Friday, 14 January 2011

The portable wargame: Another short tryout

Despite bewailing the fact in a recent blog entry that I had not had enough time to do any wargaming recently, circumstances provided me with an opportunity to do some far quicker that I had thought possible. I had expected to have to drive over to Herne Bay to see my father-in-law this evening, but he had already gone out and so the evening was relatively free (no pun intended!).

I therefore took the opportunity to give my portable wargame another short tryout, and what follows is a battle report that describes what happened.

Starting Positions

Turn 1
As only the British had an Artillery Unit, it fired before any movement took place. They aimed at the Mahdist Infantry Unit that was directly in front of them, threw a 4 on a D6 die, and hit the grid square in front of the target grid square.

Both sides then threw a D6 die to see who would move and fight first this turn. The British threw a 1 and the Mahdists threw a 2; the Mahdists were therefore able to move and fire first. The Mahdists then threw three ‘Risk Express’ dice to see how many Units they could move.

The results were pretty useless as the Mahdists had no Cavalry or Artillery, and the Mahdist Command Unit moved forward one square.

The British then threw their three ‘Risk Express’ dice and their results were hardly much better as they were only able to move their Artillery and Command Units and one of their Infantry Units.

Turn 2
The British Artillery Unit fired at the same target for a second time. This time they threw a 3 on a D6 die, which meant that their fire had landed in the grid square to the right of the target grid square. A second D6 die score of 4 meant that the Mahdist Infantry unit in that grid square was destroyed.

Both sides then threw a D6 die to see who would move and fight first this turn. The British threw a 2 and the Mahdists threw a 3; the Mahdists were therefore able to move and fire first. The Mahdists then threw three ‘Risk Express’ dice to see how many Units they could move. The results were much better this time ...

... and five Mahdist Infantry Units surged forward towards the British.

The British then threw their three ‘Risk Express’ dice and their results were hardly much better as they were only able to move their Cavalry and Command Units and one of their Infantry Units.

Turn 3
The British Artillery Unit fired at the Mahdist Infantry Unit that was directly in front of it. They threw a 5 on a D6 die, which meant that their fire had landed in the target grid square, and a second D6 die score of 2 meant that the Mahdist Infantry unit in that grid square was destroyed.

Both sides then threw a D6 die to see who would move and fight first this turn. The British threw a 5 and the Mahdists threw a 1; the British were therefore able to move and fire first. The British then threw three ‘Risk Express’ dice to see how many Units they could move. The results were much better this time ...

... as they allowed the British to withdraw their Artillery Unit slightly (thus removing it from the front rank of the British force) whilst enabling them to move three of their Infantry Units forward and the Cavalry Unit out towards the right flank.

The Mahdists threw their three 'Risk Express' dice to see how many Units they would be able to move.

As they had no Cavalry, the results generated by one of the dice was ignored, but the other two allowed the Mahdists to move four of their Infantry Units into contact with the British.

The resulting fighting was bloody.

From left to right:
  • The British Infantry Unit survived the Mahdist attack, and the Mahdist Infantry Unit was destroyed;
  • The Mahdist Infantry Unit pressed home its attack,and the British Infantry Unit was destroyed;
  • The British Command Unit survived the Mahdist attack (just!), and the Mahdist Infantry Unit was destroyed;
  • The Mahdist Infantry Unit's attack on the British Cavalry Unit failed, and the Mahdists were destroyed.
Turn 4
The British Artillery Unit fired at the closest Mahdist Infantry Unit. They threw a 6 on a D6 die, which meant that their fire had landed in the target grid square, and a second D6 die score of 4 meant that the Mahdist Infantry unit in that grid square was destroyed.

At this point the Mahdist force had been reduced to less than 50% of its original strength, and the British were adjudged to have won the battle.

Comments
The use of the 'Risk Express' dice made the battle much less predictable that it would have been without their use, and it also made playing the game solo much more satisfying.

The rules work well, and I can foresee using this portable wargame to fight some of the minor but important skirmishes that occur during a campaign. As such, it works both as a simple and quick stand-alone game as well as an adjunct to larger battles.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Bob,

    Great report as ever and using the Risk Express Dice certainly adds to the flavour. I suppose I Have only bemoned the use of such dice (also icluded are the Memoir 44/Battle Cry dice) as I have 100's of d6 and as yet not found a copy of Risk Express! Envy is not a pleasant trait!

    That aside though, it looks like a great little system - many of the 'Town in a Bag' may be useful and scenery would not be a problem - any thoughts in that direction?

    All the best,

    DC

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  2. David Crook,

    I know there are quite a few people who do not like the need to use 'special' dice in a game ... and I suppose that the rules would work almost as well if one used the PIP system from DBA/HOTT.

    I have thought about introducing terrain items onto the board (and some of the bits and pieces from the 'Town in a bag' would be ideal) but what I wanted to do was to test the concept first before adding details. That will probably be my next developmental step.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Bob,
    You could easily blu-tak card squares, colour-coded for different types of terrain and with roads/rivers drawn on as necessary, onto the appropriate squares on the chessboard. Hills/slopes could be shown by stacking card squares - like the Upwords game - or by colour/shading.
    On a chessboard, you have a very limited number of squares, so you don't to lose any by creating scenic items that preclude troop bases entering the square. So, for forests and villages, I would construct card pieces in L, T and X shapes, suitably shaped/coloured/illustrated on their vertical faces, and blu-tak the edges into position so that they were on the boundaries between the squares. Any square(s) within two 'arms' of the shape would count as forest/BUA, upon which you could still place troop bases without having to remove/displace 3D scenery.
    I'm thinking this is something I should do, but using smaller scale troops for bigger, Horse and Musket battles...

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  4. It strikes me that the special dice are not actually needed. Since they are 6 sided, one could easily draw up a quick chart. 1=command, 2=cavalry,etc

    It is interesting that the British get to more something more often by having a greater selection of units to draw from. This could reflect being a professional force but since the natives might have such forces that doesn't seem to hold. Perhaps a side without a particular unit type might be allowed to move 1 infantry instead when a troop type they don't have comes up. (unless trying to make them less mobile).

    Adding some hills or brush might give the natives some more tactical options beyond a frontal rush with everything they're allowed to use.

    All very interesting.
    (ps glad you've had a chance to "escape to the desert" for a bit.
    -Ross

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  5. Arthur1815,

    Making some terrain for the portable wargame is the next logical step in its development … and it would certainly make it a more interesting wargame to play. Your ideas for the hills, roads, and rivers make a lot of sense, and I might make a few trial pieces later this weekend. Your description of how to make woods/forests and built-up areas is similar to the way that Joseph Morschauser did it … as is shown by some of the illustrations of several of his battles.

    I think that you could easily create your own version of this wargame, and that using smaller scale figures would improve the ‘look’ of the whole thing. It could be a great way to fight small and medium-sized Napoleonic battles in a small space.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Ross Mac,

    You are quite right about not needing special dice ... but as I had them, I thought that I might as well use them.

    One innovation that I did think about (but did not use in this game) was allowing each side to re-roll one dice if it activated a type of Unit that they did not have.

    The next step would be to add terrain, and your ideas, along with those of arthur1815, make sense and would improve the game. If time allows, I might try to 'create' some terrain items later this weekend.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. It was nice to escape for the wargaming desert for an hour or two, but I am not sure how long it will be before I can fight my next battle.

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