Showing posts with label variant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label variant. Show all posts

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Battle Cry - Glorieta

Fired up by my ACW game on Thursday, I found a Battle Cry scenario I'd downloaded years ago on my hard-drive and decided to give it a try this afternoon. It's for Glorieta, one of the actions fought during the New Mexico campaign of 1862, and therefore within my favoured Trans-Mississippi theatre.

Here it is:

I ran it solo, using a Battle Cry variant of the rules I tried out HERE. The rules for each player turn were:

Draw one card.

Roll D6 equal to Command Cards - 1
+1 Dice if you played a Scout card last turn
-1 Dice for each Fight Back card you currently hold.

Each 5 or 6 gives you an extra card draw. Choose one card to play. Discard the rest.

If you choose Fight Back as your card, keep it to one side, then play the top card from the deck (regardless of what it is, but discarding it and drawing again if it is another Fight Back). When a side has at least one Fight Back card, and it is possible for them to play it, you decide if they will or not. However roll a combat die. If the die is a Star, then your decision is reversed. So if you choose not to play it, but roll a Star, then it is actually played. If you choose to play it and roll a Star, then it isn't played. So long as a side has a Fight Back card, they roll one less dice per card when determining how many cards they draw (see above).

The rules worked pretty smoothly, and gave a couple of good games. The first was something of a walkover for the Confederates; they got good rolls for cards, rolled some excellent combat dice and beat the Union by six flags to two. Their artillery in the centre proved especially effective.

In the second game the Union put up a better fight, and the Confederate advance was less organised. The Confederates managed to push up to the ranch, and almost took it, but a counter move by the Union saw them driven off. towards the end both sides were rolling sets of combats that could have won them the game, but the Confederates just managed to pull off a victory, five medals to three.

I took photos during both games, but not really with a view to writing a report, so they're posted here just to give an idea of how the games looked. Here's the scenario set up.

I used my 6mm figures. I have enough bases to substitute for the original plastic figures one-to-one, but I wanted to see how the game would look with a lower density of bases

I used two bases for each unit, and small stones to mark hits.

This meant that units didn't completely fill the hex, so there's room for terrain pieces as well, if I decide to go down that route at a later date.

I don't think that the look of the game suffered with the lower figured density, and the markers were unobtrusive and no problem to use.

I did consider two guns for each artillery unit, but decided that they looked nicer with a gun and limber.

I'll try some of the larger scenarios with this setup, and see how they look.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dice-Base Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'

You know that sometimes you get ideas in your head and they won't go away until you let them run their course? Well, this is one of those times. After having read Nate's reports of his Clobberin' Time games for the Six By Six Challenge I was reminded that I wanted to find a way to change the game so that it didn't use playing cards for initiative. It's not that I have anything against cards, and I think the current system is excellent in many way. But dropping them removes a component from the game, with the only other solution being to switch the whole game to using playing cards (which is worth a thought too).

Anyway I suddenly had an idea to use something based on the initiative system that Peter used in his grid-based 40K games that I tried out last year, with each activation being determined by an opposed D6 roll. Clobberin' Time has a low unit density, so it wouldn't be too arduous or slow the game down any more than the card system does. And I was reminded that during discussion of that system last year I'd considered the idea of using doubles (which are rerolled in the 40K variant) to trigger random events. In Nate's reports I rather enjoyed the way he'd built side-plots into the game, and I thought that there may be a way of building that into Clobberin' Times mechanisms, instead of just making it part of the scenario design.

It all seemed to click together very logically, and what follows is something that I pretty much threw together in a spare hour the other day. I ran a few, very basic, test games just to check that it wasn't too broken, and it seemed OK, but it still needs some work. But I present it for your consideration.


Dice-Based Initiative for 'Clobberin' Time'


Characters are either Ready or Activated. (Strictly this is the case under the card-based system, but it's important here, as you will see).

Both sides roll a D6. The player with the highest score has initiative and must activate a ready figure if one is available. The players then make another opposed D6 roll.

If, before rolling for initiative, all characters in play are Activated, then the turn ends and all characters are automatically returned to Ready.

If you win initiative with a ‘6’ then instead of activating a figure you may return a single Activated character to being Ready.


On a Double 1, the turn ends immediately, all characters become Ready, and the players test for initiative again.

On a Double 6, the player who didn’t win the previous initiative roll decides who wins.

On any other double:

If both players have characters who are ready, then the player with the lowest total levels of Sub-Plots (see below) decides who wins, with the player who didn’t win the previous initiative roll breaking a tie. 

Otherwise the only side with Ready characters wins the initiative.

A score of Double 1 will trigger, and other doubles may trigger, a Sub-Plot against the last character activated.

The first initiative roll of the game cannot be a double. If it is, then reroll it.


These represent events and complications that crop up in the story to distract the characters.

If the initiative score is a double, and the dice score is equal to or less than the level of the last character to activate or be returned to ready, then that character acquires a Sub-Plot.

Sub-Plots remain active until they are resolved. A character may only have one unresolved Sub-Plot; until it is resolved they ignore new ones, unless they are currently affected by a Dark Secret, in which case the new Sub-Plot replaces that one.

Except in the case of a Dark Secret, the level of the Sub-Plot is equal to the dice score. Eg a Level 3 character is activated. The next initiative roll is a Double 2. That character acquires a Level 2 sub-plot.

Roll a D6 to see what the sub-plot is:

1 - Puzzle - Roll 2D6 and add 6. The other player places a puzzle equal to the level of the sub-plot at that distance from the affected character, in any direction. The sub-plot is resolved when the character solves the puzzle. Other characters on the same side cannot attempt to solve the puzzle. Roll a dice to determine the type of puzzle: 1 - Clue, 2 - Science, 3 - Magical, 4-5 - No specific type, 6 - Affected character chooses.

2 - Arch-Enemy - Select an opposing character at random. The level of the Sub-Plot is the number of attacks the affected character must make against that enemy. Attacks must be those that can potentially score damage, and can include those made by other characters if the affected character is either mind-controlling them, or has activated those character via the Leader ability. The sub-plot is resolved when the requisite number of attacks have been made, or if one of the attacks defeats the character. If the arch-enemy is defeated by someone other than the affected character, then remaining attacks are converted to a Puzzle Sub-Plot, placed where the arch-enemy fell.

3 - Great Responsibility - Randomly place the Sub-Plot on a friendly character. Each time the affected character activates, reduce the Sub-Plot level by one. The Sub-Plot is resolved when its level reaches zero. If the friendly character is defeated before the sub-plot is resolved, then it is immediately resolved, but the remaining levels are converted to Self-Doubt on the affected character.

4 - Self-Doubt - This sub-plot is immediately resolved. Place a number of hinder markers on the character equal to the level of the sub-plot.

5 - Loss of Powers - This sub-plot is immediately resolved. Randomly select one of the affected character’s abilities. That ability cannot be used for a number of activations of that character equal to the level of the Sub-Plot.

6 - Dark Secret - The character is marked with a sub-plot equal to their level (not the dice roll). It is not removed or reduced in level, but if the character becomes affected by another sub-plot, then it replaces the Dark Secret. The new sub-plot cannot be lower in level than the Dark Secret. If it is, then its level is increased to that of the Dark Secret it replaces. If the new Sub-Plot is also a Dark Secret, then the level of the Dark Secret is increased by one, and it remains undetermined. Note that this is the only case where a character that has an active sub-plot becomes subject to another.

As descibed above, on an initiative roll that is a Double 2, 3, 4 or 5, total up the remaining unresolved sub-plot levels for both sides. If one side has fewer unresolved sub-plots than the other, then that side automatically chooses who wins the initiative.


Some of the Sub-Plots are simply designed to designed to hamper or annoy a character. Others can, seemingly, be ignored - Puzzle, for example. However unresolved Sub-Plots put your side at a disadvantage when it comes to resolving initiative ties, so it may not always be to your advantage to ignore that problem. This is a side of things I need to test properly, in order to see if the penalty for ignoring Sub-Plots is pitched at about the right level.

Obviously switching to a dice-based initiative system affects a whole range of abilities which rely on the card-based activation, and I am working through redoing them to fit in with it. One new ability worth mentioning, however is one I have called Quick. This allows a character from be returned to Ready from Activated on a roll or 5 or 6, instead of just 6. What this allows is a practical way of pitting one powerful character against a group of slightly less powerful ones - a master villain vs a team, for example. At present a master-villain is rather hampered by the fact that they can be overwhelmed by the number of actions a group of heroes can throw against them. The Quick ability allows the villain to activate more than once per turn on a more frequent basis than their opponents do. This is the theory, anyway; I've yet to properly test it.

I welcome comments and suggestions.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Neil Thomas Tanks

Whilst I am still working out the to and fro of the Two Hour Wargames reaction system with Hell Hath No Fury, I thought that it would be nice to play some kind of WWII tank-orientated game which didn't require so much mental effort. What would also be fun is one in which I could easily bolt on other troop types; ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ kind of does this in that it’s a subsection of the Nuts! Rules, but that uses individual men, and I was looking for something which ran squads of 5-10 men alongside individual tanks. I have looked at ‘Five Core – Company Commander’, and I’m glad I did because there’s a neat little game there, which I plan to explore at a later date. However that’s very much geared up for infantry combat, with a lot of the vehicle stuff simplified or abstracted. It’s not what I’m looking for at the moment.

A few months ago I bought Neil Thomas’s Wargaming: An Introduction, and you’ll recall that I played a couple of games using the ACW rules from it. There is a set of WWII rules, and I wondered if it would be possible to play a game basically just using the tank side of them. After reading them through, I reckon that it it.

It goes without saying that I’d make a few changes.

(i) The rules group all tank guns into the categories Ultra-Light, Light, Medium, Heavy and Super-heavy. Armour is similarly classified as Light, Medium, Heavy and Super-Heavy. When testing for penetration you roll a D6: a 1-2 is a Miss, a 3-4 is Immobilised and a 5-6 is Destroyed. You add a factor for the weight of the gun and deduct one for the thickness of the Armour. This is basically done in increments of 2 with Medium as the zero point, so a Heavy gun gets +2 but Heavy armour causes a -2. This means that there is scope for some granularity, with, say, an armour rating between the 0 of Medium and the -2 of Heavy. It is simple enough step to reclassify all guns and armour as numbers, from 1-8; when rolling to penetrate, add the Gun factor and subtract the Armour. Roughly, Light becomes 2, Medium 4, Heavy 6 and Super-Heavy 8, but with some guns and armour going up or down one point from the Neil Thomas classifications.

That previous paragraph will make more sense when I post some tank stats. But they won't be in this post.

(ii) The damage table is quite deadly, since an Immobilised vehicle is stuck for the rest of the game. A second Immobilised result destroys it. I would make it a touch more complex:

2 or less = Miss
3 = Damaged
4 = Immobilised
5+ = Destroyed

‘Damaged’ is the same as Immobilised in terms of effect, except that at the start of the turn the tank rolls a D6 and on a 4+ it is removed. So it’s like Immobilised, but temporary. Otherwise it’s treated as Immobilised, although I am still looking at some possible interactions with respect to that.

(iii) The rules use a single set of range-bands for all tank and anti-tank guns. I suspect I’ll change that at some stage, but I haven’t really looked at it. The range band dictates the chance of a hit. I would add two modifiers: -1 if the vehicle moved or pivoted (a tank can only half-move and fire as well), and a -1 if the vehicle is Immobilised or Damaged.

(iv) In the delightfully all or nothing way that Neil Thomas writes his rules, artillery has no effect on tanks in this game. I’m looking at changing that; I think it can be built into the artillery fire procedure, with maybe hits causing potential Damage results rather than outright destruction.

(As an aside, on the subject of HE, rating guns as numbers also allows for different HE ratings. Neil Thomas has all tank guns rolling 10D6 when firing HE. This can now be adjusted to rolling a number of dice equal to twice the Gun rating. It also allows for the defining of howitzers and infantry support guns in a simple way; they get the gun rating appropriate to their size, but it counts one less for anti-tank fire and one more for the purposes of calculating HE dice)

There are a few other minor tweaks I plan on making, but I won’t bore you with them. The next stage is to play a game.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Solo Memoir '44

As much as I love the two Command and Colours games I own - Memoir '44 and Battle Cry - they are not easy to play solo, as they rely on each player having a hand of cards. Note that when I say solo here I do not mean the 'I take one side and let a system run the other'. I mean just playing the game through, taking both sides and making sensible decisions for them.

Now I could just try and 'forget' which cards each side has, but that's quite hard to do, even honestly. It is much better to have a way of playing the game in some form where there is no hidden information to forget in the first place.

I came across an idea the other day where neither side has a hand of cards, but rolls a dice at the start of their turn,testing against the hand size for the particular scenario and getting to draw either one, two or three cards from the deck. You then choose which card you want to play, and discard the others (if any). I rather liked this, so thought I would give it a go.

I set up the Saverne Gap scenario, and away I went.

It rattled along very nicely. It plays fast because, of course, you don't have a hand to plan around. Obviously this does take an aspect away from the game, but I didn't feel that the game was suffering too badly from it. It still felt like a game of Memoir '44.

In the end the Allies scored the sudden-death victory, as an armoured strike from their left flank captured the town in the German rear.

I set up an played a few other scenarios from the basic rules, and in each one I tweaked and modified the activation. The first thing I wanted to do was avoid using a D6 altogether. The game comes with a perfectly functional set of dice of its own, and I thought that something could be done with those. I switched to the following system:

Each turn a side draws one card. They roll combat dice equal one less than the number of Command Cards the scenario assigns them. For each Star rolled, draw an extra card. Pick one, discard the rest.

This worked OK, but I felt that the odds weren't that good, and on too many turns a side with five or six Command Cards was still only getting to draw one. On the plus side there were turns where you could roll a pile of Stars (a one in six chance per dice), and get loads of cards to choose from.

I switched to this method.

Each turn a side draws one card. They roll combat dice equal one less than the number of Command Cards the scenario assigns them. For pair of symbols rolled, draw an extra card. Pick one, discard the rest.

Using this method gives reasonable odds of getting at least one extra card and, if you start with five or six Command Cards, the possibility of two pairs, giving you a third card to choose from. This is the method I'm working with at the moment.

By this stage I had switched from the scenario book to some I'd downloaded from the 'net. I'd never played this Dunkirk 1940 scenario before, for example, but enjoyed it so much I ran it three times. The British and French must defend a perimeter against considerable numbers of Germans, whilst evacuating non-combatant two-figure infantry units by moving them into the sea. The Allies get medals for every two units that escape (plus medals for German casualties, naturally), whilst the Germans just get medals for casualties. But, of course, those units waiting for evacuation are easy kills, and it's vital the Allies prevent the Germans from breaking through and engaging them.

The first time I played it the Allies put up an amazing defence, holding the Germans in all sectors and evacuating over half of their troops from the beach to win by a decent margin. But they'd obviously got lucky; in the two following games the Germans attacked hard and broke through.One they're on the beaches in numbers, things are very bad for the Allies.

The French, on the Allied right, have quite a decent position, and held out well in all games, although they are vulnerable to being outflanked by German armour if they aren't careful.

This was another scenario with odd rules that I'd downloaded - the German attack on Warsaw in 1939. This doesn't use victory medals; the Germans simply have to capture three of six city hexes before the card deck runs out. The Poles just have to sit tight until the deck runs out. Casualties are immaterial. It makes for a desperate and bloody scenario, as the Poles defend against a hefty German attack, and are constantly plugging gaps and trying to prevent flanking moves.

The Germans came very close, almost clinching victory on a couple of occasions,  but couldn't quite pull it off before the cards ran out. I had to make up rules on the fly for how the deck 'ran out', as you get through it faster using the solo-play method. It seemed to work.

Three things make this solo system a little awkward.

(i) Recon cards allow the player to draw two cards at the end of the turn, and choose one to keep. Obviously with no hand in play this becomes irrelevant. I may simply say that if you play a Recon card then on your next turn you can choose to reroll all of your dice when seeing how many Command Cards you draw. Another, simpler, alternative is to give you one extra dice for determining how many cards you draw on the turn after you play a Recon card..

(ii) I didn't try any scenarios where the Russian Command Rule was in place. This forces to Russians to play their card one turn in advance. I may simply adopt the reverse of the Recon card rule here, and have Russian armies roll one fewer dice when determining how many extra cards they draw.

(iii) Ambush is a tricky card, as you don't play it immediately, and t's actually played as a nasty surprise in your opponent's turn. Drawing it is easy. If you choose to take an Ambush card you have drawn, then put it to one side, and simply draw the next card from the deck and play that, regardless of what it is. Playing Ambush is trickier. If Side A has the Ambush card, then when I play Side B I am going to do so with that knowledge, and be more cautious with my close combats. There needs to be a degree of unpredictability. So, here is the system I am considering at the moment:

When a side has the Ambush card, and the other side declares a close combat, then you choose whether that side with the card will play it, as you would any other in-game decision you make. However roll a combat die. If the die is a Star, then your decision is reversed. So if you choose not to play it, but roll a Star, then it is actually played. If you choose to play it and roll a Star, then it isn't played. So long as a side has the Ambush card, they roll one less dice when determining how many cards they draw.

If I use all of these methods, then the card draws are done as follows:

Draw one card.

Roll combat dice equal to Command Cards - 1
+1 Dice if you played a Recon card last turn 
-1 Dice if affected by the Russian Command rule
-1 Dice if you currently hold the Ambush card.

Each pair of duplicate symbols gives you an extra card draw. Choose one card to play. Discard the rest.

I shall continue to develop these ideas with some more games.

Note: If you are reading this post on then you are reading a stolen version. Please go to 'The Stronghold Rebuiltfor the original posts. Thank you.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Machinas Handicapping

When setting up vehicles for a race in Machinas it is possible for there to be a reasonable disparity in points. The rules themselves cover this in a way, but setting a limit on how much higher the entry cost of a vehicle can be compared to other vehicles. But I don't always find it that helpful to apply in practice, as it can require a fairly radical reworking of vehiucles to get them to fit.

In recent races I have been using a handicapping system, which allows vehicles with a range of points costs to compete with each other on terms which give the feel of being equal (even if they probably aren't).

The mechanism is to allow the possibility of extra bonus dice for vehicles with a lower entry cost. This is how I do it.

I calculate the points total of each vehicle in the race. The vehicle with the highest points total is then determined.

Each vehicle gets a number of Handicap Dice equal to (Highest Vehicle Cost in Race) - (Vehicle's Cost).

At the start of the race, roll the Handicap Dice for each vehicle.
Each dice which scores a 1 gives the vehicle 2 extra Bonus Dice
Each dice which scores a 2-3 gives the vehicle 1 extra Bonus Dice
Each dice which scores a 4-6 give no extra bonus dice.

So the handicap is random, but can give great rewards if the player is lucky.

Example: There are four vehicles in the race. A costs 12pts, B costs 17pts, C costs 13pts and D costs 16pts.

B has the highest points cost at 17.

A gets 17-12 = 5 Handicap Dice
B gets 17-17 = 0 Handicap Dice
C gets 17-13 = 4 Handicap Dice
D gets 17-16 = 1 Handicap Dice

A rolls and gets 1, 2, 3, 3 and 5. The 1 gives the car 2 Bonus Dice, the 2 and two 3s give it 1 Bonus Dice each and the 5 gives it nothing. So A gets an extra 5 Bonus Dice.

C rolls and gets 3, 4, 4 and 5, for a total of 1 extra Bonus Dice (bad luck!)

D rolls and gets 4, for no extra Bonus Dice.

Overall I don't think that this is a game-breaker, and it allows vehicles of differing levels to compete on a more equal footing.

I haven't quite worked out how to apply this to chases yet, where new vehicles can enter part of the way through the game. At present I am considering a slightly different mechanism where the dice gained at the end of each 'lap' vary depending on the relative costs of the vehicles currently in play. But I'm still working on the actual arithmetic.

Happy Racing!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Pimp Your Ride

The more Machinas I play, the more I find myself tinkering with the rules. Partially this is because I just like tinkering with rules, but partially because I can't help thinking that Machinas was rushed into production with insufficient editing and playtesting, and bits of it need tweaking.

One area I've not been happy with is the costs and weights of equipment you can fit to vehicles. Some items seem to be good value compared to others - Spiked Wheels, for example, are not as powerful in use as the Spiked Ram, but the latter is far heavier and more expensive to buy; more so than the increase in effectiveness justifies. Now, the game bypasses this to some extent by having layers build their cars from random draws from a deck of equipment and features, but it's nice to put together vehicle designs of your own choice, and for that you need a system where points and especially weight/space requirements make sense.

Originally I started tweaking the costs and weights of the items in the game. then I realised that I was trying to fix lots of individual things and was on the road to madness. So I decided on a new approach; rewrite the whole equipment thing.

The following is a very provisional set of rules for arming and armouring vehicles. It covers most items which should take up space in a vehicle. I'm still working on features such as Power Steering and Streamlining, as well as the driver's Signatures. Despite what I have stated above I haven't worked out the points values yet; I want to test the balance of each item before I do that.

The system assumes that you're using my alternative rules for vehicle size, which you can find HERE.

A vehicle has a number of spaces equal to its size. Each piece of equipment takes up one space.

Equipment is as follows. Rather than the specific items of the original rules I have used more generic terms and then the player can assign a description as appropriate. So a Passive Passing Defence coild be oil or spikes, whilst a Gun could be machine-guns, harpoons or a rocket-launcher, depending on how you define them. Items can be bought multiple times and the bonuses then accumulate, unless otherwise stated:

Bigger Engine - For each space you put this in, gain +1 Speed. Yes, a truck can have a massive +6 Speed, but since it also has a -3D6 when passing a lot of that will be cancelled out.

Bashing - +1D6 on Bashing attempts takes one space. This can be changed to +1 auto-success when Bashing, but in that case it only applies when the vehicle has won a pass and initiates a Bash attempt; it does not apply if the vehicle is the target of a bash.

Armour (Shooting) - Each space you causes someone Shooting at you to take -1D6

Armour (Bashing) - Each space you fill reduces the number of successes a vehicle scores against you when Bashing by 1, but only if they initially score more successes than you do, and never below 0.

Passing Defence (Passive) - A vehicle trying to pass you in an adjacent lane gets -1 success for each space you assign.

Passing Defence (Active) - For one space you can force a vehicle that fails to pass you by a margin of two or more successes to make an out of control roll. For each additional space you spend on this they take -1D6 on this roll.

Gun - Vehicles cannot normally shoot. A vehicle can buy the ability to shoot normally at a cost I haven't determined yet. This takes no space. This may be upgraded to +1 D6 when shooting if it takes a space. Each further +1D6 costs points and a space as normal. A Gun may be purchased as a tail-gun, but cannot then shoot normally. For one space a Gun may be fitted into a turret, which means that it can fire either normally or as a tail-gun, but not both in the same turn.

Guns can be upgraded or given limits, which allows you to create more specific weapons. Again I am still working on the points costs for these, but my current view is that an upgrade costs the same as buying +1D6. Upgrades do not take up space. Unless otherwise stated a Gun upgrade is applied to the whole gun, not just to 1D6.

Rapid Fire - when firing this gun you may reroll two of the dice.

Armour-Piercing - Upgrade a +1D6 to 1 auto-success. This upgrade is bought per dice.

Deadly - If you win a Shooting attempt with this gun and score 2 or more successes than the other vehicle then that vehicle must make an out of control roll.

Missiles/Rockets - This Gun gets -2 successes when shooting into normal, legal positions, either as tail-gun or otherwise. However it may target other vehicles to or from a wide pass, taking a -1 success.

Slow Load - This gun must spend a turn (a track section) being reloaded between shots. This has a negative cost.

Limited Shots - After a shooting attempt with this gun roll a die. If the score is greater than the number of laps the race is due to be run then the weapon is out of ammunition and cannot be used again for the rest of the game. A roll of 5+ always causes the gun to run out of ammo. A road-chase as described in the rules is assumed to be 2 laps for the purpose of this limit. This has a negative cost.

It all sounds more complicated than it actually is. Here's some examples; I will assume all things cost 2pts:

A bike (1 space) with a pillion passenger with a hand-gun. The Gun has +0D6, so has a base cost (say 2 pts), but takes no space. But the rider acts as a turret, allowing the weapon to be used normally or as a tail-gun. This costs 2 pts and takes up a space. So the bike costs 4pts and can shoot, with no modifiers, normally or as a tail-gun.

A car (3 spaces) with machine-guns and some armour - -1D6 Defence (Gun) takes one space and costs 2pts. +2D6 Gun firing normally take 2 spaces and cost 4 pts. For an extra 2pts the Gun can be made Rapid-Fire.

A truck with an excavator on the back (6 spaces) - The excavator gives +3 successes when Bashing, which costs 6pts and takes 3 spaces. Its weight gives the vehicle +1D6 when Bashing as well, which takes 1 space and costs 2pts. The arm can be used to prevent vehicles passing, so for 1 space and 2pts the truck has one Passing Defence (Passive) forcing another car to take -1 success. Finally for one space and 2pts the vehicle has one level of Bashing Defence because of its weight. So:

+3 Successes when Bashing as the active vehicle
+1 D6 in all Bashing attempts
-1 Success to any vehicle which wins a Bashing attempt against you.
-1 Success to any vehicle attempting to pass you

A vehicle may choose to not fill all spaces. These can be considered to be empty, or have extra fuel-tanks or non-specific useful equipment in them. To this end, at the start of the race/chase roll 2D6 for each empty space. Each score of 1 gives the vehicle 2 additional Bonus Dice. Each score of 2 or 3 gives the vehicle 1 additional Bonus Dice.

As I sad, these ideas are still very provisional - the Gun rules still need some work - but I think they make sense and shouldn't unbalance one style of vehicle over another.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Maurice: French Revolutionary and Early Napoleonic Wars

These notes were put together by Caesar Anderson

Aim: To play Napoleonics using the Maurice rules with minimum meddling to the core rules or resorting to house rules. Therefore, the proposed tweaks only restrict army composition and introduce a combination of existing advanced rules to achieve a more fluid battle and balance of arms, true to Napoleonic warfare.

To represent the greater mobility and dependence on dense formations for assault and counter-cavalry manoeuvres, all nationalities have the National Advantages of Cadence and En Masse. Specific nations have additional National Advantages as follows:

Austrian - Cavaliers
British – Lethal Volleys, Steady (only nation allowed over 30pts of National Advantages)
French – A la Baionnette, Skirmishers
Prussian – Lethal Volleys, Professional Train (horse artillery)
Russian – Artillery Academy, Rally

To reflect the greater shock impact of cavalry on the battlefield, infantry and cavalry quality is re-jigged such that there is no elite infantry and a maximum of two trained infantry per army (representing grenadiers or guards in this period). The attacking side is entitled to another trained infantry unit for free (see p.22 “Mercenaries” or in this case a battalion of grenadiers hastily brought up from reserve). All other infantry is conscript or irregular. There is no restriction on the quality of regular cavalry (the average is trained). All armies must contain more infantry than cavalry and the principle arm rule applies (infantry cannot exceed cavalry by more than 3 to 1).

A couple of advanced rules are adopted to provide armies with the more dynamic command and artillery appropriate to this era:

DYO Cards – Shuffle the three DYO cards into the deck. Each DYO card is played as a “Coordinated” event card, allowing two forces within 12BW of the CinC to march or rally in a single round.

Light Artillery – Artillery units may be included in an infantry force to march (including for the purpose of removing smoke from previous bombardments) or rally.

2 Trained Regular Infantry (Consular Guard) @ 12 pts
4 Conscript Regular Infantry (Line) @ 16 pts
3 Irregular Infantry (Legere) @ 9 pts
1 Elite Regular Cavalry (Cuirassiers) @ 8 pts
2 Trained Regular Cavalry (Dragoons) @ 12 pts
1 Irregular Cavalry (Chasseurs á Cheval) @ 3 pts
4 Artillery @ 10 pts
National Advantages: 30 pts
Total: 100 points     Army Morale: 13

2 Trained Regular Infantry (Consolidated Grenadiers) @ 12 pts
4 Conscript Regular Infantry (Line) @ 16 pts
2 Irregular Infantry (Grenzer) @ 6 pts
2 Elite Regular Cavalry (Cuirassiers) @ 17 pts
2 Trained Regular Cavalry (Dragoons) @ 12 pts
2 Irregular Cavalry (Hussars) @ 6 pts
4 Artillery @ 10 pts
National Advantages: 21 pts
Total: 100 points     Army Morale: 14
2 Trained Regular Infantry (Foot Guard) @ 12 pts
5 Conscript Regular Infantry (Line) @ 20 pts
1 Irregular Infantry (Light Infantry) @ 3 pts
1 Elite Regular Cavalry (Horse Guard) @ 8 pts
2 Trained Regular Cavalry (Dragoons) @ 12 pts
2 Irregular Cavalry (Light Dragoons/Spanish Guerrillas) @ 6 pts
3 Artillery @ 6 pts
National Advantages: 33 pts

Total: 100 points     Army Morale: 13

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Alternative Size Rules for Machinas

I have recently been playing around with the vehicle size and weight rules on Machinas, looking to streamline them and make the penalties and advantages consistent and easier to remember. Off the back of it I also ended up changing the way vehicles take damage from Shooting, removing an oddity where faster vehicles were harder to destroy and adding in the chance of knocking out weapons and defences on opposing vehicles. I am still testing them, but I think that the basics are good to go, so am posting them here for comment and criticism.

Vehicles have a size from 1-6:

1 - Bikes
2 - Buggies, Sports Cars, Subcompacts
3 - Sedans or similar. This is the size I use for standard games.
4 - Large pickups, Vans
5 - Bus or Camper Van
6 - Trucks

A vehicle can carry weight equal to twice its size. The penalties for exceeding this are as given in Machinas


You'll notice a column for Hits. I felt that Shooting causing Speed loss and Speed therefore equating to a vehicles capacity to take damage didn't really work for me. So now Shooting no longer causes direct Speed loss. Instead 2+ Successes on the Shooting table cause a loss of Hits.

The more Successes you score, the more Hits you score - if you score more Successes than the target you score Hits equal to the difference -1. So +2 Successes scores 1 Hit, +3 Successes scores 2 Hits and so on.

When a vehicle has lost at least half of its Hits then it is damaged and automatically suffers a -1 Success on all Passing attempts. Then roll 1D6 for each 'system' on the vehicle - on a 1-3 that system is considered lost for the rest of the game. 'Systems' are any Car Feature, Weapon or Defence which has a positive cost. In addition all vehicles have an Engine system; on a 1-3 that system is damaged and the vehicle suffers and additional -1 Success on all Passing attempts.

Example: A van can take 5 Hits and has a Grenade Launcher and Sloped Armour. It takes fire and the attacker scores +2 Successes on the Shooting table, so the van suffers 1 Hit. It has 4 remaining, so isn't considered damaged. A second shot scored +3 Successes on the Shooting table, however, so the van suffers 2 more hits. It has now taken 3 of its 5 hits, so is considered damaged. It now automatically suffers -1 Success on any passing attempt. In addition it rolls a D6 for the Grenade Launcher and Sloped Armour, losing each on a 1-3. Finally it rolls an additional D6, and receives a second -1 on all passing attempts if the score is 1-3.

When a vehicle reaches zero Hits it crashes as described on the Shooting Table.

You'll notice that sports cars and subcompact cars operate the same, unlike how they work in Machinas. To this end I have added a new Car Feature:

Underpowered: Vehicle gets -1D6 in all passing attempts - Cost -1

So a sports car is considered the 'default' Size 2 vehicle, whereas a sub-compact is the underpowered version; only as good at passing as a sedan, but more vulnerable to bashing. The trait, however, can be applied anywhere on the scale rather than just having a special rule to cover subcompact cars; I have it earmarked for a large vehicle I'm currently working on, for example.

Comments: There's less granularity in the sizes of vehicles than those described in Machinas, but more consistency and logic in how things are applied. I did try and come up with a means by which smaller vehicles couldn't exceed weight capacity as readily as larger ones, but couldn't get it to work, so abandoned it. You'l notice that I have dropped the Control Roll modifiers for vehicle size. This is basically because it didn't make sense to me that a bike was more able to survive the Box of Nails attack than a truck - if anything it would be other other way around. I have assumed that the ability of smaller vehicles to avoid things which cause loss of control is offset by the ability of larger vehicles to just plough through those things, so the roll is always made at the same odds, regardless of size. Small vehicles are now vulnerable to shooting as well as bashing, although it is, of course, generally harder to line up shots on them because of their passing bonus. Conversely getting a shot on a big vehicle is easy, but it takes several hits before the vehicle will notice.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Attackers And Defenders

The victory points system in Giant Monster Rampage gives monsters points for both inflicting damage on other monsters and for destroying buildings and other property. This is fine if your game is a free-for-all where all of the monsters are competing to wreak as much havoc as possible, but works less well in a game where one or more monsters is defending a city against an attack. This is a shame, as that kind of setup often tends to be the theme of a lot of films.

The problem is that defenders obviously shouldn't really score points for property destruction, but this then restricts their source of victory points to wounding other monsters. Attacking monsters are at an advantage because they have more ways to score points. The possibility of giving the defenders points for buildings not destroyed seems an obvious solution, but it requires a fine balance in  how many buildings you set up at the start of the game - too many and the defenders are obviously at a major advantage. In addition there are two kinds of defenders - those that are truly defending the city, such as military units or piloted mechs, and those that are really just defending it in passing whilst opposing monsters that are out to destroy. This second category covers Godzilla in a number of his films, plus monsters like Mothra and Gamera. They aren't concerned with how much destruction they cause, but it's not an aim; they shouldn't get points for it.

So the trick is to come up with ways of setting up a scenario which allows all types of monster a way of scoring points whilst maintaining their particular aims.

My idea at the moment is to categorise the three types of monster available in a game. These are:

Attackers - The standard monster, out to cause as much destruction as possible, whether on other monsters or on the city itself.

Neutral Defenders - These are monster that are indifferent to any property destruction; they aren't out to prevent it but gain no points for it. They are out to defeat other monsters, specifically Attackers.

Active Defenders - These are monsters that are seeking to stop the city being destroyed.

When setting up a game at least half of the monsters must be Attackers. The other monsters can be Attackers, Neutral Defenders or Active Defenders. The amount of destructible property should be based on how many potential attackers there are and how long you want the game to last. I usually play games to a turn limit, and would suggest a minimum of three building sections per turn multiplied by the minimum number of possible Attackers. So, for example, in a 10 turn game with four monsters at least two of them must be attackers, which would give 2 (monsters) x 10 (turns) x 3 = 60 building sections minimum. This should be more than enough.

Each type of monster scores points as follows:

Score 1 point for each wound inflicted on any monster.
Score 1 point for each building section or equivalent they destroy.

Neutral Defender
Score 1 point for each wound inflicted on an Attacker or Neutral Defender only
If they KO an Attacker, score points equal to half of that monster's original Wound total (rounded up)
Score 0 points for each building section they destroy, but track the total (see Active Defender below)

Active Defender
Score 1 point for each wound inflicted on an Attacker
If they KO an Attacker or Neutral Defender score points equal to half of the points that monster scored for destroying buildings (rounded up)
Lose 1 point for each building section they destroy

The rationale for these points is as follows. Attackers just score points for damaging and destroying things. Nice and simple. Neutral Defenders get points for wounding Attackers, but also score for other Neutral Defenders. However they score bonus points for bringing down Attackers; these should be their primary targets. They get nothing for damaging Active Defenders, and nothing for buildings, but don't have to worry about damaging them in order to achieve their objectives. Active Defenders only get points for wounding Attackers. They lose points for damaging property, obviously. They get a bonus for bringing down destructive monsters - the more property damage a monster has caused, the more points they get. Note that whilst they don't get points for wounding a Neutral Defender, they do get the bonus points for buildings a Neutral Defender has destroyed if they KO one.

Attackers can avoid conceding building destruction points to Active Defenders by only going after other monsters. However buildings are a soft target; easier to hit and generally less tough, so are an attractive option.

I am testing these ideas out at the moment, and may need to tweak the balance, but it should allow for games where there are different agendas at play and in which the correct cinematic roles are maintained. Obviously it is aimed at  the traditional 'City Being Stomped' kind of game. Other scenarios would have more specific objectives.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Liberated Hordes 3.0

It's taken me  while, but I've finally put together and tidied up the latest version of my 'Hordes of the Things'  variant for the South American Wars of Liberation. To be honest there's less and less HOTT in there all the time, but you still need HOTT to play it

Liberated Hordes v3.0

You can also find a link to it under 'Variants' on the 'Free Stuff' page.

As before it uses its own troop types; I dropped the HOTT ones altogether rather than try to shoehorn historical troops into the categories. But I make a lot of use of modifying the losing die roll post combat, making it easier or harder to destroy elements in certain circumstances. Obviously there's more shooting than you normally get in HOTT, but in what seems to be keeping with a lot of 19th century warfare in Latin America the bayonet, lance and sabre are the weapons of decisive combat.

It gives a good, fun game which seems to generally fit with how I perceive the battles to have gone. And that's all you can ask for from a set of rules.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Alternative Combat Resolution For One-Hour Wargames

I had some time off work today, and spent a spare part of the afternoon trying out a different way of resolving hits for the One-Hour Wargames rules. I find that the steady attrition of the rules as written tends to leave to a mass slaughter of units well before the normal end of the game, and wanted to see if there was a way of reducing the casualty rate. In addition I wanted to be able to use markers to record hits. Whilst I came up with a way of doing this for 15 hit units the other day, I still prefer a lower number of hits - the three or four of 'See The Elephant' or 'Twilight of the Sun King' seems abut right.

I played around with the numbers, and came up with this:

Roll 1D6 in combat as before.

A unit which normally rolls 1D6-2 score a hit on a 6.
A unit which normally rolls an unmodified D6 scores a hit on a 4-6.
A unit which normally rolls a D6+2 scores a hit on a 2-5 and scores two hits on a 6.

If you get to double your hits (flank attacks) then roll two dice, and add together the hits scored.

If the hits are halved then roll a D6 for each hit scored; on a 4-6 that hit is ignored.

A unit is removed when it has taken four hits.

I tried this out in a couple of games, one of which you can see here:

It's viable, but possibly not much better than the original system. The fact that attacks can score no damage gives you the feeling your units are are little more robust, but I may need to play with the odds somewhat as D6-2 units are really quite feeble. It aso requires more than one D6, and more than one roll for the combat sometimes. On the plus side I found it easier to track hits, and less predictable, which is always good.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Recording Hits In The One Hour Wargame

In the simple rules in One Hour Wargames units can take 15 hits, then they're gone. Obviously you need some way of recording how many hits a unit has taken. Now when I've played the rules I've just used a piece of paper. After all, there's only a maximum of twelve units on the table at one time, so it's pretty easy to keep track of them even without labels - flag colour and horse colour help in most cases.

I was pondering a way of doing it without using paper today, though. Now if you follow this blog regularly you'll see that in games where units take small number of hits - five or less - I use small stones to mark them. I find that they're relatively unobtrusive (unlike dice, or counter with number on), and work regardless of period (unlike specific casualty figures, as nice as those are).

However for 15 hits I thought that the stones were a bit much. Until I realised that I have them in two colours ...

So, here's a couple of units from the South American Wars of Liberation, made up of a couple of elements each from my paper figures. On the left is a Venezuelan infantry unit which has taken three hits. The llaneros (cavalry) on the right have taken one hit. Easy.

Here's the cavalry again. My idea is to use the grey stones to record hits that are multiples of five. So you'd place up to four red stones behind a unit, then replace them with one grey when they take the next hit. So in this picture the cavalry have taken a total of seven hits - one grey and two red.

And now the infantry are in trouble - two greys and a red mean a total of thirteen hits, and that cavalry, still only on seven, is ready to charge ...

So with those lances levelled and glinting in the South American sun, we'll leave our sample units to their battle.

I think it's a pretty easy system to keep track of, and eliminates unnecessary table-clutter. The next time I try a game with units like this I'll give it a proper run-through.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Fire As She Bears!

Over the last few weeks I have been tidying up various house-rules I have used in 'Form Line of Battle' 4.0, as well as creating new ones. I have alluded to some of them in a few posts, but thought it would be worth sharing them here.

A ship which has declared a tack takes a modifier of -1 during that action phase.

(Tacking was a difficult process that occupied the crews' attention so I felt a small penalty was deserved.)

Ignore the rules for 5th, 6th and Unrated vessels firing on larger ships. Instead apply the following modifier.

A ship firing on one of a larger rate may suffer a penalty. Subtract the target’s rate from that of the firer (Unrated vessels count as 7th Rate), and subtract a further 1. Any positive score is subtracted from the base score. This can be summarised as:

Target’s Rate
Firer is:

Firing is otherwise resolved normally; no damage reductions are applied.

(The rules as written for ships of small classes firing on larger ones are probably fairly accurate, and rarely come into play anyway, as most games involve ships of similar sizes. But they lack granularity, and there are situations where ships on the borderline are either unfairly penalised or not penalised. I think this table strikes the right balance.)

A ship with a 0 Broadside Rating (from damage) may still shoot. Treat as a Broadside Rating of 0 for determining factors, but apply an additional -3.

(Ships reduced to a 0 Broadside don't automatically strike, but currently can no longer fight. This rule assumes that they can, from time to time, get some guns firing, at east until the odds catch up with them and they haul down their colours.)

Critical hits now depend on the range.


Point Blank/Short















1 Hull



2 Hull

1 Hull

Note a Critical is scored on any double which scores a ‘rr’ hit, or any roll of Double 6 if a hit was possible with a 2.

(This change makes Criticals more likely - I find they don't really happen often enough - and also covers the fact that ships would be firing higher at longer range.)

I have split Unrated/Class 7 ships into two gun classes.

Gun Class E now represents Unrated ships armed with long guns. The range modifiers are:

Point-Blank +2, Short 0, Medium -4

Gun Class F now represents Unrated ships armed with carronades. The range modifiers are:

Point Blank +3, Short 0

(Currently ships with a Gun Class of E get a better bonus at Point Blank range than larger gun-armed ships of Gun Class B. And I thought that it was worth differentiating between gun- and carronade-armed ships even at this size.)

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