Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Search of Battles and Scenarios

Not totally sure but the more I think about wargaming and the more satisfying aspects of it, the more I come to the conclusion that I like designing scenarios.  Researching the battles, uniforms, unit strengths, leadership, and order or battle are probably some of the most fun parts, even before picking apart the rules, painting and basing the miniatures.  Not sure about playing considering I have not played an actual game in a long time.

Reading my google reader though I am longing to game battles again.  And not just small engagements for road junctions and street corners, but large battles!  My AWI project (The Battle of Hubbardton) will most likely NOT enable me to fulfill this desire, but with a little bit of patience eventually I'll be able to game a large BATTLE. 

CS Grant has excellent horse and musket scenarios in his books (I own 2 and they were NOT easy to come by).  I will most likely play one of those for a Seven Years War engagement (Lobositz eventually) and perhaps I will tailor the battles for an AWI and ACW encounter as well and discuss the abilities of the forces involved.

This gets me to thinking about the limitations of Volley and Bayonet as a rules set.  The Continental Army of 1777 was NOT the Prussian Army of 1757.  Are the "period adjustments" adequate?  Are morale levels enough to game staff limitations?  I argue that no, they are not.  Command radii must be adjusted to simulate the limitations or non-existence of a staff.  Non-availability or critical logistics functions must be modeled as well, especially in an Army like the Continental Army - if a large battle is to be gamed.

Then on the other hand you can argue that from a gaming perspective, at the onset of the battle, troops are fully supplied with all of the ammunition they will have for the battle but then - I wouldnt have anything to write about would I?

Fast forward to World War II - the Italian Theater has tremendous potential for great infantry engagements (this goes in line with my 1:72 conversion and lack of vehicles / heavy weapons at that scale).  For MicroArmor, many would argue that spearhead is an excellent choice for gaming the maneuver of large divisions, with combat decisions and engagements happening very rapidly and with the commander unable to alter the plan without relying on the support of his staff.  to this end I would argue that Blitzkrieg Commander is the better game.  Not only can I game a satisfying engagement with 2 companies (Kompanies?) on the board, but I can launch an attack, counterattack, and have significant manuever on the tabletop, limited only by the notional abilities of my command, staff, and luck's interventions.  Infantry takes its rightful place on the battlefield, as does Artillery and Armor, all working in concert. 

(how do you model combined arms?  a discussion for another post).

For the horse and musket era, more than likely, one of Charles Grant's meeting engagement scenarios or set-piece scenarios would be fun.  For World War II, a large infantry battle from the Italian campaign or Normandy would be equally entertaining.

(remember also that Grant's scenarios work well for Napoleonics and the prolific, real-life Brigadier has volumes devoted to the period.)

I will more than likely make my own scenarios and continue to make my own.  One of the most fun parts of gaming is trying other armies out on the same ground a-la Kriegspiel.  The biggest challenge is finding a rules set that does justice to the period.

I will post scenarios on this blog from time to time before and after games in light of sharing potential military adventures for you to experience as well.


  1. As far as designing limitations for the Continental Army during the AWI that have to do with their logistics problems, I would suggest researching their logistics leading up to the battle and creating scenario-specific limitations. For instance, if the Continentals were having trouble finding forage and fodder, perhaps commanders, staff, and any cavalry will have reduced movement rates or no horses altogether. If lack of food was the problem, the troops could suffer reduced movement, reduced morale, etc.

    Also, according to a whole bunch of other guys I've been reading online, the best thing to do is find a ruleset you like, and then modify it to fit your preferences. This works especially well for colonial games when you want to add in things like airships and might-have-beens (such as steam-powered landships).

  2. agree with researching and adding in the limitations, but would those specific logistics constraints be more applicable to a campaign rather than a battle? I think it boils down to what are you looking for - a game or a simulation? Washington seems to have cobbled together enough ammunition and food to fight at Brandywine and Monmouth but waht about during the movements leading up to those battles?
    Most rules sets that claim to cover it all with "period adjustments" don't go far enough. Thanks for commenting Mr Hanawalt!

  3. They are certainly more applicable to a campaign (which is an ambitious gaming undertaking, but ridiculous amounts of fun), but can also be applied to individual battles. As you said, it really depends on if you're going for a simulation or a game. I'm more game-oriented myself, so I'm more likely to take liberties with the rules and the scenario.
    If I think the Colonials were having a hard time of it finding food and forage leading up to a battle, I'd probably take a point off of their morale or something. If the Hessians had been drinking heavily before the battle (like at Trenton), I'd have them start with unloaded muskets and reduced firing effectiveness.

    And yeah, a lot of rules sets are quite unsatisfactory. I've tried a number of them, and it is pretty hard to find rules that can be modified, even with house rules, to cover some of the periods that I game. To be honest I'm between rules sets right now, myself.