21 January 2011

Bases, and a nice looking document

The local group doing an ECW campaign, using the Charge Pikes rules (that link is to a pdf).  My initial response to downloading was "that is a nice looking document".  Lots of illustration, full explanation rather than two pages, but not attempt at spurious GW-wannabe graphics or disruptive-camouflage page backgrounds.

Musing about bases, and partially driven by adhesion problems with paint and glue on plastruct, I am going to try 4-stand divisions (so stand per regiment) with Germans 8/stand on 40x30, and French 6/stand on 30x30.  Stand = regiment which is convenient for pretty uniforms, and uses base sizes I have in stock from Litko.

I will implement the German version tonight and see how it looks.

11 January 2011

More about unit sizes.

Lets take a look at some division frontage concepts.  I am still trying to think through the implications of these.  I am groping for a division size that will make sense and look visually attractive.

Four stands on a 3km front.

6 stands on the same front

And 8 stands, ditto.

And here are sample 6-stand divisions in sample formations.

Looking at these, I am warming further to the 4-stand Prussian division, as against a 3-stand French.  Definitely have to get some French painted and some scenarios tried out.

09 January 2011

Where to track things

I've been thinking recently about concentrating some of the information a little bit higher in the system and cutting the low level back as far as we can.   Keep in mind objective 1: this is a game for big battles.  If the only battles we can make interesting are Mars-la-Tour, Gravellotte/St Privat and Sedan and we do them well then the objective is met.

So lets consider making the corps the centerpiece.  We will track resolve (see this earlier post) and overall posture by the corps.  Divisions (4 German stands or 3 French) will have state and status but this will be within the umbrella of the corps.  This should get the army player thinking about the divisions as consumable units and away from thinking of each standing as having a meaning within a complex division. It also keeps the stand count down and reduces the amount of fiddling we do with disposable units.

We are looking at 5 French corps for each of the Army of the Rhine and the Army of Chalons.(each with 2-4 infantry divisions and one cavalry division) while the Germans brought 7 corps to the party at Mars-la-tour so the numbers are very manageable compared to running the Germans as brigades or tracking too much info at division level.

This simplifies the management of artillery and cavalry as will, since they can (for the most part, where's my prybar?) be associated with some corps or other.

A unit painted at last

Question is, is this a brigade or a division?

Pendraken 10mm on 30x20 bases.  I think the command stand is obvious anyway.

07 January 2011


Some games use a mechanism to reflect which side has the initiative.  As to what initiative is,  the online OED offers "the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do" which fits pretty well with games that empower one player or the other to move first, or decide who moves first.

It can be a fun and exciting mechanism.  Random or semi-random initiative shifts can reward risk-taking on one hand, and encourage caution on the other just by removing certainty from the sequence of play.

However, I do have a couple of concerns with random initiative.  One comes from a criticism quoted by Frank Chadwick in the design notes for Volley and Bayonet which deprecates "rags-to-riches" die rolls, that concentrate incredibly important consequences into a small number of random events.

Another is a comment by Mao in On Guerrilla WarfareNo military leader is endowed by heaven with an ability to seize the initiative

So, if we don't want dice representing the mandate of heaven, what do we want to do about initiative?  The simplest approach, I think, is simply to provide players with a predictable turn framework that empowers each to struggle for and gain the initiative, without having an explicit "initiative" rule.

We will consider the implications of this in a later post.  

At the moment, I am going to watch a bit of TV while the hard disk defrags.  If you have been following this blog, my apologies for the  paucity of posts over the holidays, but there will plenty of time for more design as the dull weeks of February approach.