Wednesday, May 16, 2007

King's War

This is the obligatory post about King's War, and is only indirectly related to Ober-Bindlestiff.

King's War is a set of pike & shot rules. It was originally written for the period 1660 to 1678, but was relevant to the closing stages of the Thirty Years War and the English Civil Wars. Later refinements now include Eastern Europe and the Turks, and go up to 1695.

A "unit" is a regiment/battalion of infantry, or a regiment of cavalry, or a gun battery. Foot includes shot, pikes, and those armed with melee weapons only. A typical regular foot unit is 12 shot and 6 pike on 6 stands of 3 each. A typical mounted unit is 3-4 stands of 3 each. Horse comes in cuirassier (3/4 armor and more), horse, lighter horse, and irregular horse. Dragoons in this period were a breed apart, often used on the fringes of the battlefield and in outpost work. They can dismount.

Units are grouped in brigades. Experience has shown that 2-3 regiments of mounted, or 3 regiments of foot make good, handy brigades. Turkish "brigades" are organized with 5-6 units, some mounted, some foot, some irregular horse, some "heavy" horse. Guns are either attached to the CiC, or to individual brigades.

King's War uses a card activation system. Each brigade has two cards. When a unit's card is drawn it can move and fight. When a unit gets into a melee, that is determined at the end of the turn. There is also a "Reshuffle" card in the deck that ends the turn (yes, it is possible for a unit to not move at all in a turn). The CiC (who has two cards of his own) can activate a nearby brigade. Thus it is possible for a brigade to move/fight at least three times in a single turn.

When a unit fires at an opposing unit, and hits it, that unit tests to see what it does. It is entirely possible for that unit to shoot back! The first unit, if hit, tests its reactions, and might shoot again! Thus we could have a nasty little firefight between a couple of units who lose sight of everything else around them as they hammer each other.

Hits are really disorders. If a unit accumulates enough disorders, it dissolves and flees from the field. Generals clear disorders. This is important because a unit with even one disorder on it cannot advance, and the disorders effect combat. My view is that a battlefield is a very disorderly place; it is very easy to get disordered, and takes time and trouble to straighten things out. By the way, there is no direct corelation between the number of casualties a unit has taken and disorder.

Movement - I like things simple, and I read accounts of battles where the generals and other officers went to a great deal of effort to make sure everyone moved at the same rate. The only ones who move faster are generals and cavalry charging. Everyone else moves 6" per turn.

Odds & Ends - Generals intercept their share of the metal in the atmosphere. When that happens, they roll to learn their fate. Be warned, you may get to gasp out some famous last words if a general is mortally wounded.

Melees are dealt with in the order in which they occurred, after the "Reshuffle" card is drawn.

There is a time limit on the game based on the number of cards played. Thus you don't quite know when the game is going to end. You may decide for some 'last turn heroics', only to find there is at least one more turn, and your units are hung out to dry.

The rules are available commercially. A local (for me) store is The Game Matrix in Tacoma, WA (well, Lakewood). Google them if you are interested in getting a copy of the rules. These are often played at local gaming conventions in the Pacific Northwest.

And before you ask, I've done testing of the system for later periods.