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!

Thoughts

  • 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.

Types
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.

Machinas
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.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Remembering Our Vets

Thank you!


Russian Counterattack

With Halloween over, my interest in vampire hunting has waned, but I was hankering for a game this morning. I decided to pull out Manoeuvre and try out the last two armies - Russian and Prussian.

The Rules
I considered experimenting with different rules; this time I pondered using Horde of the Things. But those strength ratings on the counters pulled at me and I decided to use them. So I went back to Manoeuvre's combat rules, which are admittedly very HoTT-like. I rolled a D10 and added the unit's rating.

As you can see from the combat chart, it is difficult to eliminate an enemy (playing command cards make it easier, but I did not use the cards)


I used a somewhat different activation method than before. I would nominate a unit to activate and roll 1 die, trying to score <= their listed rating. If I failed, I would move on to the next unit. Two failures would end that side's turn. It worked well enough.

The Scenario
I decided to use a One Hour Wargame scenario, and chose #21 - Twin Objectives. I made the Prussians the defenders while the Russians attacked. I randomly pulled units from the counter bag. The opposing forces are as follows:

  • Prussians (defending) - 3 infantry (strengths of 6, 6, and 5) and 1 cavalry (str = 6)
  • Russians (attacking) - 5 infantry (str = 8, 7, 6, 6, 6) and 1 cavalry (str = 5)
The map is comprised of 4 tiles randomly selected from the Manoeuvre tiles. There is much more terrain on these tiles than the scenario calls for, which may make things tricky for the attacker.

The Russian objective is to seize the hill (bottom left) and village (top row). The Prussians have a difficult task - they are outnumbered, must hold two dispersed objectives, and have poorer quality units!

The Battle
As the Grande Armee retreats from its disastrous invasion of Russia, the Prussian contingent finds itself beset by the Czar's forces. General Schnapps orders his troops to hold a strategic hill and a small village.

However, Schnapps opts for a forward defense, and moves his troops up. The Russian attack quickly drives the defenders from the hill (bottom left)

The Russian Guards are reluctant to advance against the Prussian Dragoons (the Guards kept failing their activation roll even though they needed 8 or less on a D10!). Meanwhile, the Prussian infantry drives back its Russian counterparts.

The Russians are more successful on the left, pushing the Prussians away from the hill.

But a Russian counterattack routs a Prussian unit.

The Russian inexorably advance!

Although the Russians have taken heavy casualties (many of their units have taken a hit; 2 hits will break the unit) they manage to rout another Prussian unit.

The Dragoons retreat to the village.

And find themselves beset. Meanwhile, the last Prussian infantry routs (left)

And as dusk is falling, the Orlov Regiment drives the Dragoons out of the village!

Victory to the Russians!

Final Thoughts

  • All in all, an enjoyable battle that came down to the last turn. Of course, the Russians may have won more easily if the Guard could manage to activate!
  • And with this battle, I have completed my One Hour Wargame challenge. Over two years ago, I set myself a goal to play all 30 of Thomas's scenarios and this was the last one on the list!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Vampire Hunter

As I mentioned earlier this week, I have been working on a vampire hunting board game. Here is the latest prototype, with map and cards printed on card stock. Soda bottle tops and pennies serve as markers.


The goal of the game is to destroy Dracula. First, you must search for clues (the coins) to his whereabouts. Once you discover his lair, you confront him in epic combat. Along the way, you may encounter Dracula's minions, but may also pick up some useful equipment.

Overall, it has potential, although I think I need to tweak a few areas. Some positives:

  • It is easy to set up - just a board, counters for the players, and 2 decks of cards
  • Game length is short - less than an hour
  • There are some decisions to make - which actions to take each turn, what equipment to use
  • It involves dice-rolling
Some areas of improvement include:
  • Make it a little harder to find Dracula
  • Streamline combat a little bit?
  • Make it easier to heal
Anyway, my wife and I played last night. She was having success finding clues while I kept running into Dracula's minions. I piggybacked on her clues, however, and managed to track down Dracula on multiple occasions. I had worn him down and managed to attack him. With 6 dice, needing to roll 4 or better, here is what I rolled:


I had him! Or so I thought, until he successfully defended.

Later, I had him on the ropes once again but only rolled 2 successes on 6 dice. To survive, Dracula needed to tie my 2 successes, but he had 8 dice. The Dice Fates made up for my previous stroke of ill luck with this roll by Dracula:


 I had defeated the vampire lord!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October Update

Six by Six
Dead on the water. No 6 x 6 games played this month so I am still stuck at 28 games.
I may be able to finish Ticket to Ride but I doubt I'll play any Slipstream or DC Rivals. My wife grew bored of the latter and I find the next encounter in the Slipstream plot point campaign to be unappealing.

Counters
This month was dedicated to experiments with Manoeuvre. While the rules did not work for me, I liked the components. This got me thinking about making counters to represent my imagi-nation armies of Redgrave, Blulderia, etc. I could also add some artillery (which are lacking in Manoeuvre).

I thought about making some Little Wars looking armies, including guardsmen in big, furry hats or pointy helmets. I could not find suitable paper minis at Junior General and I don't have the artistic skill to make my own. This leaves me leaning toward 18th century soldiers, but I haven't decided yet.

Vampire Humting
This being Halloween season, I have been interested in some horror gaming. I was particularly interested in Fury of Dracula when I saw it played on Tabletop. However, it looks a bit long and complicated for my wife and me. I had a flash of inspiration and have been designing my own game of vampire hunting.

An early prototype
I'm still early in the design phase but will share details soon.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Battle of Wannagama

North of Pensacola in the Spanish territory of Florida, 1818

General Andrew Jackson is besieging Pensacola. American reinforcements are hurrying south to join up with Jackson, but a Spanish detachment awaits them at the native village of Wannagama.

Game Notes
This morning I decided to play around with my copy of Manoeuvre. This time, I eschewed the command cards and simply used the boards and counters. Today's battle features 2 armies I haven't used yet - the Spanish and Americans. I decided the set the scenario in my home state of Florida, during a fictionalized version of the First Seminole War. In the real war, the Spanish protested American incursions but offered no resistance. But what if they fought the Americans?

For rules, I used Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame, specifically the late 19th century rules. I made a few tweaks, such as reducing musket range to 2 squares and adding an activation roll (using the Song of Blades and Heroes method). Furthermore, I did not use the Exhaustion rule.

I decided to use a scenario from One Hour Wargames (#9 - Double Delaying Action). In this scenario, the defenders (the Spanish) need to send 3 units as reinforcements off the board. However, they must also prevent the invaders from achieving their objectives (seize the village in the middle of the board and exit 2 units). The original scenario includes a river that must be crossed; my tiles don't have any rivers so I just used ones with lots of terrain instead. The armies are drawn randomly from the 8 counters in Manoeuvre. I designated units with a starting strength of 7-8 as elite (there are none on the American side), 6 as average, and 5 as poor.

The Battle
The American left (ironically the poor quality units) are the first to advance.

The Spanish cavalry drives back the American 3rd Infantry.

But they are cut down.

The American volunteer cavalry circles around to the road to Pensacola

In heavy fighting during the glaring Florida sun (I did not realize how bad the glare from my kitchen lights was) the Walloon Guards destroy the American 3rd.

The Spanish reinforcements head toward Pensacola.

Leaving 3 units to defend. One holds the native village of Wannagama, another blocks the road to Pensacola, while the Walloon Guards try to stymie the American advance.

  As dusk approaches (i.e. I turned off the lights), the Americans take Wannagama! They just need to send one unit down the road.

The American 10th Infantry belatedly moves up in support.

The Americans break through the road, but they lose Wannagama!

Their efforts to retake the village fail!

By holding onto Wannagama, the Spanish barely emerge victorious.

Notes

  • It has been a while since I played a OHW scenario. Two years ago, I began a project to play all 30 scenarios. I now have just one remaining! Here is my complete list.
  • I never formally tried Portable Wargames before; I must say that it worked well. Combined with the scenario, it was an entertaining and exciting battle! I plan some more experiments with PW.