Tuesday, April 29, 2008

1776 DSR Style !

Watching the HBO series "John Adams" re-directed my interests to the American Revolution. I had several books on the topic in my "to be read" pile, so I started to go through them.

The first one was Winter Soldiers by Richard M. Ketchum, a pretty good run through of Washington's 1st year when he was chased out of New York until the battles of Trenton and Princeton.

I am working my way through Battles of the American Revolution 1775-1781 by Henry A. Carrington, a book written in the 1870s. He goes off on tangents once and awhile, but it is a pretty good read (the campaign to take Canada would make a good tragi-comic movie all by itself).

Further, on deck is the book Redcoat by Richard Holmes, recommended by a friend who had read his World War I book Tommy.

I had the old AH game 1776 and some figures, I decided to use 1776 as the strategic game and create my own tactical game to fight the battles it generated.

I had some painted 15mm Revolutionary War figures I bought a few years ago, so I decided I should put them to use, rebasing them at 3 per stand, leaders at 1 per stand, and flags at 2 per stand (flag and drummer).

I used my 3" hexes to make a board that resembled a hex with 15 hexes flat to flat at its widest. On this board all the tactical battles would take place. A basic "regiment" would be two of the 3 stand bases, which could be either in movement column or line, as seen in the pictures.

Since I didn't have enough flags and leaders for each unit, I use them as "buffs" to existing units. Leaders add 1 to their morale and fire/melee classes. Flags add 1 to that unit's morale class. Since the British are assumed to have a flag integral to their unit, their morale is one higher than Continentals and they receive no flags. They also recieve fewer leaders, having already an improved melee/fire ratio than the Continentals. The Continentals recieve leaders/flags to help improve their units. The disadvantage of a non-integral leader/flag is that it can be killed, yeilding VPs to the other side and causing extra morale checks to units nearby.

The battlefield has a road network on it, with a road starting at every vertex hex. After determining terrain (with some modifiers based on what terrain is in the hex fought), I randomly determine the start side of the board for each side.

The tactical game is 12 turns. I am experimenting with a variable ending game (e.g. could end at 10 or up to 14 turns), but I haven't played through enough repetitions to see if it is a good idea or not. The side that garners the most VPs at the end of the game is the winner and causes the other side to retreat on the Strategic Board. I total up all casualties, and the losing side takes attrition rolls for additional casualties.

Each Strength Point (SP) on the strategic board is 1 "regiment" on the tactical board. Guns/Leaders/Flags are assigned by how many SPs are in that battle for that side. Guns that are destroyed also remove 1 SP from that side as well as counting for VPs. Leaders/Flags count for VP totals. There is also a VP per enemy road node you control at the end of the turn (and each road node controled by the enemy reduces your morale class by one as well).

I've played a couple of battles myself and with a few friends and they appear satisfied that its a decent (and quick) game. I've played a few battles as related to the strategic game as well, and it appears to work well.

And in the end, that's what really counts- can you play the game quickly and have enjoyable events to discuss afterwards, such as a bungled attack through the woods that routed a flank of the British Army, or a leader and a unit stands up to all attackers, holding off 4:1 odds. And you always say to yourself, "next time I can do better...."