Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Not a restful day ... but not an unproductive one

Today has been a day for doing domestic cleaning chores. My wife and I have taken down and changed (or washed) all the curtains, and I have cleaned all the windows and window frames. Other than a short break for lunch, this has taken us most of the day ... but now it is done and won't need to be done again for some time to come.

Although I don't like having to do these sorts of chores, they do give me time to think, and that is always a good thing to be able to do. What has occupied my mind for most of the day has been trying to find a solution to a problem with my latest version of Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules. As they stand at the moment, they work ... and work well for what I want. That said, I think that now that I have modified the rules to allow firing, the rules relating to Machine Gun Units are not quite right.

In the original rules Machine Gun Units – along with Infantry and Cavalry – could only fight enemy Units that were in adjacent squares/hexes. In these circumstances Machine Gun Units were very deadly (They had a Battle Power of 6, and to destroy an enemy Unit they had to throw a D6 die and get a score that was equal to or less than their Battle Power; this meant that in almost all circumstances they would 'destroy' an enemy Unit. Infantry and Cavalry had Battle Powers of 5 and were therefore not assured of a victory in the same circumstances). Now that Infantry and Cavalry can fire up to 3 hexes, the Machine Gun Units have lost their 'edge' except when fighting against enemy Units in adjacent hexes.

I have been pondering the various solutions that I could use. These include:
  • Allowing Machine Gun Units to throw two or three D6 dice when they fire (This would certainly restore their ‘edge’, but as all the other rules mechanisms use single D6 dice, this would make them ‘out of step’ with design philosophy Morschauser espoused in his rules)
  • Giving Machine Gun Units a longer firing range, which would enable them to fire at approaching enemy Units more than once before they came into hex-to-hex contact (This would be a simple solution, but would give Machine Gun Units quite a long ‘reach’, and may require the Artillery ranges to also be increased)
  • Reverting to the original system for resolving ‘Battles’, but allowing them to take place at a distance rather than between Units in adjacent squares/hexes (This would restore the now missing ‘edge’, but would make Machine Gun Units more deadly than before, which just generates another set of game design problems; in addition, it would mean that an Infantry Unit that is being fired at by a Machine Gun Unit could ‘destroy’ the Machine Gun Unit even though its own fire would not reach the Machine Gun Unit!)
These possible solutions have been whizzing around in my head for most of the day, and I have tried to examine all the options in detail before I opt for my preferred solution. What that will be is – as yet – undecided.


  1. Hi Bob,

    Regarding the machine gun unit quandry, perhaps you could just lower its combat value to 5 so that no unit has a guaranteed kill.

    Simple. No other changes needed?

    Just a thought.


  2. Hi Bob,

    I don't think I was clear in my previous comment.

    I vote for going back to the original adjacent combat for all units except artillery. Give machine gun units a Battle Power of 5. No unit should have a guaranteed kill.

    If you are trying to differentiate MGs from other foot units at the "scale" of Morschauser's rules, I don't think you need to.

    Or give MGs a range of 2, with no return fire from the MG target. All other foot units fight only when adjacent. Still simple and within the scope of the base rules.

    Still thinking... A dangerous thing in itself.


  3. Hi Bob, its me with ideas again. In response to your MG quandry why not adapt the "rate of fire" idea from games like "squad leader". One idea might be that if the MG unit rolls 4+ then it can have a second shot (you might allow unlimited extra shots, or be more restrictive). This would keep the 1 die at a time approach while representing the greater output of lead from a MG?

    Hope you find a satisfactory solution!


  4. Jim Wright,

    As usual, some excellent ideas.

    Going back to the original system of artillery fire and combat between units in adjacent squares/hexes is an option, it but does not quite look 'right' with twentieth century Units.

    However, you last suggestion has distinct possibilities ...

    All the best,


  5. Steve,

    Thanks for the very good idea. It is an option that I had not considered ... but I will now.

    All the best,


  6. Thinking back to the original rules, cannister had a different score to hit than longer range artillery fire. (anything but a 6 if memory serves though why it wasn't anything but a 1 escapes me) Why not do the same for MG's? Give them their own more deadly 'hits on' chart, same mechanism, different score. If they have higher odds to hit, their advantage remains.

  7. Ross Mac,

    Thanks for reminding me about this. The rules about canister/grape shot are in the 'Musket' Period rules in Morschauser's book. Like the other suggestions I have had, this also has possibilities and would be in keeping with his basic design philosophy.

    As an aside, I also don't like the way some of the rules work with regard to D6 die scores. I much prefer high numbers to be good results and lower numbers to be bad ones, and once I have got the basic rules the way I want them to be, I will probably rewrite them so that they conform to this prejudice!

    All the best,



Thank you for leaving a comment. Please note that any comments that are spam or contain phishing messages or that come from Google Accounts that are 'Unknown' will be deleted.