Sunday, 24 March 2019

Imaginations in 42mm (13)

Following up on my (solo) experiments with a ruleset for my armies of 42mm toy soldiers, I can already draw some conclusions w.r.t. further developments and a first real playtest.

1. Troop Density

The basic unit size is 8 infantry figures (4 for cavalry), and they can split in 2 subunits (4 figures for infantry, 2 for cavalry). That means that either an infantry unit can act as a unit of 8 figures strong, or as 2 subunits of 4 figures each. Since I give great importance to how the game looks visually, figure density is an important consideration.
I also decided the Commander in Cheif and his staff is represented by 2 cavalry figures.

Below you see both armies, with either full units in 1 hex, or 2 subunits in 2 different hexes.

Blue Army, 8 infantry figures per hex, or 4 cavalry figures per hex. The CinC is in front of the battleline. This is the visual impression when all units are located in a single hex.
(Part of) Green Army, deployed with all subunits taking up their own hex, resulting in 4 infantry or 2 cavalry per hex. Each infantry subunit has either an officer or a standard bearer.
Overall, I am pretty pleased with how things look, although I have a slight preference for the denser troop formations. But since units can be split or joined again during battle, we will have to play a few games to be sure.

2. The Time Track

The main mechanism in the game will be the time track, inspired by the mechanism used in the boardgame Conan.

Every unit is represented by a tile in the track. Every side gets 10 commands points each turn, and can use these to activate units (different actions can cost a different amount of command points). Once a unit is activated, its tile is put at the end, and the entire row slides forwards. Units in front can be activated cheaply, units in the back (which have been activated recently), are more expensive to activate quickly again.

During my solo playtest, it seems to work, but I will probably only make the first 2 slots a cost of 1 or 3.

3. Combat Resolution

I decided I wanted a mechanism that did not remove toy soldiers (after all, I painted them, so I want to see them on the table!), and that combat results would only be determined when a unit was activated. This requires that each time a unit is the target of an enemy unit in firing, it receives a little marker. At the start of the activation, the number of fire markers is used to determine the overall effect, and the fire markers are removed.

I used a very simple combat resolution table, shown below. I rolled a D6, cross-indexed with the number of hits received.

However, I forgot to include some more interesting effects. Thus, I will redesign this table, including some more effects:
  • Out of ammo
  • Unable to move
  • Disorganized
  • Retreat
  • Panicked Retreat, with adjacent friendly units retreating as well
  • Retreat, nemy units following up
  • Losing some commands points
  • etc.
Any of the (permanent) above effects such as out of ammo or being unable to move can be "removed" by a rally phase (beginning or end of a unit's activation), which I still need to think about in some more detail

I think having a variety of combat outcomes can greatly add to the atmosphere oft he game and add to the evolving narrative.

4. The Imaginations

I still haven't come up with good names for either of the two countries, except that I have decided I want the names in Dutch/Flemish (see also this blogpost for some previous thoughts on this).

Green Army (the more traditional one)
  • Generaal: Sigisbiduwald von Trappstein-Hohenschlieffen
  • 1ste Regiment Fusiliers, Companie A & B (Black)
  • 2de Regiment Fusiliers, Companie A & B (Red)
  • 3de Regiment Fusiliers , Companie A & B (Blue/Yellow)
  • 1ste Karabiniers te Paard, Eskadron A & B (White)
  • 1ste Artillerie (Brown)
Blue Army (the more modern one)
  • Generaal: Philip-Leon du Madeleine du Tré
  • 1ste Ban Schutters, Schaar A & B (Red)
  • 2de Ban Schutters, Schaar A & B (Turquoise)
  • 3de Ban Schutters, Schaar A & B (Straw)
  • 1ste Verkenners Te Paard, Patrouille A & B (White)
  • 1ste Mechanisch Geschut (Magenta)

Friday, 15 March 2019

Wet paint: 20mm British Airborne sniper team

I'm in the process of doing a bit of a refurbish / reorganisation on one of my very first wargame armies -- 20mm WWII British Airborne. I am reorganising the figures into units which are suitable for use with Chain of Command (although that will not preclude their use with other rulesets of course), as well as redoing their bases to have a single basing style. These figures were painted over many years and based in many different styles, so the rebasing was needed.

In Chain of Command, the platoon HQ section for a British Airborne platoon has a sniper team, for which I did not have any figures painted up yet. This is hereby corrected:

As you can see, the 'wet' part of the title of this post is to be taken literally - the ink on the base was freshly applied when I took the photo. The figures are from FAA (the sniper is part of the assault party).

As an aside, I am now officially getting old. Seeing details on these black undercoated 20mm figures well enough to paint them was impossible without magnification. I think I'm going to need reading glasses :)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Imaginations in 42mm (12)

I finally managed to start experimenting with my 42mm soldiers, with the aim of developing a quick and simple ruleset. I still have to come up with names for my imaginations, but let's not worry about that yet.

I usually develop house rules by starting from a  core mechanism I want to explore. Once that core mechanism is solid in place, I start adding additional features in a "add-as-we-need-it" fashion. It might also turn out that the core mechanism I have in mind doesn't work, in which case we go back to square one ;-)
Such an approach to developing rules works quite well. Think about the groundwork first, before getting lost in all sorts of bells and whistles that will rarely get used.

So what are the core principles of the game I have in mind?
  • Hex-based.
  • Inf = 4 figures, cav = 2 figures, artillery = 1 gun + crew. I'm still pondering whether 2 Inf units can combine in a larger one, since I painted them up as "sister" units (one with a flag, the other with an officer).
  • I wantAs the main core mechanism, I want to use the timing mechanism from the Conan boardgame. Each army has a "timetrack", in which the units are lined up. Each player gets a number of command points, which he can use to activate units. If a unit is at the front of the time track, it is cheap to activate a unit,  if a unit is further down the track, it becomes more expensive. Once a unit is activated, it goes to the back of the queue and the entire queue is pushed "forwards". I think this could be a very elegant mechanic, but time will tell.
  • I'm also considering of having combat resolution for a unit only when the target unit is activated. Whenever a unit is shot at, place a marker next to the unit. When that unit is activated again, count the number of markers, and roll on a table to determine final effect, thus introducing a little fog of war w.r.t. firing effects.

Setup of the table.
The timetrack for one of the armies. I borrowed the idea from the "Book of Skelos" mechanic from the Conan boardgame.
My quickly scribbled notes for a first playtest.
The green army.
The blue army.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Advanced Civilization: An Olden Goldie

During the 90s I was a heavy Advanced Civilization player. "Heavy" meaning we didn't hesitate to pull all-nighters to complete this beast, look up variants on the proto-internet etc. Our gaming group still fondly remembers those games. And yes, Crete was my favourite nation to play.

When I was recently thinning out the collection and bringing a couple of games to the local shop (which offers a nice 2nd hand selling service in exchange for store credit), I was pondering whether I should sell my copy of Advanced Civilization as well. But I just couldn't do it, mainly for nostalgic reasons, but also because apparantly it has become quite a collector's item fetching high prices. A gaming buddy of mine offered his copy (without doing some research first) for 20 euro. It was gone within minutes.

So, instead I decided to set up the game again after having been untouched in the box for nearly 20 years, and play solo. The result is shown in the pictures below. I quit when the first civilization started to collect a high number of trade cards. I considered continuing for a few more turns without trading (I even asked for opinions on BGG), but since trading is such an integral part of the game, I gave up and put everything in the box again. Perhaps 20 years from now I might take it out once more and repeat the exercise :-)