For those that have not been following I decided to try my hand at a map campaign using the tables and ideas in The Solo Wargaming Guide (TSWG). Part one of the campaign laid out the basics, then another post spoke about how I was going to convert from Regiments and Companies that TSWG uses, to the units and hits that Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames (OHW) uses so that I could use the latter to play out the tactical battles. I played out the first 'battle' – The Battle of Firnskuppe – on the Solo Battles blog. There I showed how TSWG creates terrain layouts for the tabletop and puts some of the factors in TSWG – like the Commander Competency Rating (CCR) assigned to each Brigadier General and force commander – into play.
The basic scenario for the first battle was that the vanguard of the northern Westonian forces – a Regiment of Infantry and a Regiment of Cavalry – sprung to the attack while the Eastonian forces were still mustering. All that was there to defend the Eastonian frontier town of Firnskuppe was an understrength Mounted Skirmisher Regiment. (Note that Mounted Skirmisher is a new unit type for OHW. It is basically a Skirmisher unit that moves 12" as it is mounted on horses.)
I used some old Kings of War Battlefield Cards to determine the battlefield condition both sides had to deal with, the objectives for each side, and the stratagems they had available to them. Looking over the condition cards (there are 14 of them), five are normal conditions, six had easily interpretable conditions, one useless condition, and two hard to interpret conditions (they were written for the Kings of War game system). I think in the future I would prefer to produce my own table of conditions, and increase the odds that the conditions are normal. That said the Reduced Visibility condition had a very good feel to it – the Westonians had surprised the Eastonians and attacked first and although the latter knew the former were across the border, the Westonians had decided to attack early one foggy morning in an attempt to achieve surprise…
One thing of interest that I noted after the battle is how easy it is to become invested in one side or another. There are lots of ways to play solo, but generally you are either playing one side and trying to program the other, non-player side, or you are trying to program both sides. I told myself I was doing the latter, but the reality is that I did the former. I was more emotionally invested with the underdog Eastonians (who I had generated the campaign orders for both Justo and I), so when the Westonian Cavalry flanked the town by moving into the fields at B4, I immediately bugged out.
The whole point of the campaign is to provide interesting scenarios, especially ones you might not normally want to play out on a game night with a face-to-face gaming buddy. The Battle of Firnskuppe (BoF) was just such a scenario. First, it featured two units versus one in a game where it is normally six units versus six. Second, the one unit was the weakest unit in those rules versus the stronger units. So why play it, other than "because you need to know the results"? Well, for one thing, I did not know what the result would be, in terms of campaign impact. BoF was very terrain dense for a OHW game. I added a new Mounted Skirmisher unit type that had all of the weaknesses of the Skirmisher unit type, was more restrictive regarding terrain, and had only a marginally better movement rate of 12" rather than 9". (In hindsight I think it should probably be 15", but that is another discussion.) When we play games unlinked to campaigns, we tend not to think of battlefield casualties – or we minimize the impact – but only of victory conditions. Did we win the battle?
In OHW terms one side took six hits while the other took two, resulting in no lost units. One side 'won' because they achieved more victory points than the other. There wasn't even an obvious reason why the Eastonians retreated because they were giving better than they got.
The Eastonians were firing with 1D6-2 each turn (1.67 hits per turn), while the Westonians were firing 1D6-2 but would have to halve the hits (1 hit per turn) due to the cover the Eastonians were in. If the Westonian Cavalry charged they would hit with 1d6+2 hits (5.5 hits per turn). The Eastonians firing at the Westonian Cavalry would have had 1D6-2 with ½ casualties (1 hit per turn) so once the Westonian Cavalry got into position it should have immediately charged, dispersing the Mounted Skirmishers.
So, why did it play out the way it did? Clearly my own personal bias crept into the stupid play of the Westonians. The Westonian Cavalry could have hit on turn 2, effectively ending the battle with much higher losses to the Eastonians. Or maybe I am just not as analytical 'in the moment' as I like to think.
Even though I am declaring myself a cheat I am going to let the results stand. So how does this affect the campaign?
Converting from Tabletop Back to Campaign
TSWG offers a simple method for adjudicating casualties for the victor: ½ of the total casualties are killed; ¼ are severely wounded; and ¼ are lightly wounded. Killed casualties are replaced after one month; severely wounded casualties are replaced after two weeks; and lightly wounded casualties are replaced after one week. For the defeated the breakdown is the same, but the wounded will be captured – meaning they will not be replaced unless there is a prison exchange – if the victory was decisive.
This begs the question, however: how do you determine total casualties? Let's start by looking at Neil Thomas' notes in OHW:
"My combat rules work on the principle of having units acquire hits throughout the game, to be eliminated after garnering 15. They retain their full fighting ability until destroyed; this reflects a model whereby real casualties are at a fairly low level, but that the sustained experience of combat will steadily degrade a unit’s morale, at which point it routs. This is both simple and historically accurate: most casualties in any ancient battle (and those of most other periods too) were inflicted when the enemy fled, rather than the initial clash of arms. Essentially, loss of morale is reflected in elimination, rather than having to make frequent checks on a unit’s status, which tends to be a feature of complex wargames rules."
With this it is obvious that the six hits sustained by the Infantry Regiment do not reflect a loss of two companies of men, but that morale of the Regiment was down 40% because of ammunition depletion, fatigue, the morale effect of a few men being killed or wounded, and unwounded men leaving the firing line to resupply ammunition, help the wounded to the rear, or simply being ineffective out of fear. he unit did not have two of five companies become casualties.
If the emphasis on unit loss and not hit loss then it is better to come up with a table reflecting casualty effects of a unit loss.
|OHW Combat Result||TSWG Campaign Effect|
|4-9 hits remaining on Infantry or Cavalry||Lose one company on '1' with 1D6|
|1-3 hits remaining on Infantry or Cavalry||Lose two companies on a '1', one company on a '2' with 1D6|
|Infantry or Cavalry removed by musketry||Lose two companies on a '1' or '2', one company on a '3' or '4' with 1D6|
|Infantry or Cavalry removed by Artillery||Lose three companies on a '1', two companies on a '2' or '3', and one company on a '4' or '5' with 1D6|
|Infantry removed by close combat||Lose five companies on a '1', four companies on a '2', three companies on a '3' or '4', two companies on a '5', and one company on a '6' with 1D6.|
|Cavalry removed by close combat||Lose four companies on a '1', three companies on a '2' or '3', two companies on a '4' or '5', and one company on a '6' with 1D6.|
|1-6 hits remaining on any Skirmisher||Lose one company on '1' with 1D6|
|Any Skirmisher removed by musketry||Lose one company on a '1', '2', or '3' with 1D6|
|Any Skirmisher removed by Artillery||Lose two companies on a '1', one company on a '2', '3', or '4' with 1D6|
|Any Skirmisher removed by close combat||Lose three companies on a '1' or '2', two companies on a '3' or '4', and one company on a '5' or '6' with 1D6|
I have no idea if these numbers are any good, but I need to try somewhere. Note that the table determines total casualties, so ½ of the companies are replaced after one month, ¼ are replaced after two weeks, and ¼ are replaced after one week. How do we deal with fractional companies? Roll dice to see if you round up or down.
You might question how realistic this table is. What does it mean by "removed", for example? (It means the unit or combat type that rolled the die that caused the unit to be removed, by the way.) What if the unit removing your only inflicted one hit? Won't this lead to unrealistic play like trying to use Cavalry to run down your unit in close combat in order to get a deadlier result? Well, yes, but I don't see it as being 'unrealistic'. If you were routed by Cavalry, for example, they probably ran you down, rather than you outrunning them. Artillery fire was particularly deadlier than musketry, so their casualties tend to 'stick'.
So, how do the casualties play out from BoF?
Westonian Infantry: 9 hits remaining, so it loses one company on a '1'. If it does, that is ½ company killed (50% chance), ¼ company severely wounded (25% chance), and ¼ company lightly wounded (25% chance). So roll a D100 and 1-50 counts as killed; 51-75 counts as severely wounded; and 76-100 counts as lightly wounded.
I rolled a '5', so no company was lost.
Eastonian Mounted Skirmishers: 10 hits remaining, so no losses.
Rest and Recuperation
TSWG is silent (as far as I could tell), on the need for rest and recuperation after a battle, although The Joy of Wargaming hinted at it being otherwise. I noticed that he indicated that it took a day for rest and recuperation after a battle, but he took note, for example, whether light cavalry was uncommitted at the end of the battle. Those troops could be used in pursuit of defeated enemy forces.
The Westonian Infantry spent the remaining day and the next day resting and bringing the town of Firnskuppe under control. Meanwhile the Westonian Cavalry patrol around the town: two squadrons down the road towards Erlenloch, where the Eastonian Cavalry retreated; two squadrons down the road towards Grimme Hutte; and one squadron into the woods north of Firnskuppe.
This leaves a possibility of a skirmish between two squadrons of the Westonian Cavalry and the two squadrons of the Eastonian Cavalry that headed down the road to Erlenloch. But first I need to think about how to handle some of these tactical decisions – such as what to do when you are pushed out of your muster point – better. So that's it on the campaign front for now.
In Other News
So, not that I am looking to garner any sympathy, but more to explain delays in this campaign and other blogging activity I thought I would let everyone know what is going on with me.
About two years ago I was formally diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes (type 2). Part of my general problem was that I had hallux rigidus, a degenerative arthritis of the big toe, in both feet. The result is that I would get bloody sores on my big toes, making it difficult to walk as well as spreading blood all over the carpet, which really upset the wife. After months of treatment I decided to have surgery to correct the problem. In October 2020 I had my first surgery and they removed the defective left toe joint and replaced it. That surgery went as well as could be expected, so I decided to follow it up and replace the right toe joint in October of 2021.
Before any surgery you doctor has to clear you. Well the second checkup was worse than they first in that my diabetes was worse than previously. How much worse? Truth be told I was borderline acceptable. A score on my A1C of 9.0 was considered a fail and I was at 8.9. But I think I browbeat my doctor into clearing me anyway – I just wanted to get back to 'normal' and be able to fully walk again – so I went ahead with the second surgery.
The first sign of a problem was when I woke from anesthesia. I was flopping around like a fish out of water. Despite having been under anesthesia twice before in my life (all after the age of 50), I had never had a bad reaction nor found that I was allergic to any medication. This time I apparently had.
After getting home I did not strictly follow the recovery regime of icing and elevating my foot that I had the previous year. That plus the stress I had put on my stitches after the surgery caused my stitches to pop open, introducing an infection to the metallic implant. I did not even know an implant could get an 'infection', but apparently it can and it is bad if it does. Antibiotics cannot really work on digging out an infection from an implant. So after three months I was back on the table and they were removing my implant.
The doctor took no chances and essentially removed the implant and would not put a replacement in. Ironically, by the time of the second surgery on the right toe I had radically altered my diet and brought my diabetes almost under control. Basically an A1C reading of 6.5% means you are diabetic, while 5.7% to 6.4%is pre-diabetic. I had brought it down from 8.9% to 6.2%. Although it would not matter with regards to getting a replacement implant, it has mattered tremendously in healing after the second surgery.
The wound to extract is much larger than the wound when the implant went it. I am pretty sure she took more than the implant; what they call the 'grandma method', which is to basically fill it up with flexible cement. I would still be able to walk, but I would not have as much strength in the foot to push off, so no more hiking and mountain climbing for me. (I never did those things anyway.)
Because the wound was much larger it was going to take longer to heal than the last one (and that had been three months), so they were really worried about it getting infected. The first therapy they wanted to try was a wound vacuum, which is to seal the wound in a vacuum, 24 hours a day. The negative pressure not only stimulates the cells to heal faster, but it helps keep infections out. The downside is that you have to wear a purse-sized pump that sucks the air out of the wound. As the wound was on my bog toe, that meant an air hose ran from the dressing on the wound up through my pants leg, out of the top into the vacuum pump unit at my waist. Thank goodness I work from home. I suddenly discovered the benefits of old-timey nightshirts! It allowed me to look like I had a t-shirt on while attending Zoom conference calls.
So, three times a week I had to change the dressing on the wound. Once per week I went into the doctor's office so she could inspect the wound and measure progress. Well, it turned out that I was healing very well, but the special adhesive they use on the wound dressing is something I was allergic to, as I was breaking out in a very bad rash wherever the adhesive was put, which was largely around the wound. So after about a month the doctor called an end to that given that my rash was just getting so bad. But the wound was healing nicely. New cell growth.
The other issue is that because the wound was so large, and the risk of infection was so high, I was on very strong antibiotics. These were so strong apparently that the doctor had never prescribed them before. My wife is a nurse and she looked them up and this is sort of an antibiotic of the last resort. She was surprised it had been prescribed and that I had been on it so long. Well these antibiotics have a lot of side effects, one of which is killing your gut biome very effectively (the natural result of which is always having diarrhea) and that you can break out in a rash. So not only did I have a rash about the wound from the allergic reaction to the adhesive, I had a rash breaking out all over my body.
When the doctor took me off of the wound vacuum she also took me off the antibiotics; I had simply been on them too long. I was fine with that because it caused a lot of nausea, so my quality of life was down pretty badly. Mind you, I was still wargaming face-to-face with people during this period, but I was always dragging. To counter the antibiotics she told me to get some probiotics to help repopulate my gut biome and bring my gastrointestinal issues to heel. So I did.
Well, it turns out that some people can be affected by heavy probiotic usage and it comes in the form of acne. I would like to think that once upon a time I would not have been one of those people, but after all of this heavy pharmaceutical usage and sickness I should not be surprised that I am one. I broke out in pimples all over the body. Seriously, I thought that somehow bedbugs had gotten into the house and they were bug bites because I would have more red spots every morning. Finally they formed the heads and I looked at the side effects of the probiotics.
One of those pimples turned out to be a monster though. It was on my shoulder, very painful, and I finally had the wife attend to it as I had recently lost an entire weekend to fever. My guess was that it was from all of the inflammation from the acne and rashes, but it had apparently come almost completely from this one pimple/cyst?/whatever. My wife used about a dozen medical sponge gauzes to drain the pus and blood from it that night. We patched it up and I had a fever spike, but the fever broke that night and I felt a lot better the next day. But my weekend was lost.
I would like to say that the campaign has been trudging along because of all of this, but that would not be strictly true. First off, the wound is healing really well. I have moved on to silicon skin graft every week now to higher grade skin grafts every other week. The wound continues to get smaller and not show any complications. So my mobility is up, especially now that I don't have a pump to deal with and dressings to change every day. No the campaign is slow because map campaigns are a lot of work. Plus, the people I game with face-to-face are all climbing out of their lockdown routines and becoming more active and social again, so I have more (welcome) distractions. I need to get out more. No, I chose the wrong time to start a solo campaign; I should have started it months ago.
So bear with me as I intersperse writing up about this campaign with other topics. The latest craze has been playing the cooperative superhero game Marvel United. I like the chibi style of the figures and the comic style that I am painting them. Here are two of the latest supervillains that I have painted.
These should be two tough supervillains to take down.