Thursday, 28 March 2019

Much Ado About Nothing


As seems to have become customary (already) on this blog, it's time for a turgid pre campaign rules review.

First off I suppose I'd better take this opportunity to introduce the motley crew that have been randomly generated to run my midlands garrisons, and at the same time explain a little bit more about some of the game mechanisms that will be in use.

For each of the Royalist garrisons I rolled 1d6 on the following table; the result becoming the main character trait of its commander.

1. Bookish

2. Undisciplined

3. Son of Mars

4. Coward

5. Brute

6. Charismatic

Borrowed heavily from the "Perfect Captain" campaign system the generated character trait will affect many of the actions that I expect them to perform, for both good and ill. Note - Parliamentary garrisons will also have commanders with character traits but they will not be generated until their garrison becomes involved in the game and it will not be recorded for future use (continuity issues aside - the book keeping is going to be bad enough as it is!).

This is how the die roll determination turned out:



Sadly I'm now going to have to bore the arse off you by talking about the mechanics of the strategic phase.

I know, I know, we've all got better things to do...but I think I probably ought to set some of this stuff out now, while I still have the will.

If it helps…think of it as another one of my insomnia cures.

As Governor, I can write three letters per strategic phase giving orders to three of my garrison commanders. There are 11 orders types that I can issue and depending on what they are, they fall into one of three difficulty bands. Once received the orders are diced for to see if they are enacted with a specific score needed for success and modifiers to the roll based on the character of the garrison commander and the morale state of his men. The letters may only be delivered to a garrison connected by road to Worcester (my regional capital), however long or torturous the route turns out to be. A garrison may only act on one letter per strategic phase.

Since this is a solo campaign the actions of my absent opponent, who also gets to issue three letters, are diced for, after who goes first in the phase has been determined. Parliaments orders will be assigned to locations that match the intended actions. In other words a "raid" command would not be assigned to a Parliamentary garrison too far away from any acceptable target. If there's any question of being tempted to act in my own self interest I'll get TCMB to make an independent decision. She's good at that you know.

So… the three difficulty levels and the order types therein are as follows:

Mild Duty. Requiring a score of 5+ on 2d6

1) Plant a garrison. A group of troops must set out and establish a new garrison in a nearby settlement. My letter will indicate which settlement I require to be garrisoned but it must be unoccupied and no more than 20 miles away from their start point. The troops sent will not reduce the size of the donating garrison - being initially only a very small cadre of men whose ranks will be quickly swollen by a grateful citizenry rushing to enlist. Probably.

2) Augment defences. The settlements garrison should strengthen their current defences. Issued only to a settlement without a castle icon the earthworks they construct will be represented on the campaign map by a new star fort, though the actual defences may be considerably less impressive than that. If the garrison commander is "bookish" he may add 1 to his die roll when attempting this.

3) Reinforce. Send 1 element of soldiery from a donating garrison to another friendly garrison not more than 20 miles away. A large donating garrison would subsequently drop to medium, a medium sized garrison would drop to small and a small would disappear completely, along with its commander. The receiving garrison would increase in size but may never become bigger than large.

Troublesome Duty. Requiring a score of 7+ on 2d6

4) Raid. The garrison must march no more than 20 miles to a nominated enemy garrison and raid its settlement. Both sides roll 1d6 and the higher score is the winner. Ties are re rolled. 

If the defender is victorious then the attacking group returns empty handed and becomes discontented. If already in this state it is lowered in size, i.e. large to medium. 

If the attacker is victorious the defender is driven out of the site (temporarily) while the attackers pillage the place and seize the value of its resource points. The site will have no resource point value at all in the following strategic phase. The returning defeated defenders are marked as discontented and if already in that state are reduced in garrison size. There are a number of applicable die roll modifiers to the raid combat:

-1 modifier to any side in the raid that is in a discontented state.
+1 modifier to any side that is bigger than its opponent.
+1 modifier to any side whose commander has the "son of mars" character trait.
-1 modifier to any side whose commander has the "coward" character trait.
+1 modifier to the defenders if the site has military defences (star fort or castle).

5) Ambuscade. The garrison lays an ambush within one of the nearest 10 mile distance road division circles. The actual one will be detailed in my orders. If ordered by the Parliament side it is automatically considered to be the circle my unit needs to travel through. The ambushing force will automatically intercept any enemy unit that has to travel through their circle but returns back to their garrison once the strategic turn is done. If a garrison marching on a raid falls into the ambuscade the outcome is again determined by the highest 1d6 roll plus the following modifiers:

+1 modifier to the ambusher's die roll.
-1 modifier to the ambushed forces die roll.
+1 to either side whose garrison commander has the "son of mars" character trait.
-1 to either side whose garrison commander has the "coward" character trait.

The engagement is never more than a small skirmish but while the winner, upon conclusion, merely falls back on their garrison quarters, the loser will retire to their start point and become discontented or reduced in size. Note a force setting out on a raid that stumbles into an ambush will not continue with the raid even if they beat the ambushing unit.

6) Requisition. The garrison marches to an unoccupied settlement within 20 miles and robs harvests its resources for that turn. The settlement suffering the requisitioning receives no real damage and retains its points value in the next strategic phase. If the requisitioning garrison commander has the "brute" character trait he may add 1 resource point to his overall take.

or) Send a spy. The nominated garrison sends a spy into an enemy held settlement no further than 20 miles distant with a view to determining its size and morale state. This order is not applicable to the Parliamentary commander since when generating random orders it would serve little purpose in solo play.

Arduous Duty. Requiring a score of 9+ on 2d6

7) Quell disorder. Attempt to bring a discontented garrison back into a state of contentment. A garrison commander with the "charismatic" or "brute" character traits adds +1 to the die roll. A garrison commander with the "undisciplined" character trait suffers a -1 penalty.

8) Recruit. The garrison commander may attempt to recruit from the local population in order to increase his garrison size by 1 level. Note: The garrison may never exceed "large". A +1 modifier applies if the garrison commander has the "charismatic" trait and -1 if the garrison commander has either the "brute" or "undisciplined" trait.

9) Send an agitator. The nominated garrison sends an agitator into an enemy held settlement no further than 20 miles distant with a view to disrupting the target garrisons morale. If successful the target garrison becomes discontented, and if already discontented loses 1 level through desertion. A garrison commander who is "bookish" may add a +1 modifier to this die roll.

Brave Duty. Requiring a score of 10+ on 2d6

10) Send an assassin. The nominated garrison sends a spy into an enemy held settlement no further than 20 miles distant to assassinate its garrison commander. A new commander is automatically assigned with a randomly generated character trait and the garrison becomes discontented if the assassinated commander had the "charismatic" trait. If already discontented the garrison is reduced in size by one level. The commander of the garrison despatching the assassin gains a +1 to his die roll if he has the "brute" character trait.

At the end of the strategic phase I shall calculate the total resources harvested, make a decision over whether to pay any or all of the garrisons (lack of pay will cause them to become discontented or even desert) and probably most importantly roll on the 20 point random events table which includes the following:

1. The King demands 5 resource points from my regions treasury.

2. Fire, A conflagration breaks out in one of my resource size 2 or 3 settlements. Dice for which (highest score is the unlucky winner). They become a resource size 1 for the rest of the game. If no level 2 or 3 is available select a level 1 which is reduced to 0.

3. A Royalist marching army of less than 110 FK&P points enters the map from any controlled settlement in the west or south and marches on Leicester with a view to taking it for the crown. All settlements moved through by the army, (friendly or enemy) are reduced by one 1 resource point for the rest of the game. If unable to secure Leicester by siege the army retreats the way it came but has no further resource effect on the settlements it passes through. The arrival of the army triggers the Operational Phase and an average die roll gives the number of elapsed days before a Parliamentary counter force of less than 70 FK&P points can appear on the map from any controlled settlement in the east. The passage of the Parliamentary army will produce the same resource depredation effect on any settlements it passes through. If Leicester already belongs to the King re roll.

4. Thief! 50% of all treasury funds (rounded up) have been stolen. Though you hang a couple of suspects the moneys gone for good.

5. A Parliamentary force escorting a convoy of supplies of less than 70 FK&P points enters the map from any Parliament controlled settlement in the South and attempts to exit via any Parliament controlled settlement in the North. No Parliamentary settlements have their resource points ravaged during its passage. The arrival of the force triggers the Operational Phase and an average die roll gives the number of elapsed days before a Royalist counter force of less than 80 FK&P points can appear on the map from any controlled settlement in the south. The passage of the Royalist counter force will not produce a resource depredation effect on any settlements it passes through. The Parliamentary force must include two free baggage trayne units and if captured or destroyed they grant 1D10 resource points to the Royalist cause.

6. A Surfeit of Bile. One Royalist leader with the character trait "Brute" is struck down by a surfeit of bile and removed from the game. If several possible "brutes" are on the board dice for who gets the chop. If there are none ignore this result and re roll.

7. The King demands 10 resource points from your region. Mmmm.

8.  A Parliamentary marching army of less than 110 FK&P points enters the map from any controlled settlement in the east and marches on Worcester with a view to taking it for the government. All settlements moved through by the army, (friendly or enemy) are reduced by one 1 resource point for the rest of the game. If unable to secure Worcester by siege the army retreats the way it came but has no further resource effect on the settlements it passes through. The arrival of the army triggers the Operational Phase and an average die roll gives the number of elapsed days before a Royalist counter force of less than 100 FK&P points can appear on the map from any controlled settlement in the west or south. The passage of the Royalist army will produce the same resource depredation effect on any settlements it passes through.

9.  The King demands the region provides soldiers for the regiments in his main field army. I must provide two garrison levels of men for his use from any of the garrisons I currently control.

10. Plague. One of my level 2 resource point settlement is struck down by a strange malady. Dice for which one if there is a choice. If not re roll. The settlement is off limits to all orders or travel until a cure is found. Any garrison units are disbanded and leaders lost.

11. Treason. A "bookish" or "cowardly" Royalist garrison commander changes sides. Reduce the garrison level of the site by one (through desertion) and mark the settlement as Parliamentarian - unless the garrison is reduced to zero by the process. In which case the site becomes neutral.

12. A Royalist force escorting a convoy of supplies of less than 70 FK&P points enters the map from any Royalist controlled settlement in the north and attempts to exit via any Royalist controlled settlement in the south. No friendly Settlements have their resource points ravaged during its passage. The arrival of the force triggers the Operational Phase and an average die roll gives the number of elapsed days before a Parliamentary counter force of less than 80 FK&P points can appear on the map from any controlled settlement in the east. The passage of the Parliamentary counter force will not produce a resource depredation effect on any settlements it passes through.

13. The King demands the region provide 15 resource points from my treasury. Bollocks!

14. The King sends soldiers to the region sufficient to add three garrison levels in whatever increments and at whatever locations I choose! Yay!

15. The King demands the region provides soldiers for the regiments in his main field army. I must provide three garrison levels of men for his use from any of the garrisons I currently control.

16. A cure! The source of a recent plague like malady has been discovered to be the work of witches. Once a few old women had been beaten, starved, psychologically tortured then burnt alive the illness miraculously vanishes. The affected settlement is no longer off limits.

17. A Parliamentary  marching army of less than 120 FK&P points enters the map from any controlled settlement in the north and marches on Worcester with a view to taking it for the government. All settlements moved through by the army, (friendly or enemy) are reduced by one 1 resource point for the rest of the game. If unable to secure Worcester by siege the army retreats the way it came but has no further resource effect on the settlements is passes through. The arrival of the army triggers the Operational Phase and an average die roll gives the number of elapsed days before a Royalist counter force of less than 70 FK&P points can appear on the map from any controlled settlement in the west or south. The passage of the Royalist counter force will produce the same resource depredation effect on any settlements it passes through.

18. Change of allegiance. A Parliamentary site with a "small" garrison seeks the King's forgiveness and declares for his cause. Mark the site as Royalist and appoint a new garrison commander.

19. A Royalist marching army of less than 120 FK&P points enters the map from any controlled settlement in the south or west and marches on Northampton with a view to taking it for the king. All settlements moved through by the army, (friendly or enemy) are reduced by one 1 resource point for the rest of the game. If unable to secure Northampton by siege the army retreats the way it came but has no further resource effect on the settlements is passes through. The arrival of the army triggers the Operational Phase and an average die roll gives the number of elapsed days before a Parliamentary counter force of less than 70 FK&P points can appear on the map from any controlled settlement in the east or north. The passage of the Parliamentary counter force will produce the same resource depredation effect on any settlements it passes through.

20. The King demands 20 resource points from the region. Balls!

Okay you've suffered enough if you've got this far. All this malarkey is only for future reference so bless you if you've just struggled through it.

We'll start the game shortly and I'll cover the very simple operational phase when we get to it being triggered.

TTFN

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Once More Unto The Breach

I think I'd already flagged up my intent to launch another ECW campaign at some point, and if memory serves I may have suggested it would likely be a regional one? 

Anywhoo, in between dabbling with my new Peter Pig 1:450 pirate ships I've decided to go for a full on solo effort for this one, with yours truly taking on the fictional role of Sir Crispin Maltravers the newly installed Royalist Governor of Worcester.

God's teeth, I'm a handsome looking cove.

Drawing heavily on the Perfect Captain's garrison campaign system and a fair touch of my own imagination let me welcome you to the West Midlands circa February 1643. 

As you can see below - the  new map uses the same migraine inducing scarcely transferable to the interwebz graphics that my grand campaign one did. If you squint really badly you may be able to pick out a little of the detail, but if squinting's not your thing fear not for I shall embiggen the more important areas of the map as and when necessary. 

The main campaign map - February 1643

The game will run in two phases, one termed "strategic" which will (in game terms) equate to approximately 1 month, and one termed "operational" that is meant to represent a week. 

The strategic phase will involve the collection of taxes, issuing of orders to garrison commanders and a single roll on a 20 point random events table. The overall aim of the campaign is to control (by garrison) more than twice the amount of resource points from the settlements on the map than the Parliamentary faction, each settlement having a resource point value in brackets after its name. 

The resources I gather from the locations I control must (amongst other things) be used to maintain my garrisons but while large garrisons are more effective at fighting off the enemy they also cost more. For clarity's sake, small garrisons cost one resource point, medium garrisons two resource points and large ones three points per strategic phase. Failure to pay them on time (by considering resources in this instance to equal money)  will lead to desertion and a reduction in garrison size while also making them mutinous and less likely to resist the enemy. Draining my resources and my potential for conquest will be the continual and rapacious demands of the King, (for money and men) the depredations of the nearby rebels, and of course the fickle finger of fate. 

Note: As in my last campaign I have included a "kill switch" of sorts. The game will automatically end - with a loss to me, if on three consecutive occasions I fail to supply His Majesty with the resources that his Council of Warre demands.

An artists impression of Worcester - in impressionistic 17th century style. Sort of.

As you can see Worcester, which will be the seat of my regional government, has a degree of fortification (Castle tower in foreground) and a resource point potential of 2 points plus the sum of whatever I manage to roll on 2 d6. The zone controlled by its garrison is denoted by the blue circle along with the garrisons size.

The average garrison on the map is a typically modest affair and comes in three sizes, small (a company of dragoons or foot), medium (a couple of companies of either dragoons or foote) and large (several companies of foote, dragoons, and cavalry). Though the garrisons may engage in limited military activities during the strategic phase they are anchored to their locality and it's in the operational phase that proper stand up battles between larger marching armies will take place.

Each garrison will be commanded by a nominee with a randomly generated character trait. These traits will determine their ability to follow my orders and inform their success in suppressing mutinous troops, collecting taxes, and resisting the occasional siege. More detail on this will be forthcoming in future posts.

The operational phase kicks in when an end of strategic phase random event roll introduces a marching army (from either side) onto the campaign map - tasked with a specific mission. Whenever an army enters the campaign map an opposing force will (after a die roll calculated delay, measured in days) also enter the map in an effort to confront it. Once again more detail will be forthcoming in future posts.

On the campaign map you will note small circular areas astride the roads between population centres. The circular areas are spaced at roughly 10 mile intervals and help calculate the distance travelled by an army group - depending on its composition. 

Assuming that an army group will always travel at the speed of its slowest component and that delay, for on route foraging, late starts, poor roads etc will limit the distance covered, I have settled on the following (and hugely debatable) movement rates. Cavalry and dragoons will be able to cover 20 miles per day and foote and gunnes only 10 miles per day. As explained above a full army with gunnes, foote and mounted troops will move at the rate of its slowest component i.e.10 miles a day and its progress will be tracked on the main map as it moves between circles and settlements. When two opposing armies meet on the campaign map there will be a battle and I intend to use the "For King and Parliament" rule set to resolve these.

The situation on the main map is as it was in February 1643 with the rebel garrisons (strength unknown) circled in red.

As per the last campaign I shall strain your patience with a couple of explanatory posts before we actually get down to business, but will thereinafter introduce further detail only when its necessary to explain what's going on.

***LATE EDIT***

Birmingham is a relatively small and undefended settlement in this period but is already proving to be a growing centre of industry. Its population were mostly Parliamentarian in sympathy and therefore only the Parliamentary faction may obtain the full 3 resource points for its occupation. If the Royalists hold it they will receive only 2 points and only 1 point if the garrison commander has the "brute" character trait.

Finally to help alleviate this wearisome text heavy post I thought I'd include a completely unrelated shot of my new sloop The Gypsy Rose - for no other reason than I can.


Yarr!

More campaign nonsense will appear shortly…

TTFN




Saturday, 16 March 2019

Got Wood?

Not a good choice of title, I accept, especially since I expect to be bombarded by people from across the pond searching for a cure to erectile dysfunction... 

Sorry guys!

Thankfully I can reassure you all that I have got wood... (fnarr fnarr) - enough to last another winter at any rate, though the barn where it's stored is now looking disturbingly empty and the cycle of cutting splitting and stacking a new lot will soon need to start all over again.

It was while dragging a days supply of chestnut into the kitchen for the Rayburn, (TCMB has a bizarre notion that 8 degrees in the house is somehow "cold") that I had cause to think back over how far we've come in the last four years and since the process of constructing the new terrain to fit in the FK&P boxes has turned out to be a fairly lengthy process I've shamelessly decided to regale you with a wood related tale from our early days in France instead of some decent miniature wargames content.

Okay now you know this is not going to be a toy soldiery style post feel free to click on something more interesting elsewhere, I mean its not like I'm going to know you've buggered off now is it? 

Oh so you're still intent on tagging along?

Well for the purposes of this story you'll have to venture with me into the time tunnel…

<<queue swirly psychedelic effects>>

Back….

<<more swirly psychedelic effects>>

Back...

Back to January 7th 2015, a land before Brexit, a land before Trump, a land where I discovered that my two 1 hour late night college French lessons were just not going to cut it.

Armed with a masters in English Literature, sufficient tools to replace the hinges on a small shed door, my "B&Q book of DIY" and a sick wife I prepared to take on this…

Yeah.

While from a fiscal point of view I'm sure you'll be relieved to know I got it for a song, it did have a few… erm… issues.

Okay so there was no real floor or rooms upstairs, the electrics allowed for the boiling of a kettle but not for the simultaneous use of a light bulb (had there been one), there was no kitchen or living room and yeah the previous occupants for the last thirty years or so had been cows who hadn't bothered to tidy up when they left, but to balance the odds I had nearly 20 years of accountancy related experience to fall back on.

So bam!

Take that French farmhouse!

You'll be unsurprised to learn that my misplaced confidence lasted nearly a day before I slipped away to the top barn, to weep, scream and hurriedly attempt to reach some sort of accommodation with a deity I had long before chosen to eschew.

It is worth restating at this point that this was January and that apart from the minor issues mentioned above, the "house" didn't have any form of heating.

Naturally we were cold. Very very cold. Sadly there's no way within the limitations of the written word that I can accurately convey how cold; and how that cold went on and on day after day; numbing every thought and deed. We had a little camping stove and four coke can sized tins of butane to heat our food while the cruel winter wind found every one of the numerous cracks in the building and whistled through them all to torture us.

The butane lasted four days.

On the fifth day was the coming of the holy Rayburn (all praise the holy Rayburn).

Not actually our holy Rayburn because I'm too damned lazy to go downstairs and take a picture of it.

Prior to our arrival the lack of heating had not gone unnoticed by the ever vigilant Mrs Broom, who being an organisational genius had pre ordered one of Rayburn's most expensive hefty wood burners. Counting down the days to its arrival would have probably helped our morale, but we'd burned the calendar on day three and had all but lost track of time by the time it eventually turned up.

With both of us wearing every item of clothing we possessed, like a bizarre pair of Michelin men, we must have looked a strange sight to the delivery driver who finally arrived with the means to grant us heat. Trotting dutifully behind him through the driving rain I waited for him to reveal the crew of burly stevedores who would manhandle the 385 kilo lump of cast iron and enamel off the lorry and across the field to our house.

Stevedores. Yeah right. What awaited me was an enormous wooden crate and a little man with a tiny hydraulic pallet lifter that became stuck in the mud the moment it left the back of the lorry. Hoping to lower the Rayburn's excessive ground pressure I went off in search of something usable. Sadly the first thing that came to hand was the 6 x 4 marine ply top of my carefully wrapped up gaming table. Hammer in hand I performed the necessary surgery and with my impromptu surf board I returned to find man, pallet lifter, and truck, long gone.

It took me a day to drag the thing from the road to the house and when I got there it wouldn't go through the front door.

I cried.

Like a baby.

Two days of numb fingered disassembly and reassembly saw it eventually in situ and the current Mrs Broom and I prepared to bask in its tropical heatwave glow.

Except we couldn't, because there was one tiny factor we'd overlooked.

We had no wood.

Our initial instinct - being first world folk, was to get on the internet and order some; which coincidentally was the day when we discovered there was no internet in La Maziere Aux Bons Hommes. Apparently the cows never had any use for it.

We went to the local mayors office, which was surprisingly open, but he had very little English and after several clumsy efforts to explain our problem he shut the door on us, with a string of irritated French invective to the effect that any holidaying English (he couldn't conceive that anyone in their right mind would actually come to LIVE here) were crazy if they thought they'd manage to obtain firewood from anywhere or anyone in January. Sacre Bleu!

Farmers! The sudden realisation hit us like a thunderbolt. Obviously local farmers would have wood to sell! They had enormous piles of logs in great big sexy (yeah I was losing it) lines outside their houses. We went to one in our neighbouring village of Charbaudy (or charred body if you prefer) and knocked the door. The woman who answered it looked at us as though we'd just landed from Mars, and having run out of French I resorted to using the medium of dance to try and explain our predicament.

She (I still choose to think inadvertently) let loose their half a dozen chasse (hunting) dogs.

We just about made it into the car.

Suspecting that I was now considering chopping up the front door TCMB took me out for a drive. We took turns to hog the heater and eventually ended up quite by chance outside the mayors office in a neighbouring commune. They had big glass doors and inside it looked warm and cosy. Responding to the siren call of its radiators we made our way in, with no clear plan. The receptionist was young and spoke English. She promised to help. Suspecting a trap (I was definitely becoming delusional) I considered taking her hostage and making some sort of firewood related ransom demand.

It was while I was trying to get the roll of duct tape out of my pocket that she handed TCMB a note. She'd made a few calls and found a Monsieur Laforge two villages over from us who would sell us some of his bois d'chauffage. We got to his house as the first snow started to fall. He looked at our UK plated right hand drive car and then at us. It would be 200 euros for a cord, he explained. I didn't know what a cord was especially but I'd have given him my good kidney at this stage so it seemed like a deal.

Yup it's cord of wood. 

The snow grew worse, which naturally was when the delivery arrived. The wood was wet and smelled of cat piss. I hugged each log like it was a long lost friend. Leaving Mrs Broom to get things going on the fire front I began stacking the wood against a wall and covered it over with asbestos sheeting (we don't do health and safety out here - the weak die young and the strong envy them their fate) in the vain hopes of stopping it from getting any wetter.

To say I was exhausted was untrue. I'd passed that stage several days before. With slack jawed incomprehension I found myself in a chair before a roaring though smelly, (trying burning cat piss for yourself some day) fire. The warmth was slowly spreading through my limbs when there came an urgent knock on the door.

The man stamping his feet clear of snow in the doorway did not look happy, his name he said, was Jean Phillip and he owned the building that I'd inadvertently just stacked all the logs against. He was sorry but there would be "humidity" in his maison if they remained where they were and he needed me to move it all somewhere else, tout suite.

Bare in mind that the only person I'd met in the village so far was poor old Michel with half a head (see my previous post (Normal Service Will Be Resumed) and all the other houses in the village appeared to be empty and shut up, so this was news to me.

With a forlorn look over my shoulder at the fire I trooped back out into the blizzard. Through the rapidly settling snow I commenced the three hour job of shifting the whole shebang ten metres to the right. It was only when I got back in that I realised I'd conducted the entire operation through six inches of snow, in my carpet slippers.

The weeks went by and a second trip became necessary to order more firewood from Mr Laforge. He seemed surprised to see me again (what with us being on holiday I presume) but after once again appraising the UK plated right hand drive car he wrote the cost down on a scrap of paper and I was delighted to discover that it had now become - 180 euro's per cord.

Between that visit and the next, Spring arrived. We'd become convinced that driving a right hand drive car was not the way to go and had shelled out 10K for a second hand Renault Koleos. My third visit to our supplier of all things wood was in the new car. He came outside and looked it over approvingly. The price this time, (presumably linked to my generous contribution to the French economy) had shrunk to a mere 160 euro's per cord.

That new (old) car was like a magic totem. As the people roundabout began to emerge from their winter hibernation they hesitantly came to knock the door to introduce themselves. Amongst them was David, who, unknown to us at the time was the son of the farmer we'd visited in Charbaudy. He lived in La Maziere just down the track and naturally since we were now his neighbours he would be only too happy to take over supplying us with our winter wood. He regretted that since it was mostly premium oak and chestnut it would have to be at the high high price of 120 euros a cord.

I could have danced a jig.

That night as I lay in bed looking up through the missing ceiling I realised I'd effectively secured an 80 euro reduction in the cost of a cord of wood, (of which we needed five per winter) and all it had cost me to achieve that saving was 10,000 euro's for a second hand car!

Bargain.

By the end of the second year things had begun to improve. See you can do it if you B&Q it.


There'll be soldiery stuff next time I promise.

TTFN

Friday, 8 March 2019

I Have Seen The Future

I was a bit blown away by the response to my For King & Parliament counter overload problem. 

The consensus from the "hive mind" seemed to be that the focus should always be on the game board and that there was something vaguely unsavory in my desire to keep looking at a spreadsheet. I accept that I have a bit of a fixation with Excel and you'll be pleased to know that I'm now seeking professional help in that regard.

Anywhoo... 

Ideas came in thick and fast - all practical - and all of them better than my own half cocked nonesense. I even had messages from such luminaries as Mr Miller and Mr Brentnall...yeah...those guys!

Mr Brentnall pointed me in the direction of Warbases.com where he gets his movement trays and The Current Mrs Broom quickly pointed me in the direction of our bank balance. So that was a none starter. Nundanket et al suggested the odd figure or vignette in lieu of counters - which ran slap into my current chronic loss of painting mojo. Honestly; if I have to peer through a microscope at one more 6mm horse I'll scream.

Given that the solution to my problem of displaying lots of information in a minimalist fashion could not involve new miniatures, spreadsheets, or any noticeable expenditure I struggled with the matter for another 24 hrs then did what any decent right thinking guy would do...I went on the Internet and ripped off somebody else's idea.

As the post's title proudly states, I have indeed seen the future…. and it's laminated!

I appreciate the solution shown below would not suit everyone, but my regular opponent (err…that would be me) seems to like it too.

One of my totally made up regiments with its new sabot / wipe clean info area.

Apart from the obvious title of the regiment there are three boxes on the left that are the units musket ammo allowance and using a dry wipe marker I can mark then off as they get used. On the right are boxes reflecting the regiments strength and these too can be ticked off as the unit becomes "disrupted" (to use FK&P terminology) during the game. On the far right is a box containing the regiments victory medal value if destroyed and the fact that its in a white box tells me it's a seasoned unit (the number would be in a red box if the unit was raw and a yellow box if it were veteran).

But wait there's more…

The laminated section extends under the three bases of the regiment and acts as a movement tray (of sorts)...and also…ta daaaa…


Behold the full extent of some one else's my genius. Samuel Bradshaw's veteran (yellow box) regiment of foote.

contains yet more important unit specific game related stuff. Each regiment / battalia actually has three of these laminated info thingy's (one for each of the three potential training / morale states) so that in any subsequent campaign a regiment's quality can change as the campaign progresses. Admittedly I will still need to drop a euro sized turn activation chit behind this, but all in all everythings now feeling very minimal and tidy.

A Dutch regiment of veteran horse. Two pistol and three wipe clean dash boxes are on the left.

Like a Chinese anorak factory, production of the above is now in full and continuous swing. New terrain will also have to follow since my earlier hex related stuff will just not cut the mustard for FK&P.

TTFN - and cheers again to all who chipped in last time.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Counter Attack

To be honest the posts title would have been more relevant as "attack of the counters" but it sounded a bit too much like my failed novel "attack of the bean counters,"a roller coaster ride of high octane car chases and excel spreadsheets in which the hero reveals a plot by accountants to take over the world. 

Not enough sizzling gypsy love scenes apparently.

Anywhoo… As you know I've started dabbling with Simon Miller's & Andrew Brentnall's For King & Parliament with a view to producing a more granular regional ECW campaign in the near future. TCMB bought me a copy of it at Christmas and it is only the second set of ECW rules that I haven't reached about page 8 sighed then consigned to the highest reaches of the bookshelf. 

Filled with enthusiasm I ordered one of Mr Miller's battle mats from his Big Red Bat Shop and since my teeny weeny chaps typically deploy in a line of three bases of 3cm I opted for a 10cm grid. 

Wrong. 

Wrong wrong, wrongetty wrong!

This children is a salutary lesson in why you should always read the rule book / manual properly before setting up your new TV or purchasing wargaming essentials. 

Sure my 9cm wide foote battalia fitted snugly within its 10cm box, but what the hell was I going to do about terrain, like walls hedges and streams, which run along the edges of the gridded squares. There was literally no room left for both. A tentative email to master Miller explaining the problem produced a miraculous result. Not only was he happy that I could return the aforesaid mat at my leisure he confirmed a larger 15cm gridded replacement was on its way even before I'd finished struggling to settle up the difference in cost through Paypal. In my experience most war-game traders I've come across are genial enough. But genial accommodating and efficient, mmm, that's a new one on me.

Kudos to you Mr Miller.

So then back to the game and the vaguest of links to the title. Gaming with 6mm has many many advantages but one of its unforeseen issues for me (apart from spaghetti pike syndrome) is battlefield clutter. When using 20-28mm miniatures (which I accept is still more or less the norm) a handful of counters to denote a units status looks okay but at 6mm even a modest number of regular sized tokens / chits (whatever you want to call them) can end up turning the game into an exercise in pushing a bunch of markers around at the front of which somewhere, lost amid the clutter, is the tiny unit they happen to relate to.

And there's the first problem I encountered with FK&P. Because of the very granularity that I craved there is a lot of unit information to be tracked - which leads to lots and lots of, yes you guessed it, counters.

Usually on receiving a new set of game rules my first instinct is to see how I can adapt them; to rid myself of that one terrible aspect I discovered on page 9 that I really can't live with; the concept that  without which they'd be spot on. On this occasion the rules are fine and my instinct has been to try to minimise the information trail that will follow and visually overawe my idly biddy men up hill and down dale.

If you think I'm going a bit overboard with all this there are 3 different types of ammunition markers (musket, pistol and artillery), dash counters (for horse), pursuit markers (for horse) untried markers (optional), casualty markers (or hits as they are confusingly termed in the rules), some means of indicating a units training / morale status (not expressly mentioned but would prove useful), a unit name tag (again not expressly mentioned but certainly implied), the colonel's star sign (only joking)  and the playing cards which determine the success of each units activation - which must remain behind each until the end of the turn.

The playing cards can be replaced by numbered chits or a 10 sided dice (I went for the chits) since Simon Miller tacitly acknowledges that some people find even half size packs of cards to be a bit too much.

I am then faced with a couple of possibilities and I would welcome the hive minds consensus if one can be reached.

Firstly:

Another badly lit wonky camera phone picture. The broken phone's replacement (filched I suspect from a Chinese land fill) gives the same reassuringly crap results as its predecessor.

Sir Henry Caldwell's lads have a pursuit marker (red triangle in front of them), a name tag, an activation chit in lieu of the playing cards, a raw (training status marker), one red lego pip for ammo (I think we can safely assume they won't be firing cannon balls so three different types of ammo marker are not a game essential) and two blue lego pip dash markers to accompany the two casualty bases over on the right. Phew.

Secondly:

And you thought the photo's couldn't get any worse. Hah. Take that.

Here we have Master Pickering's lads off for a nice trot around the paddock. We still have the same pursuit marker (which in fairness are only required when the unit's got the old "red mist" and has gone haring off out of control) along with the name tag and the chit being used instead of a playing card. The red lego pips now denote "hits" on the unit and you'll note there are no ammo, dash, or training / status markers on show.

This reduced counter load is only possible if of course I'm prepared to record the missing information somewhere else, somewhere off board for instance. The game makes great play of constructing an order of battle for each army, and done in spreadsheet format it can be used to calculate a number of things like the armies points cost and the number of victory medals it is worth. In constructing my own OOB I've added a few extra columns on the right to literally tick off the ammo and dash as it used, while also being able to reference the training status of individual units. A regressive step…possibly, but it does mean that I can reduce the battlefield counter clutter. 

Ahh that's more like it…happiness is a warm spreadsheet. 

The above is a provisional Royalist order of battle sheet that I could probably laminate and use a shiny marker on - to record the in game ammo and dash expenditure - but would most likely just print off, use, and throw away afterwards. There are a number of hidden columns within it, but the game necessary ones have been left in view.

So waddya think? Piles of counters or off board spreadsheets?

Answers on a postcard to….

***LATE EDIT***

Micro dice might just might be the answer.

Micro dice - behold the future of JBM's FK&P gaming.
Blue can do for dash, white for ammo and yellow for the number of hits. I'll sprinkle my casualty markers around in a box if a unit gets eliminated. Not completely sorted but definitely getting there.