Thursday, June 19, 2008

let slip the dogs of war...

Big-Fig Battle Day finally arrives. I must confess... I've had a decadent wargame weekend. On Saturday I participated in a Zulu vs. British game. On Sunday we play-tested Quindia Studio's 'Victory Without Quarter' ECW rules. Both days were exquistly fun. And, now that I think about it, both games were played with plastic figures. The colonials and Zulus in 20mm, the ECW in 54mm. Hmmm... perhaps I'm overcoming my long standing prejuduce against plastic wargaming. As much fun as the Zulu game was, I was really looking forward to seeing the big-figs in action. I dragged my 4x8 sectional wargaming table out of the basement and overlaid the dining room table a full two days before the game. My wife was quite indulgent with me, bless her heart. This was the first game I've hosted in over five years.

My original intent was to use The Perfect Captain's  Very Civile Actions rules, but my before-mentioned printing woes prevented me from being able to print them out. (It's a Linux/PDF/font thing this time.) But, Clarence Harrision's  Victory Without Quarter rules worked quite well. We used just the basic combat procedures and it took only a few turns to catch onto the ebb and flow of the rules. We really enjoyed the non-predictable movement mechanism and personally I appreciate the fact that all dice rolls are done with six-sided dice. I do think using commanders will add a lot to the game. However, I didn't feel that I had any suitable command figures and wanted to keep the game as simple as possible for this first go-round. What we discovered was that without commanders, and having almost identical forces (and set up) on each side made it extremely difficult to achieve an advantage at any particular spot. Consequently, melee victories were dependent upon lucky dice rolls. But the game is nicely balanced, having hot dice once or twice will not unbalance the game. You must think and act strategically. The rules are simple enough, and balanced enough, that there is little 'gamesmanship' involved. I like that.

That's not to say the rules are perfect. Clearly they are not made for 54mm, nor for two-man basing. Since we had a smallish 4x8 table for our 54mm combat we maintained the 25mm movement and range measurements. In addition, we counted every four infantry figures (mounted on two stands) as a single combat stand. This worked quite well. We defined each two-man cavalry stand as a single combat stand so that we could field two four-man cavalry units. This too, worked well. While there are a few gray areas in the rules there is enough in them to come up with a ruling on the fly and still remain true to the author's intent. I hope. For example, we became involved in melees where there were enough negative modifiers to make the possibility of getting hits on the enemy impossible (e.g., rolling a seven or greater on a six-sided die). Now, in the shooting portion of the rules, there is a mechanism for re-rolling hit dice a second time to see if these impossible hits can be attained. But there's nothing specifically in the melee portions of the rules for it. So, after hemming and hawing for a bit we decided to adopt the shooting re-rolling. Such is the plight of the creative gamer! In addition, a summary sheet of the rules might make learning them a bit easier. I may make my own just to help the learning process. But in the big picture the rules are simple enough that I imagine the summary sheet will be little used once a greater familiarity with the rules is achieved. Still, for demo games or games with infrequent ECW players, it will be handy and should cut down flipping through the rules looking for specific sections.

I apologize for the lack of interesting pictures of the game. One, the set up was not that interesting, some rough, plowed terrain on one end, some miniature trees on the other flank. Two, my opponent brought over some not-quite-complete-yet-exquisitely-painted figures and feared that his reputation would be irretrievably soiled if they were shown publicly. Three, my Auto-Focus-Nemesis delights in tormenting me. There WILL be future games... and I promise better pictures. Perhaps even some suitable 54mm terrain.

No comments:

Post a Comment