Since Christmas we have managed to brave the hostile weather and play a few games in Trebian’s new wargames facilities ‘the Shedquarters‘. We have been revisiting Civil War Spain, and playing through some connected contact scenarios with Graham’s higher level rules, ‘If You Tolerate This …’
Although there are smoothings out that any game experience generates, the rules are basically those played at COW last year and published in issue 257 of ‘The Nugget’.
Before moving on, I hope you will permit a quick plug for WD … If you are the kind of wargamer that likes looking at new ideas, often picks up new rules to try out (maybe you spend a few pennies here and there on sets or download PDFs …), you get all that, plus associated feedback and commentary in the Nugget – 9 issues a year, incorporating several complete sets of rules, all for £20 (£10 if you just take the online version … easily worth it just for the games content it will open up).
Have a look at Wargame Developments.
(looking down the table in the ‘Road to Madrid’ game)
In the game, 4 bases make up a battalion, and we have been playing with around, say, 3 brigades plus some vehicles and artillery on the march – against a few battalions plus variable surprises defending villages, sunked roads and ridge lines. Allowing the leisurely style of social wargaming, we get 2 to 3 hours wargaming out of the scenarios ….
The games have been played in 15mm on a long table, but as everyone knows, wargame rules are not size specific, and the rules would work for any figures from micro to lawn games (just adjust the movement/ranges as appropriate).
The table is divided up into offset squares or hexagons (either will do) representing around 500 metres across.
(armoured cars approach a village in part 2 of our second game … )
Turns sequence is driven by unit-to-unit activation … shooting and resolving assaults as and when they occur. Units can make up to two activations (you can do both together, or do a bit then come back later in the turn – assuming the dice favour your second go) … and there is a die roll to switch from unit type to unit type. If you fail, the other side gets a go (and you are back on as/when they fail an activation, assuming they have something to activate). If an activation is failed and the other side has already activated everything, then the turn is over*.
It runs pretty smoothly, and activations seem easier to achieve than in some of the similar games. However it is neatly pitched to disrupt co-ordinated actions (infantry/armour, anarchist/communist … that sort of thing): with me rolling the dice this usually means … the infantry move up expecting to be covered by the tanks … the dice give the enemy a go who dump all their available resources on the exposed infantry … then the tanks finally move up, wondering why everyone is lying in a ditch …
(a Renault FT detachment is blown apart by determined infantry on the road to Madrid)
Shooting takes the form of potential hit damage which builds up until the unit gets activated or engaged by the enemy … at that point resolution dice are rolled generating morale drops and bodycount. This means you never quite know what state the enemy is in when you do the shooting – and sometimes heavy preparation followed by a bayonet charge can find the enemy surprising up for the fight. Generally, however, troops in buildings are much better off than troops moving in the open, say … just you never really know whether enough is enough.
Assaults are resolved in one turn by rolling dice (1 to 3 depending on unit quality) and applying modifiers … the modifiers generally outweigh the basic scores … although by throwing 3 dice, elite/determined troops always seem to have a chance, while on 1 die, poor troops really do have to have everything stacked in their favour.
(Republicans successfully swamp a BUA in part 2 of the second game)
These games have been very successful, allowing us to get together and play through a game that reads well and flows well … Same time, the games have had a good deal of ‘exploring the history’ about them. Having played a number of Treb’s rules, I think this one balances well the historical content he wants to include with the easy game play needed to get through a relatively rich narrative in a single evening.
The mechanisms are by no means derivative and have a rewardingly different feel to them. The grid scheme allows quick and simple play without all that measuring and annoying in/out debate (and as offsets, will switch straight over for players using hexagon terrain components) …
I’d give these rules serious consideration if you are looking for a higher level SCW wargame.
*any activations left to the player who failed are lost.
Note: the photos show Treb’s collection .. Peter Pig figures, mostly on 30×30 bases, with Piggie/QRF /Zvezda armour …