Monday 14 November 2011

Portable Wargame Rules - OK!

Indeed they certainly are! I used Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame rules for my recent game involving Fezia and Rusland and they worked extremely well although it was only after the game I realised that I had used version one rather than the later set. With this in mind I decided this weekend I would refight the Battle of Keder Sirt using Bob's Colonial version of his original 19th century set.

I was really pleased I did.

The resultant game seemed to be far more decisive, helped in part by the longer move distances and increase in weapon ranges. I still made use of the roster system which seems to offer some tangible 'meat' to the game - units last longer - and suits my own ideas from a campaign perspective far better. For me though, by far the most important feature of these rules is the simple fact that they can be 'dressed up' or 'dressed down' in terms of complexity with relative ease - in fact the roster system I used, combined with exhaustion levels (borrowed from Volley and Bayonet) appeared to slot into the system almost seamlessly.

The battle lasted 6 turns compared to the original 8 and all of the Rusland units managed to get into the fray. The attack in the centre very nearly pushed the Fezians off the ridge whilst the flanking attack had both of the Rusland cavalry units taking on the sole Fezian mounted unit. The Rusland flanking infantry were also able to get to grips with the Bashi Bazouks in the woods and at the end of the game these two Fezian units (the cavalry and the Bashi Bazouks) were clinging on for dear life with each being engaged by two Rusland units. It was only the fact that the Rusland forces hit their exhaustion level due to heavy casualties sustained in the centre - the number of strength points lost from the army total being 14 from 35 - that enabled the Fezians to secure a very narrow victory. It was extremely tense right up to the final turn.

Taking all the above into consideration I still have a few further rule tweaks in mind but the simple fact of the matter is I don't really need to as the rules are excellent as they stand. My changes will include the use of the aforementioned roster and exhaustion level system and I will also reduce a couple of the weapon ranges a tad. The hit results will be also be changed simply because of the implications of using the roster - I will also replace the 'survive, but fall back one hex (grid area)' effect with a 'take a hit or fall back one hex (grid area) as I like having to give the unit owner the choice (to a degree) of how they apply any damage received.

I am also going to be making use of standard units sizes with dice modifiers for the size of the formation - something that is employed in Command and Colours Napoleonics. Using Battle Cry/Memoir 44 as a model I have come up the following:

  • Regular Infantry strength 4/2
  • Cavalry and Irregular Infantry strength 3/2
  • Artillery and Weapons units e.g artillery and mgs strength 2/1
  • Commanders strength 1.
Larger than usual versions of the above would have an extra strength point which would give them a +1 dice modifier during combat. Similarly, when they are reduced to a certain size a -1 dice modifier would come into effect - this is the figure after the slash above. Obviously unit strengths would come into play rather more in a scenario or campaign setting.

In summary then I can say that the rules Bob has devised are really good to use 'straight off the bat' for a fast play game with the right amount of the all important period 'feel' but for my own purposes I have added a few tweaks to align them more with my own rules ideas. It is without a doubt a positive reflection on the elegant simplicity and soundness of the original design that I am able to do this with little adverse effect.

It is far harder to write a 'simple' set of rules that work (Lord alone knows I have tried!) than a more complex set and in this Bob has succeeded admirably. The rules and variants etc can all be found here - 

Take a look and enjoy!


Paul O'G said...

Pleased to hear that you are seeing some progress from a mechanics perspective, it can be rather frustrating when you don't. One trusts and hopes that you see similar developments in the portable naval wargame realm!

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

I must extend my eternal thanks to Bob Cordery for the rules in the fist place - all I have done to add a little relish!

Funny you should mention the naval side because using the land version has given me much food for thought from the naval perspective.

Watch this space....;-)

All the best,