Friday, December 26, 2014

One Hour Wargames

I got Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for Those with Limited Time and Space on my Kindle yesterday and gave it a quick read-through.  For an ultra-light, ultra-streamlined game I have to say I like it; it looks like there's some things it's not built for (wargaming the Mongol Invasions of the 1200s, for example) but Thomas comes right out and is open about it, especially in the chapter on Ancients Wargaming - no horse archers, no scythed chariots, no elephants, but still a solid little set of rules.

The rules for the nine eras of warfare - Ancient, Dark Ages, Medieval, Pike & Shot, Horse & Musket, American Civil War, Horse & Sabre, Machine Age, WWII - are simple and straight forward, filling generally no more than 2, or at most 3, screens on my Kindle, and involve armies composed of 4-6 "elements" chosen from a short list of element types - for example, the Ancients list is composed of Infantry (including Hoplites, Roman Legions, etc.), Archers (such as those employed by the Achaemenid Persians), Skirmishers (quick-moving Peltast-types) and Cavalry.  Games consist of turns, with each player performing all their actions - moving, shooting, melee, etc. -  at a go, then their opponent doing so.  Elements are removed from play after suffering 15 "hits," which are calculated by rolling a six-sided die and adding or subtracting modifiers for troop type, terrain type, etc.

The rules take up maybe a third of the book, and then the second third is different scenarios to play through - and Neil Thomas really kind of opened my eyes here, because he comments on how often "tournament" games are two perfectly matched armies lined up and slugging it out in a pitched battle, and I realized that yeah, every time I've seen a Warhammer tournament that's exactly what's going on at every table.

The final third of the book covers solo and campaign play, which I'm looking forward to experimenting with as well.

I think once I finish Cthulhu (which honestly shouldn't be long now - I'm at the point of doing detail work, more or less) I'll base my Greeks and Persians as described here and start playing around with these rules.  I ordered a stack of 50mm x 100mm bases as a Christmas present to myself, enough to base two full-sized armies for One-Hour Wargames -- a little smaller than the 4-6" frontage Thomas recommends, but still a respectable size.

I think I can squeeze on 8 figures to a base (two rows of four) for Infantry such as my Hoplites, and then do six to a base for Archers (such as Persians) and Skirmishers (such as, perhaps, my Amazons).  Or maybe just four to a base for Skirmishers.  This also models the relative toughness and damage-dealing capacity of each type of element.

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