Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Project

I haven't given up on miniatures gaming, I've just been terriby lax about it. But any hobby you've pursued for 48 years cannot be put aside completely. So this is the inception of The Project.

What is it?

I have often felt the best tabletop games are generated by a campaign system. Years ago Jeff Cox and I did a campaign using the old SPI map for Cobra, and fighting the battles with the King's War Rules. It was a lot of fun, and we soon had a result. We also had a lot of battles that had reasons for being, and were not even fights on even terrain. Back in Indiana I took part in a WW1 Naval Campaign in the Med, and we mostly used General Quarters to resolve the fights, though some other rules were used for small ships and small-sized actions. We had really interesting fights that involved unequal forces, and the battles had strategic consequences.

This latter is often missing from most tabletop games. Oh, you're told that seizing this town or that ridge will give you a strategic victory, but too often there is a fight to the last soldier. With a campaign you have to preserve your forces for another day.

IMHO one of the best campaign systems around for boardgames was Frederick the Great, originally by SPI, but later Avalon Hill. You quickly learned that you could fight lots of battles, and have no army left, or you could preserve your forces, fight only when the situation warranted it, and spend a lot of time worrying about supply, your objective (usually a fortress), and so on. Whole campaigns could be fought without a major battle. Or you could rush right out, find the enemy, smash at him, and trust everything on one roll of the dice. If you lost, you could see your fortresses fall one after another, helpless to do anything to stop the onslaught.

The germ of the idea.

Two of the minor countries from the old Avalon Hill game Blitzkrieg are gearing up for a war. The political differences between Ober-Bindlestiff and Saxe-Schweinrot are many and deep, and mostly rooted in dynastic concerns. It's the 1730s or 1740s. Such fanciful things as cadenced step and so on are not around. I'm going to "write" the rules for the campaign (based on the Frederick the Great system), and then fight it out. The battles will be fought in miniature with the Volley & Bayonet, Road to Glory rules, though there might be a few modifications made to those rules if we hit some sticking points.

The Armies

The Foot in both armies is the multi-battalion regiment. In theory a regiment has 2,000 men, though some 1500 take the field. The rest are held back as training cadre (the depots). In V&B terms, a regiment in the field starts with three hits, or 100 men. As units get worn down from attrition and combat, replacements will be sent forward from the depots to make up the numbers.

The Horse is a mix of armored and unarmored cavalry. Regiments vary wildly in size, so they have been organized into Inspections, each of which fields a brigade of some 2,000 men, or 4 hits in V&B terms. Again, replacements are sent forward as needed. But the real replacements are in the winter. So armies will get smaller as the campaign goes on.

The Artillery does not have a depot system. Guns are expensive to make, but the men can be trained. They are organized in three components: first, the artillery assigned to the infantry. These are 'dedicated guns', or what were also called 'regimental artillery'. Then there are the field artillery, organized in battalions. These are assigned to a field army. Lastly are the fortress guns, and this includes a siege train for each army. These gunners train at the fortresses, and garrison them (with the depot battalions),

The Dragoons are not many, and don't appear too often in the major battles. They are mounted infantry, and are used for the outposting, recons, and so on, what light troops did later on. There most decidedly aren't hussars, chevaulegere, or the like.

These forces are all gathered under an army general, who has subordinates to assist him. And that will assist in the movement system.

So there will be more to come as the campaign rules are put out for people to see.