As mentioned in the previous post, I joined Ian for a playtest session to refresh my fading memories on rules' development for his Rein-Bow Warriors (RBW) project. Last time we gave the rules a workout was about 18 months ago. What has changed, what do we remember, what have we forgotten, and what can be improved? We will see.
Following is a collection of my notes, insights, and suggestions from this session on Thursday. Next time I look for my notes, I will know where to find them. All tables and illustrations are copyright Ian Russell Lowell. Game photos are mine.Turn Sequence
The Turn Sequence from the last playtest back in March 2022 contained a total of nine steps. I recall, at the time, that these nine steps were difficult to keep in mind. Some of the steps seemed out of order and the sequence required constant referral during play. Simplification, if possible, would be helpful to streamline the turn sequence. When Ian sent an updated QRS, I noticed that the sequence had been reduced to seven steps. That is good! Seven steps are more manageable than nine.
Since Step 3 is a direct result of Step 2, Step 3 could be combined within Step 2. Now we are down to six steps.
To Grid or Not To Grid?
In last year's playtests, battles were fought on an open field with tape measure and protractor in hand. With my game table already laid out with a hex grid from my recent Punic War games, I asked if trying the game on a grid was possible. Ian, said, "Sure!" Within a very short amount of time, a hex-based diagram arrived into my Inbox. All missile ranges and movements rates were converted from inches (or IKU) to hexes.
|Missile ranges and arcs of fire template|
|Quick revision to unit orientation.|
As play began, I quickly realized that the switch to a grid-based, one BMU/hex design simplified much of the game mechanisms. Mechanisms that were fuzzy or unclear in the earlier, open-table sessions became straightforward without ambiguity on a grid. While the basic game engine remained intact, the fog was beginning to lift on how to actually implement Ian's design philosophy into a playable solution.
With Turn Sequence and playing area defined, how did the playtest session progress? What else was surfaced during this session?The Game
After a lengthy discussion trying to remember how all of the pieces worked and a refresher on the dice roll resolution (roll two dice and add the differential to the largest), we dived into the game.
|Battle lines drawn.|
|Chariots race off to meet their adversary.|
|Non-Chariot Exclusion Zone|
As the chariot arms of both armies scream out in advance of the main battle lines, it is clear that the Egyptians are outgunned. While two of the Egyptian chariots intercept two Hittite chariots and begin dogfights, the two Hittite chariots on the wings advance unopposed. The third Egyptian chariot in the center of the Egyptian battle line moves off toward the Hittite main battle line.
Again, play was stopped to discuss.
After an engaging discussion with a few anecdotes told, we decided to only test units that were actually within chariot bow range. Any testing unit could still utilize the highest Mettle Value from the entire battle line. Was a successful Mettle Test based upon less or equal to a dice roll or strictly less than? Less than or equal was the decision. Also, throwing doubles during a Mettle Test resulted in possible leader casualty in the earlier rules' iteration. Now, doubles are treated as a regular Mettle Test (Pass or Fail) with the largest die used since differential is zero. In this game, we used doubles as an automatic pass but think the test ought to remain within the standard framwork as outlined in the previous sentence.
|Hittites test for Seeing the Chariot.|
Hittite skirmishes are close to breaking.
|Hittite chariot moves against the Egyptian right.|
|Egyptians turn to face|
|and give the attackers a volley.|
|Still, the Hittite sweeps around the flank|
and into the Egyptian rear.
|Hittites break for the rear!|
|Pharaoh is hotly engaged!|