The portable wargame: To ‘pin’ or not to ‘pin’ … that is the question … and here is another possible answer!

My earlier blog entry of today has produced two excellent responses from Dr Vesuvius and Ross Mac.

Dr Vesuvius pointed out the following: ‘… most of the impact of a recoil result in DBx games is due to the effect of breaking up the enemy’s battle line, with the double effect of giving an overlap supporting bonus on any combats with adjacent units AND breaking up the solid block of troops that can be moved with a single PIP.

Since neither of these apply to TPW (N.B. The Portable Wargame), depending on how far you see units recoiling/withdrawing I’m not sure how much of an impact a recoil result would be.

Also, would it perhaps be more appropriate for some periods/theatres of war than others?’

I found this comment very pertinent, and it gave me some pause for thought. Luckily, Ross Mac had already proposed a solution along the following lines: ‘I was going to propose that a pinned unit that receives a 2nd pin result be forced back instead of collecting additional pins. Thus the first hit pins, if there is additional fire or if the player is unable to unpin the unit then the next pin result results in the unit moving back 1 hex, remaining pinned. The owning player now has to unpin the unit and then try to move it back.

This is a very elegant and simple solution that meets almost all my requirements as well as answering some of Dr Vesuvius‘s concerns. It does not do away with the aesthetic problem of having ‘pin’ markers on the tabletop, but it does remove the problems associated with single Units receiving multiple ‘pins’. On the plus side it also introduces a degree of automatic response to events (rather like the existing ‘Flight to the Front’ reaction that European Cavalry Units have to being ‘pinned’), and as a solo wargamer this sort of thing has a considerable appeal to me.

This online ‘discussion’ and the ideas that it has generated are what makes blogging such a useful adjunct to wargaming in general and wargame design in particular. My ideas for the next draft of the PORTABLE WARGAME rules are slowly but surely forming into something more concrete, and when I begin the process of actually putting them down on paper, I am sure that a new simpler and easier to understand set of rules will emerge from the process.

The portable wargame: To ‘pin’ or not to ‘pin’ … that is the question … and here is a possible answer!

Having considered the ‘pin’ or not to ‘pin’ question yesterday, I must admit that I was unsure what to do with regard to a solution. I thought that there needed to be an intermediate combat result between ‘unaffected’ and ‘destroyed’ … and I am still firm on that point … but having to place and remove ‘pin’ markers, coupled with the ramifications of multiple ‘pin’ markers being placed on a single Unit, was complicating a set of rules that were essentially designed to be as simple as possible.

Yesterday was a busy day for me, as my wife and I had to visit my father-in-law in order to do his shopping for him and to sort out a couple of problems that he had. Driving backwards and forwards to Herne Bay, Kent, did give me a bit of time to think about alternatives to using ‘pin’ markers and the ‘pinning’ rules, but none of them seemed to fit in with the way the rest of the rules worked, and some of them just added an additional layer of complication.

Just before I went to bed last night, I happened to catch up on some of the blogs that I follow, and one of them – Mr Farrow 2U (+ Jack & Amys!!) DBA 1500 Onwards Page – contained a blog entry about a Franco-Prussian War battle. Mr Farrow uses a set of rules that are based on DBA/HOTT, and under those rules there is an intermediate combat result … recoil! This set me thinking, and just before I dozed off to sleep, I decided to look at a similar result – possibly ‘withdraw’ – as an alternative to using ‘pinning’ and ‘pin’ markers.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I read my emails this morning to find a comment from Ross Mac about yesterday’s blog entry. Ross Mac‘s comment included the following: ‘Bob, I was pondering alternatives to the pin and one which came to mind was a recoil. DBA uses this as a less drastic result than destruction. I’m not sure if it would fit but it would eliminate markers.’

Well, if both of us have independently come up with the same solution, it must be worth a try … especially as the PORTABLE WARGAME rules already use a ‘withdraw’ result for drawn Close Combats, and a ‘withdraw’ result for artillery and fire combat would make the results of all combat more consistent

This idea has been added to the list of possible changes that I will incorporate in the next draft of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, and work on this draft should begin early next week.

The portable wargame: To ‘pin’ or not to ‘pin’ … that is the question …

In a recent blog entry, Ross Mac made the following point about the current version of the PORTABLE WARGAME rules: ‘I am still wondering if the Pin rules are worth the extra hassle or if perhaps its just that the Pin is too easy to inflict‘.

Now the ‘pin’ rules were introduced to add an extra level of combat result between ‘unaffected’ and ‘destroyed’. It also added a layer of additional complication to the task of commanding an army as the players had to decide whether or not to use an activation to ‘unpin’ a Unit or to move an ‘unpinned’ Unit.

For a longer game, I would like to continue to use the ‘pinning’ rules, but for a short, sharp, ‘do-or-die’ action, removing the ‘pinning’ rules would speed up the whole thing considerably … and would be one less thing for the players to remember to do!

That said, Ross Mac makes a very justifiable point about the ease with which Units can be ‘pinned’, and I will look at this again when I draft the next version of the rules. In the meantime, I hope that Ross Mac (and others) will continue to play-test the existing version of the rules and feedback to me their comments and suggestions.

Heroscape™ hexed terrain … there’s some more!

I was just finishing off the ‘Spring clean’ of my toy/wargames room … when I found some more Heroscape™ hexed terrain!

Therefore, my current ‘collection’ of unpainted Heroscape™ hexed terrain includes:

  • 73 x 24-hex tiles (1752 hexes in total)
  • 112 x 7-hex tiles (784 hexes in total)
  • 112 x 3-hex tiles (336 hexes in total)
  • 112 x 2-hex tiles (224 hexes in total)
  • 248 x 1-hex tiles (274 hexes in total)

This is a total of 3370 hexes … and is considerably more than I estimated that I owned!

I don’t think I need to buy any more … for the time being at least.

Technology and me … again!

The last two days have been very busy … and technology has conspired to make my situation somewhat busier than it needed to be.

Yesterday I spent most of the day on the ‘Spring cleaning’ of my toy/wargames room. I achieved quite a lot … and found a lot more stuff that I had forgotten that I owned (mainly 1:76th-scale model military vehicles). Things are now far better organised, and although the job is not quite finished, the main part of it has been done.

It was also my wife’s last day at work before the Summer holidays, and so we went out for a drink at the local golf club with some friends to celebrate. It was on our return that technology began to cause me grief. We had just sat down to eat our evening meal when we both heard a loud ‘bleep’. I went off to investigate, and about forty seconds after the first ‘bleep’, there was a second one.

From then on the ‘bleeps’ came regularly every forty seconds … and I eventually traced the source to the fire alarm on the middle floor of our house. I set up the stepladder and climbed up to see what was causing the problem … but could find nothing wrong because I could not get the cover off the alarm! Some twenty minutes later, after a degree of bad language and a lot of effort, I managed to get the cover off, and discovered that the cause of the ‘bleeping’ (which was, by now, not only very annoying but also deafening as my head was only inches from the alarm) was the back-up battery. It had reached the end of its ‘life’ and needed replacing.

By now it was 10.15pm. Where does one find somewhere where you can buy a new 9 volt battery at that hour? The answer is … the local petrol filling station!

I drove to the petrol station, persuaded the clerk to go into the by-now-closed shop to look for a suitable battery, and when he came back and told me that they had some in stock, I bought two … which turned out to be a very good idea!

I drove home, climbed up the ladder, inserted the new back-up battery … and the fire alarm continued to ‘bleep’. On reading the instructions, which happen to be on the inside of the plastic cover that holds the back-up battery in place, and therefore not in the easiest of places to read when up a ladder, I discovered that this should happen for seven to ten minutes after the back-up battery is installed, after which it should be silent.

Ten minutes went by … and the ‘bleeping’ continued. Not only that, but the other fire alarm, which is on the top floor of our house, began to join in as well! I quickly took this fire alarm down (I was able to do this quite quickly as by now I had plenty of experience of removing the alarm cover and replacing the battery) and once the second battery I had bought was in place, it also continued ‘bleeping’ … but unlike its companion alarm, it did stop after ten minutes.

By now it was time to go to bed, and I just could not stop the first fire alarm from ‘bleeping’. I took the battery out … left it for a few minutes … and put it back in … and waited … but after fifteen minutes it was still ‘bleeping’. Finally, out of pure desperation, I disconnected the whole alarm from the electrical mains system, and took it (still ‘bleeping’) into the conservatory so that it was out of earshot. My wife and I then went to bed.

This morning the fire alarm had stopped ‘bleeping’, and so after breakfast I reattached it to the electrical mains system … and it immediately started ‘bleeping’ again. It carried on doing this for nearly twenty minutes … and then it stopped … and it has been silent ever since.

I have now tested both fire alarms twice today, and they seem to be functioning normally at last. I do not want this to happen again next year, and I have made a diary note to check the back-up batteries in the fire alarms in twelve months time.

Technology and me do not seem to be ‘interfacing’ very well at the moment. I hope that things will be better tomorrow.

I never realised I owned so much Heroscape™ terrain

Over the past few years I have built up quite a collection of Heroscape™ hexed terrain, which is one of the reasons why I am currently developing a version of the PORTABLE WARGAME rules so that I can use them with my Heroscape™ terrain. However, as I have bought the terrain in piecemeal packets (some when it was on sale in Argos stores at 75% off its original price and some via eBay), I have never sat down and counted up what I own. As part of the big ‘Spring clean’ of my toy/wargames room I did just that… and it was then that I realised quite how much I owned!

My current ‘collection’ of unpainted Heroscape™ hexed terrain includes:

  • 65 x 21-hex tiles (1365 hexes in total)
  • 102 x 7-hex tiles (714 hexes in total)
  • 102 x 3-hex tiles (306 hexes in total)
  • 102 x 2-hex tiles (204 hexes in total)
  • 248 x 1-hex tiles (248 hexes in total)

This is a total of 2837 hexes!

I have not included the blue 1-hex water tiles in this total, and I have not differentiated between the green, grey, and tan-coloured hexes when counting up the number of each type of hex tile.

My intention is to eventually paint and flock this collection of Heroscape™ hexed terrain in order to reduce the rather stark finish they come in ‘straight out of the box’. Some will be finished in green, some in sand, and some in other colours and textures as required.

With such a large collection, it would be silly not to use it, especially as I have now counted up how much I have; after all, one reason for the ‘Spring clean’ was to find out what I actually had in my toy/wargames room and to make sure that what I kept would be used.

The big ‘Spring clean’ has begun!

I have begun the process of ‘Spring cleaning’ my toy/wargames room … and I have already found things that I had either forgotten I had made or bought.

So far the most important ‘finds’ have been a big box of Heroscape™ hexed terrain and two large, flocked terrain boards that are marked with a squared grid. They are both 60cms x 90cms (or approximately 2ft x 3ft) and the grid is marked in 7.5cms x 7.5cms (3-inch x 3-inch) squares. I remember making them several years ago, and thought that I had stored them in the garden shed. Evidently I did not, and they have now ‘emerged’ from behind a storage unit.

I have also found several crates full of unmade 20mm-scale model tanks and vehicles, including some that I just do not remember buying! I intend to carry on the process of ‘Spring cleaning’ tomorrow … and I have no idea what I will discover/re-discover as a result.