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!


  1. New name?

    "Smokeless Wargame Rules"?

    Smokeless powder, get it?

    Well, maybe not.

    Seriously though, are you happy with the D12 for number of squares that can move. Seems the 1 versus 12 is pretty extreme handicap. @ Average dice maybe?


  2. Jim,

    Thanks for the suggested name. I can see where you are coming from, but what I am trying to find is a suitable quote from the literature of the period to use as the name.

    The D12 does lead to some interesting and extreme results but so far it works for me. Long experience has made me realise that having different dice for different game functions does not work. For example, the players can't find the right dice or throw the wrong ones because in the confusion on the tabletop they picked up a D20 rather than a D12.

    That said, I have been thinking about using 2D6 rather than a D12 – almost the same range of scores BUT different statistical frequencies. Extreme results can still occur, but not as often.


  3. "Play up! And play the game!" perhaps?

  4. Hi Bob,

    Glad to hear the new draft is going ahead, plus flank firing rules - that should make a nice tension between massing units to get the supporting &/or adjacent bonuses, vs. getting both your flanks turned.

    No ideas about the new title though - sorry!


  5. How about "Diplomacy By Other Means" as a name?

    DBoM - hmm, sounds vaguely familiar.


  6. Conrad Kinch,

    Nice idea for a name!

    I will add it to the list of possibles.


  7. CWT,

    Work is progressing slowly. I did not finish work until 6.30pm - having started at 7.45am - and the only break I had was 30 minutes for lunch - which was constantly interrupted.

    I got home feeling very tired - and then had to fix my wife's computer which had stopped working!

    I finally sat down to answer my emails well after 9.00pm, so I will only manage half an hour or so tonight redrafting the rules, which means that I will not now manage a further play-test tomorrow.

    All the best,


  8. Neil,

    This another name to add to the possibles list, although something like it has already been used by Chris Engle (Politics by other means - PBOM).

    DBOM ... yes, it does sound familiar but I don't know why.

    All the best,


  9. "There's a breathless hush" (in the close tonight)


    "The sand of the desert" (is sodden red)

  10. Mike,

    Both would be ideal if I was just going to stick to my beloved colonial period but ... the next draft should make it possible to use these rules for battles up to and including 1914, and further developments should make it possible to refight actions from The Russian Civil War and Russo-Polish War. It might even work with the Chaco War of the early 1930s.

    It is interesting that both you and Conrad Kinch have suggested quotes from one of my favourite poems of the 19th century, VITAI LAMPADA.

    There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night -
    Ten to make and the match to win -
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
    An hour to play and the last man in.
    And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
    Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
    But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote
    "Play up! play up! and play the game!"

    The sand of the desert is sodden red, -
    Red with the wreck of a square that broke; -
    The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
    And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
    The river of death has brimmed his banks,
    And England's far, and Honour a name,
    But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
    "Play up! play up! and play the game!"

    This is the word that year by year
    While in her place the School is set
    Every one of her sons must hear,
    And none that hears it dare forget.
    This they all with a joyful mind
    Bear through life like a torch in flame,
    And falling fling to the host behind -
    "Play up! play up! and play the game!"

    It sums up all that was good (and bad) about the education I received as a child, and the fact that reading this poem aloud can still make me emotional says a lot about the person it made me into.

    In addition, it refers to the death of one of my heros - Fred Burnaby. He is the colonel who was killed at the Battle of Abu Klea when the British square was broken into and the Gardner Gun - not a Gatling - jammed at the crucial moment.


  11. Hi Bob,

    I attempted to send you a long missive yesterday - but I experienced technical problems sending, and it may not have reached you.

    The bones of it were:
    Instead of "At the beginning of each turn both sides roll a D12; the side with the highest score has the initiative for that turn".

    I suggest that you add ", and may decide whether to activate their forces first or second in the turn".

    This adds the element of uncertainty, and allows for those times where a commander may wish to pull the enemy to his forces.


  12. Oh yes, the other point from yesterday - was stick to the D12 as opposed to D6's. Greater swings - but certainly more suited to Colonials. Maybe D12s for Colonials and 2 xD6 for later actions in Europe.

    Looking forward to reading your ideas tomorrow.


  13. Tone,

    Both are excellent ideas; as usual you have seen something that I should have seen, had I not been too close to it!

    I will look at using them in the redraft.

    All the best,



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