Thursday, 22 December 2016

Whatever happened to not wargaming?

When I first started this blog I was intending to write from the perspective of a wargamer who never actually played any games. A lot has happened since then and yesterday I found myself playing two games in different locations on the same day. There's only one sensible response to that, and I shall say it before anyone else does: get a life, sunshine, get a life.

Anyway, before I run off to join the circus, let me record details of what happened. James and I repeated the raid scenario, but in the end decided against using Maurice as on closer inspection it didn't really seem to suit. Instead we used the very simple rules that had been used when James played the scenario with the League of Gentlemen Wargamers (a). These proved to be quite acceptable and served the purpose very well. I actually rather liked the combined combat/morale mechanism which meant that units could be steadily pushed back; it's just a shame that it was mine that were continually suffering this fate. Sadly however, having got a set of rules that worked for the level of game, the scenario stopped working. Given automatic unit activation, an impassable river, the distances from entry points to villages and the timing of the Prussian reinforcements arrival, the Russians could never have achieved their objective. More tweaking required.

Speaking of which, I have reset the Siege of Constantinople game and will be starting again. Having had belated recourse to the higher mathematics I realise that as originally set up it had no chance of following the historical narrative arc. What is meant to happen is that the role of the first wave is to make things easier for the second wave by filling in some sections of the moat, the second wave makes an assault on the walls and by causing casualties among the defenders enables the final success of the Janissaries. Obviously the game should allow for 'military possibilities', as I understand we should refer to them, on either side of that timeline, but there has to be a strong possibility that what happened happens. However when devising the initial forces I had overlooked how hard it was to inflict casualties by shooting; the Azabs looked as if they were not just going to fill in the entire moat, but go on to scale the walls and capture the city themselves. I must confess to having also been a bit disappointed that the Great Gun of Orban had exploded without firing a shot.

So rather than change the rules I have given the Byzantines an extra unit of Genoese crossbowmen and reduced the first wave to one hit units. To win the Byzantines will have to destroy four one hit units in the first attack and three two stand units in each of the following two attacks. It sounds straightforward, but the attackers will (mostly) get first blow in melee and the Janissaries are very highly rated. And who knows what the Great Gun will achieve? Not Orban, judging by the first run through. James made a number of other suggestions and I shall try them out. The key to the scenario - as in the raid one above - lies I think in getting the balance right; the overall concept is sound enough.

A further word about the Lazer Bond adhesive. I'm still happy with it (apart from the price), but have discovered a bit more about using it in practice. It seems very sensitive to mould release agent on figures, so they need to be thoroughly washed. It is also possible to release it by applying heat; this has both good and bad implications of course. And last, but not least, to use it properly one needs three hands: one each to hold the parts being stuck together and one to hold the UV light. I haven't quite overcome this particular issue yet.

There has been some muttering in the background, asking for evidence that Janissaries used crossbows. Well I certainly don't have any. What I do have is practical experience that converting muskets to crossbows is easier than replacing them with conventional bows. A conclusive argument if ever I heard one.

(a) As the first step in my commitment to getting a life I feel obliged to make an obscure point about something which is none of my business and in which no one else is interested. On his blog and elsewhere James uses 'Gentlemen' and 'Gentleman' seemingly indiscriminately. Barry Hilton always uses the former. Surely only the latter is grammatically correct. 'Gentleman' is here being used as a noun adjunct qualifying the word 'Wargamers' rather than as a noun in itself and, as such, should be singular, the English language having no concept of agreement between adjective and noun.

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