Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Joseph Morschauser's 'How to play war games in miniature'

I am still transcribing Joseph Morschauser's HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE, but the end is now well and truly in sight. I have finished everything as far as the end of the first of the appendices, and the remaining appendices should only take me another day or two.

Reading this book in detail has made me realise that there were a lot more ideas and concepts in it than I remembered, and the process of transcription has made me think about how I intend to develop my version of Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules. As they exist at present, they work ... and do exactly what I want from a set of wargames rules. However, I would like to change them slightly so that Infantry Units can take part in combat at a distance, and not only when they are in the square or hex adjacent to their target. This will require some more thought and experimentation.

In addition I would like Units to suffer some sort of step-down in firepower as a result of combat rather than total annihilation at a single stroke. The most obvious thing to do would be to utilise Morschauser's 'Roster System' ... but I prefer systems that do not require paper-based recordkeeping. My experience of the latter is that in the heat of battle people unintentionally forget to record losses. A simpler, on-table solution is to use the magnetic strength marker system developed by Tim Gow for his MEGABLITZ wargames rules; an alternative is to use Units made up of a number of single figures rather than a multi-figure stand or 'tray' representing a Unit. I have used both before, and both work, so the choice might well come down to my personal preference.

6 comments:

  1. Bob,
    I'm beginning to think that a nice, simple, 'old-school' style way of portraying reduction in unit strength/morale/combat effectiveness [whatever]would be to have a few individually based figures - officer, musician, colour-bearer - and either remove them in a set sequence to reflect losses &c., or place them in different positions relative to each other/the unit base.
    Just an idea...
    Arthur

    ReplyDelete
  2. Arthur1815,

    I would agree that portraying a unit's 'state' by the position of certain crucial figures would work well for most historical periods up to and including the end of the nineteenth century; after the turn of the twentieth century I don't think that the method would suit the style of warfare … but I am willing to be proved wrong!

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bob,

    I've played a number of Command & Colors scenarios (Battle Cry, Memoir 44, etc.) with their designer, Richard Borg (how's THAT for name dropping?!) All of his armies are based using the following system: an infantry unit of 4 figures in the commercial version has 6 in his: a front base of 3 figures (1 with the flag), and 3 individually mounted figures forming a second rank. (They are always in that position.) As the unit takes hits, the back 3 figures are removed one by one, and lastly the front base as the fourth hit. This seems to me to be a simple and elegant solution to the problem, at least if small units are being used. The remnants still at least look like a unit, instead of having a lone figure out there.

    Best regards,

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chris J,

    Name dropping is allowed as far as I am concerned!

    I have heard somewhere else about a not dissimilar system for removing casualties during battles. It sounds like a very practical, non-paperwork, easy-to-see method of recording a units 'state' at any moment during a battle.

    I do have one question, however; how did the system work with cavalry and artillery?

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  5. I read Morchauser's book in grade school, about the middle 60's. I credit it with starting me in wargaming.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mark,

    It is an excellent book, and even now I go back to it regularly for ideas and inspiration.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete