Sunday, 21 February 2010

Fielding commanders on the tabletop

Almost as soon as I had made the latest (and what I thought was the final) redraft of my Modified Morschauser ‘19th Century’ Wargames Rules available via the RED HEX WARGAMES website, I started to get some very helpful feedback. The points made by Arthur1815 and Chris J have made me realise that I have still not quite got things right, and a further redraft will be needed.

If I get enough time today I hope to have a long, hard look at what I can do to improve the current rules for fielding Commanders on the battlefield. I hope to keep any developments that I do make as simple as possible; in the meantime, any further feedback would be welcome.


  1. Hi Bob, My own thoughts re the whole commander issue boil down to the base of figures being the representation of the player on the table. They should not have a combat function per se other than perhaps a self defence capability. Within the context of the game I would assume that the battle plan would have been formulated before the action commences and that the moves within the game are either the plan being carried out or the reaction to the opponents plan - either way, the commanders role should be limited once the first shots have been fired. The best analogy I can think of is the command is comparable to the control an archer has after he has released the arrow - for sure he can draw and aim the arrow but once the thing has been released anything can happen!

    A commander should have a limited influence on events once the action starts so having limits on the number of cards depending on the quality of the commander is a good idea although perhaps the use of dummy cards as well as live versions will add to the fog of war. As it stands an opponent will know what units will be activated but not the order - perhaps the opponent should not know which unts will be activated at all. Certainly units in close proximity to the great man should have some kind of advantage in combat and the penalties for losing him should also be serious one could argue that for 'native' armies this should perhaps be even more serious - I am thinking of a 'Mahdi' type character here.

    My own thoughts then are to have a command base that can help with the activation aspect and will apply a positive benefit to units in close proximity and with penalties should it be lost. How that translates into Morschauser terms I am not sure but I would suspect that the simple approach as suggested would be best.

    Just my 2p worth!

    All the best,


  2. Ogrefencer,

    Within the confines of the rules as they currently stand, what you suggest might best be met by the way in which the Command stand is used in WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! There the Command stand is the point from which orders are issued, and it can give an advantage to friendly Units that it is in contact with during combat.

    Or have I misunderstood what you are suggesting?

    I can see how and why the 'blind' card system can give a better game; my problem is how to actually explain its use clearly and simply. I know that some people find the system of card-driven activation just does not work for them, and that for others it is almost a given that it must be included in every set of rules they write.

    I fall somewhere between the two; I see that it is a practical solution to a problem, but I do not like seeing the playing cards on the tabletop.

    The complexity of adding Commanders seems to be taking over the rules, and making something that is intrinsically simple far more complex than it need be. I seem to have spent a lot of time trying to get this aspect of the rules right … and every time I think that I have, it seems to generate another layer of complexity and confusion. I am tempted just to walk away from this for the time being, and to come back to it in a week or two when things are clearer in my mind.

    Thanks again for your thought-provoking ideas and comments,

    All the best,


  3. Bob. Rereading your existing rules on commanders today, the bullet point "When a Commander is with a Unit...they [sic] are treatedas part of that Unit for the purposes of activation, movement and combat." leapt out at me.
    How about this idea:
    When a Commander is with a Unit, he can activate it at ANY point he chooses during the activation sequence [representing his ability to give orders on the spot to respond to developing events, like Wellington at Waterloo], but may not issue orders to any other Unit whilst thus attached.
    He also risks being the victim of random shots should the Unit come under fire, or of being carried away in the rout if it is broken in combat - though he might be able to rally it, in such a case.
    A Commander who is not with any Unit may issue orders to as many Units that turn as permitted by his Command Value. He will have a much lower - if any - chance of being hit by fire.
    My wife wants the computer now to sort out some of William's Art homework, so must leave further detail time another time...
    Best wishes,

  4. Arthur1815,

    Again you have made some excellent suggestions. I have added them to the pile of ideas that I am going to look at in detail when I return to the work of revising Morschauser sometime soon (probably in a week or two).

    All the best,



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