Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Land of the Free" AWI rules: A sample game turn

This is my first playtest of "Land of the Free" war game rules from Osprey Publishing.
This is the smallest game possible according to the book-  each side has a force commander and 2 groups.  Each group has a commander and 2 "elements" (what I will inevitably call a "unit").

Starting from the bottom left the forces are 2 elements of Hessian soldiers (average size units) and a group commander betwen them.  In the center is the British Force Commander, then on the right flank are 2 elements of British infantry with their Group commander in between them.
Across the top from left to right are 2 elements of US infantry and their Group commander, the US Force Commander in the road, then a tiny element of artillery and a element of infantry.
(as per usual, click the photo to see bigger version)

The game starts with a d6 roll to see how goes first.  US wins.
The US elects to activate their left flank first.  The group commander rolls a d3 to see how many command points he has this turn and gets a 3.
The artillery is activated first and targets the British infantry to its front.  Small guns have a range of 36" so it within range and has a direct line of site.
Shooting starts with 2 dice and a small battery gets 2 more dice.  Since the range is over 12" there is a -1 die.  A 5 or 6 is needed to score a hit.  Over 12" cannons shoot round shot and inflict disorder moarkers instead of casualties.
No hits!  The gun is reloaded and fired again.
No hits!  The Group commander uses his command points to get the gun to fire once more but again no hits.
The group commander attempts to order the gun to reload.  This requires a morale roll (7 or more on 2d6) but he is at -1 since this is the second forced oreder.  A 7 means the order fails.
The infantry element is activated.  Their first maneuver order is 3" of movement to the wood line.  They like this cover so they will stay here.  Their second manuever order is to place an "opportunity fire" marker.  The first US group is finished all its moves so the turn passes to the British.
The British activate their right flank.  The group commander rolls his command points and gets 2.
The right infantry element is activated first.  An average infantry element basically gets 3 manuever orders and 3 combat orders.  Manuever orders are 3" of movement or reloading your guns (plus a few other things).  Combat orders are shooting.  The first manuever order is 3" straight ahead. They are now within 12" of the US in the woods but the US element is not directly to the front (the 12" threat zone directly in front triggers the "opportunity fire") so the US does not get to interrupt.  The British can fire with a combat order since the US unit is in their forward arc.  According to the rules there is a free pivot to put the elements leader in direct line to target.
The range is under 12".  The shooting starts with 2 dice and an average infantry element adds 4 dice.  1 die is subtracted for the Americans being in cover in the woods.  5's or 6's are needed to hit.  2 hits are scored.  This is not enough to cause any reaction yet.
Because of the pivot, the British element is now in the US threat zone so they can interrupt and use their opportunity fire.  They have the same 6 dice, without the -1 since the Brits are not in cover.  They score 3 hits!
3 hits is the threshold for an average infantry unit so they must pass a morale test to stand in place.  They need a 7 and get it.  They are however now dropped down 1 fitness level, from Fit to shaken.  A shaken unit has one less manuever point so the British unit is now out of actions.
The group leader is within his 12" comman range and has 2 command points.  He uses 1 to force a reload.  The element needs to roll 7 or better and they do. 
The group leader uses his last command point to order them to fire.  They need to roll 8 or higher this time since it is the second order.  An 11!  they shoot.
3 hits!  Now the US element has taken more than 3 hits so they will go down a level (fit to shaken) and must make a morale check to stand. 
They need a 7 or higher but they took more than 3 hits so it is a -2 to the roll. They get a 10 and stand fast, although now the unit is shaken.
The next British element is activated.  It uses its first manuever points to move ahead 3".  It shoots and inflicts 1 hit.  The second manuever order is to reload.
It fires again and gets a total of 3 hits. 
This is the casualty threshold of an average unit.  They must check morale to stand.  A 7 or better on 2d6 and they get it.  They are now lowered from "shaken" to "exhausted".  "Exhausted" has some serious penalties, and if they drop another level they are shattered and out of the game.
The last thing the British group commander does is move up with his troops.  Play now passes to the US player.
The US player activates his remaining group.  The first manuever is 3" to the fence.
Crossing the fence costs a manuever order.  (It also causes disorder but I forgot that bit at the time).  They use their last order to go on opportunity fire.
The next element does basically the same thing.
They are also on opp fire.  The commander moves up with them and they are done.  Next the British player activates an element.
The Hessians are activated.  The group commander rolls his command points and gets the max: 3!
The left element is activated first and it manuevers ahead 3".  Certain units and nationalities have special rules.  Hessians are considered more cumbersome so they only get 2 manuever points per turn instead of 3.  This is balanced by their supposed better musketry drill so they get to reroll their misses the first time they shoot and don't suffer from "ragged volleys"  (rolling 2 or more 1's subtracts 1 hit from your shooting).
The Hessians are now within musket range (12") but they trigger the US opp fire.
The US scores 1 hit.  Not enough to cause an effect yet (need 3).
The Hessians now reply and get 3 hits!  (that rerolling misses makes a big difference).
3 hits is the degradation threshold so the US player must roll 7 or higher to stand.  The get a 6 and fail.  They must fall back d3 moves. 
They roll a 1 so the whole manuever is going over the fence.  And they are now "shaken".
The next Hessian element activates.  They move forward 3"
In a replay of the previous element, they trigger the US opp fire and take 1 hit. Not enough to stop them.
They reply with their volley and get 3 hits  (again that reroll is a killer).
The US must roll a 7 or better to stand.  They do (a 9) but they are now "shaken".
Their second manuever order is to reload.
The Group commander uses a command point to get them to fire again.  A 7 or better is required and they roll it.
Another 3 hits.  The US unit is at the degrading threshold again.

They need a 7 or better to stand.  This time they fail.  and drop from "shaken" to "exhausted".
They must move back d3 moves and roll 3 moves.  Over the fence is one and then back 3" twice.
The Group commander has one point left so he uses it to order his men to reload.  They need to roll an 8 or better (this is the second forced order) and get a 12, so they reload.  They are now finished.  All elements have been activated so the turn is over.
This turn took about 1.5 hours because it was my first attempt at the rules and needed to consult the book often. It would speed up a bit with familiarity. (Or if I had printed out the QRS or made unit cards- but I was lazy) Also it was a lot of combat resolution and I was taking (blurry) pictures.  Moving goes a lot faster than combat.
 I used a very small table (3x4) so the forces were pretty much starting at contact range and that turn was pretty decisive.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Land of the Free" rules for FIW to 1812; First look

"Land of the Free" is a new ruleset from Osprey (coming out in November) covering the French and Indian War, American War of Independence, the late 1700 Indian Wars and the War of 1812.
It is a hardbound book with color pages on fairly heavy paper.  The height and width are similar to the typical Osprey softcover books (as seen below), and the thickness is about the same as Force on Force.

Inside, the rules are presented in an organized way with examples, charts and diagrams and numerous color photographs showing 15mm and 28mm miniatures.  It contains force lists, a point system, basing recommendations, and several scenarios from each period mentioned (fictional setups and historical refights).  There is no index.

Game features:
Dice used: 6 sided (d6)
Game scale:  unspecified, although the ranges make me think it about 1:10 to 1:20
Time scale per turn: unspecified
Base requirements:  flexible.  You decide on how many figures make each size unit and then just stay consistent.  An average unit looks right with 10 to 15 figures.
Game sequence:  alternating unit activation (I go U go)
Counters:  Seem to be required.   Looks like some game specific after market are in production. 
Book keeping:  Some to none depending on how much you rely on counters and vice versa.
Casualty removal:  No.  Units degrade through several levels of fitness until they are removed from play.
Command and control:  100%.  No rolling to activate units.  No random end of turn before all units have acted.  (exception:  see command points below).  Units have several "maneuver" and "combat" actions they can choose from per turn.
So what's the twist in these rules?  Although the player has 100% command control, each turn his leaders get a random number of "command points" to issue extra orders to his units.  A morale check must be passed to accept and use these orders so there is no guarantee they will work.
I will have an example of how they play up shortly.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Warhammer Ancients: Carthage vs Palmyra

Ok, it's off a few hundred years, but old Hannibal didn't fare to badly against the Desert Queen.

All these photos are from just before everything went very bad for the Palmyrans.
The cataphracts on the left had elephant issues and the legions on the right couldn't crack the warbands opposite.  A thorough thrashing was received.
28mm figures (Foundry, A&A, Old Glory, Warlord) from the collections of Igwarg and Mr. B.R.