25 October 2009

Drum beats on the Battleline pt.5

Last night the Saturday Night Irregulars allowed me the privilege of a playtest of American Battlelines, which went better than I had hoped, despite my predictable number of refereeing mistakes.  The better lead and superior troops carried the day, as expected.  Most of the mechanisms worked well, and seemed to have the proper feel for how they should inter-relate.  The charge sequence still seems to need work — some parts may require tweaking.  Overall, a believable result was obtained, and in a short amount of time, given the unfamiliarity of the players with the game system.  Another aspect of the game in need of fine-tuning is the Command rules, which are the least fleshed out of all the chapters.  I will have to work hard on modeling the C³I part of the game.  Also am considering the five range bands for firing, and the relative lack of a canister range for artillery.

Progress is being made, slowly but surely.

18 October 2009

Drum beats on the Battleline pt.4

The first round of comments from the ODGW staff has been received and answered, and it was not as negative as I expected.  In a post to me, "lively discussion" was the operative term for their first game using the modified rules.  This first staff playtest of the revised American Battlelines generated a predictable wave of questions.  Some were omissions; others were clarifications and explanations.  Overall the game plays cleaner, but this means making changes, which are rarely welcome.  Battlelines had some kludgey rules to it that detracted from its forthright play.  Taking those out meant making the game simpler, and more concentrated on the tactics rather than dealing with special one-off rules.  I have reduced the number of lookup items, to make finding the correct modifiers (of which there are still too many) easier. I have yet to post a Command chapter, so that area is still unresolved.  Otherwise, the comments did seem to be somewhat supportive, rather than wholly dismissive.  Playtests on this set of rules have not been forthcoming, so I will have to wait longer for neutral results.  I am an inpatient man by nature, so that is a hard thing for me to do.

In terms of controversy, wait until they find out I want to change the cover.  Currently a game for the AWI, Mexican-American War, and ACW has a 50-star U.S. flag on the cover.  Bit jarring, that.

14 October 2009


I am currently doing some research on the variety of attack formations used in the horse & musket era, specifically from the ACW back through the Wilderness, or French & Indian (native American) War.  Though few were used in North America until the large formations of our conflagration in 1861-65, they require study for the usage to which they were put for understanding all the conflicts, including the Napoleonic era.  While slogging through Steven Ross's book, From Flintlock to Rifle: Infantry Tactics, 1740-1866, which I can only read in short sections due to its dry-as-dust presentation, I have just about finished my current read on the politics of the secession during the ACW.  Then I will launch into With Zeal & Bayonet Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775-1783, which comes highly recommended as a tactical study of the British army in its war against the rebellious colonists.  The all-important maneuver aspect is requiring a great deal of study, so that we can get its effects fine-tuned, and decide what to include and how to include them.

11 October 2009

Paper troops

One of the best ways to playtest a game is solo, using counters to represent the troops if you do not feel like pulling out the miniatures and terrain.  Junior General has loads of representations of troops from various eras, and these bits of paper can prove very quick and useful for testing.  Printed out on card, they are just the ticket for trying out spur of the moment ideas.  They are available in a number of historical periods, and are fairly easy to cut out and play with.  There is even a design your own section, complete with templates and various representations of equipment.

Meine Truppen playtesting pt 3

We have received very good playtest results from two of our groups.  I have come up with new ideas for some of the basic mechanics of Meine Truppen, and hope they will address some of the concerns of our playtesters.  Notably, they involve cutting down on the die rolls, which have multiplied by two due to the scale of the game.  Those familiar with Mein Panzer will know what a Bonus roll is — an additional chance to-hit for Veteran and Elite stands.  Now I have come up with an alteration of that procedure, which should speed play and help level the playing field a lot.  I think it is a good idea to make the dramatic distinction between the various troop types of the rules less so. 

Overall, response has been positive.  I think this game will prove a winner (he said modestly!).

10 October 2009

Drum beats on the Battleline pt. 3

Entrenched views change slowly.  I have updated two chapters for the American Battlelines project, and I am awaiting the controversy, since I have simplified several of the rules.  The only thing more involved, and still not very complex, is charging, which is to horse & musket games as torpedo attack resolution is to modern naval games.  Am awaiting responses to this latest version of the rules.

09 October 2009

MMG and infantry

Here are pictures of our 6mm infantry, based and ready for play.  With these we fight out both pure infantry actions and combined arms battles.  We also have French, British, and U.S. troops.  The figures on the left are Heroics & Ros, while the Germans are GHQ figures.  The Germans were based better than the H&R, which could use flocking on their bases — something I will rectify some day.