Monday, October 31, 2016

More reviews, more memories

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”
                                         - Friedrich Nietzsche
As the calendar winds down on October, and slowly creeps into November, I am thinking about what I will be working on (hobby-wise) into the holiday season.  One thing is probably more reviews.

For the previous few weeks, I have been writing a number of reviews of older rulesets that I played, back in the 80s and early 90s.  These reviews are part of a series I am calling the Once and Future Rules.  This has been really enjoyable, and has brought back fond memories of what I found so compelling in wargaming, in my early years of discovering wargaming outside my own house and neighborhood.

I would like to continue this series of reviews, and some of the other rulesets I played (a lot) that I would like to cover are:

WRG Ancients (5th and/or 6th)
War Cry
Shock of Impact
Warlord

The Sword and the Flame (Yaquinto edition)

WRG Renaissance Rules
Wargamer's Guide to the English Civil War (Protz)

WRG WW2 rules (1925-1950)
Overwatch
Jagdpanzer
Angriffe

Challenger

Seekrieg
General Quarters

Frederick the Great (FGU)
TAC-50 Rules (Ben King's rules)
Guard du Corp (Rudy Scott Nelson)

Knights & Magick
Heroes and Wizards
Wizards and Warfare
Warhammer 2nd Edition
Royal Armies of the Hyborean Age
Barsoomian Battle Manual

Finally, I would like to cover some of the rulesets that were published in books that I read, and would then either play or modify for our own play.


UPDATE [January 22, 2017]
So far the reviews completed have been:
The Universal Soldier Miniature Rules
WRG Wargames Rules 1645-1845
Valley Forge
Forlorn Hope
Dominance
Cavaliers and Roundheads
Broadsword: Wargames Rules for Medieval Battles
Chainmail
Tercio
WRG Armored Warfare 1950-1985
Overwatch
Koenig Krieg
War Cry

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Medieval Campaign ideas - developing

My recent review of Chainmail, and subsequent organizing of a solo game of Medievals (involving some re-basing and prepping of miniatures) got me thinking again about campaign as the narrative for wargames.  Providing context and texture - why we fight, where we fight, and the bigger goals/aims of the battle other than just attrition.

Which of course had me return back to one of the things I think wargame campaigns are very interesting at - that is, providing a game mechanic for determining the composition of armies, especially in a way that is a little bit out of control of the player.  In a lot of set-piece meeting engagement games, the player will bring whichever version of his army suits him - either by spending points, or just by picking units from his collection.

In a campaign, of course, there might be constraints or circumstances that limit this decision.  One of the things in a medieval setting that would limit the troops available would be the fief system, where each noble in the heirarchy would have others who owed him a feudal obligation (of land and soldiery), and he in turn owed such an obligation to his lord.  So by determining the size and status of the fief that a noble controls, one can estimate the size and nature of the army.


Years ago, Ben King used to host a great medieval game called Feudal.  It allowed for a number of provinces in a realm to be divided up among the players.  These would then each provide some troops (knights, men-at-arms, archers, etc) depending on the type of province.  I am going to borrow some of that concept here.

Similarly, when Warhammer Ancient Battles was first published, the book had rules in it for a mapless campaign.  There, each province type would allow you to purchase different types of troops that your army might or might not have access to, but the provinces were determined randomly.  Again, these are useful ideas for what I am trying here.

The point of the exercise is to provide a basis for a medieval army.  There should be a reliable core of the army that feels distinctly medieval - maybe some knights?  Maybe some men-at-arms?  Other than that, there should be a total of, more or less, 12 units per army (just my own personal preference).  In this highly ordered idea of an generic army, I am going for a mixture of typical medieval units (both English and Continental), and not particularly the sorts of historical archetypes that arose where an army had (largely) one or two types of troops (such as early Swiss armies that were almost all halberdiers, or an Imperial force that was almost all mounted knights).  That could happen in this system, randomly, but it would be rare.

Terminology is important, for setting the tone and feel of a game.  So, rather than going with provinces, I am going to use the term Lands.  A Lord (the name for the ruler that a Player is representing) would control a Demesne of around a dozen Lands.  But lets make it random.

Dice (2d6)Lands in
Demesne
2-310
4-511
6-812
9-1013
11-1214



Here we have a method for a Lord to have a number of Lands in his Demesne.  One of these would represent his Manor, where his castle is.  The others would be of a random type.  Each would provide two things for the Lord of the Manor - feudal troops, and money.  Here is a list of some example ideas...

Free Land - no troops provided, but the tenant peasants pay rent - $$
Port - access to foreign troops? (pike, crossbow) - $
Vineyard -infantry, money - $
Town - urban type troops (halberd, sword-and-buckler) - $
Farm - infantry, sergeants (armored cavalry, but not knights)
Forest - archers, hobilars
Pasture - light horse, slingers, money (from wool) - $
Highlands - light infantry, light horse
Orchards - men at arms (an effective manor, attracts followers) - $
Fish Ponds - sergeants (a wealthy manor, can afford to support stables) - $
Church - knights (order?)

This idea is still developing, but I am envisioning a table, maybe 3-18, with entries for the different types of lands listed above.  Each type would have a random set of troops that it would provide, and a random amount of money value.

Money would be used for either upgrading troops, or hiring mercenaries.

Commonality of Land types would be something like this...

Most Common
Farm
Forest
Pasture
Free Land

Common
Town
Church
Port
Highlands

Least Common
Vineyard
Fish Ponds
Orchards

The idea is still brewing, but it has some merit, I think.



Friday, October 28, 2016

WRG Armored Warfare 1950-1985 - Review

This is another review in the Once and Future Rules series, of wargame rules that are out of print, but that got a lot of play at one time (at least, in the clubs and groups I played in since the early 1980s).
 If you don’t like us, don’t accept our invitations and don’t invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you. 
                           - Nikita Khrushchev
 One of the types of wargames that was extremely popular with one of the main groups of friends I gamed with in the 1980s was modern micro armor.  This was tactical battles, with 1:285 or 1:300 scale vehicles (ground and air, and some sea), fighting out battles either from historical conflicts that had taken place since 1945 (mostly African brush wars, and various Middle Eastern conflicts - for some reason we did not go into India/Pakistan or other conflicts).  Considering the levels of fear and hysteria that were pervasive in society at the time, it is quite strange that we did this as a hobby.  But, we did, and quite honestly the games were pretty fun.


Of the groups I played with, there were really two extremely popular rulesets that we played.  The first was the WRG published Wargames Rules for Armoured Warfare at Company and Battalion Battle Group Level 1950-1985, and the much more shortly titled Challenger from Tabletop Games.  Being detail fanatics at the time (for some reason, that generation of wargamers thought that more and more detail included in the combat model of the wargame made it somehow more realistic), we would often go for the Challenger rules, but for simpler games, I preferred the WRG rules (besides, they covered more situations, and played faster).  I may do a review of the Challenger rules later on, as a comparison.  Other rulesets we played were the extremely detailed "Engage and Destroy", and some homebrew rules.

Games would be one-off set piece battles, frequently, but once in a while one member of the group or other would devise a particularly clever scenario (usually of the extremely large variety, or of the extremely novel variety).  We would play all sorts of levels of games, with front line Soviet forces facing off against first tier NATO forces; Arab-Israeli conflicts; second and third tier European conflicts (I recall Czechoslovakia vs. Denmark) and just about anything inspired by the likes of General Sir John Hackett, Harold Coyle, or Tom Clancy.  I recall a game involving battalions of Soviet airborne troops invading Newport News Virginia, and the gangs of national guard and ROTC students from the local universities were assisted by wargamers (we actually played that scenario, it was a ton of fun).  But in the main, we had a lot of Fulda Gap style heavy metal games (heavy metal referring to lots of tanks, APCs, IFVs and the like) between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces.  On the other hand, over the decade of the 80s, a whole host of campaigns were hosted by a good friend, under the name of "Warlords" which featured WW2 and Modern equipment, mixing it up by small tribal warlords fighting in a post-WW4 wasteland.

But here I am reviewing the WRG rules.  As mentioned, these are tactical rules covering ground combat in the decades following WW2, right up to 1985.  The version I played was published in 1979, and was pretty well complete with rules for the normal ground combat (infantry, armor, and artillery) plus rules for ATGWs (anti-tank guided weapons - missiles), helicopters, air combat between fixed wing craft, combat engineering and other elements of modern warfare.

The game was played at a 1:1 scale, for vehicles.  Infantry elements would represent (as a single stand - frequently we would use a cardboard chit, or a small base with 1:285 infantry based on it) a rifle group (maybe 3,4 or 5 men), or a weapon team (an ATGW team, mortar and crew, MG or similar).  The ground scale for these rules is 1 inch for 50 meters.  Turns represent about a minute and a half of expended time (the rules spend a paragraph describing how it is 100 seconds of time, but hit probabilities are only based on a second firing 30 seconds of its ROF, because of blah blah blah).

The rules have a pretty extensive set of points values for just about everything you could imagine, and the means for pointing up vehicle platforms, based on the sensors and weapons it carries.  For instance, if you wanted to do a particular model of aircraft, and know what cannon it mounts, what missiles or bombs it carries, and what sort of weapons tracking and target identification sensors it has, you could calculate the points value for it.

Luckily, there was a great set of publications done by Tabletop Games in support of their own game (Challenger II), which also featured rules and stats for the same vehicles and units in the WRG rules.  During those days, I loved reading through the various "Digests", especially Digest #2, and #4 and 5 - 2 was the list of world equipment (from all sorts of nations, and covering all sorts of equipment), and #4 and 5 were European (NATO and Warsaw Pact) organizations in one, and other parts of the globe (Africa, Middle East, Far East) in the other.  There were also some specific books with OBs and equipment from the 1950s (a wide variety of organizations) and scenarios and OBs for the MidEast wars, and others.

Back to the WRG rules . . . As these are first and foremost rules for Armoured conflict, they have a system for rating the armor values of all fighting vehicles.  This is done by a Roman numeral ranging from the weakest vehicles getting a I on up to the strongest state-of-the-art tanks getting a X.  Note, that last category in 1979 include the rumoured Leopard 3, the UK's MBT 80, and the US's XM1 tank, which would later become known as the M1 Abrams.  In addition, the exotic special armor additions that were becoming popular (chobham plating, spaced armor, active protection systems, etc) are noted in this system by some classes also having subclasses of "s" and some with sublcasses of "S" - the former for a turret having special extra protection, and the latter of the whole hull having special extra protection.  The above named tanks were all XS armor.

The game was recommended to play on an area of roughly 60x100 inches (3000m by 5000m - to give the battlefield enough room for the weapons systems to reach out and flex their muscles).  The group I was with played on several 5x9 tables (modeled after ping pong tables, because of some historical ties to the old Gene McCoy Wargamer's Digest magazine, and all the 4x8 and ping pong table sized scenarios in them...), and also a nice hefty 6x12 table.  So we had plenty of space.
Example map from Wargamer's Digest


Rules exist for modeling the communications net, and to handle battlefield orders for the game.  Often we would not play with orders, unless a referee was present for the battle. 

Once the game started, it was composed of alternating turns.  The turn sequence was pretty clever - it had morale tests first, then registering requests for artillery and airstrikes, executing those attacks that were requested previously and successfully arrived, executing tactical actions, in order (full moves first, all other actions next), and then dealing with suppressive fire, that might affect troop posture, etc.  One thing that the rules allowed, to make up for the fact that there was no opportunity fire, was that each element that could fire, could fire its very first shot for the turn (sometimes the ROF would be higher than once per turn) at an enemy unit anywhere along it's immediate previous movement path.  All other shots had to be at the final resting place of units following their movement for the turn.

The rules have movement values for all the typical vehicle types (including things such as hovercraft).  Moves and ranges are given in meters, which convert to inches.  So, a fast tracked vehicle could travel 500 meters in a turn - that equates to 10 inches cross country.  Roads give a bonus, lots of terrain features really bog down vehicle movement. 

Dealing with the high tempo of modern combat, and the hide and seek nature of vehicles that can move at dozens of miles per hour, and have stabilization allowing them to fire on the move, means that some rules for target acquisition must apply.  It is impractical to keep all the units off table that no enemy can spot, so instead most modern rule sets have rules for acquisition - which then limits who can see a target to shoot at it, or report it to a request for air strike or artillery, etc.  These rules are no different, and are based on the target type vs the distance from the would-be spotter.  Modifiers for lots of situations and equipment, and then single d6 roll determines success.  Rules exist to cover what happens if you fail to spot (for instance) the sniper in the building, but in stead rolled well enough to acquire the building itself (the idea is you found the sniper, in general, but did not see him long enough to aim a weapon).  This allows you to fire area effect or suppressive fire at the target, but not (much deadlier) aimed fire.

Direct fire can then be applied to targets known.  This includes aimed fire and suppressive fire.  Weapons such as missiles cannot perform suppressive fire, nor can large mortars.  Small mortars can, as can most other weapons.  Rules exist covering who can fire (for instance, troops in an IFV, such as a West German Marder, are limited to two elements firing from hatches, and so on), arc of fire, and so forth.  Rules exist defining defile zones and dead zones behind a raised terrain feature (like a hill crest).  Then the method is simple - find your weapon on the hit chart, cross index it with the range, and you have a target number for your D6 roll, to hit.  Benefits of this system: if you have multiple shooters and multiple targets (like platoons or companies of tanks encountering each other, or stands of infantry fighting other stands of infantry), then rolling multiple dice at one time is a viable game-speeding tactic.

Hits are then followed up by dicing for results.  This is again based on the weapon, and range at which the hit took place.  Then a look up table determines if it is an automatic kill, or a dice chance for a kill, or no chance at all - based on target armor.  Two such look up tables exist, one for hits vs. Tanks and other vehicles; the other exists for tracking hits vs. infantry, soft vehicles, and other soft targets.

There are rules for artillery fire (including things like making a successful request for artillery support, counter battery fire, different types of fire missions (programmed, preregistered, or impromptu).  Artillery effects from hits are derived form a chart, matching weapon system vs. target type.

Extra rule sections exist covering air combat, air insertions (helicopters and paradrops), night fighting, chemical and nuclear weapons, and finally, a method for determining the victor based (mostly) on surviving tabletop elements.  Engineering and other tasks are covered.

These rules provide for a fairly fast game, at the expense of detail.  At the time, when we would play these over the Challenger rules, it seemed like we were cheating, by not taking into account the many different layers of detail covered in those rules.  But . . . a company on company (say, 10-15 tanks each) in Challenger might take as long as 2 or 3 hours to play out, especially if they have more interesting weapon systems.  In the WRG rules, maybe half an hour or hour.

I like them.  I don't know if modern gamers would find these attractive.  These days for modern warfare I would actually represent Cold War Commander, with its mechanisms for representing the problems of modern C4I, plus the more elegant mechanics of modern rules.  But, in my professional life, I research and teach about simulation systems, including combat simulation systems, and it is interesting that most modern combat simulators that operate at the individual entity level use a combat adjudication system called PH/PK - which is "percent hit and percent kill".  That is a percent chance to get a hit at various range brackets (in the WRG rules this is reduced to a d6 roll, but the same mechanism), and then a chance to score a kill, or lesser hit, based on the weapon system vs armor.   So the same methods and techniques are part of modern computer simulations.

Good rules.  Much quicker than many alternatives.  Lots of options for weapon systems, equipment, and so forth.  I don't know that in a post 1991 world that these rules still hold up, especially with more modern equipment. They don't cover modern situations like command nets being augmented by things like cell phones, and the presence of drones and UAVs on the battlefield.  But then, they were written in 1979.  For the historical conflicts between 1945 and 1990, they are probably still a very good set of rules, if you like the mechanics.  I would still play them.  And I might listen to Nena or Sting while doing it.



Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tercio - review

This is another review in the Once and Future Rules series, of wargame rules that are out of print, but that got a lot of play at one time (at least, in the clubs and groups I played in since the early 1980s).
  
               There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.
                                                         - Niccolo Machiavelli 

Personal Reflection
One of the great things about my war gaming life in the 1980s (and the 1990s, to a certain extent) was that I was exposed to a lot of different gaming groups, and different gaming styles.  For a while, around the years 1984-85 I was involved with two different groups of wargamers/friends that were very much interested in the Renaissance, as a war gaming period.  One group was a very varied set of gamers who played lots of different periods.  Another group largely played the rules written by one of the members of that group.  A third group would tend to focus (for a short, but intense time) on a certain period or set of rules.  Most of them/us were also medieval and ancients players, and while there were very large 25mm armies floating around the community I played in, most of those armies were not Renaissance armies, so it was up to us to construct 15mm armies when it became the period we focused on.  But we needed rules.

Eventually, we would settle on particular subsets of periods, and particular subsets of rules.  But for a short while, we fooled around with Peter Harris' rules, Tercio.  We had access to both 4th edition (which this review mostly focuses on) and also the recently published 5th edition.  I don't know why, but it seems to me that we mostly played with copies of 4th edition laying around, although we always were checking things out in 5th edition.  I recall some arguments about the 4th edition book being more concise (which it sort of is), and also more straightforward (which it also is).

To be fair, we looked at a lot of rules, and the only ones we refused to play were the Newbury "Fast Play rules for Medieval and Renaissance Warfare (1300-1500)".  Oh boy.


Rules Intro
Tercio is a set of rules for Renaissance miniatures games (the cover mentions the period 1500-1700) written by Peter Harris, and releases (initially) in 1976.  Sadly, I do not know the history of the first three editions.  It was (in its 4th edition) written for 25mm figures (which we ignored, and used 15mm figures, but so be it), and the ground scale was 1 inch to 10 meters.  The rulebook begins with loads of information on how to classify your troops (of which, there are a lot of data points required for each unit), also points values, base sizes, and  set of guidelines for setting up random battlefields.

One of the hallmarks of many 70s rulesets (and one I have mostly moved on from, as have most other wargamers I know from the period) is writing rules.  Tercio, as a tournament rule set, had specific rules for orders, how they can be changed, and when they had to (or were allowed to) be changed.  In short, you had to write basic battlefield orders at the beginning of the game (i.e. - "pike/shot unit will advance to the crossroads, and then deploy and act defensively").  Then, once the game started, you should basically keep those orders in mind as you perform tactical moves, shooting, etc during the game.  Rules existed for sending signals, changing standing orders, etc.  During the game, however, the only turn-to-turn orders that were required by the rules were Charges, and if any pre-arranged orders (based on signals) were written at the start of the game.

In practice, our group used Charge declaration markers - chits that had Charge written on them, mixed in to a handful of other chits that had nothing written on them.  Each turn, we would place one facedown chit behind each unit, using a Charge chit for units to charge, and a blank chit everywhere else.  It was much quicker than writing, and was immediately apparent once you turned over the chits.

Turn Order
The turn order for the game (called the "Move Procedure" - a phrase that has stuck with me) was pretty typical for a simultaneous move game, and is really not all that different from the turn sequence in Dominance.  The difference, for Tercio, is in the specificity of when things happen.  And, that there are two pre-contact charge morale tests.  First, before moving chargers, any charging unit that has already taken a certain amount of casualties must test morale.  Second, after any moves, reaction moves, and firing due to charges and routs, there is a second morale test for all units that charged, and are about to contact.  Also those units being charged.  Once all this testing is done, then there is final shooting, other than vs chargers, and it all ends with melee resolution, and final (post-melee) morale tests.

A simplified description could be:
  1. Chargers charge
  2. Morale test for Contact
  3. Shoot
  4. Fight
  5. Morale tests from fighting

Movement rates are given in millimeters (I like inches, in spite of being a scientist and working in the metric system all the time) and maneuvers are given in terms of how much time (quarter move, half, full, etc) it takes a unit (based on training) to perform.

Combat
Firing rules are pretty straight forward.  This is a "factors and table" system, as per Dominance, and not the last such system I played for the Renaissance period.  The system is pretty deterministic, and works by figuring out the basic factors for weapon vs. armor; a short list of modifiers; and a d6 roll, to generate a modifier of -2 to +2.  A casualty table is consulted, and deaths of men are noted (every 20 deaths results in a figure removal).  Rules for ammunition, different firing types (volley, etc), and artillery are included.


Melee rules are similar (same dice toss for factor modifier of -2 to +2), with the basic factor being based on cavalry or infantry, and weapon type - vs. armor of the opposing unit.  Once casualties are generated for both sides, it is important to determine the combat results.  This is done with a very nice, and convenient chart, that matrices the casualties inflicted by the losing side (the side which inflicted the least number of casualties vs. the number of casualties that the winning side inflicted).  Once the column specifying the correct ratio is determined, then there is a Letter result that is based on the nature of the matchup (infantry vs infantry, cavalry vs cavalry, or cavalry vs infantry).  These letters determine the basic resolution of the combat round.  An example result is:
"E" - If infantry win, cavalry will rout.  If cavalry wins, the infantry will rout and the cavalry will pursue for two moves.

 Having  a system to determine the winner of the melee, and the results, is very nice, and is quite separate from morale tests (although the chart also generates the reason for making those tests, as well).  Note that Chainmail does something similar, but is based on comparing a total based on the number of figures remaining, plus factors for most casualties inflicted, and larger remaining unit.  Those are compared (as described in the Chainmail rulebook, and commented on in the review), and then melee results are calculated.  The Tercio system has much more interesting results, because of the way it is done, but it requires consulting two different charts following each melee combat.  That is in addition to the factor look up table, the list of modifiers, and the casualty table for each side, just to generate the number of casualties inflicted.  At least with the Chainmail system, if you know the points values of your troops, the whole mechanic can be done in your head, or on the back of a note card with a pencil, in about 20 seconds.

Extras
Finally, there are rules for executing morale tests, rallying, routs, pursuits, and other aspects.  A simple weather system is also included.  That pretty much concludes the 4th edition rules.

One thing, before I write my opinion of playing Tercio.  The description of troops has a lot of data included in it.  There is a factor for training level (T1, T2, T3), there is a factor for Morale (M1, M2...) there is a tactical group (ST - Skirmish, FT- Firepower, MT - Melee), there is an Organizational identifier (Regular, Feudal, Mercenaries), finally there is formation type (Close, Open, Normal).  These factors all come into play in the different rules subsystems in the game.  This may, or may not, be better than the typical WRG Ancients system where a unit is has one factor representing training and morale (A,B,C, etc).


In addition to the above factors, Tercio also lists army type (Light, Medium, Heavy, Extra Heavy, Super Heavy), and weapons carried.  These factors are onerous enough to keep track of when you are writing up your own army, but if you use the published lists, it is important to make sure you are keeping track of the different unit types, because of subtle differences.

It still bears my name on the outside.

Which brings me to a quick note about 5th Edition.  As mentioned, we played 4th edition.  There is not a lot of difference, except that for everything in 4th edition, there is MORE in 5th edition.  More rules, more troop types (allowing more army types and troop types to be represented), more factors, more optional and subsystems.  And, 5th edition also include an army list book as part of the publication.

4th edition, which is just the rules, comes in at just over 40 pages.  5th edition is two books in one (rulebook and army list book), and the rules themselves are something like 53 pages long.  Admittedly, there is some really nice artwork (very similar, and by the same artist that did the work for the Shock of Impact rule book, published around the same time, for ancient warfare).  But there is another 50 pages of army lists, divided up by period.  This is very nice, and has some interesting features (like, each army has predefined core units, and then some extra units that can be purchased using points).  The organization of sub units and interesting organization representing some of the Renaissance infantry formations (main body of pike, with sub bodies of halberdiers, shot, etc) is done very nicely by these rules, and they cover a lot of territory in terms of the wars and armies of the period.
Two army lists - Imperial 16th Century and Milanese, same period

My thoughts - Tercio is a neat set of rules.  I think it has not aged well, but most of the subsystems are pretty good, and other than a very deterministic combat system, and a factors and table combat system, it is not bad.  However, I recall from playing it that while it was a very serious attempt at simulating warfare, we had no feel that we were playing Renaissance armies fighting each other.  There is just too much abstract detail, and it does not have any glossing over of the fact, to make if feel like the period.   It is possible that the habit of many late 70s and early 80s rulesets to try to become more "serious" by piling on more data had the same effect.

For instance, while playing you would be talking about your M1/T1 troops, instead of talking about your "Fanatic Professionals".  The former gets a little stale.  And the order writing/charge declaration system (along with simultaneous movement - which ALWAYS generates arguments) is a thing of the past.  We tried to keep it smooth and streamlined by using order chits for charge, but that was done better in Johnny Reb, and that is a different ball of wax.  The method my friend Ron and I used (maybe from the Pike and Shot society?) of using a d20 to determine the odd casualty each turn, instead of maintaining a casualty roster, was pretty good and could have been applied here.  But, it all felt stale, and sort of dry. 

The data contained in the army lists from the 5th edition book, included as a bonus, is nice, as is the terrain and weather system (which can easily be stolen for other rules/periods).  Again, with different gaming groups, my experience was different.  With one group, we would play Hackbutt and Pike (by Ben King), in another group we would play The Universal Soldier for Renaissance, and finally with another group we would play George Gush's rules.  Finally, I settled on two sub periods, the Italian Wars, for which even Might of Arms was a good solution, and ECW for which I found some specialty rules (Forlorn Hope, 1644, Cavaliers & Roundheads).

So, Tercio was interesting, but it didn't last.  I think that it would have even a smaller chance of surviving today.  I included it in this series of reviews for the nostalgia and respect I have for Harris' rules, but also to serve as a comparison to Dominance (which I liked, but didn't play nearly often enough), and George Gush's rules (which I have yet to review, but it is coming).  It is emblematic of TTG rulesets of the period, being very thorough, and very much dominated by charts, factors, and different subsystems and classification systems from other rule sets.

But at least it isn't the Newbury Fastplay Rules.



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Horsing Around at the Painting Table

I recently received a shipment of 40mm x 30mm MDF bases, which means it is time to get caught up on some cavalry basing.

First up, 12 stands (36 figures) of armored 17th century cavalry.  These could be useful either as continental Cuirassiers in the Thirty Years War (or some time earlier).  Possible as Schwarzreiter during the Schmalkaldic War (maybe a little early for these figures, maybe not).  Also possible as Lobsters in ECW.


Next up, I have a unit that are clearly Reiters, from the look of their equipment and the plumed helmets.  As with the Cuirassiers above these fellows have 3/4 armor, black, and with pistols.  Different helmet styles, and slightly different armor styles are the big difference.


Moving away from the Renaissance (although not very far away), I also started re-basing my later Medieval Knights.  These fellows would fit right in during the late 14th or 15th centuries.  My inspiration?  I got these out to play a late medieval solo game of Chainmail (in honor of St. Crispin's Day), and was reminded of the basing situation.  That, with a new box of bases staring at me, told me to put off the solo game, and get the Knights re-based.  (as opposed to Chaucer, who would have them Debased).



This evening, I sorted out the first part of this collection, all of which need to be re-based.  In doing the sorting, I uncovered four basic categories of knights. 
  • There are knights (of different helmet designs) on chaffroned horses.  
  • There are knights on horses with just harness.  
  • There are knights on barded (metal barding) horses.  
  • And there are figures (knights?) who are carrying standards, musical instruments, etc - that could be part of these units.
I selected out the knights who were mounted on horses with just harness (and not full chaffron or  barding).  There were enough to do 14 stands of knights (3 figures per stand).  Those are who I based this evening (pictured above).  So why pull out the un-chaffroned knights?  Wargamers (and wargames army lists) love to differentiate.  Variety is the spice of life, after all.  In many army lists, there are second tier (or even third tier) Knights, representing either lower nobility, poor knights, mercenary heavy horse, etc.  These will be instantly identifiable on the table, as being different from the chaffroned knights, or the barded knights.  And there is still a lot of variety in pose, equipment, and armor style (probably too much variety in armor style - but I go to war with the army I have, rather than the army I want).

Finally, a few units I actually based a few nights ago.  These will see service in an upcoming 2nd Punic War game (at Fall In 2016).  Four Roman units, at three stands per unit.  These are in with my Late Republic Romans, but from looking at the equipment, and depending on the theater of operations, these could be (possibly) Pre-Marian, on up to maybe 1st century AD.  At least in 15mm scale, that is my claim. (the High Medieval knights are in the background).


 All this in addition to work I've done lately on my 16th century infantry (Swiss, German, and Spaniards).  In a day or two when the glue is set, I will flock the bases on all those above, and they will be off to fight in Flanders. Or Burgundy. Or Gaul.  Or Saxony.  Or Lincoln.  Or maybe just stay here in Stafford.

Pax. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Push of Pike - historical notes about the Pike

As a topic that got spurred on by all my late medieval and Renaissance wargaming activities lately, I did some reading about the lengthy catalyst of RMAs - the Pike. (RMAs are Revolutions in Military Affairs, and if you have never heard the name Michael Roberts, or of his first attacker, and later defender Geoffrey Parker, then you have been spared a great deal of historian's argument).

'Bad War' by Hans Holbein

There is a great article on the Push of Pikes, their employ, their length, etc - in an article called The push of pike in the 14th Century, from earlier this year (February 2016).  It is from a blog on historical topics, including such things as costume from different periods.  One of the gems of the article is the widespread basis for quotes and references.  Here is a great quote that is made, about a captain (Hynrick van Gemen) telling his men how to employ the Pike (presumably they were not veteran soldiers), during a battle protecting Münster from an invasion in 1407.
Gy menne, de nyn harnsch anne en hebben, gy solt achter uns beharnscheden gaen, und wyket nycht und schuwet uns und steket myt den peyken under de iseren hode.
"You men, who have no armour on you, you shall go behind our armoured (men) and will not move nor fear and you will stab with the pikes underneath the iron hats (in the faces of the enemy)."

But, of course, there is a lot of debate over whether or not there was ever a Push of Pike type engagement, where two pike formations actually engaged each other.  Lots of opinion on the internet, including an interesting discussion by a fellow that runs a blog called Swords and Socialism, where he reduces a pike-to-pike encounter as having three stages: Prodding (attempting to reach, and stab, without being stabbed), Pushing (when the blocks become locked, and it is a scrum, or shoving match, both bodies of men effectively having gotten "under" the pikes), and Panic (where one side or the other loses their cool, and departs the encounter).  I don't know how authoritative this is, or is it just a gleaning of information from other popular sources?

A video I uncovered also addresses the issue, and the presented supposes that pikes never actually faced pikes, just sort of had a machismo showdown until one side or the other fled (usually whichever side was not, in order, either (1) Swiss, (2) Landsknechts, (3) Spaniards, (4) Anyone else).


This fellow (his youtube channel goes by the name of Lindybeige) may have a point.  Now, a historian that was interested in finding out just how a pike formation worked, was Hans Delbrück, who in the research for his History of the Art of War, actually took men out in the field, gave them pikes, drilled them, and made notes as to how they behaved.  Equally, Charles Oman with his Art of War in the Sixteenth Century, is also quite influential, and does his homework.

One thing is certain, and that is starting with the Scots in their fight against the English, in the 14th century, and going on up until the last elements of pikes were removed from the musketry units in the Great Northern War of the early 18th century, one of the key formations of infantry power on the battlefield was the pike.  Was it defensive?  Was it offensive?  There are many opinions, all by people who have no first hand experience.

In the piece of artwork at the top of this posting, Holbein (who is responsible for fantastic portraits of Erasmus, Thomas More, Henry VIII and a couple of other chaps you may have heard of) does a drawing called "bad war" which was between Swiss pikemen and German Landsknechte.  Both had a reputation for being efficient, well trained, and ruthless, and were foes of each other (the two biggest kids on the block).  Since the Italian Wars, and moving on from there into the 16th century, they were often employed against each other, and the concept of a bad war (as illustrated by Holbein) is one where neither pike block will swerve, and the pikes and doppelsoldners with their two handed swords, halberds, and worse will chew into each other, in an extremely bloody scrum.

Landsknechte

The Spanish were certainly avowed fans of the Pike, as seen throughout the 80 years war and others, with their much celebrated Tercio formation.  Fans of warfare from this period could do much worse than to track down and see the film Alatriste (with Viggo Mortenson in the title role), about a Spanish unit that is fated to fight the French at the battle of Rocroi.

Spanish at Rocroi - by Augusto Ferrer-Delmau

A list of push-of-pike engagements includes a lot of the seminal battles of the 16th century.  According to wikipedia, this list includes:

Arbedo (1422) - Milan vs. the Swiss
Ravenna (1512) - Duchy of Ferrara (and France) vs. Papal States (and Spain)
Novara (1513) - Venice (with France) vs Milan (with Swiss)
Pavia (1525) - France vs. Charles V (HRE Emperor, who is also Charles I of Spain)
Ceresole (1544) - France vs. HRE in the Italian Wars
Langside (1568) - Moray vs. Mary, Queen of Scots
Santo Domingo (1586) - the only battle listed in the New World
Zutphen (1586)
Nieuwpoort (1600) - Look at this map of the battle - zoom in and look at the detail!
Benburb  (1646) - Irish (Owen Roe O'Neill) vs Scots Covenanters and English Colonists

This does not include any battles from the English Civil War (unless you include Benburb, which I won't), nor from the Thirty Years War (such as the battle of Lutzen).  It does include four of the major conflicts of the Italian Wars (Ravenna, Novara, Pavia, and Ceresole).

Wargamers, of course, want to get the history correct (when they can).  But, whether the clash of pike-on-pike resulted in a mutual stabbing affair, a crushing scrum, or a macho staring contest until one side or the other departed - it doesn't matter. The rulesets will tell you which of the figures are dead (or no longer able to function in combat), and which are due rewards for behavior (by winning a "combat").  Regardless of what this means in real life, the fact that the pike was the main weapon of massed infantry formations (including the elite formations of the day - the pike blocks of the Swiss Cantons), and that it was extremely effective vs. musketry formations and cavalry formations, and that it was vulnerable to artillery fire, and that it would occasionally be asked to go head to head, and toe to toe, with an enemy pike formation.  It is a part of military history, and so the push of pike clash has earned a place in our historical wargames.


Table Top Teasers - CS Grant wargame scenarios

Steve the Wargamer has put together a great list of the Table Top Teasers that have become available online.  These are wargame scenarios written by Charles Grant in order to stir up some interest in a type of scenario or period, and hopefully to get the reader thinking more about a particular wargaming topic, or excited to try out the scenario.  Here is an example.



From Steve's website...

Over a period of years in the late 70's and early 80's, Charles Grant published a series of articles in "Battle", and then "Military Modelling" called the 'Table Top Teasers'.

As time has passed I've picked up various copies, been given some, but have basically collected a number of them together - they're an invaluable source of scenario idea's, so on this page I thought I'd share them with the world.

The page is intended then as a resource for what I think were a brilliant set of articles, and an endless source of good game ideas - I've played these games over and over again... the page is also meant as a VERY respectful "nod of the head" in the direction of one of the "greats" in the wargaming world, namely Charles Grant, and a now legendary series of articles... my thanks to Charles for giving permission for me to continue hosting these articles.
 These are definitely worth checking out, and would be worth the time for any table top wargamer, regardless of what rules or scale he/she plays, to check these out.  Great stuff.

These are different from the wargaming scenarios books that CS Grant has published over the years, some of which have provided great games and scenarios for various club (ODMS, Roundtable Wargaming Club) games and convention games I've been involved in.  I am sure they will, again, in the future.

Great scenario book - the book has scenarios keyed to appropriate periods of history, hence the title. Very accessible, great maps, and great games ranging from regular set piece battles, down to interesting skirmish and adventure games.

Another great scenario book - this was the first professional scenario book for miniature wargames that I ever owned. I loaned it away years ago, and it never found its way home again. I am always on the lookout for another copy. (email me if you have one...)

Invaluable for the solo wargamer. Lots of great info about generating orders of battle for three broad periods (ancient/medieval; horse and musket; mechanized warfare). Information about generating characteristics for "fictional" opposed generals, and great ways to set up a battlefield with fog of war, even if playing solo.



A good review of the Table Top Teasers, and some of the other scenario books of Mr. Grant (including those above, and his multiple volumes of Wargaming in History) can be found at Wargaming Info.


Chuck

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chainmail - review

This is another review in the Once and Future Rules series, of wargame rules that are out of print, but that got a lot of play at one time (at least, in the clubs and groups I played in since the early 1980s).

Bring me my broadsword and clear understanding.
Bring me my cross of gold as a talisman.
Bless with a hard heart those who surround me.
Bless the women and children who firm our hands.

                  - Jethro Tull, "Broadsword"

So, following on Broadsword as the first dedicated Medieval rules reviewed as part of this series, I would like to return to a ruleset that was hugely influential in my wargaming history, at least once I started playing at wargaming shops and clubs.  That ruleset is Chainmail: Rules for Medieval Miniatures, by Gary Gygax & Jeff Perren.


The set I have, and the one I played way back in the early 80s, was the third edition (mine is a printing from the late 70s).  Earlier editions were from Guidon Games, before TSR acquired the title.  These are (like Cavaliers and Roundheads) based on the wargaming philosophy of Jeff Perren, and have some Gygax additions/edits in them.  The book itself actually contains several rulesets, but the main body (and the main version I played) is the big battle set for Medieval set piece battles, between opposing armies.

Background
A word about the quote I have above, from Jethro Tull.  It might seem as if that quote would go better with the review I wrote for Broadsword, rather than the one I did there from the Byzantine princess (one of my favorite scholarly heroines from history).  But, it is included here because at the time I was being introduced to Chainmail, and playing it a lot, I was also deepening my interest in (and fomenting a lifelong admiration for) art rock, including (among the rest) Jethro Tull.  And Broadsword and the Beast, was one of my favorite albums of 1982.  Besides, I don't know of a song called Chainmail.


Chainmail, as I was introduced to it, and would come to play it, was played by guys who had large armies (or parts of armies, several players combining their forces) of 25mm figures, numbering sometimes in the many hundreds.  These were largely Minifigs, Hinchliffe, Heritage, Garrison, Grenadier, Essex and others (older manufacturers, although some of them - notably Minifigs and Essex- are still around), in what today would be called true, or old school, 25mm.  Of course in 1983, they weren't old school at all.  The painting styles were very different then, almost all figures were painted in a block style, with little or no shading or washing.  Often figures were gloss coated, or even painted by model enamels (Testers, Humbrol, etc.).  Armies were frequently mounted on stands of balsa wood that would be painted green (no flocking).  A great example of the painting style of the day can be seen where the author of the Broadswords and Beasts blog (a coincidence?) has recreated the style for some Infantry, and for some Knights.

The crew I played Chainmail with did not play any of the WRG rule sets, although in the early 80s, the idea of a standard element width was far away, and even the WRG rule sets would only have a frontage-per-figure measurement.  I'll have to go back to check my 6th edition book of WRG ancients rules to see if there was a standard element width recommended, but 5th edition does not have an element width.  One of the complaints about Chainmail, as leveled against Cavaliers and Roundheads also, was the lack of a standard basing width for the troops.  I think that Perren & Gygax were used to playing in wargames clubs that had an understood standard.  As such, the armies I was playing with and against would have roughly 3/4 of an inch per infantry man (today, 15-20mm would be usual, so you get 3 or 4 figures on a 60mm wide stand).  About an inch per cavalry was also the norm.  Of course, once we migrated (some of us) to the Warhammer rules (which we used for historical troops), or other sets, they had base sizes, so re-basing happened.

The Rules
First of all, Chainmail is (as mentioned above), really four sets of rules.  There are the main body of the rules, which cover mass combat between armies.  These also include some information about sieges, weather, and some basic national characteristics (short of actual army lists).  They cover the basics of the tabletop wargame, movement, shooting, melee, and morale, as well as giving a turn sequence (actually, two, as described below).  But, there are three other rulesets.

First, there is a set of rules for playing Man-to-Man games, such as breeches into castles, raids, or simply small skirmish games.  Here the action is on the individual man, morale is only checked for the whole army once it reaches 33% casualties, and the action is conducive to the wide variety of scenarios and free action that many skirmish games promote.

Second, there is a set of rules for holding medieval tournaments, complete with jousting rules.  These are a game unto themselves, and I have played in a Joust at a wargames convention, using these rules.  Fun, if that is your thing.

Third, there is a set of Fantasy rules, that can be used to extend the basic battlefield rules in the direction that was happening in the 1970s, of doing medieval wargaming with a fantasy element (think of the battles of the Lord of the Rings).  To me the Fantasy Supplement makes Chainmail a different game, albeit one that would be clearly recognizable as the predecessor of Dungeons and Dragons. Rules are included for a variety of different fantasy troop types, monsters, spells, and some magic equipment like enchanted swords.

Finally, there is a set of rules (mostly a chart with some information) for extending the Man-to-Man rules in the same direction of fantasy, as the Fantasy Supplement does for the tabletop battle.

Now as mentioned, I am reviewing the 3rd edition, which came out in 1975, after Dungeons and Dragons had been produced, but it is widely reported that the origins of D&D were based on the idea of a chainmail campaign where one player had done a raid, using the man-to-man rules, into an enemy castle (actually the dungeon) to rescue some prisoners.  So, I am not sure how much of the man-to-man Fantasy portions existed in the earlier (Guidon Game) version, or if it was added later.

As mentioned above, there are two turn sequences given for the game.  One is for alternating moves (which requires no order writing), and one for simultaneous moves (which requires order writing, and would definitely benefit from having a referee).


Movement and missile ranges are given in inches, which can be extrapolated to real life, with the scale of 1" to 10 yards, given in the rules' introduction.  Movement is pretty straight forward, with reductions for terrain (based on troop type).  Half value for 20mm (or, presumably, 15mm) troops.

Some basic rules are suggested for setting up the terrain for the battle.  Changing formation and facing is described as taking up a portion of a whole turn's movement (or two turns, in the case of infantry forming a square from a line formation - in medieval terms, this would be a schiltron or hedgehog).

Simple rules are given for Fatigue, although admittedly, our group rarely used them.  They describe how much action a unit can perform before getting fatigued, which generally lowers the unit's effectiveness.  As can be seen from the description, the author carves out an exception for Swiss and Landsknechts.  This is done in multiple places throughout the rules, and while admittedly the Swiss (and the Landsknechts, also) were superior troops to many of their contemporaries, a more modern ruleset would adopt this by creating a classification system, rather than calling out exceptions by name.

The rules for shooting are simple.  They are based on the armor of the enemy target - either no armor, half armored, or fully armored.  Selecting from the appropriate table representing the target armor, a die is rolled, and the number of dead enemy figures results.  This is as a function of how many figures are firing, and the tables for Unarmored and Half Armored targets cover up to 10 shooters at a time (more shooters are to be divided up into equal numbers, so 36 archers would be 3 rolls as 10 shooters, and 1 roll as 6 shooters), and the table for Fully Armored targets covers up to 20 shooters at a time.  Troops can fire from two ranks deep, so two ranks of archers, or one rank if the front is spearmen or swordsmen, and the second is archers.  And so on, with the difference that being on the front slope of a hill allows other ranks to fire overhead the friendly troops in front of them.

This is very much a die per group of figures system similar to the WRG 1685-1845 rules.  They also have some similarity to Larry Brom's first edition of The Sword and the Flame.  The difference being, that in Chainmail, for a set group of figures, the dice determines how many casualties that figure does, in The Sword and the Flame 1st edition, the dice determines a divisor to determine how many casualties result from a set number of firing figures.

More elaborate rules are given for gunpowder weapons, including the Arquibusiers (as spelled in the book), Cannon, and special consideration for Bombards.

Melee combat rules cover how many dice are rolled, per figure, based on the enemy figure type.  Then a simple table gives what the kill range for each dice rolled, is.  So, by the following the table, a group of 9x norman knights (heavy horse) attacking 12x saxons (heavy infantry), would roll 27 dice (3 dice per man), and would score a kill on 4,5,6.  The heavy infantry, attacking back (simultaneously) would roll only 3 dice (1 die per four men), and would score a hit on a 6 only.  The numbers in this example are extreme (27 dice vs. 3 dice), but the rules are exhibiting the realities, and perceptions, of medieval warfare.  In most cases, when fighting man to man, it might be 1 dice per 2 or 3 figures.  All troops can only fight in 1 rank deep, unlike shooting.


There are special considerations for flank attacks and other situations, as well as a way to calculate post-morale melee.  This involves a calculation based on the point value of the troops involved.  Multiple the troops you have surviving, by their point value (ranging from 3 for peasants, to 9 for heavy horse and Swiss pikemen).  This number is modified in two cases, to it, the side inflicting more casualties, adds to their total the difference in number of casualties (times a dice toss).  The side that survives with a larger number of troops adds to their total the difference in number of troops (times a dice toss).  Then the overall totals of each side are compared.  The results usually are one side or the other as the "loser" and must move back a certain amount, rout, or surrender (with optional rules for prisoners).  The calculation sounds complicated, but after doing a few times, it becomes second nature.  And it really rewards the strength of different unit types (knights are hard hitting, but usually small units, and foot formations are usually large units, so both get benefits).

Morale is straight forward, and is based on checking once a unit reaches a casualty threshold.  The unit tests morale at that point (say, 33.3% for heavy foot), by rolling 2d6 against a target number.  If it fails, it is removed from battle.  If it passes, it is good, until it reaches that threshold again (so for our Heavy Foot, it tests initially after losing a third of the unit, and again considers morale a second third of the unit).  The second time it reaches the threshold, it automatically fails morale (no dice toss) and is removed.  Note, that some units have a threshold of 50%, so only test once, and if they pass, they are good until they are destroyed completely (such as knights, and Swiss pikemen).

That is it for the rules.  There are optional rules, and rules for weather and national characteristics.  There are rules for sieges, but that completes the rules for the big battles.

Comments
I love these rules.  A lot. They are fast, friendly, and deadly.  Meaning, easy to play, and lots of figures die.  I have a lot of fond memories of games, mostly of the Western Army vs Western Army, but we also had players with Mongol armies, and other weirdness.  Like the unlikely game between Western Knights and the Samurai army.  The fun ensued when one player, playing the Japanese, had "ninjas" in his army - the referee ruled them as light infantry on defense, but heavy infantry on offense, but they could start the game hidden in any terrain feature that the player wanted, as long as the referee was told.  They started hidden in a small forest in the middle of the board, and at one time a unit of knights passed too close to the forest, and the ninjas emerged and attacked the knights in the rear.  Mayhem was had, lots of howling, and laughing for years.

Chainmail has a lot in common with Cavaliers and Roundheads, but have some important distinctions.  The other rulesets in the book are impressive, as well, but I only ever played the Man-to-Man rules (which I also like), but only rarely did we use the Fantasy Supplement (and then, usually for fantasy troop types and monsters, rarely did we ever use Magic, except during one large refight for the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, which had both Gandalf and the Lord of the Nazgul as able to sling spells).

The man-to-man rules are worthy, and would be a good game to play these days.  I won't review them here, but when I write a review of Knights and Magick, I will do some comparison.

So, Chainmail. Writing this review has re-ignited a flame in me to set out armies of knights and archers, men-at-arms and pikemen, and start rolling dice.  It sure would be good to have some armies of 800-1000 figures, of medieval troops.  Maybe that is a good project to start.  In the meantime, I might give it a try in 15mm.  Not sure it would be the same, though.



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Broadsword: Wargame Rules for Medieval Battles - review

This is another review in the Once and Future Rules series, of wargame rules that are out of print, but that got a lot of play at one time (at least, in the clubs and groups I played in since the early 1980s).

"They assembled from all sides, one after another, with arms and horses and all the panoply of war . . ."
                                        - Anna Komnene

Other than The Universal Soldier, none of the rulesets I have reviewed so far have covered the medieval period, yet since my earliest days as a wargamer it has proven one of my favorite periods.  One of the earliest sets of rules I played was a simple set of one page medieval skirmish rules in the back of the Hinchliffe Guide to Wargaming (the second edition one, with the picture of the Zulu war figures on the front cover).  I will write a review of those later, but after that set of rules I migrated to some other sets (Knights and Magick by Arnold Hendrick; Wizards and Heroes from Heritage Games; Chainmail by Perren and Gygax; and the second edition of Warhammer, although played without magic).  Many of these are on the planning pile for reviews in this series.


A set of rules that I played in the 80s a few times, but that I really liked (and the design left an impact on me) wsa a set from FGU, called Broadsword.  It was written by George Schneider, and published in 1977.  It was based on the set of rules that had come out earlier from FGU, called "Royal Armies of the Hyborean Age" (RAHA) that presented a set of rules for wargaming in Robert E. Howard's Conan setting.  This is interesting, as a throwback to the Tony Bath early wargaming days, where he hosted battles of the Hyborean Age as the setting for his ancient and medieval army mashups.

The FGU rules for RAHA covered most ancient army types that are typical in the world of Conan, but that also covers a lot of medieval figures.  When Schneider took the rules as his inspiration, he left out the purely ancient troop types (mostly chariots and elephants) and focused more on typical medieval European armies, and troop behaviors.


The set is based on a 1:20 figure scale, and recommends that missile and skirmish units be 12-18 figures each, and that shock units of infantry or cavalry be 18-36 figures each.  Large manly units!  Larger units of peasants are also mentioned.

The turn sequence is based on simultaneous moves, and flows like this:
  1. Write all orders for the turn.
  2. Move for phase 1, declaring charges first.
  3. Resolve missile fire, if desired.
  4. Move for phase 2, declaring charges first.
  5. Resolve remaining missile fire.
  6. Resolve melees.
  7. Execute breakthroughs, pursuits, and retreats.
  8. Resolve pursuit and breakthrough melees.
  9. Carry out resultant mandatory retreats.
The two phase movement system is interesting... each unit can do two of the following functions during a turn, but each function can itself be used only once per phase (so you could Change Formation, and Move, but you could not Move twice).  Written orders specify which:
  1. Change Formation
  2. Change Facing
  3. Move or Charge 
Allowable orders are not mentioned, except to note that orders must specify which function is in which phase, if a charge is phase 1 or 2, and if the unit has "charge if charged" orders.  Ahh, the joys of games where you have to write orders.

Actual movement rates are in inches.  Which is a nice simplification.  The ranges are quite generous, and they work for 25mm figures (which is how we played it).  With 15mm figures, the author recommends halving it.


But the two phases of movement, and two different actions, is an interesting system. When we played it, the folks I played it with would use a graphical system to do orders.  Each unit would be listed on a piece of paper, and then there would be ruled lines and between each, and two columns for each turn (one for each phase).  In a column, you could write FORM, FACE, or a box (representing the unit) with an arrow showing which way to move, or a C or CIC for charge, and charge-if-charged.  Simple enough, and then interpretation was done on honor system (I don't think we ever played with a referee).

Shooting and Fighting both are based on a number of factors per figure (based on the fighting type, and modifiers, for a base factor - and then modified by a plus die and a minus die to randomize it).  Once you had your factor figured out, you multiply it by the number of figures fighting, to see how many casualties you did.  The system was simple, with 20 men per figure, for each full 20 casualties you did, an enemy figure would die.  So, for instance, if you have 18 knights that can fight, and they end up having a total factor value of 7 points each, on the turn they charge, by multiplying 7 x 18, you get a total of 126.  That means that 6 enemy troops would die, with 6 factors left over.

The basic rules as written state, that if the leftover factors are 10 or less, then no additional figures die, but if 11 or more, then an additional figure dies.  These days, if I played, I would allow a d20 roll against the remaining casualties, to see if the extra figure dies (something I picked up from my friend Ron when we used to play the George Gush Renaissance rules way back when).

In general, I would refer to this combat system as the "factors per figure" system, and other than a table of the base factor per figure, it is mostly done through multiplication, and the random factor comes in (as it is in Broadsword) in a dice roll modifying the base factor, or in a dice roll to determine extra kills, or both as recommended above.

I personally used this system in several sets I wrote in the 80s, "Patriot's Blood" for the Revolutionary War, and "KriegsHerren" for renaissance.  It is also used in a set of Medieval rules that I ended up playing a big, called Knight Hack.  It is used in other rulesets, as well.  In reality, it could be converted to a "factors and table" system, if you simply multiplied out the factors by a number of figures ahead of time, and printed it on a lookup table, but basic multiplication never bugged me.

The rules finish up with basic (generic) army lists for European Feudal, Saracen/Moslem, and Mongol armies.  As well as 11 historical scenarios.  A word about those scenarios - they are mostly for large armies, at least for 25mm armies.  Now, back in the 70s and early 80s, I recall playing with folks who had huge (1000+) figure armies in 25mm for medievals or renaissance.  At the time, I was just a poor student, and the only army I had that was that large was my old Orc and Goblin army that I used for Warhammer 2nd Edition.  What a beauty.  But in high school, I never could have dreamt of an army of 300 or 400 25mm knights.  So, I think we shrunk down the unit sizes to play some of the battles.  We would play with unit sizes of maybe 24 infantry, and maybe 12 cavalry.

The first time I played one of the historical battles, full size, was maybe around 1985 or so, playing (from the book) the Battle of Lincoln (one of the smaller scenarios in the book).  That was fun.

The king divided his army into three forces, and the opposing side did the same. The Bretons and Flemings, under the command William of Ypres and Alan of Dinan, were in the front rank of the royal army. Facing them was the fierce mob of Welshmen, led by the two brothers Maredudd and Cadwaladr. The king himself dismounted with a number of others, and fought stalwartly on foot for his life and the preservation of his kingdom. In the opposing army Earl Ranulf dismounted with his troops and reinforced a brave contingent of foot-soldiers from Chester to give battle. And Robert, earl of Gloucester, who was the greatest in the army, commanded the [men of the Bessin] and other disinherited men to strike the first blow in the battle to recover the inheritances they claimed. 
                          - The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis

I got to play the Rebel army, loyal to Queen Matilda.  At the time, I was using 25mm figures I had recently gotten, by Essex, from the (now sadly gone) Wargames, run by Johnson Hood - their ads can be seen in many an old ruleset and wargaming magazine.  I still have some of those figures.

The war was over the Barons wanting a king, rather than a queen (even though Matilda was daughter of Henry I, it is complicated, and considered by some historians as the first English civil war, also lumped together with the general 12th and13th century Baron's Wars in England, but that may be a stretch).  Although the guy playing the side of King Stephen's army used a borrowed army of medieval Germans, complete with Teutonic Knights and Sword Brothers, it was still a great game.

I did a lot of research on the fight between Stephen and Maude for that game, and became quite a fan of old Maude (Queen Matilda, daughter of Henry I).  Later on, my wife and I would have a cat named for her.


Broadsword is a good ruleset, and a pretty solid example of the "factors per figure" combat mechanism. The split movement system is pretty neat, especially since you have to do a different function for each phase.  It might be worth trying out again, but these days it would pretty much be in 15mm.