Tuesday, September 21, 2021

R&P White Plains BatRep

Battlefield and Initial Deployments
courtesy https://wargamesinthedungeon.blogspot.com/
After nearly two months from our last Rebels & Patriots AWI series game (Maryland 400), Matt and I picked up where we last left off.  That is, New York 1776.  Next battle to fight is the Battle of White Plains.  Matt drafted a scenario and the battle was fought on Sunday.  As always, Matt commanded the British and I took command of the Rebels.  Again as typical, the Americans were on the defensive while the British were set for another assault upon the colonial defenders.  This time, the Rebels were outnumbered (actually, outpointed) about two-to-one.  For a minor victory, the redcoats need to take Chatterton Hill.  For a decisive victory, the British must take the bridge leading into White Plains.

Let's see how the battle played out.
The British face a long line of Rebels upon the heights.
Americans on the left and Anglo-Germans on the right.
Rebels step forward to close the range.
British cross the river in force
 with two regiments making for the ford on the right.
Rall and his Hessians advance on the American right.
The dragoons charge the skirmishers but pull up short.
Fire erupts from the Americans. 
 The once confident (and newly painted) dragoons suffer
mightily before breaking for the rear.
Militia on the American right fire into Rall. 
Seeing the dragoons flee, Morale Check time.
The light infantry skedaddle having rolled a double 1.
One Hessian regiment breaks for the rear.
A second British regiment rolls a double 1
and flees the battlefield.
The British guns finally drive off one of the skirmisher
 units as a heated exchange unfolds on the American left.
On the American right, the long inactive militia
awakens to deliver a withering blow to von Rall. 
Not only do the Hessians break but Rall is killed.
While the American skirmishers in the dead ground
between the lines break to the rear, the remaining
Hessian regiment is the target of concentrated fire.
The Hessians break and another British regiment
 on the British right is destroyed.
At 75% casualties (!), the battle is over and the remnants of the British left wing limp back toward safety. Victory to the Rebels!

For the British (and Matt), the action at White Plains was a brutal affair.  Early in the battle, Matt suffered three double 1's in morale checks.  At least two of the three failed checks caused Redcoat regiments to evaporate.  The American militia on the far right of the American line (barely visible in most of the game photos) activated only once (or was it twice?) the entire battle.  When it did activate, it hit Rall with a devastating volley causing ten hits.  Even outnumbered nearly 2-to-1, the Rebels proved that they are tough to dislodge when defending favorable ground.  As seen time and time again, attacking in R&P is perilous.

As always, a very enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning.  Matt's table is always a pleasure to fight over.  This time, the Rebels bounced back from their record of 1-1-1 at Long Island.

What is up next in this series?  Perhaps the Battle of Fort Washington or Battle of Trenton.  We will see.

Thanks again to Matt for hosting another superb outing. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Sumerian Serendipity

While work has begun on a Sumerian project inspired by Graham Evan's To Ur is Human rules (see my First Impressions here), many questions remain unclear as I dive into a new, and unfamiliar period.

Imagine my relief when an advert for the above book recently popped into my Inbox.  This looks promising!  Well, little surprise that I quickly ordered a copy of this Soldiershop book from Amazon.  Being available in Kindle format, I received near instant gratification after having pressed the "Buy" button.

The author, Chris Flaherty, has produced a very interesting primer on the period.

The book is divided into the following thirteen chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Selecting Soldiers
  • Chapter 2: Role, Organization, and Maneuver of Armies
  • Chapter 3: Battle
  • Chapter 4: Kings and Military Leaders
  • Chapter 5: Priests and God Idols
  • Chapter 6: Hunters and Herder-Warriors
  • Chapter 7: Shield-Bearers and Spearmen
  • Chapter 8: Storage Pots, Water and Land Transport
  • Chapter 9: Fortifications and Siege Craft
  • Chapter 10: The Sumerian War Cart
  • Chapter 11: War Cart's Battle Use
  • Chapter 12: King Sargon's Standing Army 
  • Chapter 13: Amorite, Elamite, and Lullabi Warriors

A quick reading of this 218 page book has clarified a number of questions I had and given me as many questions to ponder.  Some of these chapters are directly applicable to wargamers whether painting and organizing armies or gaming.  I will be re-examining Graham's wargame rules in a new light.

Very useful addition to a wargamer's library on an often overlooked period. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Massed Sumerian Archers

After a number of battles and battle reports, I am back at the painting desk.  Still, I have loads of recent battles not chronicled but those games may only receive a passing acknowledgement on the blog.   Perhaps, combining many of these past games into a photo collage containing a sample photo from each game would be sufficient?

The two latest games saw a Neil Thomas One Hour Wargame set during the Russian Civil War on Tuesday and a Sunday Biblical battle between Canaanites and Hittites using Field of Glory.  More than five years has passed since I last played Field of Glory.  My impressions remain unchanged... 
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Off the painting desk today are two units of Sumerian archers.  Each of the nine figure stands muster out as a 'T' bow unit under Impetvs or massed archers under other rules (including TtS! and To Ur is Human).  Figures are Newline Designs.
My fledgling Sumerian project now can field four units with two spear and two bow.  For this project, next off the workbench will be a handful of slingers.  After those, I may return to fielding more spearmen before tackling a battle cart or two.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Remote Gaming in a Changed World

With survey results tallied, time to begin looking behind the data in this year's The Great Wargaming Survey (GWS2021).  Kicking off the analysis, I take a look at remote gaming.

Having made the leap into remote figure wargaming almost a year ago, I was especially interested in seeing responses to the two, new survey questions relating to remote wargaming.  Those two survey questions asked about remote gaming participation and continuation. 

When considering this topic and the questions asked, a few of the questions that came to mind were:

  • Is remote gaming a niche within a niche?
  • Is remote gaming a transitory means of gaming that will fade quickly after Face-to-Face (F2F) restrictions are lifted? 
  • Does remote gaming have an effect on gaming frequency?
  • Is remote gaming age-dependent?

With survey results in, I hope to address and answer some of these questions.

Participation Rate:
With a total response of 11,172 respondents (the largest response total to date, I think), does remote gaming represent a small percentage of gaming activity when compared to Face-to-Face gaming?  Table 1 suggests otherwise.

Table 1
Based upon the GWS2021, 39% of the respondents marked that they had participated in remote or virtual gaming.  39 percent!  This is a much larger percentage than I imagined.  Perhaps, the notion and implementation of remote gaming are not so niche? 

Seeing that 39% of respondents admitted to participating in remote gaming during the last year, how many plan to continue gaming remotely?  Perhaps, remote gaming is only a fad that will fade quickly?  Again, Table 2 suggests otherwise.
Table 2
Surprising to me, only 10% of respondents marked that, 'No', they would not continue remote wargaming.  Perhaps remote wargaming may have staying power?

Gaming Frequency:
While remote gaming allows gaming to continue even when F2F gaming is not possible or discouraged, do gamers participating in remote gaming play more frequently?  Since that direct question cannot be answered specifically from the survey, can we infer that increases in remote gaming contribute to increased gaming?
Figure 1
Figure 1 suggests this might hold since those gaming more than once per week game remotely more than F2F.

Converting these counts to percentages, what do we find (see Figure 2)?
Figure 2
The survey suggests that the more frequently people game, the more likely they are to embrace remote gaming.  Since one must have a motivation to overcome the barriers and challenges in diving into remote gaming, those gaming more frequently take on that challenge to tackle these hurdles.  Less frequent gaming carries with it a corresponding reduction in urgency to scale the learning curve.  From my experience, this inference fits.  An interesting result, I think. 

Age Group:
As seen from findings from past surveys, age group differences typically exist.  Is participation in remote gaming age-based as well?  With the exception of the always undercounted 20 and Under age group category, remote gaming participation falls monotonically as age increases.  Is this tendency driven by technology or preferences for social interaction?  See Figure 3.
Figure 3
There you have it.  A first look at GWS2021 survey results leading off on a topic I find interesting.  Did I learn anything from this analysis? Yes.  Remote gaming seems more mainstream than I thought and appears here to stay.

Personally, my gaming frequency has exploded with the introduction of remote gaming.  Going from fewer than one game per month to more than one per week has been astounding.  My circle of gaming friends has grown as well.  Really grown.  Thanks for the explosion in my gaming activity falls primarily onto two fellow bloggers: Matt from wargamesinthedungeon and Graham at Wargaming for Grown-ups.  Without their guidance and mentoring, this uptick in gaming activity may not have been possible.

Looking forward to reading comments on your experiences with remote gaming during these unusual times.  How do your personal experiences mirror or differ from the results given above?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Filling In Holes

The theme of today's post is about filling in holes.

First up, Hittites; Hittite bowmen, skirmishers to be exact.

With Ian intent on reigniting work on his Late Bronze Age rules, I offered up my troops and table for remote playtesting.  One problem I faced is that Ian's rules require a number of skirmisher units wielding either bow, javelin, or melee weapon.  Having patterned my Hittite Army primarily from Impetvs (or TtS!) lists, I did not field many skirmishers.  To correct for this under-representation, I pressed several units into the painting queue.

To that goal, first off the workbench are four, four-figure stands of Hittite bowmen.  Figures are 28mm Newline Designs.  A similar number of javelinmen will likely be next in this project augmentation.

The second hole to plug is a shortage of four-inch flocked hexes.

40 more hexes
With the recent battery of AWI games on hexes, thoughts of larger hex-based games have been turning over in my head.  Larger games require more hexes.  To address this shortfall, I finished 40 more four-inch, flocked hexes.  These hexes ought to be sufficient to increase the hex grid by two rows in both axes.

The third hole I am entertaining thoughts of filling is replacing a roster system of tracking casualties and unit attributes with an on-table marker approach.  Not really a hole but a redirection.  With Richard's WotR rules in playtest, he uses a roster system to track casualties, morale, armor, and other attributes.
Prototype stat and attribute scheme
The rostering system works well especially when the GM handles all of the tracking and computations.  For my own use, I prefer keeping my focus on the gaming table to reduce paper shuffling and back-and-forth glances from table to roster.  Still early versioning but I think I may have a workable prototype solution for my own needs.  The attribute labels on the right-hand side of each melee line could be decreased in size.  Richard is willing to give this system a try. We will see if this scheme works in practice.  Hopefully a test in the near future is possible.

The final hole to fill is a gaping hole in the basement ensuite bedroom.
Yes, quite an unpleasant discovery on Monday afternoon.  Last used by house guests at the end of July, Nancy went into the room and came out stating that "we have a big problem."  Well, often times, the "big problem" is not that big but this time, indeed, it was.  When I went in to inspect, the ceiling was bulging down, heavy with water.  The bed underneath the ceiling was damp but not soaked.  Pushing the bed into the center of the room and cutting away a section of the damage in search of the source of the leak revealed the culprit; an adhesive failure at an elbow joint.  Calls to a plumber and insurance got the leak fixed and damage mitigation pushed into motion on Tuesday.  This reconstruction work will likely disrupt gaming activities for awhile.  With another house guest planned for end of month, a lot of luck is needed to see the suite serviceable in time.

Given the maintenance issue described above, yesterday marked only the second Tuesday remote game with my UK friends missed since I began gaming with them last November.  Too bad too as I was scheduled to take to the air in a new Fokker triplane.  Maybe next time?

Saturday, September 4, 2021

From Pike To Bayonet: A Battle Report

Tuesday's remote game was a return to playtesting Graham's late 17th/early 18th  Century rules.  This time, the battle was set in the 1690s Low Countries where an Anglo-Dutch force faced off against a French force.  The objective was to take control of the bridge separating the two armies.  Troop quality is unknown until contact with the enemy.  How good or how reliable will our troops be on the day of battle?  No one knows with certainty.  

Since I would be commanding the French right wing, I switched webcams from the lead camera view (opening game photo) to better see my troops.  The French Army is attacking from top to bottom with the Anglo-Dutch attacking from bottom to top.  The ruined bridge in the foreground is not a meaningful objective.

How did the battle play? 

Both armies advance toward the bridge
French right-wing horse charge across the river
 and receive an unwelcome volley.
Disordered, French horse charge home as armies close...
and are sent packing back to where they came.
It's a race to find the best defensive ground along the river.
The race continues with volleys exchanged across the water.
The French right charges across.
One clash results in the enemy being driven back.
The other ends in a firefight.
The retreat turns to rout as one Anglo-Dutch
 regiment breaks.
And then a second enemy unit breaks for the rear.
The victorious French follow up.
While the French left is becoming hotly engaged at the bridge,
 clashes continue on my end of the battlefield.
French charge across the river and across the bridge
 into the jaws of the enemy.
My two French regiments are driven back from the river
 while the French left wing drives back its opposition.  The
pursuit of the two broken Anglo-Dutch regiments continues.
At this point, the battle was called due to time.  After about four hours of play, two Anglo-Dutch infantry regiments were in flight and a third regiment was being pushed back.  For the French, two cavalry regiments had fled the battlefield and two infantry regiments were being pushed back.  With neither army broken, Graham declared the battle a draw.  With both armies only approaching the halfway mark to becoming broken, a draw seemed a reasonable outcome given the situation, I thought.

The hard-charging French were not as effective as I hoped and the Anglo-Dutch platoon-firing infantry was more effective than I feared.  With rules in flux, just when one sees workable tactics beginning to formulate and gel, the next rules' iteration throws much of that discovery out of the window.  We begin again from Ground Zero.  Well, not quite Ground Zero but you get the impression.

There are a couple of assumptions in the rules requiring more of my thought.  I am sure these curiosities will be addressed in time but for now, they are puzzling.  In the remainder of this post, I tackle one as I work through the problem.

What is the source of one of the puzzlements?  Initiative determination.  The assignment of initiative at the beginning of each turn has the potential to have an outsized influence on the game.  The turn-starting rule on initiative determination drives the sequence of play.  The player winning initiative has a choice of moving and fighting first in the turn or second.  With that choice, a player could choose to activate second in one player turn.  Then if initiative is won in the next turn, that same player could move first.  This result allows one player the opportunity to activate his army twice in a row.  That is, the army activates second in one turn and then activates first in the following turn.  In Tuesday's battle, the Anglo-Dutch army managed to pull this off twice producing back to back activations two times during the game.  Two sequential activations manifests an advantage; sometimes huge.  An advantage that is difficult if not impossible to counter.

The probability of a double activation is actually increased by the nature of the initiative roll.  The player that loses initiative in one turn is more likely to win initiative the next.  The +1DRM to the initiative loser reduces the likelihood that one side can dominate initiative by allowing the initiative loser a better chance to snatch it away next turn.  True.

All things equal, what the game ends up with is a negative serial correlation to the prior turn's initiative holder.  This seems to violate Newton's First Law of Motion.  In physics, a body in motion tends to remain that way unless an outside force acts upon it.  Given that, an army in motion (holding initiative) ought not be less likely to maintain that motion than its opponent.  Better to have theory on your side, I think.  Taking the initiative should be rewarded; not punished.  

Now that this is identified, what are possible solutions to address this +1DRM Initiative bonus to the prior turn's initiative loser?

First, drop the "+1DRM if lost last initiative."

Since the Initiative Roll already modifies the die roll by commander quality, keep that in place since better generals ought to have a better chance of seizing and maintaining the initiative.  If you want to stop there, that is fine and provides a workable, theoretically sound solution.

Let us not stop there, though.  A more interesting solution is to add,

"+1DRM if moved first last turn."

What does this addition accomplish?

Say, Player 1 wins the initiative and decides to move first.  Player 1 moves first and Player 2 moves second.  Since Player 1 moved first, the initiative rests with Player 1 this turn.  Next turn, the probability of Player 1 maintaining the initiative is increased by +1DRM.

What if Player 1 wins initiative and decides to move second?  Now, Player 2 moves first and Player 1 moves second.  Player 1 has relinquished the initiative to Player 2.  Next turn, Player 2 has an advantage in attempting to hold the initiative with a +1DRM.  Player 1 not only gave up initiative this turn by choosing to move second but has allowed his opponent an opportunity to maintain this initiative next turn (and subsequent turns) with increased probability.

Now, there is a reward for maintaining the initiative and a cost for giving it up.  As a bonus, no Newtonian law is violated in the process.  Of course, the opposing player could still out roll the initiative holding player despite the +1DRM and snatch the initiative anyway.  With no modifiers, the player not holding the initiative will win initiative 15/36 times. With a +1DRM, the player without initiative will win the comparison toss, 10/36 times.  Maintaining the initiative once taken is no sure thing.

I welcome comments on the original Initiative determination scheme as well as my suggested amendments.

I end with a few photos of the Spokane skyline, Lower Falls and Upper Falls snapped during Thursday's ride.  Weather remains perfect.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

French Piemonte Regiment

After a lot of gaming in August (eleven games!), there has not been much in figure count crossing the finish line at the painting desk.  Meaningful painting sessions have been few and far between.  While a number of units are in process at the workbench, few made it to the point of mustering out in August.  Well, that is not quite true.  A couple of Sumerian units mustered out but have not reached the point of getting into the photo booth.   

Off the workbench today is a 23-figure regiment of French musketeers for the SYW project.  Following not too far behind the Normandie regiment off the workbench, today the Piemonte Regiment steps out from the paint desk.  Foot figures are from Blue Moon with a Eureka mounted officer leading on his men.

I mentioned that a couple of units of Sumerians are nearing completion.  Actually, several units for Biblical projects are in work.  On the workbench now are archers, javelinmen, and slingers.  A whole array of lightly armed troops are seeing some activity.  Many of these light-armed, skirmish infantry will be used to bolster skirmisher contingents for some Bronze Age playtesting.  That activity may begin soon.  In addition to the Biblicals, a fourth WotR Battle is about finished.  Battle #4 will be marching out as Jasper Tudor's retinue. 

On the cycling front, weather has improved with less heat and less smoke making cycling much more enjoyable.  August mileage remained consistent to May-July coming very close to 750 miles in the legs.  Had I been able to make it out on the bike Tuesday, that threshold would have been crossed. A few photos from a recent ride follow:

Next time, perhaps another painted unit, a battle report from the weekly Tuesday game, or something entirely unexpected.