My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Skirmish Gaming

I've bought a number of Skirmish Campaign and Skirmish Elite scenario books based on looking through a few scenarios in two books and believing the whole series was basically the same. Unfortunately, I found that the ones I looked at were probably more exceptions than the rule (I am not sure because I do not have them all).

I was expecting what I call skirmish scenarios, which was one platoon at most and this series has a few scenarios where it is a reinforced platoon at least and often much more. The first scenario in Skirmish Elite: Combat Jump Sicily has 50+ figures on the Italian (defender's) side and 25+ on the American side. Wow! I am not really able to handle that with one player per side using Flying Lead - at least not yet.

I put out a call on the WW II Skirmish Yahoo forum to see if any other scenario books were more in the realm of what I was looking for, but came up negative there. Seems everyone wants a lot of figures and vehicles on the table. (I am guess that the skirmish rules listed in the front of the scenario books are ones that do better with those number of figures.)

One of the ideas I was tossing around in my head was to do something like the "tactical" Napoleonics players do. For example, playing Waterloo with each maneuver unit a battalion or squadron is going to require a lot of figures and space, so what some do is carve out a specific action at the battle and focus on that, such as the attack on Hougomont or Kellerman's cavalry charge. Looking at some of the Skirmish Campaign/Elite scenarios, I was thinking of trying the same concept; play just a portion of the board.

One of the problems that I see with the concept is how to model possible supporting fire from positions that have overlapping fields of fire onto your section of the battle. The Hearts & Minds supplement of Flying Lead has two interesting concepts regarding this problem: event cards and off-board fire.

The event card system models random but probable events that affect your portion of the battlefield. Some cards meant to be played immediately while others can be kept in the hand and played at a later time. Not a new concept, I know, but what they model are assets that occasionally affect your small slice of the board, but are not yours 100% of the time. Examples are snipers, off-board artillery fire (directed by an off-board forward observer), off-board fire from a GPMG, UAVs (armed and unarmed), detonation of IEDs by an off-board observer, etc.

It was while reading the sample event cards that it introduced the concept of how to model off-board fire. Basically it allows you to choose any point on your baseline from which to draw a LOS to a target, and if clear, make a specific strength attack. (In some cases you do not need LOS, but can target any point on the board. Example would be fire from an armed Predator drone.)

I was looking at the first scenario in Skirmish Elite Combat Jump Italy where the scenario is a blockhouse/barracks surrounded by five or so pillboxes. If you focus in attack one pillbox as the scenario, you could have event cards for the Italian side that represent the overlapping fire from the left and right
pillboxes, and cards for the central blockhouse. Fire from the left pillbox, for example could state that the LOS is drawn from the left  board edge, or even some point, while the right pillbox would do it from the right board edge. In the case of the blockhouse you would have a different point on the Italian baseline and would assume the firer is at a higher elevation (i.e. the second story of the blockhouse).

The reason for the "randomness" of the event cards can be explained as lulls in the attack in these other sectors (off-board), giving these assets opportunities to fire at longer range targets (i.e. you in your sector). That could also explain the "Use Immediately" qualifier on the cards. Being able to hold a card could represent some communication or coordination between your side on-board and the asset off-board.

I have yet to try this idea out, but at least it may be a way for me to make use of these darn scenario books! :)

1 comment:

  1. Have the Red Devils and Epsom campaign books in which you could find scenario with few figures.


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").