Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rules Mechanisms 2 - Movement

One thing that always struck me as somewhat artificial in wargames rules was the way in which units would move. For turn after turn they would steadily plod along at an invariable 4" or 6", stopping occasionally to fir or melee.

The only variation on this theme that I'm familiar with in horse and Musket rules is that in Charles Grants' "The War Game". There a cavalry unit might stand fast or move for a number of moves to save up enough "oomph" to buy a charge move.

Then I was introduced via "The Sword and the Flame Rules" to the idea of variable moves whereby a unit would move by a number of dice. That is to say, that a unit of infantry in line might move 2 or 3d6 inches in it's movement phase. I thought this might make a neat device for adding a measure of uncertainty to the designs of the player who thinks his Cuirassiers will crash home at the end of Turn 3!

With this in mind, I doodled the following table:

  • Troops in Square - 1d6
  • Troops in Line - 2d6
  • Troops in Column - 3d6
  • Troops in Open Order - 4d6
  • Cavalry in Line - 2d8
  • Cavalry in Column - 4d6
  • Cavalry Charging - 4d8*
  • Manhandled Artillery - 1d6
  • Limbered Artillery - 2d6

*You could rule that cavalry has become disordered once it has charged and needs to spend one move at the halt befor it may charge again.

Against this randomness, one could argue also that the generals of the day expected infantry to march at a predictable 75 paces per minute (pedants please forgive me!) and why vary that? And I'll admit there is some substance to this, too. I'd argue though that a variable move incorporates some other eventualities - a lackadaisical sub-commander, an unexpected irregularity of terrain or even the un-looked to fatigue or even inspiration of the troops!


Patrick H. Lewis said...

I've seen the variable movement idea used in another set of rules for the Napoleonic era called "Wellington Rules." The main difference in the way the designer used the idea is that the variable movement had a guaranteed minimum depending on troop quality with the exception of green/militia that were totally random. (For instance, elite troops would have a guaranteed movement of 4 inches plus 1D6; veteran troops would move 3 inches plus 1D6 and so on. I don't have the rules at hand so I can't give you the precise details. If I find them, I'll post them.

Bloggerator said...

Not a bad idea, and one I might gladly pinch!

John Watts said...

In `Loose Files and American Scramble' (AWI), troops get different dice depending on their quality, e.g., good troops get one or two average dicee, poorer troops get d6's. This guarantees a minimum for good troops of 4". The business of `one or two' is up to the player, and the twist is that the player must move the WHOLE distance thrown - which can lead to some interesting problems...

Bloggerator said...

Like oops! I just ran straight into a house! I can see that happening to me, I really can. It's an interesting idea (never having played those rules) indeed!