Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Board-less Wargaming

Lately, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Quick Play “Soccer” (although I’m calling it gravball). I put the tables in Excel, created a dice roller, and have been playing it almost exclusively on the computer. I noticed that I will pop in and play a game or two in odd spare moments when I would not have time to set up a board game. This got me thinking – I wonder if I can create a board-less wargame.

I have experimented with “board-less” gaming before; actually it was more like a virtual board. I created my virtual board in Excel, using shapes as units and shading the squares to indicate terrain. The idea just never went anywhere. I guess that moving shapes was not as much fun as pushing miniatures on a board.

Now, however, I am thinking of developing an extremely quick-playing, board-less wargame that can be played using dice or on the computer. This will allow me to get some gaming in during the brief windows of spare time.

Here are my ideas so far:
  • Each army is formed of 3 wings (right, left, center).
    • It is assumed that the wings consist of combined arms.
  • The game assumes that the armies have completed their maneuvering and have come to grips. 
    • The 3 wings will engage (right vs. left, center vs. center, and left vs. right).
  • Each engagement will be resolved via dice – probably using De Bellis Antiquitatis style opposed die rolls.
    • Each wing has a combat value which is added to the die roll
  • Each wing has a certain number of morale points (typically 3).
    • Losing an engagement reduces morale points.
    • The wing routs if morale is reduced to 0.
  • Each army will have a certain number of Reserve Points. These can be used to re-do a die roll (simulating the arrival of reserves at a critical point).
  • An army loses when 2 of the 3 wings are routed.
  • Terrain:
    • I will probably add some pre-battle “maneuvering rolls” to determine if one side or the other receives favorable terrain
    • Attacking an enemy in defensible terrain will result in a negative modifier to the die roll.


  1. I, too, like the Soccer game, and have been wondering whether some of its ideas could be used for preliminary bombardments, skirmishing &c.
    For your proposed game, might I suggest ECW, in which two cavalry wings and an infantry centre with supporting artillery is the norm, might be a good setting. If a cavalry wing succeeded in routing its opposite number, one could dice again to discover whether it would:
    a) pursue the enemy off the field, only to return if it passes a die roll after an unpredictable number of turns;
    b) attacks and plunders enemy baggage train, returning as in (a) above;
    c) drives off enemy and then rallies, after which it may fall upon the rear of the enemy foot;
    d) rally and return to original post on the flank.
    You add/subtract modifiers for situation, commander skill and troop quality so that, for example, Rupert's Horse would be most likely to do (a) or (b), whilst Cromwell's Ironsides could do (c) or (d).
    Cavalry combat would be over more quickly and decisively; Fott combat might result in both sides becoming exhausted and pulling back to reform; a limited push back of the enemy, or putting the enemy to flight after several turns at push of pike.

  2. Interesting ideas; I'll have to play around with them, although my first experiment will probably be horse & musket. The ECW suggestion brought the Marston Less ( game to mind.