Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The portable wargame: A short tryout

I had a spare half hour this evening and decided to give my 'new' portable wargame a tryout. I used Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules (as featured in the recently re-published edition of his HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE) and a small force of British troops (four Infantry Units, an Artillery Unit, a Cavalry Unit, and a Command Unit) took on a larger force of Mahdists (ten Infantry Units and a Command Unit).

The positions of both sides at the start of the battle. The Mahdists are positioned at the farthest edge of the board and the British are along the closest.
Although the size of the board was only eight squares by eight squares, which is somewhat smaller than the twelve squares by twelve squares board used in the original rules, this did not seem to make a great deal of difference to how the battle went. What was a problem, however, was the fact that neither side had any restriction placed upon it with regard to the number of Units they could move each turn. This resulted in the Mahdists being able to 'swamp' the British if they moved and fired first several turns in a row ... as happened in my tryout battle.

I am now searching for my set of 'Travel Risk' dice as I think that they may provide a solution to this problem. Each die has the following symbols on each face:
  • Three Infantry
  • Two Infantry
  • One Infantry
  • One Cavalry
  • One Artillery
  • One Commander
By only allowing each side to move the number of each type of Unit shown on the faces of three of these dice, it should produce a more interesting and less predictable battle.

12 comments:

  1. Travel risk!!? This i have never heard of...and I am a big risk fan.I´ll have to look out for that one.
    Cheers
    Paul

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  2. Paul's Bods,

    I have only seen it on sale in a local branch of WHSmith. It does not have a board; it has separate territories on cards that you can battle for and win (or lose).

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Your travel game reminds me of one of my favorite set of wargames rules from the old MWAN magazine. It was a Horse and Musket set that used a chess board and RISK figures. Being a solo wargamer, I made my own dice with one-3, three-4's, one-5, and one-6 on it. I simply rolled that dice and that is how many squares of figures could move.

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  4. Jhnptrqn,

    Although I used to read whatever copies of MWAN Magazine I could get hold of, I don't think that I ever saw that set of rules. If you still have a copy, I would be like to read them.

    They do sound very similar to the rules I seem to have somewhat haphazardly developed.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Hi Bob,

    Just as easy to use ordinary d6 - especially as Risk Express is nigh on impossible to get hold of! Very neat idea though and Morschauser is on my shopping list (amongst others!).

    All the best,

    DC

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  6. David Crook,

    What you say about using a D6 die is true ... but the 'Risk' dice look so nice and I have been waiting for a suitable opportunity to use them.

    I don't think that Morschauser's book will disappoint you. It is full of ideas that are worth developing.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. The rules were in MWAN #102, Horse & Musket Version 0.2 by Chris Salander. If I can figure out hold to use my new printer, I'll try to email you a copy of the rules.

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  8. Jhnptrqn,

    If you can do that, I would be very grateful.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Just a quick idea of the rules: Squares can only have 4 figures in them. Each turn you can move 4 squares worth of figures. Infantry can move 1 square and firing range of 2 squares. Artillery can move 1 square, or fire with a range of 4 squares. Cavalry moves 2 squares and 1 square firing range. No diagonal firing. Each playing piece gets one dice. A roll of 6 kills, for each 5 rolled, one target piece must retreat 2 spaces. If it can't it is eliminated. The rules have more advanced rules for terrain, light troops, generals and the majority of the article gives armies sizes for various wars.

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  10. Jhnptrqn,

    Thanks for sending me this short synopsis of the rules.

    They sound very interesting. They are different from Morschauser's 'Frontier' rules, but sound like they would be very appropriate for what I want.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. Bob,
    Your recent pieces on your wargame on a chessboard reminded me that I played several games on plastic sheet chessboards [which can be rolled in tubes for storage, and placed on any reasonably flat surface] with the school wargame club last year.
    The rules were derived from a set called Speed Napoleon which I found on the web, adapted so that units represented divisions in large battles, rather than the small units in your game. I must locate them in my files and send you a copy. We marked unit bases with dry-wipe markers to indicate loss of casualties/combat effectiveness, rather than removing bases. The games were fun and we could usually reach a result within an hour - a very important design criterion so the boys could be collected on time!
    We also experimented by putting two such chessboards side by side to open up the flanks, which worked well. Easy with the plastic sheet boards; difficult with your combined board/box for pieces.
    Personally, I tend to find the degree of abstraction imposed by squares easier to accept/ignore when dealing with the higher levels of command. Perhaps commanding an army is more like playing a chess game than commanding a brigade?

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  12. Arthur1815,

    This sounds very interesting as well. I have some Chessex mats with squares on one side and hexes on the other which might also be suitable. One advantage that they have is that they are larger than an 8 x 8 chessboard.

    You are quite right about the degree of abstraction imposed by grids. For 'Horse & Musket' era battles I tend to think of each Unit as a battalion, and my commander as a brigadier. For the natives I consider each Unit to be roughly equivalent in size/firepower to a European Unit.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete