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 13, 2011

Shut Up and Roll

Shut Up and Roll is the name of a set of one page rules that I have had for years now, and can be found in the files of the Old School Wargaming Yahoo forum, that I decided to pull out and use for an AWI game. I started taking pictures of the action - the approach march was starting to look pretty good - and then after three turns of firing, the game was over. The British had not even made it through the first line of Patriots (militia rifle skirmishers).

This got me to think about "owning the rules" and some of the fatal flaws in designs out there. Shut Up and Roll has a few interesting things going for it:

  • One page of rules (although you are expected to work out a lot of common game mechanics based upon your style of play).
  • Small unit sizes (12 infantry, 4 skirmishers, 4 cavalry, 4 and a gun for artillery). I think of them as companies and troops, rather than as battalions.
  • Not a true I GO, YOU GO, but more of a I MOVE, YOU MOVE, WE BOTH FIRE turn sequence.
  • Hits represent disorder and the loss of effectiveness, not simply casualties.
It was this last point, the loss of unit effectiveness due to fire and hand-to-hand combat, that attracted me. The idea was simple: hits were tracked using markers or dice, rather than by removing figures or stands. Every time the unit needed to move, it would subtract the hits from its allowance. Every time it fired, it would subtract its hits from its score, etc. This simple mechanism modeled a reduction in effectiveness in everything.

The problem with the rules? Too many things are undefined. Okay, so this goes back to the "own the rules" discussion, but at some point you have to wonder what the author's intent was, because it changes the entire feel of the game. For example, there are references to both stands and units, with regard to combat, so it is not clear if firing combat rolls are made by a unit or a stand. This makes a difference, such as in the casualty ratio from one troop type to another (infantry have 4 stands, but cavalry have only 2, so rolling by stands can quadruple the casualty rate).

Of course, I cannot blame these rules completely. Because of some perceived flaws I decided to tweak ... um, own ... the rules, and did it so much that what fail can scarcely be called the Rules As Written. Oh well, back to the drawing board! I really want to get a game going with my AWI figures. I still have not found a set of rules that I am happy with though.

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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").