field Artillery stand, the remaining three stands of Mahdist Spearmen, and two stands of Jihadia Infantry.

Despite their growing casualties, the Mahdists continued to threaten the British Square.
The British threw 2D6 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 12, to which was added 2 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 14, which allowed the British to activate all their stands.

The British Commander swung the British Regular Infantry stand that had formed the right-hand side of the Square back through 90° so that the Square was reinstated.

The British Commander the ordered the British Machine Gun stand to engaged the Mahdist Spearmen to their front in Close Combat. The British Machine Gun stand threw 2D6 and scored 7; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 11 (7+2+2). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 4; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 7 (4+2+1). The stand of Mahdist Spearmen recoiled one square to their rear.

The left-hand British Regular Infantry stand then engaged the stand of Mahdist Spearmen to their front in Close Combat. The British Regular Infantry stand threw 2D6 and scored 9; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 16 (9+3+2+2). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 1; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 4 (1+2+1). The stand of Mahdist Spearmen was destroyed.

The right-hand British Regular Infantry stand then engaged the stand of Mahdist Spearmen to their front in Close Combat. The British Regular Infantry stand threw 2D6 and scored 10; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 17 (10+3+2+2). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 4; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 7 (4+2+1). The stand of Mahdist Spearmen was destroyed.

The British drove the Mahdists back again.
Turn 5

Both sides threw for initiative; the British scored 7 with their 2D6 and the Mahdists scored 2 with their D12.

The British threw 2D6 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 6, to which was added 2 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 8.

The British Commander the ordered the British Machine Gun stand to open fire on the Mahdist Spearmen to their front. The British Machine Gun stand threw 2D6 and scored 9; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 11 (9+2). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 3; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 5 (3+2). The stand of Mahdist Spearmen was destroyed.

At this point the Mahdists force was reduced to 50% of its original vale (less the value of the Command stand), which would require them to retreat as soon as possible.

The left-hand British Regular Infantry stand then opened fire on the stand of Mahdist Spearmen to their front. The British Regular Infantry stand threw 2D6 and scored 7; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 10 (7+3). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 5; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 7 (5+2). The stand of Mahdist Spearmen recoiled one square to its rear.

The right-hand British Regular Infantry stand then opened fire on the Mahdist Command stand to their front. The British Regular Infantry stand threw 2D6 and scored 4; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 7 (4+3). The Mahdist Spearmen threw a D12 and scored 9; when the necessary additions and subtractions were made, the final score was 10 (9+1). The gunfire had been ineffective.

The British Commander chose not to activate any further units.

A close-up view of the Mahdist Spearmen. They are just in range of the British magazine rifles and Machine Gun.

The Mahdists cannot muster enough strength to mount yet another attack on the British Square and prepare to withdraw from the battlefield.
The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many stands they could activate. The score was 8, to which was added 1 to reflect the ability of the Commander. The total score was 9.

The Mahdist Commander began the enforced withdrawal, which continued for the next two moves. The British, fearing that they could easily be drawn into a trap, cautiously followed the retreating Mahdists, but were unable to inflict further casualties.

The battle was adjudged to be a ‘Decisive’ British victory!

Comments

This play-test threw up several instances where the ability of stands to flank stands that were forming part of an unbroken Square was unrealistic, as were some of the combat results. I have been redrafting the rules in parallel with this play-test, and these anomalies have now been dealt with.

Monday, 29 June 2009

When Empires Clash! – Play-test 1 – A short, interim report

Despite having to spend a lot of time this evening looking after my sick wife and trying to fix her ‘dead’ computer, I have managed to move forward with the play-test.

I am now half way through Turn 3, and things seem to be favouring the British, although the Mahdists have not suffered many casualties as yet. This may be about to change as the bulk of the Mahdist Infantry has come into range of the British Machine Gun Company and the front rank of the British square.

With a bit of luck I should be able to finish the play-test by Wednesday so that I can complete the new draft of the rules before I go to COW on Friday.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

I have had better days …

My wife and I have been celebrating her birthday with a few days away at our favourite hotel in Norfolk.

On the journey home she began to complain of feeling very hot, which was not surprising as the weather was very humid and we had an enforce stop on the motorway as a result of an accident several miles ahead. We finally got home much later than we had expected but she continued to feel unwell. She eventually took her temperature, which was 101 degrees, and has gone to bed in the hope that she will feel better in the morning.

In the meantime her computer has decided to go seriously wrong, and I have spent the last two hours trying to fix it … to no avail. I suspect that it has finally given up the ghost and will have to be replaced. Luckily I have a simple device that will allow me to download and save the files from her hard drive, which will mean that anything that was not recently backed-up should not be lost.

All this has meant that I have not been able to devote any time to wargaming today and unless she gets better soon, it is likely that I will have to put my play-test of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! on hold for at least a couple of days.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Deep thought ... and a little retail therapy

Because it is my wife's birthday this weekend, I have not been able to spend much time on anything that is wargames-related.

That said I have been able to buy several AIRFIX kits that I will be able to use for a project that I have been vaguely planning recently. Once my ideas have taken on a more definitive shape I will share them via this blog.

I have also been able to spend a bit of time thinking about – and amending – the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! Most of these changes are a result of the as yet unfinished play-test. In my opinion the changes improve the rules without adding any more complexity, but this will only be proved by further play-testing.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

When Empires Clash! – Play-test 1 – Interim report

As you might have noted from my previous blog entry, I have begun the first play-test of the latest version of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! So far I have finished the first two turns, and the changes to the rules seem to have improved the flow and the feel of the game.

Because it is my wife’s birthday this weekend, most of the next few days will be spent celebrating this event. As a result I will not be able to finish the play-test until early next week. In the meantime, here are a couple of images from the battle to whet your appetite.

The first is the British force advancing towards the Mahdist positions at the other end of the battlefield.

The second shows the Mahdist Spearmen – followed by the Jihadia Riflemen – passing between two rocky outcrops.

Incidentally the colour of the tabletop seems to change depending upon the light at the time the image is taken. I have attempted to allow for this when I take the image and when I manipulate it before it is uploaded to my blog. This has only been partially effective, and in the long run I suspect that I will have to repaint the tabletop to overcome this problem.

Irresistible 3 for 2 at Waterstone's! – More books to read!

The first play-test of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! is underway, but was interrupted by my wife’s need for some retail therapy. This included the usual mundane shopping for food and other household consumables as well as a visit to the travel agents to book a short cruise next Easter to Ireland and Northern Spain.

I was allowed some time off ‘for good behaviour’, and I was able to pay a visit to the local branch of Waterstone’s, where I discovered that they were having a ‘3 for 2’ sale of books. The latter included some Osprey books that I have had my eye on but was just too mean to buy … until now.

I am now the proud owner of the following books:
  • THE RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR 1918 – 22 by David Bullock

  • LANDING CRAFT, INFANTRY AND FIRE SUPPORT by Gordon L Rottman and Peter Bull

  • JAPANESE TANKS 1939 – 45 by Steven J Zaloga and Peter Bull

Although this may seem a rather disparate selection, there is purpose in my madness:
  • The Russian Civil War has lots of small battles, and WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! would be an ideal set of rules to use to refight them.
  • I have always be fascinated by amphibious warfare, and I find landing craft – particularly those were modified for other tasks – intriguing.
  • Finally, I don’t know very much about Japanese tanks and I hope that this book will make me somewhat better informed.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The ultimate boxed wargame!

Knowing of my interest in old wargames – particularly those that use gridded playing surfaces – Stefan Wolf-Beyrich – a fellow member of Wargame Developments – contacted me today with information about a boxed Kriegsspiel set that was made for the Prussian King and his family. Apparently it has been featured in an article in DER SPIEGEL as well as in Journal #3 of the INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR BOARD GAME STUDIES.

This handcrafted set came in a specially made cabinet that had separate draws for the playing pieces, small terrain tiles, the measuring compasses, and the dice. The top of the cabinet was designed to open up to act as the surface upon which the terrain tiles were laid out.

The set still exists, and is kept in Schloss Charlottenberg.

This is a wonderful example of a complete boxed wargame, and is the sort of design that I would aspire to own … but with stands of figures rather than coloured playing pieces. It would be too heavy to carry around from place to place, but would look magnificent in any wargames room.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

COW2009 Programme – Posted!

I collected the COW2009 programme from the printers this morning and posted it on my way to work.

With luck – and the assistance of the Royal Mail – it should be with conference attendees by the weekend.

Monday, 22 June 2009

COW2009 Programme

Tim Gow, who shares the role of conference organiser for Wargame Development's COW (the Conference of Wargamers), sent me the programme of events for COW2009 last week, and I have taken it to the printers today. With luck I should be able to collect it tomorrow and post it out to attendees tomorrow evening.

The sessions on offer include:

Friday evening
  • I thought I saw a putty cat – the plenary 'ice-breaker' game – Chris Ager and others
  • Thirty Minute Solferino – Richard Brooks and Bob Cordery
  • Sturmstaffel – WD Display Team North
  • The Raiders – Tim Price
  • Starship Strike – Jim Wallman
Saturday morning
  • Trial by Battle – Graham Evans
  • Tipperary Bbali Sana Sana – Wayne Thomas and David Brock
  • Future Generation Experience – Michael Young
  • AK-47 – Martin Goddard and Rob Roriston
  • Anatomy of Game Mechanisms – Jim Wallman
Saturday afternoon
  • Middle Aged Spread – Ian Drury and Richard Brooks
  • Sharp End – Phil Barker
  • The Campaign Game – Tim Price
  • Washington's Army – Martin Goddard and Rob Roriston
  • Napoleonic Army Level Game 1813 – Jim Wallman
  • Feet to the Fire – John Bassett
  • Airsoft battle – Tim Gow, Bob Cordery, and Martin Rapier
Saturday evening
  • Falklands Islands Task Force Commander – John Curry
  • The East is ... er ... sort of sandy colour – Graham Evans
  • The General – Tim Price
  • Supporting Reconstruction – Martin Rapier and John Armatys
  • HMS Belfast Damage Control – Jim Wallman
  • Rubicon – John Bassett
Sunday morning
  • Moltke’s only defeat – Nezib and the Second Syrian War – Nick Huband
  • Eastern Front 1914 – Bob Bowman
  • Name that trouser – Nick Drage
  • Somme Trench Assault – Jim Wallman
  • A Potted History of Wargaming – John Curry
  • Fire So Close You Are Splashed By His Blood – David Bradbury
  • Anglo-Ghurka War 1814 – Jim Wallman
Sunday afternoon
  • John Bassett's America – John Bassett
  • A Transitional War – Italy 1859 – Richard Brooks
  • Recce II – John Curry
  • The Wargame Developments AGM

Sunday, 21 June 2009

When Empires Clash! – The first feedback

Almost as soon as the first draft of the newly named WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! wargames rules became available online, I started to get some very useful feedback. This was mainly from blog readers robertpeel999 and arthur1815, both of whom I know well from their membership of Wargame Developments.

They have pointed out some of the more obvious errors I have made and ambiguities I have included when drafting the rules, and have made suggestions about clarifications and alterations that need to be made. As a result I have spent quite a bit of time today re-drafting the first version. Once that is completed and I have a finalised second draft I intend to play-test it, and then make it more widely available.

The changes should enable players to use these simple fast-play rules to re-fight small land battles from 1880 to 1920. In the fullness of time I intend to add rules for aircraft and small warships, but I will not do so until I have got the basics right.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

When Empires Clash! – First draft now available to download

The first draft of these newly renamed wargames rules has been proof read, and a few minor alterations made. I would like to thanks all the readers of this blog who made suggestions, pointed out minor inaccuracies, and generally encouraged me to develop these rules. The good bits of the rules are due to them; the bad bits are all my own work!

A copy of the rules can be downloaded from the RED HEX WARGAMES website. The draft is in PDF format and can be opened using the password wec01.

Happy reading!

Friday, 19 June 2009

When Empires Clash! – The first draft

After the play-test, and having listened to the very useful feedback I have had from readers of this blog, I have finished the first draft of these newly named rules.

Briefly, they are substantially the same as the original version but with several significant developments. There may be summed up as being:
  • The use of both 2D6s and D12s – the 2D6s are used when European and European-style armies are fighting each other; the D12s are used for Colonial battles. The reasoning behind this is that European armies all tended to use similar methodology and weapons, thus making combat between them much more predictable, whereas Colonial conflicts were far more asymmetric and therefore less predictable. This may not appeal to some people, but I want to play-test this before deciding which option to go with … or not as the case may be.
  • The possibility of allowing stands that are larger than the squares on the grid has been covered. These larger stands would allow players to use weapons such as heavy artillery and tanks, whose models may be larger than the basic 50mm square.
  • Rules for using transport to carry troops or to tow artillery have been included.
  • More weapon types have been included. The latter includes mechanical machine guns (e.g. Gatlings, Gardners) and automatic machine guns (e.g. Maxims, Colts).
  • The ‘Generals’ have now become ‘Commanders’, and their ability rating now counts towards the number of stands they can activate each turn as well as having a possible impact on Fire Combat and Close Combat.
  • The use of dice to determine initiative has been changed slightly, with the highest scoring player deciding whether they want to retain the initiative and activate their stands first during a turn or whether to pass the initiative over to the other side.
  • The rules regarding stands that are forced to withdraw have been re-worked so as to make them clearer … I hope! It has also meant that if the foremost stand of a pair of stands in a square is forced to withdraw it will be destroyed.
  • The difference between Fire Combat and Close Combat has been defined.
  • Artillery is now allowed to fire indirectly if certain criteria are met.
  • Some additional combat additions and subtractions have been included. These mainly relate to the effect of artillery and machine gun fire on squares that contain a pair of stands and the effect of firing into the flank or rear of a stand.
All the rules need now is to be proof read, after which I will be able to make them available in PDF format. It is too late tonight to do this so I hope to do it tomorrow morning.

Once this draft has been play-tested I hope to add rules for aircraft and warships, but this will be sometime in the future.

What's in a name?

After considerable thought - and quite few suggestions - I have decided to give my late 19th and early 20th century wargames rules a name ...

WHEN EMPIRES CLASH

As far as I can tell from a search on the Internet, no one else has used this name as yet. It is short, can be abbreviated to WEC, and sums up what was happening during that period of history.

Now the rules have a name I can finish drafting them ... so 'Onwards and Upwards'* it is!

* This was the motto of my college. It was an interesting place; there were 50 men and 600 women, and some of us thought that the motto was somewhat inappropriate.

Two weeks to COW!

It is now only two weeks until COW (the Conference of Wargamers) takes place at Knuston Hall in Northamptonshire.

At the moment 42 members of Wargame Developments have booked places, and I expect to get one or two more bookings before the conference starts. The programme is now ready to go to the printers and a copy of the event timetable will be on the Wargame Development's website over the weekend.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

An interesting day … of sorts

Today has been a day of fits and starts. It started with a visit to the local cash-and-carry to buy lots of bulk items for the home (toilet rolls, kitchen towels, washing liquid etc.) followed by a trip to the bank to pay some money into the company account.

When I got home the post was being delivered, and amongst it was this year’s edition of WARSHIP. This annual is published by Conway, and has been going for thirty one years. I have a complete set on my bookshelves, and they are resource that I frequently consult.

This year’s annual includes the following articles:
  • Fuelling the Victorian Steam Navy
  • The Royal Navy and the evolution of the ‘True Submarine’, 1945 – 1963
  • Italian Coastal Forces: Development, Doctrine & Campaigns 1934 – 1986
  • Monarch and Captain
  • The Training Ship Jadran
  • Ise and Hyuga: The IJN’s hybrid Battleship-Carriers
  • The Soviet Light Cruisers of the Kirov class
  • A shipyard at war: John brown & Co. Ltd., Clydebank, 1914 – 1918
  • Mutsu: An exploration of the circumstances surrounding her loss
  • Weather and Warship Casualties 1943 – 1944
  • Warship Notes
  • Naval Books of the Year
  • Warship Gallery
After having a quick look through the book I made some lunch, after which I watched my newly acquired DVD of VALKYRIE. My wife and I had intended to see this film when it came out as part of my birthday celebrations, but it did not stay on general release for more than a couple of weeks at my local cinema and I missed it. She therefore bought it for me when it was recently released on DVD.

Whilst it is not a great film, it is a very worthy film, and in my opinion it is worth seeing. The film makers seemed to have taken great pains to get things ‘right’, even down to casting actors who bore a more than reasonable resemblance to the people they were playing. The problem is that I knew that they were going to fail, and unlike DAY OF THE JACKAL (the original one, not the later Bruce Willis remake) where I also knew the assassin was going to fail, I could not suspend my belief and think that they could succeed.

And finally … I have managed to do some redrafting of my latest rules. They are not quite finished yet, but with luck they should be completed tomorrow. I will then make them available as a PDF, along with an explanation of the changes I have made.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

To use 2D6 or a D12? That is the question!

One of the comments I have received as feedback about my latest set of wargames rules has given me pause for thought with regard to the type of dice that I have been using.

I used a D12 in my design because it is what I have been using recently, and this was prompted by its use in TABLE TOP BATTLES – the generic rules from which I have gained so much inspiration since I bought them.

Now when I write rules I like to keep things as simple as possible, and this includes the numbers and types of dice that are used during the game. I hate rules where I have to throw a D6 for this, a D8 for that, and a D12 for something else. Until recently my preferred option was to use the good old D6, but the move to using a D12 seemed to make little difference … until now.

The comment was made with regard to the number of squares of troops that can be activated by a Commander during a turn. The D12 gives 12 possibilities, each with an equal chance. The use of 2D6 gives 11 possibilities, but with unequal chances of each possibility occurring. Thinking about it, the latter makes much more sense and should produce a more ‘balanced’ battle, whereas the former produces a battle where events can wildly swing backwards and forwards in favour of one side or the other.

Having thought about this long and hard today, I have decided to replace the D12 with the use of 2D6 in the next draft to see what will happen. I suspect that the battles will become far more even than the one featured in the first play-test, but until it has been play-tested I will not be sure.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Work on the second draft has started

As a result of the first play-test and the feedback I have had from several people, I have already begun work on the second draft of these rules.

Some of the changes are as a direct result of the play-test; for example, the ‘missing’ addition for firing into the flank and rear of an enemy stand has already been added. Others – such as the suggestion that the quality of the General (now called the ‘Commander’ in the second draft) should allow them to add their ‘value’ to the D12 score that determines the number of squares they can activate – have come from readers of this blog.

A third category has come from my re-reading of the original draft and the addition of several items that I had thought were included (like the difference between Fire and Close Combat) but that were either not there or were not explicit enough.

I hope to get the draft finished by Friday – work permitting – so that I can have a further play-test sometime over the weekend or early next week. In the meantime I need to come up with a suitable name for the rules; WARGAME RULES FOR THE LATE 19th AND EARLY 20th CENTURIES is just too long!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Play-test 1 - The battle is fought!

Turn 1

Both sides threw a D12 for initiative. The Anglo-Egyptians threw a score of 12 and the Mahdists threw a score of 10; therefore the Anglo-Egyptians had the initiative this turn.

The Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12 again to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 6 meant that they could activate 6 squares of troops.

The Anglo-Egyptians chose to advance but not to open fire on the Mahdist troops in front of them as they were out of range. The Anglo-Egyptians troops became slightly spread out as not all of them could be activated.

The Anglo-Egyptians advance.
The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 8 meant that they could activate 8 squares of troops.

The Mahdists chose to move the two stands of Cavalry on their right flank around the rocky outcrop closest to the Anglo-Egyptians. They did this in order to support the spear-armed troops that were concealed there. The Mahdists did not open fire on the Anglo-Egyptians as they were still out of range.

Hidden Mahdist troops await their chance to attack the hated 'Turks'.
Turn 2

Both sides threw a D12 for initiative. The Anglo-Egyptians threw a score of 10 and the Mahdists threw a score of 2; therefore the Anglo-Egyptians had the initiative this turn.

The Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12 again to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 6 (again!) meant that they could activate 6 squares of troops.

The Anglo-Egyptians chose to advance the main part of their force, leaving the errant Infantry and Transport stands that were left behind last turn to catch up with the rest of the Transport and its escort. Because the Anglo-Egyptians were not yet aware of the danger to their flanks (a comparison of D12 scores thrown by both sides – the Anglo-Egyptians threw a 3 and the Mahdists threw a 7 – was used to determine if the Anglo-Egyptians spotted the concealed Mahdists on their left) they did not open fire.

The Anglo-Egyptian advance continues, oblivious to the threat on their flanks.
The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 2 meant that they could activate 2 squares of troops.

Because the score was so low, the Mahdists chose not to move. The Mahdists did not open fire on the Anglo-Egyptians for the second turn running as they were still out of range.

Turn 3

Both sides threw a D12 for initiative. The Anglo-Egyptians threw a score of 2 and the Mahdists threw a score of 6; therefore the Mahdists had the initiative this turn.

The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 11 meant that they could activate 11 squares of troops.

This was the opportunity that the Mahdists had been waiting for, and all their troops charged towards the Anglo-Egyptians, who suddenly found part of the force involved in a massive melee.

The Mahdists attack!

A close-up of the British Rifled Field Artillery stand under attack.
The first Mahdist stand to mount a Close Combat attack on an Anglo-Egyptian stand was the stand of Mahdist Spearmen on the flank of the British Rifled Field Artillery stand. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdists score was 4. To this they added the stand’s value (2), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (2 as there were two such stands), 2 for having a friendly stand of the same type in the same square, and 2 for being on the enemy stand’s flank, giving a total of 12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 3. To this they added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 5. The result was the destruction of the British Rifled Field Artillery stand.

The second Mahdist stand to make a Close Combat attack was the Cavalry stand that was in the square adjacent to the leading Egyptian Regular Infantry stand. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdists score was 4. To this they added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 6. The Anglo-Egyptians score was 4, to which was added the stand’s value (3), the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (2 as there were two such stands), and 2 for having a friendly stand of the same type in the same square (2), giving a total of 14. The result of the Close Combat was therefore inconclusive.

The Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 1 meant that they could only activate 1 square of troops.

The Anglo-Egyptians were left with a major problem as a result of this low score; they could either deploy the two leading Egyptian Regular Infantry stands so that they could turn to face the Mahdist troops on their flank or open fire on one of the stands of Jihadia Riflemen with the British Machine Gun stand. As this was a solo game I resolved this dilemma by dice throw. The first option scored 2 and the second 4; as a result the British Machine Gun stand opened fire on the stand of Jihadia Riflemen directly to its front.

Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 9, to which was added the stand’s value (2), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 14. The Mahdist score was 4, to which was added the stand’s value (3), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (2), giving a total of 9. As a result the stand of Jihadia Riflemen withdrew one square.

The Mahdists have inflicted their first casualties on the 'Turks'. Will they be able to build on this advantage or will the Anglo-Egyptians escape?
Turn 4

Both sides threw a D12 for initiative. The Anglo-Egyptians threw a score of 7 and the Mahdists threw a score of 5; therefore the Anglo-Egyptians had the initiative this turn.

The Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 6 meant that they could only activate 6 squares of troops.

Realising that they had to move away from the closest enemy stands in order to redeploy into a more appropriate formation, the Anglo-Egyptians moved the British Machine Gun stand forward and to the right so as to be able to both fire into the flank of the advancing Mahdist troops in the centre and to provide an anchor for right flank of the rest of the force. It was unable to fire because the only target that was in range was masked by the Anglo-Egyptian Command stand.

One of the British Regular Infantry stands moved to its right so as to be able to engage the advancing Mahdist troops to their front.

The Command stand moved behind the other British Regular Infantry stand so as to be able to give support to the developing Anglo-Egyptian front line.

The Egyptian Regular Infantry swung through 90°, and the rearmost of the two stands moved to its left in order to extend the firing line.

The right-hand Egyptian Regular Infantry stand opened fire on the stand of Mahdist Spearmen directly in front of them. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 8, to which was added the stand’s value (3), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 14. The Mahdist score was 5, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 7. As a result the stand of Mahdist Spearmen was destroyed.

The left-hand Egyptian Regular Infantry stand opened fire on the stand of Mahdist Cavalry directly in front of them. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 3, to which was added the stand’s value (3), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 9. The Mahdist score was 11, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 13. The gunfire of the Egyptian Regular Infantry was therefore ineffective.

The remaining Anglo-Egyptian stands – including the Transport stands – moved forward behind the Anglo-Egyptian front line.

The Anglo-Egyptians prepare to fight the Mahdists.
The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 12 meant that they could activate 12 squares of troops.

The Mahdist Cavalry stand that had previously engaged the Egyptian Regular Infantry stand engaged it in Close Combat again. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 5, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 7. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 7, to which was added the stand’s value (3), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (2 as there were two such stands), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 15. The result of the Close Combat was therefore inconclusive.

The single stand of Mahdist Spearmen then advanced to engage the same Egyptian Regular Infantry stand in Close Combat. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 12, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 14. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 1, to which was added the stand’s value (3), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (2 as there were two such stands), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 9. As a result the Egyptian Regular Infantry stand was forced to withdraw.

The other Mahdist Cavalry stand then advanced on the second Egyptian Regular Infantry stand and engaged it in Close Combat. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 9, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 11. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 3, to which was added the stand’s value (3), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (2 as there were two such stands), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 11. As a result the Close Combat was drawn, and both sides each threw another D12. The Mahdist score was 7 and the Anglo-Egyptian score was 11; this resulted in the Mahdist Cavalry stand having to withdraw.

The left-hand stand of Jihadia Riflemen then advanced and opened fire on the British Machine Gun stand. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 12, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 14. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 2, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 4. The result was the destruction of the British Machine Gun stand.

The centre-left stand of Jihadia Riflemen then advanced and opened fire on the right-hand British Regular Infantry stand. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 4, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 6. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 10, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 13. The gunfire of the Jihadia Riflemen was therefore ineffective.

The centre-right stand of Jihadia Riflemen then advanced and opened fire on the left-hand British Regular Infantry stand. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 9, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 11. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 2, to which was added the stand’s value (3), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 8. The British Regular Infantry stand was forced to withdraw.

The right-hand stand of Jihadia Riflemen advanced but was unable to fire at any of the Anglo-Egyptian troops as they were masked by other Mahdist troops. The Mahdist Smooth-bore Artillery stand and the Mahdist Command stand also advanced.

The third Mahdist Cavalry stand then charged forward and engaged the right-hand British Regular Infantry stand in Close Combat. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 6, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 8. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 4, to which was added the stand’s value (3), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (3 as there were three such stands), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 13. The result of the Close Combat was therefore inconclusive.

The remaining Mahdist troops now moved forward but were unable to engage any of the Anglo-Egyptian troops.

The Mahdist forces close in on the Anglo-Egyptians.
Turn 5

Both sides threw a D12 for initiative. The Anglo-Egyptians threw a score of 1 and the Mahdists threw a score of 8; therefore the Mahdists had the initiative this turn.

The Mahdists threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 3 meant that they could activate 3 squares of troops.

The Mahdist Cavalry stand that was already in contact with the right-hand British Regular Infantry stand engaged it in Close Combat again. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 10, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 3, to which was added the stand’s value (3), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (3 as there were three such stands), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 12. As a result the Close Combat was drawn, and both sides each threw another D12. The Mahdist score was 2 and the Anglo-Egyptian score was 1; this resulted in the British Regular Infantry stand having to withdraw.

The single stand of Mahdist Spearmen who were on the flank of the left-hand side British Regular Infantry stand moved forward and engaged them in Close Combat, Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 11, to which was added the stand’s value (2), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (2 as there were two such stands), and 2 for being on the enemy stand’s flank, giving a total of 17. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 5, to which was added the stand’s value (3), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (2 as there were two such stands), and the value of the Command stand that was in an adjacent square (3), giving a total of 13. The British Regular Infantry stand was forced to withdraw.

The pair of Mahdist Spearmen stands who were slightly to the left front of the Anglo-Egyptian Command stand charged forward and engaged the Command stand in Close Combat. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Mahdist score was 11, to which was added the stand’s value (2), 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that was in an adjacent square (1 as there was such stand), and 2 for having a friendly stand of the same type in the same square, giving a total of 16. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 5, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 8. The Anglo-Egyptian Command stand was destroyed.

Now leaderless, the Anglo-Egyptians prepare to sell their lives dearly.
The Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 11 meant that they could activate 11 squares of troops.

The right-hand Egyptian Regular Infantry stand turned and fired into the flank of the nearest stand of Mahdist Spearmen. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 9, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 12. The Mahdist score was 11, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 13. The gunfire of the Egyptian Regular Infantry was therefore ineffective. The right-hand Egyptian Regular Infantry stand then withdrew 2 squares and turned to face the oncoming enemy.

The centre Egyptian Regular Infantry stand fired at the advancing stand of Mahdist Spearmen to their front. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 11, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 13. The Mahdist score was 1, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 3. The front stand of Mahdist Spearmen was destroyed. The centre Egyptian Regular Infantry stand then withdrew 1 square and remained facing the oncoming enemy.

The left-hand British Regular Infantry stand was only able to fire at the single stand of Mahdist Spearmen that was diagonally to their front, all other potential targets being masked by other Anglo-Egyptian stands. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 7, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 10. The Mahdist score was 10, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 12. The gunfire of the British Regular Infantry stand had been ineffective. The British Regular Infantry stand then withdrew 1 square and remained facing the oncoming enemy.

The remaining Egyptian Regular Infantry stand opened fire on the Mahdist Cavalry stand to its front. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 4, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 7. The Mahdist score was 9, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 11. The gunfire of the Egyptian Regular Infantry had been ineffective. The Egyptian Regular Infantry stand and the British Transport stand that was in the same square then withdrew 1 square and remained facing the oncoming enemy.

The centre British Regular Infantry stand opened fire on the same Mahdist Cavalry stand. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 1, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 4. The Mahdist score was 11, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 13. The gunfire of the British Regular Infantry had been ineffective. The British Regular Infantry stand and the British Transport stand that was in the same square then withdrew 2 squares and remained facing the oncoming enemy.

The right-hand British Regular Infantry stand opened fire on the same Mahdist Cavalry stand. Both the Mahdists and the Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12. The Anglo-Egyptian score was 10, to which was added the stand’s value (3), giving a total of 13. The Mahdist score was 1, to which was added the stand’s value (2), giving a total of 3. The Mahdist Cavalry stand was destroyed. The British Regular Infantry stand then withdrew 2 squares and remained facing the oncoming enemy.

The Anglo-Egyptians manage to extricate themselves form the battle by mounting a fighting retreat. Will luck stay with them, or will the Mahdists attack again?
Turn 6

Both sides threw a D12 for initiative. The Anglo-Egyptians threw a score of 8 and the Mahdists threw a score of 1; therefore the Anglo-Egyptians had the initiative this turn.

The Anglo-Egyptians threw a D12 to determine how many squares of stands they could activate. The score of 6 meant that they could activate 6 squares of troops. As this meant that they could withdraw without the Mahdists catching them before they left the battlefield, the battle was over. The Anglo-Egyptians were bloodied but had survived … just! The Mahdists felt cheated of victory and impatiently awaited their next opportunity to kill the dreaded ‘Turks’.

Conclusions

  1. The use of dice to determine initiative and them to determine how many squares of stands a side could activate ensured that the outcome of this battle remained in the balance until the last turn.
  2. The location of the Command stand can be vital. The Mahdists Command stand was far too far back to have any influence on events whereas the Anglo-Egyptian Command stand was able to add its support at vital times. That said, its presence in the front line did result in its destruction.
  3. Flank attacks in Close Combat can be devastating if they are properly supported.
  4. I need to add a bonus for stands that fire into the flanks of enemy stands – this is missing from the draft!
  5. The order in which a player chooses to activate each stand is very important. If stands are activated in the wrong order they can end up masking other stands or making movement very difficult. I did not realise how important – and tactically subtle – this would be until this play-test.
  6. Allowing more than one stand to occupy a square has had an interesting effect on deployment – more stands can occupy the same area than if only single stands are allowed in each square – and Close Combat. I was unsure about allowing stands to share a square when I wrote this section of the draft rules but it works even better than I had hoped.

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Even more feedback!

I have not yet finished my own play-test and written a report on it for my blog ... and I have received even more feedback about my rules from readers. This includes a very detailed set of comments from one who has actually managed to finish his own play-test.

With luck I should be able to finish the play-test today, and the write-up will follow as soon as possible. I have been taking photographs of the play-test as it has progressed, and these should make it much easier for readers to follow what was happening during each turn.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Play-test 1 – Progress report

I have been making slow progress with the first play-test, but I hope to finish it tomorrow.

At the moment I have reached Turn 5, and the rules seem to be working quite well, although one of two things have arisen that have given me food for thought.

It is my intention to make my report on the play-test as detailed as possible so that readers can follow the way in which the mechanisms have worked. It will also give me plenty of data to work with when I begin the second draft.

10,000 hits! Another thank you!

I had just sat down to write a quick blog entry about the current state of progress with regard to the play-test of my latest set of rules when I realised that my blog had receive its 10,000th hit!

Considering that my blog only reached the 5,000 'hit' threshold on 1st May this year, the fact that the number of people who bother to read my ramblings has doubled in just over six weeks is very humbling.

So yet again it's a big 'thank you' to everyone who has read my blog so far, and an even bigger 'thank you' to everyone who has commented on what I have written. I intend to carry on blogging for the foreseeable future and hope that you will continue to enjoy reading it.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Play-test 1 – The starting positions

The battlefield is fairly flat, but is dotted with large rocky outcrops and a few stands of palm trees.

The battlefield seen from the direction of the Anglo-Egyptian advance.
The Anglo-Egyptian force has entered the battlefield in two columns – with the British on the right and the Egyptians on the left. The columns are flanked by the British Machine Gun stand on the right and the British Rifled Field Artillery stand on the left. They are led by the Command stand, and the Transport stands follow in the rear.

The Anglo-Egyptians advancing in a compact column toward the Mahdists.
The Mahdists force has split into three groups. The Jihadia Riflemen, the Smooth-bore Field Artillery stand, and the Command stand – flanked on their right by two Cavalry stands and a further Cavalry stand on the left – have occupied the main axis of advance that the Anglo-Egyptians must take. Concealed behind large rocky outcrops on either side of this are the rest of the Mahdist troops.

The Jihadia Riflemen and Mahdist Smooth-bore Field Artillery await the advance of the Anglo-Egyptian column.

Friday, 12 June 2009

More books to read!

Yesterday I managed to visit the local shopping mall, and was able to pay a visit to the branches of Waterstone’s and WH Smith. I was looking for a copy of Anthony Beevor’s D-DAY: THE BATTLE FOR NORMANDY, having previously read – and enjoyed – THE BATTLE FOR SPAIN, STALINGRAD, and BERLIN – THE DOWNFALL 1945. I almost bought a copy in Waterstone’s, but I decided to compare their price with that being charged by WHSmith … and I am glad that I did!

WH Smith were selling D-DAY: THE BATTLE FOR NORMANY at half price, and I bought my copy there. I was so pleased that I then bought two other books – both from the Osprey NEW VANGUARD series – about the M551 Sheridan Light Tank and the T-54 and T-55 Main Battle Tanks.

I bought the book about the Sheridan because it has always appealed to me as a vehicle. It had a quirky – and rather dangerous – main armament system and was designed to be parachuted into action! It was used in action in Vietnam, Panama, and the First Gulf War, and its career was dogged with problems. It ended as the mainstay of OPFOR at Fort Irwin, converted by VISMODs (Visual Modifications) into a variety of different Soviet/Russian armoured vehicles. Truly a Jack-of-all-trades!

The T-54 and T-55 were the backbone of the Soviet and Warsaw pact armies during my childhood, and are still around in large numbers today. One or two have also been given drastic – and dramatic – VISMODs, as anyone who has seen SAVING PRIVATE RYAN can testify.

I look forward to reading these books over the next few weeks.

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Feedback already!

I haven’t even play-tested the rules and I am getting feedback already!

As you may have noticed from the comments on my last blog entry, one of my readers has asked some very pertinent questions … and made me realise why proof reading is so important. When one sits down to write rules – especially if you are doing it very quickly, as I did with these rules – it is very easy for you assume that you have been explicit as to what you mean. I had done this … and missed some small but very important things that needed clarification. The questions that I was asked – and have answered – have already spurred me to make some minor additions and corrections to the first draft of the rules, and it is this revised draft that I will be play-testing this weekend.

In the meantime, if anyone else spots something that they think is missing, is not clear, or that needs clarification, please contact me – I know that I make mistakes, and I always welcome friendly advice and criticism.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Play-test 1 – The opponents

I decided to play-test the rules with a relatively simple Colonial scenario that I have used before; namely an Anglo-Egyptian column is marching across part of the Eastern Sudan to take supplies to an outpost and the Mahdists want to stop them. The terrain is relatively flat, with reasonable visibility, and the two sides start at opposite ends of a 3 feet x 2 feet playing surface.

The strength of the two sides was generated using the dice system in the rules for one-off battles. The Anglo-Egyptians threw a total of 26 and the Mahdists threw a total of 32.

The 26-point Anglo-Egyptian column. It has 3 stands of British Regular Infantry, 3 stands of Egyptian Regular Infantry, a British Machine Gun stand, a stand of Rifled British Field Artillery, 2 stands of British Transport, and a Command stand = 11 stands.

The 32-point Mahdist force. It consists of 4 stands of Jihadia Riflemen, 8 stands of Mahdist Spearmen, 3 stands of Mahdist Cavalry, a stand of Smooth-bore Mahdist Field Artillery, and a Command stand = 16 stands.
Both sides threw another D6 and the commander of the Anglo-Egyptians was rated as ‘Exceptional’ whereas the Mahdist commander was ‘Average’.

Note: It was at this stage that I noticed that I had made a minor error with the grading of Generals. The last part should read ‘if the score is 2 or 1, the General is rated as ‘Poor’’. The draft will be amended in due course.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries in PDF format

I have turned the draft of these rules into a four-page A5 booklet that can be printed back-to-back. They are available in PDF format from here. The password to access the rules is grid19-20v1.

The following images give some idea what the armies I intend to use in the play-tests will look like.

A 36-point Mahdist Army. It consists of 5 stands of Jihadia Riflemen, 8 stands of Mahdist Spearmen, 2 stands of Mahdist Cavalry, 2 stands of Mahdist Camelry, a stand of Smooth-bore Mahdist Field Artillery, and a Command stand = a total of 19 stands.

A 36-point Anglo-Egyptian Army. It consists of 4 stands of British Regular Infantry, 4 stands of Egyptian Regular Infantry, 2 stands of Egyptian Regular Cavalry, a British Machine Gun stand, a stand of Rifled British Field Artillery, 2 stands of British Transport, and a Command stand = a total of 15 stands.
If the play-tests are successful I will begin building up other small armies that I can use with these rules.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wargame Rules for the late 19th and early 20th centuries

As promised, I have finished drafting my wargames rules for fighting small battles during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They use a gridded tabletop and are designed to be used with 15mm figures and equipment.

I will make a PDF version of the rules available in due course. It will be an A5 four-page booklet that can be printed back-to-back on most inkjet or laser printers.

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LATE 19th AND EARLY 20th CENTURY BATTLES

PLAYING EQUIPMENT:
The following equipment is needed to fight battles using these rules:
  • A battlefield and suitable terrain
  • Two armies
  • A scenario
  • Two D12s (i) – one for each side (ii)
THE BATTLEFIELD:
Battles are fought out on a gridded tabletop. The grid is marked in 50mm squares. The battlefield must be no less than 12 squares wide and 12 squares deep (iii).No more than two stands may be placed in a square at any one time, and then only if there is sufficient space within the square for this to happen. They must be placed one behind the other and face in the same direction.
Terrain (e.g. a group of trees) must, wherever possible, fit within one square on the battlefield. Where pieces of terrain are larger than an individual square (e.g. a hill) they must be sized in multiples of squares (e.g. 2 squares, 3 squares, or 6 squares) and be marked in 50mm squares in the same way as the battlefield.

STANDS:
Figures and artillery are mounted on stands. All stands are 40mm wide.
    Infantry stand: 20mm deep
    Cavalry stand: 30mm deep
    Artillery and Machine Gun stand: 40mm deep
    Transport stand: 40mm deep
    Command stand (on foot): 20mm deep
    Command stand (mounted): 30mm deep
Each stand is allocated a value that may be marked on the rear of the stand to aid players during the battle.

STAND VALUES:
The value for each type of stand is as follows:
    Guard Infantry: 4 points
    Regular Infantry, Regular Cavalry, and Heavy Artillery: 3 points
    Irregular Infantry, Native Infantry, Irregular Cavalry, Native Cavalry, Field Artillery, Mountain Artillery, and Machine Guns: 2 points
    ‘Exceptional’ General: 3 points
    ‘Average’ General: 2 points
    ‘Poor’ General: 1 point
    Transport: 1 point
    50mm of entrenchments: ½ point
ARMIES:
Before the battle begins both sides must decide how many stands their armies will have. For campaigns this will be determined by the events leading up to the battle; in the case of one-off battles this can be decided by either mutual agreement between the players (iv) or by the throw of dice (v).
Each side’s army must have a Command stand (i.e. the stand with the General on it). The value of this stand is not included in the cost of an army.

GENERALS:
Before the battle begins both sides must decide how good their respective Generals are. For campaigns this will be determined by the events leading up to the battle; in the case of one-off battles this is decided by the throw of dice (vi).

TURN SEQUENCE:
The battle lasts a maximum of twelve turns. At the beginning of each turn both sides throw a D12; the side with the highest score has the initiative for that turn (vii).
The side with the initiative throws a D12; the score determines the number of stands – or pairs of stands that are sharing the same square – they may activate this turn. Once they have activated all their eligible stands, the other side throws a D12 and follows the same procedure.

ACTIVATION:
When a stand is activated it can move and then engage in combat or engage the enemy in combat and then move.

MOVEMENT:
All movement distances are expressed in squares.
    Irregular Cavalry and Native Cavalry: 5 squares
    Regular Cavalry and Command (mounted): 4 squares
    Irregular Infantry and Native Infantry: 3 squares
    Guard Infantry, Regular Infantry, Dismounted Cavalry, Artillery, Machine Guns, Transport, and Command (on foot): 2 squares
Stands can move through friendly stands but not through enemy stands.
Stands cannot move diagonally between enemy stands or between an enemy stand and an obstacle (viii).
Artillery stands may not be moved into a square that is adjacent to a square occupied by an enemy stand.
Only Infantry may move off-road through woods or can cross vertical obstacles (e.g. walls, hedges, fences etc.)
Stands making their entire move along a road may increase their movement distance by 1 square.
Stands crossing a hill contour reduce their movement distance by 1 square per contour crossed.
Stands that are forced to withdraw as a result of combat must withdraw until they are one square away from the nearest enemy stand. This movement must be within a 90° arc to the rear of the withdrawing stand. If the stand has to withdraw more than four squares to comply with this rule or it is prevented from doing so because of an obstacle or enemy stand, the withdrawing stand is deemed to have been destroyed and is removed from the tabletop.

COMBAT:
Combat is stand vs. stand. If there are two stands in the same square, only the front stand may initiate a combat with an enemy stand during a turn (ix). A stand may only initiate combat once per turn although it can be engaged by enemy stands many times.

Fire Combat – General Rules:
A stand may only fire at enemy stands they can see. The enemy stand must be within range and within a 90° arc to the front of the firing stand. Both the firing and the enemy stand throw a D12. Additions and subtractions are made, and the scores are compared.

Fire Combat – Ranges:
All ranges are expressed in squares.
    Hand-held Weapons and Muskets: 1 square
    Single-shot Rifles: 2 squares
    Magazine Rifles: 3 squares
    Smooth-bore Mountain Artillery, and Machine Guns: 4 squares
    Rifled Mountain Artillery and Smooth-bore Field Artillery: 5 squares
    Rifled Field Artillery and Smooth-bore Heavy Artillery: 6 squares
    Rifled Heavy Artillery: 8 squares
Fire Combat – Additions and Subtractions to the D12 score:
Add the stand’s value.
Add the value of any friendly Command stand that is in an adjacent square.
Add 1 to the firing stand’s score if the firing stand is Artillery firing at an enemy stand that is in an adjacent square.
Deduct 2 from the firing stand’s score if the enemy stand is behind a wall, in entrenchments, or inside a wood.

Close Combat – General Rules:
A stand may only engage an enemy stand that is in adjacent square. Both the stand initiating the close combat and the enemy stand throw a D12. Additions and subtractions are made, and the scores are compared.

Close Combat – Additions and Subtractions to the D12 score:
Add the stand’s value.
Add the value of any friendly Command stand that is in an adjacent square.
Add 1 for each friendly stand of the same type that is in an adjacent square.
Add 2 for each friendly stand of the same type that is in the same square.
Add 2 to the score of the stand initiating the close combat if the stand initiating the close combat is on the enemy stand’s flank or rear.
Add 3 to the score of the stand initiating the close combat if the stand initiating the close combat is Cavalry attacking Infantry or Artillery in flat, open country.
Deduct 2 from the score of the stand initiating the close combat if the stand initiating the close combat is in a square that is downhill from the enemy stand’s square.
Deduct 2 from the score of the stand initiating the close combat if the enemy stand is behind a wall or in entrenchments.

Combat Results:
If the final score of the stand that initiated the combat is lower, the combat has been ineffective.
If both stands’ final scores are equal, each stand throws a D12 and the stand with the lowest score must withdraw until it is one square away from the nearest enemy stand.
If enemy stand’s final score is less than final score of the stand that initiated the combat but more than half the final score of the stand that initiated the combat, the enemy stand must withdraw until it is one square away from the nearest stand on the same side as the stand that initiated the combat.
If enemy stand’s final score is less than half the final score of the stand that initiated the combat, the enemy stand is destroyed and removed from the battlefield.

NOTES:
(i) Dice marked 1 to 12.
(ii) For one-off battles where dice are used to determine the value of each side’s armies, at least eight D6s – marked 1 to 6 – will be required.
(iii) A battlefield that is 18 squares wide and 12 squares deep (or vice versa) is recommended.
(iv) A total of 36 points per army is recommended, with no more than 12 points in total being spent on stands worth 4 points.
(v) It is recommended that each side throw eight D6s to determine the value of their army. It is recommended that no more than 33% of the total value should be spent on stands worth 4 points.
(vi) A D6 is thrown. If the score is 6, the General is rated as ‘Exceptional’; if the score is 3, 4, or 5, the General is rated as ‘Average’; if the score is 1, the General is rated as ‘Poor’.
(vii) In the event of a tie, both sides throw again until one side gains the initiative.
(viii) An obstacle is any vertical or horizontal obstruction that requires a degree of physical effort to cross. This includes walls, hedges, fences, fordable rivers, streams, and trenches.
(ix) The stand that is the second row of the pair of stands in the same square supports the front stand in any Close Combat.

Monday, 8 June 2009

COW2008 - Some of the games we played

With just under four weeks to go, I thought that a selection of photographs taken at last year's COW (Conference of Wargamers) would be a nice wargaming appetizer!

Martin Goddard and Rob Roriston demonstrate the latest version of AK47 whilst Tony Hawkins, Jonathan Evans, and Mark Jarvis look on.

The Battle of Knuston Box - An opportunity for those present to play-test Ian Drury's latest World War II wargames rules COMBAT 300.

Another of Ian Drury's sessions - this time it is a battle from the Sikh Wars using his REDCOATS AND RAJAHS wargames rules.

Jim Wallman explains an aspect of his SINEWS OF THE SOMME logistics game to Tim Price, Martin Rapier, Michael Young, and Tim Gow.

Mike Elliot's THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR session was well attended and sparked off a lot of interest in the Wars of the Roses.

Sue Laflin-Barker's smuggling game - WATCH THE WALL MY DARLING - used some wonderful buildings and was a nice mixture of role-play and conventional wargaming.