Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Modified Morschauser ‘19th Century’ Wargames Rules

My recent play-tests, in addition to feedback from people who have used the present draft of the rules, have made me reconsider ideas that I had previously considered or rejected.

Primarily the question how good Native troops are – or are not – at hand-to-hand combat has given me pause for thought, and I intend to re-draft the Unit Data Table to reflect the various suggestions that have been made. These include:
  • Making Militia Infantry Units smaller than the standard four-figure Infantry Unit to reflect their lack of ‘staying power’
  • Making sword and spear-armed Native Infantry Units larger than the standard four-figure Infantry Unit to reflect the fact that there tended to be more Native Infantry (in larger units) taking part in colonial battles than non-Native Infantry Units
Other suggestions that I am considering are:
  • Introducing some form of ‘morale’ element to the rules. My current thinking is something along the lines that when a Unit reaches 50% strength or less it cannot initiate a Close Combat. It can fight if attacked, but cannot start a fight
  • Not allowing Artillery and Machine Gun Units to ‘move and fire/fire and move’. At present both types of Unit can – if they want to – move around the battlefield, firing as and when they like. This does not seem to reflect either the tactics in use at the time nor the sheer amount of effort needed to move such weapons. My thoughts are to make them able to move at the same speed as Infantry but not to fire during the same turn
  • Clarifying what adjacent means in relationship to Close Combat. It has been suggested that Units that are diagonally adjacent could not – and should not – engage each other in Close Combat; it just does not look right! Having thought about this long and hard, and having rejected this idea on previous occasions, I must admit that the argument to make the change is a compelling one
With a bit of luck I should be able to make these changes today or tomorrow, and then make the new draft of the rules available online.

8 comments:

  1. The adjacent melee question is interesting. In the original, non-gridded rules units in that relative position did have to melee which made in effect, a ZOC.
    If you wanted to flank someone, you had to go the long way around.

    If a unit in the diagonally adjacent square does not have to stop and melee, will they be able to move past? If they move forward one and become adjacent flank to flank do they have to stop then? Do they fight flank to flank or do both get to turn? or can a unit this bypass an enemy?

    I think the diagonal melee reflects that the grid is imposed artificially to make this simpler and that units that close would face sufficiently to engage in combat, esp if equipped with firearms rather than ignoring a close enemy.
    It'll be interesting to transfer the rules to hexes, if facing a side then a unit has 3 front hexes and it is simple, if they face a corner then they 2 front hexes and 2 flank hexes and the same situation can occur.

    I think the no move and shoot for arty & MG's is a good idea. Give one a reason to mount them on a vehicle.
    -Ross

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  2. Hi Bob,

    I like everything you list as rules changes; figures per unit, reduced units not initiating close combat, move or fire for team weapons.

    My opinion on the adjacent Close Combat issue is this. No close combat for diagonally adjacent units, units in squares touching only at the corners. Shooting diagonally is fine. Why? Making units face a side of a square clearly defines where they are "pointed". Who they must fight is very obvious, anyone in the square they are facing. Not fighting on the diagonal also helps with movement, otherwise a unit must really spend time and distance to get around an enemy unit or to attack its flank. Movement is orthogonal, close combat is a result of movement, so close combat is limited to orthogonally adjacent squares. Only one thing is allowed diagonally, shooting. Easy to remember.

    Rules reveiwed. They look good.

    Thanks for the work.

    Jim

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  3. Ross Mac,

    The adjacent grid square question has been one that has been bugging me from the start. The way I read the original, non-gridded rules did imply that Units did have a ZOC.

    In answer to your questions, I have written some answers in response:

    Q. If a unit in the diagonally adjacent square does not have to stop and melee, will they be able to move past
    A. Yes, it may move past as long as it does not move into an orthogonally adjacent grid square. This seems to be in keeping with Morschauser’s own Rules for a Musket Period War Game (which was fought out on a 1-inch gridded board) which state ‘A man may be moved through grid squares adjacent to the flank or rear of the enemy provided his own front does not face the enemy during the move past that enemy man. A man may not move through a grid square adjacent to the front of an enemy man. He must stop in that grid square and face the enemy, thus ending his move that turn.’

    Q. If they move forward one and become adjacent flank to flank do they have to stop then
    A. Yes. The current draft of my rules state that 'A Unit cannot move through a grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to a grid square occupied by an enemy Unit. If a Unit moves into a grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to a grid square occupied by an enemy Unit it must:
    • Stop in that grid square;
    • Face the enemy Unit;
    • Move no further during that turn;
    • Fire at the enemy Unit if it that is permitted and it has not fired before moving, and
    • Engage in Close Combat if that is permitted.'


    Q. Do they fight flank to flank or do both get to turn?
    A. They fight face-to-face (I need to make that clear in the rules)

    Q. Can a unit bypass an enemy?
    A. Only if they do not enter a grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to the grid square occupied by the enemy.

    I must admit that after I get the 19th century rules into a state where I am happy with them I intend to go back to the 'Modern' rules and re-draft them to take into account the changes I have made to the 19th century rules. I also intend to convert them to hexes so that i can use my Hexon II terrain.

    The rules for Artillery and Machine Guns not being able to move and fire during the same turn is so blindingly obvious that I wonder why I had not included it before.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Hi Bob,

    You stated "The rules for Artillery and Machine Guns not being able to move and fire during the same turn is so blindingly obvious that I wonder why I had not included it before."

    Warning, here I go again.

    It is not blindingly obvious. It depends on the "turn" time length.

    If a turn is 15 minutes or more , then the gun unit should be able to move and fire.

    If a turn is 10 minutes or less , then the gun unit should not be able to move and fire.

    Since there is no time scale, distance scale, or figure ratio, stated in the rules, one can make the argument either way. I think that in the interest of simplicity and game balance you should use the "move or fire" rule. Otherwise artillery and machine guns turn into thin-skinned tanks.

    Just a thought.

    Jim

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  5. Jim,

    I am beginning to think that it is almost as good a set of rules as it is ever likely to be. Easy to use, simple to remember, fast to play.

    What else could anyone want? ... Army Lists ... specific rules for this, that, or the other ... you name it, someone will not be happy with them for some reason!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Jim,

    You are quite right to point out that whether or not Artillery and Machine Gun Units can move and fire is time dependant, but the fact that they could move and fire/fire and move was jarring a bit during the play-tests; I just had not realised that it was until very recently.

    Your point about them being like thin-skinned AFVs if they can move and fire/fire and move is also well made, and I am going to stick with the ‘either … or’ option for the 19th century rules. I may, however, allow Machine Gun and Mortar Units to move and fire in the revised draft of the ‘Modern’ rules.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Wargamers are an interesting lot.

    1. Get a ruleset, whether free or purchased.

    2. Whine about all the problems with the rules.

    3. Add house rules.

    4. 2. Whine about all the problems with the rules.

    5. Go to number 1 above.

    That's why I like making my own. I have no one to blame but myself. The arguments are short. The rules get changed. The game moves on.

    And like a gamer butterfly, I flit from interest to interest, blissfully ignorant of the "heavy importance" of my Games.

    Life is good.

    Jim

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