Thursday, December 28, 2017

Season of Battle for Field of Battle solo play testing (and Santa pressies)

Brent Oman has kindly (I think ?) asked me to help play test his Campaign/Battle Generation system to be known as Seasons of Battle for the Field Of Battle rules.
I do not wish to give too much away other than to give a brief overview to whet appetites.
The aim of system is to generate battles (using Battlefield Terrain and Campaign Action cards) in a linked Campaign.
The Campaign is limited (might be expandable ?) to a linear set of areas 5 in total with both 'ends' being home base, one might call it a mini-miniatures-campaign !?
However the areas can be related to a real Campaign or Map fairly readily.
Forces consist of a single army each the composition of which does.not vary within the Campaign except for units be up or down graded or potentially absent from some battles if lost or routed in previous battle.
Once forces are mustered and 'rolled up' as per FOB then the central area becomes starting point for a Preliminary Battle (this needs some 'jazzing up' to quote Brent) and then subsequent battle flow from this.
Areas can be advanced into towards enemy base area depending on level of victory in a battle.
A Campaign ends when losing a Battle in your Home Area or when National Morale Points (a National Will of sorts) drop to zero, the NMP total is determined at Campaign outset based on army size and rolls on a table.
Losses in a battle can effect NMP total which in FOB terms means variable difference between winner and losers remaining Army Morale Points.
After each battle units are rolled for to see if they attend next battle or are up/down graded in quality (ie FOB dice types) which is linked to winning/losing and if they were Routed/Eliminated in the battle.
The table top battles are generated by use of a 54 card Battlefield Card Deck with 10 randomly allocated to each Campaign Area (with 4 spare one of which is used for Preliminary Battle).
A Campaign Card deck (again 54 cards) is used to generate the battle conditions and to select which of the 10 battlefields in an area is selected.
This 'action card' cycle can take place several times if forces try to avoid battle in unfavourable circumstances but eventually a battle will occur (even if only by going through the Action deck).
The Action cards have standard playing card symbology (Diamonds, Clubs etc) and are valued as per Black Jack as playing cards totaling 21 is the limit.
Additionally they can have Campaign actions such as Advancing to another battlefield card or indeed re-orienting a card 180 degrees (a hill is on enemy side of table ? not any longer !) or adjusting Deployment, Strength and such like depending on suit played and other factors.
This may sound complex but in practice its fairly slick and generates a nice background narrative to the table top encounters.
For those owning FOB2 this has some elements similar to the scenario generator in the rules (done with dice types rather than cards).
The Battlefield cards alone may be worth price of admission (no idea what this is to be ?) being based on a 9 x 5 grid (ie 1ft squares as per Brents table) but easily adapted to other table sizes and indeed the whole system could be used for other rule sets with a bit of tweaking I suspect.
They do not need to be slavishly adhered to either as Brent acknowledges that player terrain collections will vary from his.
So a hill mass could be rendered with several hills in same general area.
Cards are also not prescriptive as to density of terrain eg wooded area can be light to heavy as agreed or rolled for.

Sample battlefield card

I have tried setting up a solo SYW Campaign using FOB to get a feel for system and to play est as requested and several queries/clarification issues came up with draft rules but at its core the system is complete only rough edges/wording needing sorted. .

I had a Russian army of 22 units with 53 NMPs and a Prussian army of 18 units with 46 NMPs.
After initial battle which Russians won as Minor victory (next battle in same area) but increased their NMPs by 11 whilst Prussian NMPs fell by same amount.
Second battle now set up on new battlefield and with Russians having several extra deployment areas but Prussians being able to re-deploy some Command Groups.

Cavalry clash on uplands (note use of multiple hills to denote a large hill area)

Prussians push mounted forward on their right

The waterway I designated as a minor stream but it could be anything up to a major river

Russian horse moves from right to left wing behind an embattled Brigade of foot

Overview at preliminary battles end with Prussian center smashed

Set up for second battle with Russian able to deploy into face of Prussians. However Prussians able to re-deploy their mounted commands to threatened left wing. Both these 'actions' enabled through card play. Note also new battlefield and again use of multiple hills to denote large central ridgeline.

Now to Santa pressies (at least the wargame related ones)

Besides getting Dunkirk Blu Ray and a couple of Russian war movies on Dvd (Battle for Moscow and Battle for Smolensk) my main pressie was:

And of course some rules !! :-)

And a board game (sort of wargamey)

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