Saturday, January 12, 2019

One Hour Skirmish Wargames

I recently purchased One Hour Skirmish Wargames for the nook.


The rules are designed for fast-play small-unit actions for eras where firearms predominate (i.e. from the musket to the modern eras, and beyond). I've been dabbling with fast-play skirmish rules for a couple of years now so was interested to see another approach. Now that I've read through them, do I like them?

NO!
When I first learned about these rules I was taken aback by something on the cover. It says "dice-less." I found a review that pointed out that the rules use playing cards as randomizers. This was a big negative to me. I'm not a fan of using cards in mini games. It's just one more component to clutter my small table. I much prefer using dice. As such, I find it unlikely that I will use these rules as written (what else is new?). I'm not sure why I bought these rules, but then I read further.

YES!
Nevertheless, I am very glad that I did read OHSW; there are some really great ideas in it! Here are a few that struck me.

Damage
Much like Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames OHSW seeks to strip out any unnecessary complexity. One way that the author, John Lambshead, does this is to get rid of tracking of wounds / damage. Instead, damage is very simple and straightforward - figures that are hit are considered Downed and a laid on their side. At the end of the turn, the player checks on the fate of any Downed figures. Any figure that fails the check is a Casualty and is removed from play.

I'm sure I've seen something similar before so it may not necessarily be completely innovative. Nevertheless, none of my current rules use this damage methodology so it is new to me. And I really like the simplicity of it; so much so that I intend to experiment with it.

Scenarios
Lambshead provides a section of core rules followed by period-specific rules for 6 eras (Musket, Rifle, Interwar, World War 2, Cold War, and Pulp). Each period includes a scenario. For example, the Rifle Era chapter has a scenario where a small British detachment defends a small redoubt from a Zulu attack. Each scenario looks interesting; I'd like to give each a try.

Campaigns
The author also include a fairly lengthy chapter on campaigns where he discusses various types of campaigns.

In one section of the chapter, he provides an example of a map campaign. It centers around a WW2 German unit trying to escape a Soviet encirclement. The Germans travel among nodes on the mode while the Soviets position their limited defending forces at certain nodes. If opposing forces meet at a node then a skirmish occurs. This example provides an interesting set-up that can easily be converted to a solo campaign!

OHSW also suggests a narrative campaign, where forces are not moved on a map but the skirmishes are linked. For example, the first skirmish involves intelligence gathering, followed by an assault, then pursuit, and finally an ambush. This example is simple, straightforward, and easy to solo, while still providing varied and interesting situations.

I found the campaigns chapter very inspirational!

FINAL VERDICT
My initial reaction was very negative due to the use of cards rather than dice. However, Lambshead won me over with some interesting and useful ideas. I am tempted to get some cards (I don't even own a deck right now) and try out the rules themselves (more likely I will try to dice-ify them). I definitely want to test out the scenarios and campaigns.

Overall, I say BUY IT. Even if you don't use the dice-less system, you may find some value to OHSW.

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