Writing a Wargame – Your Comments

When I started this idea, I never thought that it would have as much following as it seems to be gathering! So first of all I want to thank everyone for all of their time spent in reading my ramblings and putting up with grammatical and spelling errors! Also for all the fantastic comments I’ve received not only on this blog itself but from the other sources I’ve shared the articles on (Reddit, Baccus etc).

I would like to take some of the comments that have been sent to me and respond to them in this article. I will then play test through these ideas later this week.

“Command & Control: ADCs as activation markers could be realistic and workable (other rulesets use this approach too). I have a thought about how you might be both innovative and realistic. Rather than a die roll for command pips – which I know you don’t want, and I have my reservations about it as well – maybe you could have a ‘Decision Point’ mechanism? By which I mean, a General only gets to send an ADC off with a new order when he has reached a Decision Point, as calculated by some criteria.

Deciding those criteria has a lot of scope for you to shape the game. How about basing it on a General having to accumulate enough Coup d’Oeil points to make a new decision?

A General might accumulate Coup d’Oeil points simply by passage of time, as his picture of the battle becomes clearer each turn.

Also when there is a significant development such as taking or losing a terrain item of designated value (perhaps more value closer to him).

Also more CdO points depending how few enemy formations remain undetected: a bonus point each turn when 75%+ have been detected, 2 bonus points when 100% detected? This would give extra reason for retaining a reserve, to keep the enemy guessing and limit his options.

Better Generals might need fewer CdO points to issue an order; worse Generals would need more.

Bad weather or concealing terrain might reduce CdOs; being on top of a hill yourself might help.

Formations breaking (whether friends or enemy) would also generate CdOs and prompt decisions.”
– Chris via Baccus

I love this idea, I had briefly mentioned to Chris about wanting to use ADC’s as order markers, Chris took it and came up with this fantastic idea which is simply to good to ignore!

“(General comment: to keep the game moving, defender makes one reaction choice, not with each incremental Attacker advance). Add ‘Stand’ as a reaction, with defender making a morale check. To withdraw or change form or hold fire adds dmg to the base morale, making these choices harder to execute than just standing.)” – Doug via WordPress

This seems to be a sensible solution, and would reduce the number of rolls required during the process. The reaction choice would come once an enemy unit closes to within 10cm.  The player would then choose the moment to use it and at that point roll their morale test? A failure resulting in the unit fleeing.  One thought I had about this was that as the enemy got closer a unit would become more and more nervous the closer they got, which was initially why I included a morale test for each action within 10cm – but I am willing to ponder on this further.

“The Brigade has 4,000 strength, but only the 2 front battalions in ‘Line Formation’ can fire. (4,000/2) = 2,000 men/ 200 men per die= 10 Firing Dice. (Calculating is easy with round, even numbers but could be a pain for a 3150 man unit.)” – Doug via WordPress

My Thoughts here would be for a player to have an order of battle sheet (roster) showing the units morale and Strength (rather than the number of men), through which they can refer to a quick reference guide showing the number of firing dice the unit may have.

“The brigade is ‘Steady’ (‘Experienced’ might be a better term since “Steady” suggests a morale test outcome.) meaning it needs rolls of 5+ to succeed. However as this is the first time this brigade has fired, he can add +1 to his rolls (4 + to succeed). (I like having an Initial Fire bonus for being ‘Fresh’ and having unfouled muskets.Historically accurate.) He scores 5 ‘successes’. (What does a ‘success’ represent? Because the player is again re-rolling below for hits below. This seems to be an unnecessary step. It’d likely be when a unit suffers casualties (below, with attendant screams, blood and howling) that ‘d shake a unit’s morale most).” – Doug via WordPress

The shooting process was originally 3 steps being a roll to determine how many men would not freeze or reload their weapon incorrectly (historically this was roughly 75%), then another roll to determine how many misfired (historically 20%), followed by how many hit the mark. These three rolls were broken down into two steps, “Steady” and “Fire”, Steady being the Freeze and the misfire roll combined.  I may yet rename this to “Ready” instead of “Steady”.  The successes from the “Steady” roll are the number of dice they can roll on the “Fire!” roll.

 “One idea I had in my game that I mentioned last week was that I was going to have an initial scouting phase (similar to the patrol phase in Chain of Command of you’ve played that) where you begin the game with your HQs setup on your board edge then take turns to move them up (while staying within communication range of eachother) until they meet the enemy and are frozen in place to give you a dynamically created deployment area. It allowed players to decide where they thought was the most important area of the board and try to manoeuvre to control it. Also meant that the first few turns of the gane didn’t involve just moving troops up. All this to say that your discussion of light cavalry’s role has made me think that they should maybe come into play in this phase.” – Shindigero Via Reddit

“Regarding your deployment article, I’ve got an idea for gamifying the deployment system. It could be an option to make more unique battle lines than the standard 6” from center line.

I’m plagiarizing this from Chain of Command’s patrol phase. Designate light cavalry and certain infantry as scout brigades, and move them onto the table. They can move as normal, but once they close within 12-18″ of the enemy they are frozen in place. Continue moving them until one or both sides have “locked” all of their scouts. At that point you deploy the remaining troops, who can be placed anywhere behind the scouts.

You could play a bit with this. Treat defensive locations like the Borodino redoubts as static “scouts”. There’s even a tradeoff of how many scouts you want to use: more obviously gives you better control over the initial line, but you also want some leftover scout cavalry to secure your flanks.”
– Altair1371 via Reddit

This is another great idea, where both Altair1371 and Shindigero essentially suggest the same thing. I’m considering using the number of light infantry and light cavalry battalions inside a players force as the number of markers they have available for the Deployment Phase of the game. Once their locked, this will determine a players deployment area.

“Maybe combine fire range into unit options? ‘Hold fire until Middle Range’? +1 ‘Hold fire until Close Range?’+2 Hold fire ? +3 You might also want to think about the morale impacts of being in good defensive terrain.)” – Doug via WordPress

This may streamline the entire process as instead of having the actions/reactions as described above each player may declare what they will carry out before the process begins. (i.e. Red Player – the active players may say that they wish to change move 3 times towards the Blue players unit, bringing them within 2cm, change formation into line for another action and with their final action give fire.  Blue Player responds with, I will hold and give fire at long range) They both make morale rolls for this, maybe with modifiers, each action maybe -1 morale? So they test once instead of multiple times? I will consider this further.

“Blue will have to pass a morale test (roll less than its morale of 7) to remain where it is. If it fails by 1-2 pts (ie 8 or 9) it would result in a move equivalent to an action backwards, while suffering D3 damage.
A failure of more than 2 would see the unit make a disorderly withdrawal while suffering D6 damage.
The Blue player rolls a 9 and will suffer D3 damage and withdraw 2cm. He rolls a d3, getting 2 damage, (reducing strength by 100 men and morale by 2, bringing it to 5) and withdraws his unit 2cm. (How are losses of men tracked since fire is calculated using # of men)?”
– Doug via WordPress

Losses would be referred back to the Strength chart I’ve referenced earlier in this comment. So a Brigade would be referenced as strength 15 rather than 750 men. When any damage is taken this strength value along with the morale value is reduced by 1 point. With morale being the only value that can be recovered.

“On his next turn he can choose to use 3 actions before moving to restore his morale to 8, and then advance and fire or advance and advance on the Red Brigade. (This seems a bit too magical in effect. 150 men just died in a 10 minute period, the attack was thrown back but everybody in the unit is now back in top form? Very doubtful.) Or he may decide its a fool errand and withdraw his Brigade and bring another stronger unit in to take the position.” – Doug via WordPress

I accept your point on this, I think perhaps a better solution would be to use either 2 actions to recover 1 morale, or alternatively all 5 actions to recover 1 morale.  I’m leaning towards the latter as a player would have to bring up fresh troops to try and take the position while recovering that Brigade for 4-5 turns.

“For what its worth, I tried out many of the above concepts in my rules journey.One observation? Players didnt normally try to hold fire, instead having ‘a use it or lose it’ mentality.” – Doug via WordPress

Perhaps if the incentive was increased from 4+ to 3+ on that initial roll?

“In connection with battalion sizes, and since Clausewitz has been mentioned, let me report what Clausewitz said about the large Austrian battalions: namely that the extra men were ‘in a sense wasted’. I think he meant that the large battalions were unwieldy and inefficient at bringing all their force to bear effectively. Part of that story would be their ratio of ~50 men per officer, as against 35-40 for other major nations and 22 for British. (Per the table on ‘Rod’s Wargaming’.)” – Chris via WordPress

Another interesting point that was also confirmed by Doug, Larger battalions becoming unwieldy, and I’m willing to adjust the the units so that the maximum strength for a battalion would be 20 (1,000 men) meaning the maximum firing dice for a single battalion would be 5 Combat/Firing Dice.

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