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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

AWI Playtest with '61-'65 - Intermission

I wrote an email to Sergio Laliscia, the author of '61-'65 and asked him to critique my playtest to see if there is anything the leaped out at him as obviously wrong, and he was kind enough to respond. I though I would share his points:

  • You cannot return skirmisher fire (either squads or skirmishers).
    • Wow! Missed that one and that is going to hurt. I was finding a number of times where skirmishers were getting three actions per turn, so aimed fire was fairly common. With the skirmishers rolling 1D6+5 and the squad rolling 1D6+2 (or +1, if they had been whittled down in size), tripling becomes a very real concern. Even if you only doubled (25% of the time on +5 versus +2; tripled 8% of the time), two skirmishers against a squad will probably whittle it down faster than the Corporal can handle. That means more squad actions will go to rallying. Look forward to playtesting this "change".
  • Your table was too narrow.
    • My board is 75cm compared to the recommended 90cm, so that is a fair statement, yet I don't understand the significance. If anything, widening the board will expand the flanks, allowing the skirmishers greater chance to work around them. To counter this, the squads will have to spread out, further straining the command distances. If anything, I thought that the depth was too shallow (50cm instead of 60cm). That said, it is my intent that the next game will be on a proper sized board.
  • One side had no skirmishers.
    • In hindsight this was probably an error for a playtest. That said, given the scale of the rules, I can see playing out a portion of a battlefield using '65-'65, so it would be possible that a section would not have skirmishers, at least in this period. Look at the Battle of Cowpens. Once the first line (of skirmishers) was pushed back they moved to the flanks (or farther back!), so any fighting occurring in the center probably had few, if any, skirmishers.
  • Skirmisher fire is quite ineffective, in terms of losses, against squads. Corporals can rally the shaken troops.
    • Yes, but multiple skirmishers can gang up on a squad. The first skirmisher might only get one, maybe two shaken, but the second and third skirmisher pair will start doubling and tripling the squad much easier as it is whittled down in size (shaken troops count against the squad size for purposes of combat). The minuses keep piling up on the squad.
Despite these factors and "criticisms", I still find '61-'65 the most enjoyable rules I have played in awhile. Despite the terms of "squads" and "company", the look of the battle is such that you can easily envision that the squad is an company or half-battalion and the company a battalion. What makes the game enjoyable is that it gives the player one more decision to make, that has a material impact on the game: how many dice will you risk rolling to allow a unit to act forcefully, at the possible detriment of the rest of your forces being ineffective for the rest of the turn (i.e. you force a turn-over)?

Because there are fewer maneuver units in '61-'65 than in Drums and Shakos, you get a better feeling of mass and cohesive movement.

Thanks to Sergio for taking the time to read the blog and provide some insight!

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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").