A bit of things have gone on since the last blog entry, but not much to report. I have been gaming a bit, but it has all been solo, and even that has not produced any material for my Solo Battles blog.
I have been on purchasing overload – much to the "chagrin" of my wife, considering that I am currently still living on the pay-out from my last employer – and to be honest, it has not been possible to absorb them all. I liked the sound of Bolt Action, but before the book made it to my mail box several at the gang of The Miniatures Page seemed to have panned it. I started to listen to the WWPD podcast where they interviewed Rick Priestly, but to be honest, I could not get through it, it was so boring. Then I started listening to the Bolt Action (WWPD) podcast, and it was also boring. So, the book sat unread; I only looked at the pictures.
Now, that may all sound bad, but I got to a point where I was backed up in listening to podcasts, so I started rolling them while painting (some French Napoleonic Carabiniers, which has not hit the Wooden Warriors blog yet) and I accidentally hit the WWPD podcast with the Rick Priestly interview again (I had listened to the original on the new WWPD iPad application) and as I was on a roll with painting I simply let it run on. Turns out that the interview had a good nugget of information about Bolt Action at the end of it. I then hit the second episode of the Bolt Action podcast and it was much better. So much so that I decided it might be better to ignore the detractors and try it myself. Maybe that will come along soon.
Other purchases include Saga (impulse buy), Napoleon's Triumph (I have wanted that board game for awhile), and Volume One and Volume Two of Wally Simon's Secrets of Wargame Design. I have mentioned Wally Simon's game design ideas before in this blog because philosophically we agree on what makes a fun game. Here is an excerpt from the first volume – the opening paragraph in fact – that gives you an idea of what I mean:
I am an admittedly unadulterated, pure-bred gamer – as opposed to a war-gaming simulationist (one who stands at table-side and actually imagines he's re-creating what went on the battlefield a hundred or thousand years ago). My interests lie in the gaming procedures and trying to furnish the participants with a number of decision points throughout the battle … at least enough to keep them awake.What really sold me on purchasing these books was an article in Miniature Wargames magazine, Issue 356, called Revolutionary Morale, which is an "article" within the first book. Great ideas are in there, so I figured why not get the whole package from On Military Matters? I have a few of the articles listed in those books – I used to subscribe to MagWeb, which had old copies of the PW Review and MWAN magazines where most of these articles first appeared – but many I read at all. Expect to see some ideas of Wally's come out here in my own designs.
Speaking of which …
More on the Company-level WW II Rules
I decided to start incorporating Wally's ideas in the turn sequence. I dislike those IGO-UGO games where the turn sequence has A move and fire everything before B can do anything. Wally called this "Gotcha' Gaming" and the new name is "the Alpha Strike". Games like Warhammer 40,000 and Flames of War are clear examples of this (despite WH40K adding overwatch and FOW having defensive fire at the start of assaults). So, the draft turn sequence will be:
- Attacker's Phase
- Attacker rallies off Pin markers.
- Attacker determines who obeys orders.
- Attacker conducts bombardment.
- Attacker conducts covering fire.
- Attacker moves.
- Defender conducts fire.
- Attacker conducts moving fire.
- Attacker conducts assaults.
- Defender's Phase
- … reverse of Attacker's Phase …
I actually did play a test game – no pictures of the game in progress, sorry – and found out that it was off mathematically. I expected that of course, but fortunately do not have to change my dice (maybe just add some icons). By the way, the dice I made are shown below.
And my board. I just added some "+" marks to the game mat I use (a micro fleece blanket).
The game went way too fast, which is what convinced me that the math is off. I want a faster game, but not 2-3 turns!
One concept from Bolt Action that I am stealing is the concept of multiple pin markers (i.e. tracking hits) and having that as a modifier to the unit being able to act. (By the way, they are not the first rules to use that concept, just the most recent.) So each hit adds a pin marker and each pin marker requires the roll of a morale die, all of which must be passed in order to act. (In the case of defensive fire, the unit failing the morale die roll uses its pinned firing rate of fire.) The draft morale die is shown below (three stripes equals a veteran, two for trained, and one for a conscript unit).
So, as an example of how this might all work is as follows. An HMG team conducts covering fire on an infantry team, rolling six "anti-personnel" firing dice. This results in three hits, so three pin markers are placed on the infantry team. The infantry is allowed three "anti-personnel" saving dice and obtains an amazing three saves! When the chance comes for the defender to conduct fire the infantry team has to roll three morale dice – one for each pin marker – and all have to be passed in order for the unit to fire. As the unit is veteran it basically has 67% to pass on any single die. Passing on all three dice means they have about a 30% chance to pass on all three. (Please note that this is rather an exceptional example, as the unit passed three saves in the first place, where only one would be the norm, unless the unit were in cover in which case each die would have about an 83% chance for a save.)
If this sounds pretty deadly, it should. We are talking about an HMG firing at an infantry unit in the open. A rifle team firing at a rifle team has about a 50% chance of getting a single hit, and there being a 16% chance for a save (33% for a veteran). Yes, this casualty rate is higher than Flames of War, but I am okay with that for now. This will force people to use more cover, concealment (hiding behind vehicles or in smoke), and covering fire.
I am hoping to get in a test game that is publishable soon. Now that I have the basic firing and saving dice made, all I need left are the morale and skill dice.