Today, gaming buddy Don agreed to test C4ISR (my science fiction version of Command and Colors rules). I really liked the game, but more importantly, I think we both came up with what we did and did not like.
What we tried:
- Battle dice were 10-sided, with the faces: Infantry-Infantry-Armor-Artillery-Air-Grenade-Medic-Flag-Miss-Miss. Note that the odds are reduced compared to the Memoir '44 six-sided battle dice. Also note that artillery is hit on its own symbol now.
- Grenades only hit in close combat.
- Infantry attacking Anti-Personnel (AP) Targets: dice rolled are 3-3-2-2-1-1. (That is the number of dice at each hex range, so 3 dice at 1 and 2 hexes, 2 dice at 3 and 4 hexes, etc.)
- Infantry attacking Anti-Armor (AT) Targets: 4-2-2-1.
- Mech Infantry attacking AP Targets: 3-3-2-2-1-1.
- Mech Infantry attacking AT Targets: 4-2-2-1.
- Armor attacking AP Targets: 2-3-3-2-1-1.
- Armor attacking AT Targets: 4-4-3-3-2-2-1-1
- Artillery attack AP or AT Targets: 3-2-1. Note that for artillery this is not hex count, but board section count. In other words, 3 dice for the same board section, 2 dice for an adjacent board section, and 1 die for a board section two away. (On a normal gameboard there are six board sections: Left, Center, and Right for each half of the battlefield. For a Breakthrough-sized board there are nine board sections. For Overlord-sized boards it is 12 board sections and Overlord-Breakthrough-sized it is a whopping 18 board sections!)
- All units use 1 less die if the unit has taken any number of casualties.
- Terrain was more like BattleLore than Memoir '44. Rather than subtracting dice to attack in or out, the maximum number of dice were indicated instead. Buildings were 1 die shooting in and 2 dice shooting out (1 die for Armor shooting out). Woods were 2 dice in and no restrictions out. Hills were 2 dice up, 3 dice across (hill-to-hill) or down. We did not use any other terrain types. Artillery was unaffected by the battle dice restrictions of terrain, either in or out.
- Artillery count as AP targets.
- Mech Infantry and Self-Propelled Artillery count as AT targets.
- Light Infantry move 2 hexes and Battle or 3 hexes.
- Elite Light Infantry move 3 hexes and Battle.
- Mech Infantry move 4 hexes and Battle or 6 hexes.
- Armor move 6 hexes and Battle.
- Artillery move 1 hex or Battle.
- Self-Propelled Artillery move 2 hexes and Battle or 4 hexes.
- Units must stop when they enter the first hex adjacent to an enemy unit; they cannot move through.
- Units with support ignore 1 Flag.
- Units with support can Battle Back in close assault.
- Units are supported if two friendly units can provide them support.
- A unit can provide support to a unit it is adjacent to.
- An artillery unit can provide support to a unit within two hexes of it.
- A command unit can provide support to a unit within two hexes of it.
Units move and fire much farther. The Armor units being able to move 6 and fire 8 hexes means it has a large threat zone. Of course, at this scale, sufficient cover and line-of-sight-blocking terrain is a must.
There were a few other rules that we added, but they did not come into play. For example, the ability of a unit to move through a friendly unit. I also had a few ideas, but Don was not keen on them, so we set them aside.
So, how did it play? Very interesting, I think. The ability to ignore Flags due to support meant that units often stayed in formation. This in turn meant they could battle back in close assault, making them more likely to keep their positions without burning cards.
The long ranges often came into play, then we switched to everything being close assaults, and finally we went back to firing at 2-3 hex range, in order to avoid the battle backs.
The terrain had a great impact on the game. As most infantry was holed up in buildings, most battles were with 1 die, unless it was artillery. In fact, artillery is how we dug infantry out of buildings. We may have to change Armor to getting 2 dice in close assault against buildings to represent the effect of HE in enclosed spaces, but we will see. Using 1 die for infantry fighting house-to-house was a slow, slogging process, and I was fine with it.
Another interesting effect was the penalty of a die to a unit that lost one or more figures. This has a contrary effect to how you play Command and Colors normally, which is to focus fire on a unit until it is dead, and producing a victory point. This gives you an incentive to spread the fire around, pinning units here and there (my explanation of what the -1 die represented). Don focused on that tactic, and as a result a lot of my fire was reduced (but not all – firing into a building with a full unit or reduced still only gives you 1 die). I, on the other hand, kept trying to eliminate units and get to victory.
So, what did we want to change? Most things, actually. Although the game was fun, I could see the complexity in remembering how many dice to roll based on the range was going to be a problem. I mean, in Memoir '44 it is 3-2-1 for infantry, 3-3-3 for armor, and 3-3-2-2-1-1 for artillery. Pretty easy to remember. Infantry in Battle Cry is 4-3-2-1, artillery is 5-4-3-2-1, and cavalry 3, so it is also easy to remember. This model is not (although I did get the hang of it about 75% of the time, by the end of the game). Next experiment will be with a fixed number of dice, like BattleLore, with the same terrain effects (restricting the maximum number of dice, rather than subtracting dice). Also, we will probably extend the range of weapons even farther.
I think support should be a unit within two hexes. Aesthetically it looks much better. Units are not in solid phalanxes and supporting units can be in buildings across the road (i.e. one hex between). Artillery should provide support to any unit in its board section.
Our scenario was not really representative. I am not sure which scenario we played, but it was a Memoir '44 Breakthrough board scenario. The Allies were spread out and the Axis were concentrated, so the latter just started rolling over units eventually. But the low number of dice rolled, along with changing the probabilities of getting hits, meant that it took a long time. Our game last much longer than the normal Memoir game, about twice as long, and about 50% longer than a Breakthrough-board Memoir game.
Sorry no pictures, but it would have just looked like a Memoir game as I was using those figues as proxies. Not enough 6mm science fiction troops painted up yet.
New Figures from Onslaught Miniatures
Speaking of 6mm science fiction miniatures, expect some more comparison photos of the new figures from Onslaught Miniatures. When I made my purchase, Don (of Onslaught Miniatures) only had the Prowlers, Mantis Beasts, and Overseers at the time. I knew I wanted to get the Gashers, Stalkers, and Winged Stalkers, but when the newsletter came out saying that the Abominations were now out, I knew it was time to order.
Perfect for a Genestealer Cult army in 6mm.
Although I like these, and think they will be a blast to paint, I have to be honest and say I was looking forward more to his OTC (not-Tau). But I understand his position. If you start a miniatures line you need to finish it, otherwise people will complain about starting too many lines and finishing none. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. So I will have to wait patiently for the OTC and buy and paint the Abominations in the meantime. I am sure Don won't mind. At this price, neither will my wallet.
BattleLore over Vassal Tournament Update
Well, I am proud to say that I made it by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin into the Semi-Finals for the BattleLore over Vassal tournament. I only had one bad loss (but it was bad) in the main rounds and I thought it had knocked me out as a contender, but it turns out only one player did not have at least one bad game. Of course, that one player was the guy I had to play in the Semi-Finals!
But, we played our match on Saturday and I lost 5-6 in the first game but won 6-2 in the second, for an 11-8 win in the match, moving me to the Finals.
Today, I watched the other two semi-finalists play and the winner of the match also lost 5-6 on the first game and won the second 6-2. (Weird. Not only that, but we both lost as the Goblin player and won as the Dwarf player.) Ironically, the winner was Chris, the guy I play BattleLore all the time over Vassal. I think I taught him too well! Worse still, he knows all my tricks!
So we will start the Finals this week. Wish me luck!
As for the Samurai Battles over Vassal tournament, I think that is dying a slow death. I did complete another round (there are six, plus semi-finals and finals), but have not gotten any response from the other players. As it turns out, Samurai Battles looked much better on rice paper than it plays. Very disappointing.
The Impact of the Turn Sequence on the Solo Gamer
Over on my Solo Battles blog I wrote an article about the impact that the turn sequence of a game's rules has on the solo gamer. I only mention it because it has gotten a number of very interesting and thought-provoking comments. If you are into game design, you might want to check it out.
Other Gaming News
I finally finished making a simple gameboard with a 2" square grid so I can start playing a gridded version of De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) 3.0. I have given up that the author is going to refine the rules enough to get out the geometric tricks, so as John Acar suggested on a thread on TMP, simply go to the grid; that always gets out tricks like kinked lines and such. I know I won't be able to play in tournaments using these rules, but I think I can get the guys locally to play it. Expect to start seeing some write-ups on my Dale's DBA blog.