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, March 26, 2020

One-Hour Wargames Scenarios – Filling in the Blanks

In the last blog post Shaun Travers and I played scenario 10 in One-Hour Wargames and it turned out pretty disastrous for the attacker (Red). Although I like to flip the scenario and play it the same way, the way we played it just felt wrong. I do believe that some of the scenarios don't "work" with all periods, but in this case the math just makes it so hard to get the Red Infantry engaged against the defenders who will inevitably will Blue Infantry units. (There is a risky gambit involving defending initially with one Infantry and one Skirmisher, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion.) Basically, it takes turn three to four before Red can engage the Blue defenders. A big problem is that entry via the road is a huge bottleneck. How much of a bottleneck did Neil Thomas really intend this to be?

When Shaun and I played the first time we assumed that "entry via the north road" meant that the first square the unit had to move through was C1. This meant that, at best, you were going to occupy four squares on turn 1. (B2 and D2, only if you had Cavalry; C2 if you had Cavalry or Skirmishers; and C1. Basically all of the squares indicated by Red arrows in the image below.) Note that it means that by the end of turn 1, Red would only have one Infantry unit on board, two by the end of Turn 2, etc. Given that the Blue defenders could start in C3 and D4, and could theoretically push into C2 and D2 on their turn (although would be unlikely to do so), they could really jam up Red forces until this first line of defenders was eliminated. As was shown in the last blog post, if they do not accomplish that quickly enough, Blue can reinforce the line such that Red will never reach the town, having to break through two lines of defenders.

So, what's the alternative? Shaun and I talked about the concept of using an off-board square, in this case square C0. The idea is that all of the Red units start in the square north of the northernmost road square, just off board, i.e. square C0. If you did that, the number of squares that you could move to on the first turn are not only the ones with red arrows, but the blue ones too. More importantly, units with a 6" movement can move on and occupy squares B1, C1, and D1. This is three times the number than if you consider square C1 is the first square of movement (red arrows only).

How will this affect the game? Quite a bit.

The Game

Red's first turn looks a lot better than the last game. There are four units on rather than three, two of those being Infantry. (If I had rolled two Cavalry, I would have had another unit on the board too.)

My basic plan is to use the Skirmisher unit to flank Blue defensive line and break it faster. (Interestingly, Ross MacFarlane played the same scenario and had the same force that Shaun had when playing Red, used his Skirmisher to also make a flank run, but to secure the town instead.)

By turn 3 everything was engaged.

By turn 5, Red breaks through the portion of the line closest to the town.

Just in time for Blue to bring on their first reinforcements. Mind you, by this time in the first game it was obvious that these reinforcements could make it close to the original battle line, but Shaun, seeing that I had already broken through, decided not to advance but rather to occupy the town.

Infantry in the Ancient period take 1/2 hits as it is, with defending a town yielding another 1/2 hits. It is going to take some time digging them out. In fact, the only way to win is probably by attacking it from two directions.
As a side note, in square grid combat you have to attack from F5 and E6. If the attack comes from E5 (which is legal) it essentially makes an implied pivot that 'hides' its left and right flanks (squares E7 and G5).
Turn 8 saw the Blue Cavalry charge out and attack the Red Infantry that was attempting to move on its flank. This was a strong move by Shaun because with the Cavalry in E6 and its front facing D5, that puts its right flank in square F5.
Again, that is a quirk of the square grid rules we use, but the best way to look at it is that OHW only allows one unit to attack per face and to get on the flank each unit must have a square in between each attacker. So a unit could be in square E5, but it would not be able to attack the Blue Cavalry.

By Red turn 10, Red had the attack on the town secured. (I am not sure why Red Infantry in C5 is facing South and not West.) The Blue forces coming on can only enter from A6 or B6 and with the hill impassable, they have to go through me to disrupt the attack on the town.

By the end of Red turn 13, the town was secured.

This was a far-cry from the result in the first game (turn 10).


To me this was a huge difference in the result. The pendulum swung dramatically from "no way for the attacker to take the town" to "no way for the defender to retake the town". All because of the change of a single rule. (Shaun may disagree, but I remember that neither side had better rolls in either game, but this second game did result in both sides having bloodier results.)

I am curious. How do you interpret the rule that "all Red units must enter the board via the road"? When playing the scenario without a grid, you probably use the same method as we used here, which is that all Red units are artificially stacked up on the point where the road intersects the board edge. This is equivalent to the "square C0" concept Shaun and I used.

More importantly, does anyone map out the road march order and penalize the rearward units movement based on how far back in the march order they are?

Friday, March 13, 2020

One-Hour Wargames – Scenario 10 – Late Arrivals

If you were wondering why Shaun Travers (of Shaun's Wargaming with Miniatures blog) hasn't been blogging much lately it is probably because I have been taking up all his time with One-Hour Wargames (OHW) scenarios. We played Flank Attack 2 (Scenario 7) using Medievals and we just finished the first of two games of Late Arrivals (Scenario 10) using Ancients. A much different feel to the game with Ancients – Infantry hits with D6+2 but only take 1/2 hits due to armor – than with Medievals, Dark Ages, or Rifle and Saber.

More importantly, the scenario is really interesting because Blue is the defender and they have some hard choices to make.

Shaun and I again used a 6x6 square grid for the game – essential for virtual gaming if you are not using a computer program to indicate your precise position and make accurate measurements – shown in the image above.

Blue is defending the town (F6) and Red only has to occupy it at the end of turn 15 to win. Blue gets two units at the start and can setup in rows 3, 4, 5, or 6, or in the woods (E-F/1-2). Note that the mountain (A-B/3-4) is impassable.

This means that a core Blue strategy is to defend in squares C3 and C4 with Infantry and hold the enemy off. However, Blue only gets two more units on turn 5, and the final two units on turn 10. Ancient Infantry, being D6+2, has an Average Turns to Eliminate (ATE) of 3, meaning that it can eliminate an enemy unit on average in three turns. However, if the enemy unit is also Infantry, because it has has armor (1/2 hits) the ATE is 5 turns. So, this really turns into a race because it takes two turns to move the infantry to row 2, then turns 3 through 7 will be spent chewing through that front line of enemy infantry. With Blue having 3-4 infantry in their force they could easily have the second wave up to the battle line by turn 8, which would cause another 5 turns of combat, at least, to chew through that line. So simply pushing the infantry forward will not win the objective.
Please note that I have the advantage of hindsight and playing once as Blue to give this analysis. My first attempt looked something like the image below.

Trust me, the "Skirmishers in the Woods Gambit" is not a winning strategy. At D6-2 my Skirmishers were still cooking their breakfast in the woods when the Red Cavalry flew by, unscathed.

In my opinion, if Red does not have Skirmishers or does not have two Archers, I am not sure Red can win in the Ancients period unless Blue makes a mistake. If Red and Blue have Skirmishers, Blue might have to commit it to the fight at the start if the game, which would make for an interesting fight. As I said this is an interesting scenario, but there are some matchups that seem like they would always result in a Blue win because the clock runs out.

The Real Game 1

As you can see above, my first game 1 was a disaster. I did think about potentially pushing forward with the Blue Skirmishers to block enemy units from coming on at C1, but it seemed like such a low probability of success that we bagged the game early on. I threatened to play that setup solo, but have yet to.

I rolled and received three Infantry (of course!), one Archer, and two Skirmishers. To me, this was probably the worst combination I could think of. Two extremely brittle units and I would not have two full waves of dead hard Infantry.

Shaun rolled and received three Infantry, two Cavalry, and one Skirmishers. All I knew was that having Cavalry might allow him to make a breakthrough to get to the town and having a Skirmisher meant the woods were not impassable too. So my first decision was whether to use a solid line of Infantry and risk him flanking me with Skirmishers to break through faster or using one Infantry and one Skirmisher and seeing how I could contain him. I chose the former.

One of the other issues with this scenario is that Red enters from the northern road not the northern edge. This makes maneuvering out extremely hard and the introduction of the square grid does cause an issue with that, at least the way we play it.

I imagined the units stacked up in "C0", off the board. I felt like from there they should be able to move one square on, so B1, C1, and D1 would be eligible squares. But Shaun pointed out that the scenario says "via the road on the northern edge", so given that we play "in the square" the first movement point is in square C1. This caused a jam up of Red units, as you will see.

By the end of turn 2 you can see that the Blue Infantry have beaten up the leading Red Cavalry while doing almost no damage. However, I have this nasty habit of hitting units hard early on, then running out of steam while trying to finish them off. The main thing to notice as that only four of the six Red units have made it onto the board, with one Infantry and one Skirmisher still being off of the board.

By the end of turn 5 one of the Red Cavalry units had been eliminated and a Red Infantry unit was getting dangerously weakened.  The last Red Infantry unit was on the board, but the Red Skirmisher was still off! The second wave of Blue troops were on the march.

Turn 7 saw the elimination of the weakened Red Infantry in C2, but turn 8 saw the both units in the Blue front line eliminated. By then, however, the second Blue line was already in position. (Shaun forgot to bring on his Skirmishers, not that they could have gone anywhere.)

Turn 9 and 10 saw Red unable to break through the second Blue line, so with the final Blue reinforcements entering the board, Red quietly withdrew their forces.

Battle Summary

There are so many interesting combinations to think about here and how it would play out in different periods.

Medievals have mainly fast-moving Knights (D6+2, 12" movement), so unless Blue draws a force of two Men-at-Arms units (armored, thus take 1/2 hits like Ancient Infantry) the battle is not going to take place in rows 2 and 3, but rows 5 and 6.

Dark Ages have mainly Shieldwall Infantry, which take half hits like Ancient Infantry, but only hit with a D6, so it is an even slower slog through rows 2 and 3. I think it would be even harder to win as Red in this scenario during the Dark Ages.

Horse and Musket really changes things as Infantry now fire 12" with D6, so the name of the game is for Red to bring his superior numbers to bear, which is interesting given the confined space which they have to deploy to.

How do you think your favorite period (using the standard rules) would play?

What Else Have I Been Up To?

As it so happens, the writer of the blog Red Player One lives in the same area as me. He and I played a game of Starport Scum by Nordic Weasel Games and it was really fun. It has been a long time since I played a narrative (RPG-lite) scenario. The rules are very simple, but effective. My hero, Flavio, cut the anti-hero Ahnuld in half with a single stroke of his monofilament blade. That gruesome kill caused the rest of the security guards at the compound where my brother Squigi was being held. (Yes, the Flavio Brothers – Flavio and Squigi – were reunited so they could continue their criminal "plumbing" careers together.)

You can see some of Jason's cool terrain and figures over on his blog. The vidscreen of a pixelated geisha-like figure is hand-painted. Very cool.

Jason is a dangerous guy to hang around though as he is a rules junkie like me. I ended up getting copies of Starport Scum and 5 Parsecs after reading his blog. Then again, he ended up getting Battlesworn. (We were going to play that this weekend, but we ended up having to cancel.)

Although I did not give it a very strong try, I did try Star Wars: Legion and I just could not get into it. It has too many elements that I am not fond of. It is a very competitive 1v1 game where – unless you have basically bought one of everything or scoured the internet thoroughly – someone will eventually pull out something you have not seen and play gotcha! with a new special rule. Been there, done that with Warhammer 40,000, Warmachine, and Flames of War (multiple editions for each).

I finally broke down and purchased the next version of Warhammer Underworlds, Beastgrave. I continue to like that game despite not being able to get that many games in and it being hard to play solo given the amount of hidden information. But I am working on that. More later on the Solo Battles blog.

I have been doing some more painting. I am trying "comic style" which is a couple of steps beyond what I used to do as a kid, which is a heavy blacklining style.

Finally, about a third of my team at work were let go. Our company decided that they did not want to keep them and decided to let the remainder – largely a bunch of techno-geeks – take over their duties, which was managing accounts, in addition to our normal duties. I am not going to say much more than that other than to say that my blood pressure spiked, badly, and I needed to find another job because that was not what I signed up for. So I did. Rather than working for the company that makes software for the US home mortgage market, I will soon be working for a company that uses that same software, i.e. I will be a customer. My work with the product and insight into how it works under the covers really helped me leverage a new opportunity. So let's hope the grass really is greener on the other side...

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About Me

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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").