Sunday, February 17, 2013

Morale Modifiers, Worth the trouble?

Mexican Light Cavalry charge Crockett's Tennesseeans, who have taken
cover in broken ground...not a smart move given the even odds and cover.
      In the most recent issue of Wargames:  Soldier and Strategy, veteran wargamer and rules-writer, Richard Clarke discusses the evolution of trends in table-top gaming.  One of the examples he gives is morale modifiers and how the can change and slow down game-play.  Writes Clarke,

     "One of the worst examples...was a morale system which I encountered some years ago...To initiate my charge I had to take a morale test, I passed so then moved forward.  My opponent fired, so then I took another morale test to see if I could charge home.  I did.  So he now took a morale test to see if he stood.  He did, we fought, it was relatively inconclusive, so we both took a morale test to see what we did.  Five morale tests for one combat was, to my mind, daft, but worse, it served to totally remove us from any sense of an inspiring charge with l'arme blanche into the teeth of blazing muskets.  There was no heroism to be found there, only a succession of mundane mathematical calculations."[1]

The lancers make the morale role to charge, but their movement in restricted.  
The Tenneseeans' morale benefits from their easily defensible position and stand.
      Clarke brings up a good point.  Morale modifiers, cover modifiers, etc. and the caluclations they involve can turn a fun day for a young (pre-teen) general into a boring and anticlimactic one.  This was certainly demonstrated by a rule book I wrote for my son and I to wargame the Texian revolution and the indian wars and border raids of the early Republic period.

      The light cavalry unit would make a 2x D-6 morale role to charge the irregulars in cover within the rock formation.  Morale Modefiers (percentage of unit wounded/killed, leaders killed, cover, experience/discipline, etc.) will effect the outcome of the roll of the dice and consequently the outcome of the charge/melee combat.

      Crockett's Tenneseeans did take one casualty during the charge, but stand with his leadership MM and their cover MM.  The light cavalry fall back having taken two casualties.

The lancers take two casualties and fail their morale role.  Three morale rolls in one
assault.  This exemplifies what Clarke is addressing in his recent article.
    Clarke's point is to get the gamer to focus on command and the tactical situation, rather than have to worry about the technicalities and intricacies of the "rules".  Any ideas on a happy medium?  To paraphrase Clauswitz, Friction is constant in war...but how to retain friction and keep game play close to real time?

[1] Clarke, Richard.  "Up front", Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy, Issue 63, Karwansaray BV, Rotterdam, Netherlands, p.75.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

On the Painting Table...

The garage workbench...its been below 20 deg F out there...
      So right now on the bench I have the remainder of my Mexican Infantry (converted from Austrian Infantry).  I shaved off the tall hackle plume and replaced with a small lead projectile from a dove shot load-perfect pom-pom.  There are also mounted Texas Rangers, the rest of the Mexican Lancers (Regulars), and a mule train that I bought at a small shop in Honolulu while on a business trip last spring.
Texas Rangers and Mexican Infantry

Texas Rangers

       I am also trying to complete the mule train (back) and the Mexican Light Cavalry Lancers (Front).
Slowly, but surely.
The Unfinished Tavern
        This building has been on the bench for a while now.  I'm going to use Plastic Wood for the chinking between the logs, as I have for the other log structures I've made (cabin, dogtrot, blockhouse). I plan on modeling some other details for this as well (barrels, food, etc).  The stone is just styrofoam insulation panels-the blue sheets from the hardware store.  Floor stones are just painted matboard.  This one will have a second level, just a loft with some beds.  The finished tavern is going to be the terrain for a "Barfight" scenario between James Bowie's Volunteers and a rival gang.

X-Wing Tournament, Expansion and the 100 Point Squadron Dilemma

TIE (A) and Grey Squadron Y-Wings
          We went to The Game Vault a week ago for their Saturday night X-Wing tournament.  My son picked up two of the Y-Wing expansion packs and I picked up the TIE Advanced.  They are nice models and add interesting features to the game.  Having Darth Vader as a character is a force pun intended.

Two one-hundred point squadrons.
        The TIE (A) and Y-Wing cards/upgrades significantly changed gameplay, with additional weapons (Concussion Missiles, Ion Cannons) as well as modifers and additional Astromech Droids (repair/reduce damage to Rebel Alliance Ships in flight).

        One of the contestants had the Millienium Falcon that he won during the December Kessel Run Tournament at the store.  Nice Modeling, but with the 100 point squadron limit, if you're going to play the Falcon with Han and Luke...that's going to be the only ship in your squadron.  Need to figure out a way to speed up game play and increase squadron size.
Despite initially successful maneuvers, the dogfight did not go Darth's way.

       At the end of the tournament, my son has disabled two of my TIEs with his ION cannons.  The Y-Wings are slow and not very maneuverable, but tough.  They can take a lot of damage, which despite the fact that I had better pilots, allowed him to win the dogfight.  In the end he came in 4th in the Dad's happy.  As suspected, the one dogfight took over an hour to play.