Sunday, 14 April 2013

Yesterday at the Club - Thoughts on Rules and Scenarios

This week has been taken up with putting together one of the games for this month's meeting of the Devon Wargames Group. I have posted a full report on the game at  Battle of Grant's Hill 1776.
I was slightly out of the "comfort zone" in that having discussed with a friend at the club, Jack, that it would be cool to get his AWI 28mm collection out, I suggested we play them using "Maurice", forgetting of course, that they are really designed as a two player set of rules. At the Devon Group we are regularly getting about 10 -12 players turning up and so we plan to offer at least two and at yesterdays meet three games to get everyone involved.
I then emailed Jack over the intervening month and suggested that we could try out Carnage & Glory II - SYW/AWI set of computer rules.
I then had to start thinking about the logistics that went with that proposal as I usually plan a game around my own collections of figures, terrain etc and have all the kit ready to go on the day.
War in the Colonies, yesterday at the Devon Wargames Group
First thing, As I don't wargame in 28mm, I needed to get some new range sticks, at 1" to 25 paces produced. These range sticks are an additional aid to the usual tape measure as the system works on paces (a pace being 27 inches in real life) not inches, and the range sticks marked in paces really speed up the information players give to the computer operator, namely me. The markers for these sticks have been pre-produced and are freely available on the Carnage & Glory Yahoo Group .

Then not knowing how Jack's figures were based or the size of the units, I needed a detailed list of figures to work with. Other stuff like terrain, we have plenty of in the club.

With the list of figures I then sat down and thought about a suitable scenario based on the size of Jack's collection. I chose a quick solution by turning to Charles Grant's book "Scenarios for Wargames" about which I will discuss. The scenario chosen was No.7 Rear Slope, which I changed to "Grant's Hill" in honour of the great man.

Thus with the scenario in mind it was then a case of changing the order of battle suggested in the book to better match an AWI battle, the results of which you can see below.

The process described above really all came together last week, and given that we hadn't played this particular rule set before, the rules stood up to a "throw together scenario" typical of a lot of club games. Now to be fair, as readers of this blog will know, I have been using the Napoleonic set for my own games, but different period rule modules have their own quirks to be contended with, so at times it felt like a leap of faith pulling yesterdays game together.
If you've read the game report then you will see that things went off great and we had a really fun and interesting game. The American command team was Tom and Ollie, who being under 25 years of age definitely rank as two of our younger club players, faced with Jack and myself who as part of the majority of our club membership are well over the other side of that threshold. This clash of generations, and contrast in wargaming experience, probably mirrored quite well the difference in experience and capability between the American and British commanders in the early part of the AWI. Needless to say, one or two errors crept in to some of the command decisions made by our younger opponents, which were ruthlessly exploited (no they weren't, just joking). More like, it was a case of, "are you sure you want to do that because if you do!!"
Yesterdays experience has really reinforced my confidence in using this computer driven set of rules. When I think about how easy it was to prepare the scenario, turning up at club with the game prepared ready to go on the lap top, the fun of announcing a particular reaction or response by a given unit, and then the "wash up" at the end when a clear victory report is given with a post battle update of returning stragglers and walking wounded, I think this is ticking a lot of boxes that I want ticked when I play.
So from the rules to the scenario. In the week I noticed a post on one of the blogs I follow, sorry it escapes me which one it was, about getting hold of a copy of Scenarios for Wargames on Ebay for £20 and what a pleasing addition to the library this was.
I've had this book in my collection for many years and dip into it now and then but had come to view it as a bit dated and too formulaic. Since getting back into my Napoleonics, I have upped my reading around the period and with a view towards the Peninsular War in particular, have been keen to develop ideas about scenarios in general.
I sat down in the week and started to go through this book with yesterdays game in mind, discarding certain scenarios as I read because they were designed around bigger forces, different periods or would be more complex than I wanted for a simple game to be played at club. After I had found what I wanted, I then started to go back to the ones I had rejected and read them back thinking about any historical comparisons I could make. Indeed Charles Grant points some of them out in the book. His Rear Guard (2) is based on Corunna.
I was rather pleased how often I could think of comparison historical battles where these scenarios mirrored the historical event. Indeed as well as the Corunna example, I found myself thinking about my Oporto scenario as I read "Assault River Crossing". This also provided ideas for a later game I have in mind to recreate Wellington's crossing of the Bidasoa. The "Reinforcing a Town" scenario has given me ideas about a mini game to recreate the fighting in Fuentes de Orno. This battle spread over three days has, I have thought, always been a bit of a challenge to capture in a scenario format.
Where I think the work comes in when using this book is looking at the orbats. Obviously when Charles Grant wrote this book in 1981, he was making it as generic as possible so it would work with as wider options of rules and periods as possible. I, as other wargamers, will want to tailor these scenarios to our particular needs and adjusting the order of battle to better mirror the historical armies we are trying to model. 
What I think I might try is to re-write these scenarios to a Peninsular War/AWI theme, with pre-prepared orbats based initially on my own collection. It would be quite fun to have these pre-prepared so as to be able to put together a game at short notice with everything ready to go.
This week has made me take another look at an old resource. At some stage I would like to do a little bit of campaigning, and I think these old scenarios could have a role to play in that idea as well. More anon.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jonathan,
    Refurbishing old scenarios to fit your troops and style is an excellent idea. I, for, one would enjoy seeing a re-write of 'old' scenarios bringing them up to 21st century standards and applying them to either the Peninsular War or AWI.

    Besides Grant, I find much of Featherstone's works, old issues of Wargamer's Digest, Miniature Wargaming, Wargames illustrated, etc. to be fertile ground for scenario design and inspiration.

    Like you, I enjoy teleporting battles into different time periods to keep the players guessing and give the battle a new freshness.

    Interesting post!