Sunday, 15 December 2013

New Campaign Rules for Uneven Battles

I have finally decided how to handle uneven battles without having to set up and play the boring and  predictable wargame.

There has been some suggestions from the campaign players on the PBEM forum, and I have taken that into consideration.   Mind a lot of it would not fit into the campaign system, so I have had to compromise .

I considered a chart for each corps involved, but decided against that as it would involve too much work.   I would have to take quality of commanders, plus the quality, ability, casualties and morale of each brigade.  All of this would require a large chart of plus and minus points, and would need constant adjustment in the light of game experience.

I have decided to stick with one simple chart.   However I will use two D6 dice to cover a wider range of possibilities.

A low dice total indicates that the weaker side has managed to retreat before the stronger side can bring their weight to bear.   Only the rearguard has been involved in the fighting, which has been light and ineffective.

The higher the total the more fighting has taken place.  Both sides suffer casualties, but the weaker side many more than the stronger side.

This simple solution will save a lot of time fighting pointless and boring wargames.

It also follows the same principle as my wargame rules.    A low dice is bad luck for the attacker.  A high dice bad luck for the defender.

Even in the worse case the casualties will not be sufficient to force the weaker side to surrender.  I would not want any campaign to end without a formal wargame to decide the winner.

On the other hand the weaker side will always suffer more casualties than the stronger side.   This was not always the case when we fought the battle as a wargame.   The weaker side would always retreat as soon as they saw that the attackers were much stronger.   They would often do so without any casualties at all.

The new chart is as follows

Roll two D6 dice

Total               Stronger Side              Weaker Side
02                    1 infantry                    1 infantry
03                    1 infantry                    2 infantry
04                    1 infantry                    2 infantry        1 cavalry
05                    1 infantry                    3 infantry
06                    2 infantry                    3 infantry        1 cavalry
07                    2 infantry                    4 infantry       
08                    2 infantry                    4 infantry        1 cavalry
09                    2 infantry                    5 infantry
10                    3 infantry                    5 infantry        1 cavalry         1 gunner
11                    3 infantry                    6 infantry
12                    3 infantry                    6 infantry        1 cavalry         1 gunner

1 infantry equals 400 infantry casualties
1 cavalry equals 100 cavalry casualties
1 gunner equals 100 gunners casualties and three guns

Each full strength corps has 16000 infantry, 1000 cavalry and 1000 gunners.

So possible casualties of 2400 infantry, 100 cavalry and 100 gunners is a considerable punishment for allowing yourself to be attacked by greater numbers of the enemy.

This will allow me to avoid wargaming uneven battles.  No doubt I will encounter problems as I use it in the campaign, but at least I can forget the problem for now

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Time Spent on Wargaming

This week I have spent a lot of time pondering wargaming uneven battles again.  

I raised the subject on TMP hoping that someone might have experience of a set of rules which worked, and which I could then adopt to my own house rules.   I got quite a few replies but all telling me that it happened all the time, and it should be easy to include in a wargame.   But none suggesting how it might be done, or at least not in a way I could use in my own games.

Then someone asked how long I spent each week wargaming, and I replied about 8 hours.   He seemed unable to accept that it was possible to spend so long and still live a normal life.   He was even more unconvinced when I told him I also spend about 12 hours on the PBEM campaign.   This had not seemed to me to be an excessive amount of time.

We wargame most days for an hour or so.   Usually we aim at two moves each time, or three if it is a small game.   Then I spend about two hours each day working on the campaign.   Total more or less 20 hours a week.

This doubting response made me wonder whether I am excessive in the time I spend on wargaming related work.    So I asked the question on TMP “how long do you spend on your hobby”.   I cross posted it to all of the different period forums.  I was a little disappointed only about 50 replied.  I was quite surprised that hardly any of them reached, let along exceeded, my 20 hours a week.   Most seemed to manage about 10 hours a week, some much less.

It was even more striking that most of those who contribute most to the long winded posts along the lines of “Was Napoleon more kind to children than Wellington”.  These run up tens, or even hundreds, of comments.   Yet few of these posters wanted to share with the wider world how much time they actually spend on wargaming and related subjects.

It made me realise what a time wasting pasting reading forums can be.   Like everyone else I am fascinated by the explosive “flame wars”.   I would not dare to offer an opinion for fear of them turning their hate on me!   But it is absorbing to read.  Much like the crowds who gather at a traffic accident.   Not to help, just to watch.

But back to my 20 hours a week.   It would seem that I am very much in a minority in spending so much time on my hobby.   Or it may be that those who spend as long, or even longer, are too busy painting and wargaming to follow TMP.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Wargaming Uneven Battles

This week’s problem is how to tackle uneven battles in the PBEM campaign.

The role of the campaign is constantly changing; the latest was a change in the role of the players from corps commander to army commander.   As corps commanders most of the battles were one corps v one corps.   As army commander they have four corps, and naturally attempt to bring greater odds to bear before they will fight a battle.

With twelve players campaigning over six different campaign areas there are a lot more battles produced than previously.   In addition there is the new problem of uneven battles, where two corps attack one.

We wargamed two or three of these battles, and found that the wargame was predictable and pretty boring.   The player with the smaller side simply started to retreat before the attacker could pin them.

I tried making the weaker side hold their position, but this resulted in the destruction of the weaker side.   The mechanics of the wargame being that the greater number quickly cause more casualties, which increases the odds in favour of the attacker.

I then tried to avoid such battles, by allowing the smaller force to retreat.  This seemed a perfectly reasonable solution.   I feel that most corps commanders faced with such odds would do so, if it were possible.   It has always been possible in the campaign, because such battles tend to be by accident, not as the result of a clever strategic move which cut the retreat of the smaller side.

However this was unpopular with some of the players, particularly those with the larger force, who felt it was unfair to allow the weaker side to retreat.

I then went on the wargames forum to ask if anyone had found a solution to this problem.   Perhaps there is a rule set which allows uneven combat, and I could adopt it to my rules.   Or perhaps someone running a campaign had found a solution.   The answer appears to be no.    There does not seem to be an easy way to fight a wargame at odds of two or more to one.

So back to square one.

The campaign is designed to provide interesting battles for Jan and I to wargame.   I then post a full battle report, with photographs, so that each player can see why he won or lost the battle.   They are less keen on a fictional report on how the uneven battles were resolved.

I am not sure that there is an answer that will satisfy everyone.  But it is good that it has made me question the campaign rules and how it is fought.   Even if I fought each uneven battle as a wargame there would still be dissatisfaction because the weaker side would escape without any damage at all.   And there would be little point in fighting a series of wargames where one side is doomed to destruction right from the start.

So no easy answer.  But an interesting problem.