Monday, 16 July 2012

The Portable Wargame ... on a single page

Littlejohn's recent blog entry about a Colonial wargame fought using a modified version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules induced a mild flurry of interest in the rules, and so I had a look at them yesterday to see if I could change the layout so that they would fit on one side of A4 paper ... and I managed it!


A printable version of this new draft of the rules is now available in PDF format from here. I am rather pleased with the new layout as I think that the charts and the rules relating to them are easier to read.

PS. I understand that littlejohn is preparing to fight a second Colonial battle using his modified version of these rules, and that a report on his progress has been published on his blog.

13 comments:

  1. Is there a limit on how many units can be in a single grid squaure?

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  2. Kaptain Kobold,

    With the exception of Commanders who can share a grid area with another Unit, I only allow one Unit per grid area.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Looks great. Now to the stupid questions :) (My apologies if these have been covered elsewhere of if I have misread something or if I am being pedantic. Some have obvious answers that on second reading do not seem so obvious after all.)

    These mostly stem from the colonial variant and played on squares.

    Resolving Combat
    When are hits resolved? As they happen or at the end of a particular combat phase?

    E.g. I have a cannon and two rifle units in firing range of a hapless group of native spear men. It seems sensible that I would fire the cannon in the artillery phase, then resolve any hits. Then in phase 4, the riflemen fire and resolve their hits.

    My confusion begins when there are two or more units firing at the same target in the same phase.

    Cannon fire is noted as being simultaneous so it is a safe assumption that two or more cannon firing at the same target would resolve all hit effects at the same time.

    Assuming all firing hits. Must I fire both riflemen at the single unit of spearmen then roll for combined hit effects or can I fire one rifleman, roll for hit effects then only fire the second rifle unit if needed?

    Shooting and Melee
    Can a unit that stars or moves adjacent to an enemy occupied square choose to fire instead of close combat, or fire and enter close combat or must they enter into close combat only?

    Can you shoot into Melee? If both units make their rolls, they stick (unlike in the PW19 hex rules). In the cannon or fire phases of the next turn can a third unit shoot into the melee?

    For follow up melee attacks, the word "may" is used for both the follow up move and subsequent close comabt attacks. Does ths mean that follow attacks are at the attackers choice?

    If an attacker follows up and advances into a hole in the line facing potentially three defenders - that straight ahead and one on either flank - does he chose which unit to engage in close combat? Do the other two units turn to face the attacker and also engage in close combat?

    I think that is it for the moment. Thank you for your patience.

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  4. Bob,
    Well done!
    But I doubt you'll be taking up Don Featherstone's oft-repeated 'back of a postcard' challenge...
    Actually, for those of us of more mature years, whose eyesight is not what it once was, there is something to be said for a larger, 2 A4 page format. The two pages can be laminated back to back to form an easy to read, durable playsheet - on which one can also make notes with a washable OHP pen.
    Best wishes,
    Arthur

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  5. Pat G,

    Thanks for the compliment, and as to your questions … well they aren’t stupid by any stretch of the imagination.

    To make it easier to follow my answers, I have added them in italics after your questions.

    Resolving Combat

    When are hits resolved? As they happen or at the end of a particular combat phase?

    All hits are resolved as they happen BUT in the case of artillery the casualties are not removed and units that have to retreat moved until the end of the Phase.

    E.g. I have a cannon and two rifle units in firing range of a hapless group of native spear men. It seems sensible that I would fire the cannon in the artillery phase, then resolve any hits. Then in phase 4, the riflemen fire and resolve their hits.

    This is exactly how I would do it.

    My confusion begins when there are two or more units firing at the same target in the same phase. Cannon fire is noted as being simultaneous so it is a safe assumption that two or more cannon firing at the same target would resolve all hit effects at the same time.

    Correct!

    Must I fire both riflemen at the single unit of spearmen then roll for combined hit effects or can I fire one rifleman, roll for hit effects then only fire the second rifle unit if needed?

    I would throw for the fire effect of the first rifle unit, and then – if it is needed (i.e. the spearmen have not been destroyed) – I would throw for the second rifle unit.

    Shooting and Melee

    Can a unit that starts or moves adjacent to an enemy occupied square choose to fire instead of close combat, or fire and enter close combat or must they enter into close combat only?

    A good question. It was my intention that a unit that starts adjacent to an enemy occupied square would be given the option to fire rather than be forced to take part in a close combat. On the other hand a unit that moves adjacent to an enemy occupied square would be given be expected to take part in a close combat.

    Can you shoot into Melee? If both units make their rolls, they stick (unlike in the PW19 hex rules). In the cannon or fire phases of the next turn can a third unit shoot into the melee?

    Another good question … and a situation that I had not considered. My gut feeling is that if both sides are fighting a melee, then no other unit should be able to fire into it. This might sound rather arbitrary, but doing so in real life would be likely to cause blue-on-blue casualties.

    That said I can see no reason why you could not rule that they can. The rules are not set in stone but are there for you to have fun with … and I can foresee situations where it might make sense for a third party unit to fire into a melee.


    For follow up melee attacks, the word "may" is used for both the follow up move and subsequent close combat attacks. Does this mean that follow attacks are at the attacker’s choice?

    That was my intention. In certain circumstances a unit might be expected to follow up a successful victory in a close combat (e.g. British cavalry are notorious for charging after defeated enemies … and getting into serious problems as a result).

    If an attacker follows up and advances into a hole in the line facing potentially three defenders – that straight ahead and one on either flank – does he chose which unit to engage in close combat?

    Yes.

    Do the other two units turn to face the attacker and also engage in close combat?

    Only the attacker HAS to turn to face the unit they wish to attack. The two other units MAY turn to deal with the attacker when it is their turn to either fire at the attacker (see above) or engage them in close combat.

    I think that is it for the moment. Thank you for your patience.

    If you have any more questions, please ask. I might not, however, have all the answers …

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Arthur1815,

    Many thanks for your kind comment!

    The font size I have used is 9pt, which is about the smallest I would normally use (it is the size of font used in most paperback books). I could easily produce a larger font version should the need arise, but I suspect that it would be more cumbersome to use.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Good to see the PW alive and thriving.

    Following up on Arthur's comment. It now seems to me that there is a lot to be said for back of a Poster rules. Written large and taped to the wall.

    It might be a while before I have another go at this. However, looking at the charts, if I am not mistaken, cavalry with a commander, and infantry in cover with a commander are invulnerable in melee? I might reverse the modifier so that a unit attacking cover subtracts 1 and possibly move the commander modifier to the effect of a hit chart.

    Good stuff.
    -Ross

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  8. Ross Mac,

    I could easily make the charts A3 size, but could you print it off if I did? Let me know and I will see what I can do.

    Your question regarding Close Combat has given me pause for thought. The idea is that troops who are attacking the flank or rear of an enemy unit should be almost invincible (hence the bonuses) but re-reading the rules this is not at all clear. I am going to have to see if I can make the mechanism much more user-friendly as at present it is probably too brief to be clear.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Ross Mac,

    After pondering on the problem that you pointed out, I realised that the Close Combat rules needed a degree of clarity that they were currently missing. I have therefore changed the wording for the two columns that originally were headed ‘Front’ and ‘Flank or Rear’ to read ‘Unit is front on to the enemy’ and ‘Unit is flank or rear on to the enemy’. I hope that this makes the situation clearer.

    Some examples of how it should work are as follows:

    1. An Infantry Unit is making a head on attack on another Infantry Unit that is in fortifications and that has a Commander in support. The attacker throws a 4 … and survives the Close Combat. The defender throws a 1 … but gets +1 for being in fortifications and +1 for the Commander’s support and therefore achieves a score of 3, which ensures its survival.

    2. An Infantry Unit is making a flank attack on another Infantry Unit that is in fortifications and that has a Commander in support. The attacker throws a 4 … and survives the Close Combat. The defender throws a 1 … and gets +1 for being in fortifications and +1 for the Commander’s support and therefore achieves a score of 3, which is insufficient to stop it being hit and therefore having to see if it is destroyed or must retreat.

    3. A Cavalry Unit is making a flank attack on an Artillery Unit that is in the open. The Cavalry Unit throws a 3 … and therefore survives the encounter. The Artillery Unit throws a 5 … and is therefore hit and will either be destroyed or forced to retreat.

    4. A Cavalry Unit that has a Commander in support is making a head on attack on an Infantry Unit that is in the open. The Cavalry Unit throws a 2 … and gets a +1 for the Commander’s support, therefore ensuring its survival. The Infantry Unit throws a 4 … and also survives the encounter.

    5. A Cavalry Unit is making a rear on attack on an Infantry Unit that is in the open. The Cavalry Unit throws a 2 … thus ensuring its survival. The Infantry Unit throws a 4 … which is insufficient to prevent it being hit.

    I hope that this makes the mechanism clearer. The problem is that the mechanism seems to be counterintuitive … but it works.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. Nice and clean layout Bob.

    Only one suggestion: How about moving the relevant "special rules" into Movement and Close Combat so all the rules are in the sequence of play where they are relevant.

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  11. Balagan,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I will look at how feasible the change you suggest is when I revise the rules in the future.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  12. If read the rules right there is no way that more than one unit can gang up on a single enemy in close combat at the same time. For example, imagine three attacking units manage to get into grid areas adjacent to the same defender. The fights would effectively be handled separately as 1 to 1 matches. The defender thus has to survive three close combats. The attackers get no other advantage for numbers.

    Is that right?

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  13. Balagan,

    You are absolutely right! (This mechanism is taken from Joseph Morschauser’s rules, and despite its apparent unfairness, in practice it seems to work.)

    All the best,

    Bob

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