Thursday, November 23, 2017

Nothing Shall Stop These Couriers

In the aftermath of the Cataclysm, small pockets of civilization arose, and established tenuous connections among each other. However, the raiders of the Wastelands seek to stop these communications. The forces of civilization have created a corps of Couriers, equipped with souped-up vehicles, to race past the raiders and deliver news and packages between the scattered towns.

Conway, in his blue car, has been tasked with a delivery. As he races down the highway, 2 raiders give chase.

Instead of using the Machinas card deck, I wrote down the vehicle stats on index cards. I plan to create a stack of cards with random stats; I can just pick one and go. I chose the stats for the Courier (blue) car.

Also note that I used some brown paper to cover up my Miami Dolphins blanket from prior pictures.

The green car tries to pass, but Conway outmaneuvers him and then cuts loose with his rear-mounted guns. Bullets shred into the green car, damaging its engine (causing a loss of Speed).

The purple car passes the green car but cannot get past Conway. Again, he lets loose with his rear guns, but this time he misses.

The purple car, armed with a spiked ram, bashes Conway and gets past him. The green car starts shooting but misses.

Conway passes the purple car.

Purple tries to bash again, but Conway holds him off. A new raider enters the fray and passes by the damaged green car.

Purple has had enough and gives up the chase. Green passes the orange car and tries to take on Conway, who again fires his rear guns.

Orange accidentally bumps Green, and both spin. Orange regains control but Green flips and is out of the chase.

Orange makes a couple of unsuccessful attempts to attack Conway.

But it finally gives up. Conway now has open road and can complete his delivery!


  • There was definitely more action than my first test game. Having more cars helped, plus I gave my car rear-mounted guns, which resulted in a lot of shooting (that's a good thing).
  • I used the full complement of bonus dice this time. I'm not sure if having so many adds a lot of value, and I may try reducing the number.
  • Kaptain Kobold sent me a document with his tweaks. I read through them but am not familiar enough to try them out. He has an interesting rule that if there are cars ahead of the player car during a chase then add one to rolls to determine if cars drop out. I actually mis-remembered the rule and reduced my player car's speed. Anyway, it did not really come into play because the Courier remained ahead for most of the game.
SIX BY SIX CHALLENGE - Game 5.1 (replacing DC Rivals)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Back in the Race

The 6 by 6 Challenge, specifically.

In my last monthly update I said that my 6 by 6 challenge was dead in the water and that I did not expect to finish any more games. Well that has changed. There's a little story behind it.

Monday night I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to pick up some Hot Wheels cars, including her favorite Dodge Challenger. She replied that she had Hot Wheels. I had forgotten that when she was working at Auto Zone she picked up a few toys. Perfect! I had some toys for more Machinas experiments. I grabbed them, set them up, and starting playing a race.

Curious about what I was doing with her cars, my wife came downstairs to check on me. As she watched, one of the non-player cars tried to bash, failed (badly), and got flipped.

"Cool!" said my wife.

"Want to try?" I asked. She readily accepted, and took over as the driver of the orange Dodge Challenger. We played a couple of turns before I had to go to bed. However, my wife is hooked.

Anyway, this puts me back into the 6 by 6 race. I am going to drop DC Rivals and replace it with Machinas.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Machinas Test Drive

After picking up Machinas last week, I've been itching to give it a go. I decided to take it for a test drive this morning. I don't have cars or printed counters so I quickly drew a couple and used my Pathfiinder battle mat for the board.

For both vehicles, I rolled randomly on the non-player tables. The blue car (the good guy) has slightly better stats. (3 Savvy, 5 Tech, 3 Speed vs. 3/4/3). He also had armor-piercing ammo, a roll cage, and a box of nails (which I forgot to use). The black car had spiked wheels but old tires. For the most part, these attributes did not come into play

In my first trial, the raider (black car) tried to pass the Courier (blue). The Courier bashed, and flipped the raider. Game over in turn 1.

The second run was far less interesting. The raider drafted in the first two turns then tried to pass in turn 3. When he failed, he gave up the chase)

Game 3 involved a few desultory pass attempts. After 6 turns, the raider gave up.

My Thoughts
  • In general, the rules are solid. I picked them up easily and was able to speed through the games. In fact, set up was the hardest part!
    • To simplify set up, I am thinking of pre-generating a bunch of vehicles and recording their stats on index cards. If I need a vehicle, I can just pull one out of the pile of cards.
  • For solo play, keeping track of bonus dice seems like a chore. I already made a tweak to the rules and dispensed with initial bonus dice for the bad guys. I randomly rolled to give the good guy between 1 and 3 bonus dice to start.
  • I'm concerned that there might not be enough action. For the most part the game revolved around passing (which I think should really be called maneuvering) rolls. There was one bash, initiated by the lead car. After that, it did not seem advantageous for the lead car to bash so I kept holding off the challenge and waited for the enemy to break off.
    • I'm not sure if the problem was reducing bonus dice. I would think that it would offset. Perhaps I should also start the hero with 0, though that does not seem very heroic.
    • I also wonder if tone is due to these primarily being racing rules with an emphasis on jockeying for position. In contrast, I am most interested in combat.
    • Also, adding more raiders should make things more interesting. However, I wanted to start off simple for my initial test.
  • Despite my concerns, I see a lot of good ideas in these rules. I think I may be trying a bunch of tweaks to spice it up a bit.

Notes on Yesterday's Rules - Combat

Yesterday's battle allowed me to experiment with rules for very quick play battles (I did not time it but I think it took less than half an hour). I'll be posting some notes about them.

There are actually 2 types of combat - harassing and assault

  • Harassing involves artillery (each infantry division is assumed to have attached artillery), long-range musketry, and skirmishing. Harassing fire can occur at ranges of 1 to 2 spaces.
  • Assault involves a division launching an all-out attack on an adjacent enemy position. The goal is to cross bayonets, although it could devolve into close-range musketry.
Harassing fire is not going to break an enemy unit, but it will weaken the target. The commander will ultimately have to opt for an assault to rout out the enemy. An assaulting unit, however, is more likely to suffer casualties. In essence, assault is higher risk but higher reward.

Combat Resolution
Combat is based on the DBA system. I know I've written in the past that I don't like opposed die rolls for horse & musket era combat, primarily because they seem to abstract. However, given the scale of these rules (each unit = a division) then abstract feels right.

I changed the combat results. I did not like the "shoving match" feel of DBA. It just did not seem realistic for one unit to retreat, return to the fray and force its opponent to retreat, and back and forth. Retreating should be a serious, almost decisive, affair. Instead, a unit beaten in combat receives a morale marker. Morale markers make the unit harder to activate, more likely to get beaten in combat, and more likely to rout.

As I mentioned, harassing the enemy is lower risk. The attacker does not take a morale marker if it rolls lower than the enemy. However, there is no chance of forcing the defender to retreat or rout.

Assaults are riskier and deadlier. The attacker can suffer ill effects if the defender rolls higher. Yet an assault is necessary to take an enemy position. In an assault, a roll that doubles the opposition causes the loser to retreat one space. In addition, the retreating unit must make a morale roll to avoid a rout.

In general, I liked how this worked out. Harassing fire weakened enemy units, making them more brittle in later turns. Once an assault occurred, however, units remained locked in combat until a decisive result was reached. This just felt a little more realistic than a "shoving match."

Cavalry in Combat
For much of the horse & musket era, infantry was "Queen of the Battlefield" so I wanted to reflect that. This meant limiting the combat effectiveness of cavalry to a certain extent. I did this with a rule that forbade cavalry from assaulting infantry. However, cavalry can hang around the flanks, providing support to friendly infantry. And if a unit retreats with enemy cavalry on its flank, it is more likely to rout.

These rules did not really come into play in my sample battle because the cavalry divisions found themselves in a pitched melee on the flank throughout the entire battle.

Another feature is that cavalry cannot harass; it must assault if it wishes to engage in combat.

What About Artillery?
You may have noticed that I did not have any artillery units. As I mentioned, artillery is assumed to be parceled out and attached to the infantry. I am toying with rules for independent "grand batteries." They would have a range of 3, but once emplaced they cannot move.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different

A miniatures game without miniatures!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm experimenting with rules for army level horse & musket battles using blocks. Here is my first attempt.

The forces of Redgrave and Bluderia face each other!
Rectangle blocks are infantry divisions while the squares are cavalry. The circle is the Commander-in-Chief. Each infantry division is assumed to have attached artillery. I am working on rules for grand batteries but they are not ready yet.

 After some maneuvering, Redgrave holds a hill and sends its cavalry forward.

A cavalry melee occurs on the flank. The Bluderian infantry is ordered to advance. The center, hammered by artillery fire, lags behind.
Notice the crosses drawn behind the center infantry. These are morale markers.

Routs! One of the Redgrave cavalry divisions and the Bluderian center rout from the field!

The Bluderian left faces 2 Redgravian divisions. In the face of superior numbers, it routs! The Bluderian commander calls retreat.
If 2 infantry divisions rout, the army is defeated.

I like the look of the game, and found it surprisingly satisfying! I will share rules details later. In brief, I'm using DBA mechanics. Instead of recoils, however, units receive a morale marker upon defeat. Morale markers act as negative modifiers to combat, increasing the odds that a unit will rout.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Some Random Projects

I'm experiencing some GADD (gamer's attention deficit disorder)

More Horse & Musket
While perusing Wargames Vault, I noticed this set of rules.

What struck me was how nice the blocks look, which has rekindled an interest in some generic block armies.

A couple months ago, I read a blog entry where the blogger created a game using colored blocks, like above. Rather than create realistic terrain, he chose to draw it on the board in a way that it looked like a map of the battle. It was really striking. I wish I could find that post again.

Anyway, I'm thinking of doing something similar. I have a Pathfinder battle mat that I might use for my battle board. I have some dry erase pens and can simply draw the terrain.

I just need to make up some blocks, and decide on the rules,

Speaking of rules, I've been jotting down ideas for a set for really quick play battles (15 minutes or so). They are at a high level so each unit is a wing of the army. There will be 3 wings, plus some independent cavalry. I'm leaning toward DBA mechanics. I hope to play test soon.

Lately on TMP and the Wargames Website, there have been a surge of posts about post-apocalyptic car battles, which has spurred my interest. Based on a review, I picked up Broken Axles. After reading it, however, I'm not sure if it will work for my small gaming space (it calls for a 48" wide board).

I have been following Kaptain Kobold's experiments with Machinas, by Two Hour Wargames.

I liked that movement in Machinas is somewhat abstracted - cars move respective of each other rather than across a board. The movement system seems more amenable to gaming in small spaces. So I picked up a copy!

I had been hesitant to pick up Machinas because I am not a fan of Two Hour Wargames. I can't really put my finger on it, but for some reason I struggle to understand his rules. However, having read through it last night, I think it will work for me. I like that it is somewhat abstracted. Aside from the movement mechanism I mentioned, it doesn't track every single weapon carried by the vehicle.

Naturally, I don't like the background and plan to develop my own. I am not interested in racing; instead I plan on running chases. I think I'll have the "good guys" be couriers who travel between the scattered pockets of civilization. They must contend with the denizens of the wastelands who try to stop them.

Now I need some cars. I will probably just use some counters. Nice that Machinas comes with some. Anyway, I hope to experiment soon.