Dale's Wargames

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.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Another Scenario for One-Hour Skirmish Wargames

This post includes another scenario and some special rules for a skirmish game.

Playing OHSW Virtually

I wanted gaming buddy Justo to try out my version of the Sword & Sandal (S&S) variant of One-Hour Skirmish Wargames (OHSW) that I used in the last post, and get some feedback on the rules. Because we had to play virtually we first needed to figure out how to play a skirmish game using online tools.

The first option is something like Tabletop Simulator (TTS) on the computer, as there are a number of skirmish and mass-combat games to use miniatures rules with, such as this one for One-Hour Wargames.

If it does not have miniatures to your liking, you can always search TTS's Workshop for the keyword "miniatures" and find some others, like these medieval miniatures I found.

But, I wasn't sure Justo had TTS and, although we have both played games using Vassal, I did not want to tackle making or modifying a module for a scenario. So I fell back to my default: creating a grid for the map and using grid movement rather than freeform movement. The first problem to solve: how to convert OHSW to a square grid.

Converting OHSW to a Grid

As always, the first thing you need to do is figure out what the cell of the grid (square or hex) represents in terms of ground scale. Because most movement values are closely divisible by 3, I decided each cell was about 3" of ground, so a 3' square board would be 12 rows and 12 columns. Within a single cell you could have two friendly fighters (so four figures total, two for each side).

All distances were converted by taking the distance and dividing by 3, rounded to the nearest. So weapons with a 1/2" or 1" zone of control (ZOC) would be 0 cells (same cell only) and 2" reach would have a 1 cell ZOC and attack range.

In the original playtest we allowed long weapons to attack diagonal, adjacent squares, but I am leaning towards not allowing that. Diagonal squares represent a distance of roughly 1.5 times ground scale, or 4 1/2", which is a stretch for a weapon that originally had a reach of 2".

For movement it was the same, so light foot was 3 squares, medium and heavy were 2 squares.

When 'measuring', you count each cell in between the starting cell to the ending cell, plus the ending cell (but not the starting one). That is the distance. For squares (but not hexes) where you trace a line (of sight, march, or fire) diagonally the first such square will count as 1 square, the second as 2, the third as 1, the fourth as 2, and so on alternating the cost between 1 and 2 points each. Example: the player trace a line through four diagonal squares. The distance is 6 squares (1 + 2 + 1 +2).

The one exception that I made for fudging the distances was for the combat results. Combat results that force a figure to retreat always results in the figure retreating one cell away from the enemy.

Protecting Downed Friends

Another area that I wanted to address was the effect of a figure's ZOC has on enemy trying to dispatch downed friends. Although this should be added to the ZOC section of the S&S variant rules, they were playtested in this game.

Basically the rule is that if a figure is in the ZOC of an enemy, or you have an enemy in your ZOC that is in the same cell (within 1", in freeform movement games) it cannot dispatch a downed opponent unless that enemy is also engaged by another figure in close combat.

In the example above X2 cannot dispatch the downed A1 because it is in the ZOC of Y1. B1, however, can dispatch the downed A2 with a long weapon as B2 has attacked A4 with his own long weapon, engaging him.

Originally, I had the rule simply as you had to have 1 more figure than the number of non-Downed enemy figures. Both accomplish the same thing, but the current rule is a bit more complex when long weapons come into play on both sides. An example is the figure below.

Y1, with a long weapon, holds off both X2 and B1 from dispatching A1 until either X2 or B1 engage it first. Further, if Y1 wins that combat, either by killing, downing, or forcing the retreat of the enemy, it continues to block the other blue attacker.

Again, I want to stress this is not a 'grid' rule, but an adaptation of the S&S variant rules that I add to as I come upon new situations. The ability to easily dispatch downed foes has been the one area that has always bothered me about OHSW and this is an attempt to address that.

Town Raid Scenario

If you think you might have seen this scenario before it is because it is converted from the scenario "Town Raid" in the old Warhammer Skirmish scenario book.

The world of the Kingdom is a dangerous place and even in these civilized lands there is still more countryside than city. It is in these places where brave freeholders must struggle daily to make a living. Ever searching out fertile land for crops and grazing settlers have followed a small river out of the dark forest to the richer plains beyond. Out beyond the coast – and who know what danger lie off there? Can the small local militia protect the farmers?

Overview

A smaller attacking force – as part of a larger attack on a town – has been tasked with making a feint attack in one section of the town with the target of killing or absconding with the town's livestock, burning buildings, and causing general mayhem. The local militia are tasked with driving off the cattle to safety, preventing the burning of buildings, and slowing the attackers until a larger defending force can arrive to drive off the attackers.

Forces

Modified point costs are used, i.e. each figure costs 1 point + 1 point for each point of Army Motivation.

Defenders

  • 40 points
  • May include up to one leader, i.e. someone with the Leader (X) special ability.
  • 10 Livestock critters
  • One 6" (2 square) barricade in the top 3/4 of the map (rows 1-9)
  • If no leader is present then the maximum Army Motivation is 1, otherwise it is 2

Attackers

  • 80 points (no more than half of the figures may have bows; no mounted troops allowed)
  • Must include one leader, but may have a second
  • Minimum Army Motivation is 1 with a maximum of 3

Battlefield

The buildings are not built for defense in mind, rather they are simple dwellings of farmers. The local militia had some time to set up a single 6" barricade. Red-brown rectangles are buildings. Gray rectangles are waist-high stone walls. Green circles are single trees offering no cover.

There is no difference between grass green and light brown squares; they are both open terrain.

Objectives

The Attackers realize that there is little to no value in this area of the settlement, other than the cattle, but they want to draw the locals into this area to fight fires while the main attack heads to richer targets. The game ends when the defending leader (if any) or attacking leader is killed, either side fails morale, or at the end of six turns. Calculates each side's points to determine a winner.

Note that the game ending – regardless of the reason – represents the larger defending force's arrival, and the end of the attacker's marauding.

Attacker

Each defending figure removed from the board - 1 point

Each livestock animal killed - 1 point

Each building totally destroyed - 5 point

Each building partially destroyed - 1 point

Defender

Each attacking figure removed from the board - 1 point

Each livestock animal alive or escaped - 1 point

Each building still standing and not on fire - 5 point

Each building still standing but on fire - 1 point

It is important for the players to realize that the victory conditions represent not who wins this little skirmish, but about the larger action occurring elsewhere. The defenders have 1/2 of the points of the attacker; they are expected to get crushed. So just because the attacker wins the fight, it does not mean that they will win the scenario.

Players are advised to understand and keep an eye on the objectives. The defender can lose every single figure and still win the scenario. It this is not the type of scenario that you like to play – where your forces will almost certainly lose militarily – I suggest that you not play the defenders.

Deployment

The defenders deploy first, then the attackers, then the livestock is deployed.

All defenders must start in the northern half (rows 1-6) of the map, save for a maximum of 2 figures, which may man the barricades. No two defending figures may start in the same square.

The attackers must enter from the south (bottom of the map). However, they must be deployed adjacent to the column where they will enter.

Livestock are then placed alternately (defenders choose first) anywhere on the board at least two squares from any table edge or any other livestock model. (If a livestock model cannot be placed because all eligible squares are filled, then it may be placed within 1 square of another livestock model.)

Scenario Special Rules

Attacker's Initiative

The attacker always has the initiative on the first turn. Initiative is determined as normal on subsequent turns.

Livestock

Livestock are +0 in defense, draw 1 card, and do not attack back in close combat if they are attacked. They are killed when the attacker exceeds the defense value by 4 or more. If the animal is not killed it immediately retreats away from the attacker 2 squares.

Either side may spend 1 AP to drive a livestock model. The figure must be in the same square as the livestock. The figure may choose which direction the livestock model retreats two squares.

Any retreating livestock that comes within 1 square of another livestock, or killed within 1 square of another livestock, will cause that livestock model to retreat 1 square directly away from the retreating or killed livestock. This can cause a chain reaction.

Livestock that run off of the board in any direction save south will be considered saved for the defenders. Those that run off towards the south will be considered killed for the attackers.

Livestock cannot enter buildings or cross stone walls, so adjust their movement accordingly.

Livestock in the square reduce the number of models both sides can have in the square by 1 for each livestock model. Livestock moving into a square already at capacity forces another model out of the square (player's choice). For example, two defenders and one attacker are in a square. A cow retreats into the square making the capacity one model for each side. One defending figure must retreat from the square (away from the cow).

Setting Buildings on Fire

The attackers using one-handed weapons are assumed to have torches to light the buildings on fire. Any model with a torch that is touching a building and not in close combat may try to set it on fire for 1 AP. Draw a card and if it is red, the building is on fire and the figure loses their torch. (If black is drawn another AP may be spent and another attempt may be made.)

A defender not in combat may attempt to put out the fire. Draw a card and if it is black, the fire has been extinguished.

At the end of every turn (not round!), after morale and figure recovery is determined, but before the next turn's initiative is drawn, one structural point is removed from each building per fire.

A building is considered destroyed when five structural points are removed.

Playtest

My main concern with the playtest was getting Justo's opinion on the modified combat system and secondarily how the scenario played. Although I recorded the action through drawings, there were a number of mistakes made that sort of invalidated the game. But he got a feel for the combat system and I added a few refinements here and there to both the variant and the scenario. Our mistakes were:

  • Somebody forgot to put their two Jokers into their deck, making for an extremely long turn 2 with 8 rounds. (My second Joker was the third to the last card in my deck.)
  • I messed up on the movement speed of foot troops, so everyone was moving in slow motion.
  • I did not specify that the attacker's had to specify where there troops were deployed, which led to some painful flank charges that absolutely crushed my defenders.

Nonetheless, my defenders won a narrow victory. I am proud to say that I saved 7 of the 10 cows, defended 2, and only lost 1 to the roasting spit of the attackers. This was largely because Justo did not read the scenario victory scoring system and brought no one with torches (figures with only one handed weapons). But he did kill all but 1 of my defenders!

Overall the combat played very well. Again, I liked the movement stemming from the combat results, the interplay between forces around protecting downed friends, and their being sufficient variety between weapons and armor. The scenario also played out very well, with the Livestock rules in particular producing some interesting results as I was trying to drive cows into other cows to cause a chain reaction of retreats to safety.

Definitely something Justo and I will try again.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 58 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ working for a software company for the last three years. 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").