Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Hidden Units and Fanatical Warriors

Way back in July of this year I fought the first action in the Roghan Valley campaign - my fictional take on the North West Frontier - for which the report can be read here - Striking the Match - The Roghan Valley, 1895. The game was fought using an earlier version of  Bob Cordery's Memoir of Battle rules and great fun it was as well!

One of the ideas I experimented with during this action was using hidden units. I handled this very simply by deploying the units on the table with a red counter on them. As long as they stood still and did not do anything the units thus deployed were invisible. In order to 'see' them the opposing force had to 'attack' them in combat and score a hit in order for them to be revealed. No damage was actually inflicted but it was assumed that the would-be ambushees were then startled into revealing their position. Of course should the ambushees charge or commence firing that would also give away their position. This was a very simple but effective mechanic to use and also had the bonus effect of ensuring that it was more difficult to see units the further away they were. I should also point out that I restricted any spotting attempts to infantry or cavalry only. I have not had occasion to use this mechanic for some time (and in truth I had forgotten about it!) but I fully intend to incorporate this in my Memoir of Battle games going forward.

There is no reason why this mechanic could not be employed with Bob Cordery's Memoir of Modern Battle rules either (although I have yet to try this out) - certainly given the use of units hidden with camouflage etc, should be represented in some fashion and so I think this would also work well as a simple solution to the 'empty battlefield' problem.

The other tweak I have been considering is how best to replicate the effect of charging fanatical natives types - Fuzzy Wuzzies, Zulus and Ghazi types. I have dipped into the rules for Command and Colours Ancients for the idea I am going to employ and it goes something like this:

  • Native troops equipped with hand weapons only may move 1 hex and battle or two hexes. They may move two hexes and battle as long as they end their move in contact with an enemy unit.
  • Native units equipped with hand weapons only roll three combat dice at a range of 1 hex.
  • Native units that have not suffered any casualties so far in the game add a further combat dice when in combat. This bonus remains in place until the unit suffers casualties.
  • Native units equipped with hand weapons only must always follow up an enemy unit if they have caused it to fall back.
I am planning on using a combination of these two ideas in my next action which should narrow down the list of possibilities as to what it will be!


Ross Mac said...

You might want to consider adding some "dummy" hidden units to the natives so that the British aren't sure which hidden units are real. Of course to work you will probably have to turn the native blocks over, mix in the dummys and shuffle then deploy them face down so you don't know which are real until they are spotted, charge or shoot.

In our Colonial Battlecry games we have been allowing "elite" natives to take the ground if they attack again and do an over run attack if possible. (we apply it to Hadendowah, Ghazis and White Shield Zulus.)

David Crook said...

Hi Ross,

That is a good call re the hidden units and one that I will certainly add in to the mix. It should add a degree of uncertainty even for the solo games I run,

I also think the shout re the 'elite' native units is a good one - when you consider the perceived effect that such troops would have on regular European troops then it makes a lot of sense to treat them differently.

All the best,